I AM so happy to hear that Palawan was proclaimed “The Most Beautiful Island in the World” by an International Body conducting a census of all the Islands in the World. My former school where I taught gives the faculty a yearly free gift of a recreational, educational tour to different spots in the Philippines. Every year, I had the chance to see the beautiful spots in our country courtesy of my school. This time, I had so many activities which I experienced for the first time.
Our group travelled by the ocean route. We rode in Supper Ferry 12, the luxury vessel that time. We landed at Puerto Princesa. At the pier, we were informed about the anti-littering law. I liked that. I remember my husband who told me of a similar law in Singapore.
The people in Palawan were very cordial. They brought us to a very quaint hotel. The roads were very clean and shady. Lining the sides of the road were blooming champaca trees. So fresh we could smell its fragrance. For snacks in the hotel, we were served with bread specially baked by the Vietnamese refugees who took shelter there. We started to tour the place. We went island hopping. The special qualities that make Palawan unique as described in a tourist guide book make us eager to explore the place. The come-ons were all in the superlative terms. Palawan is sheer perfection, exotic, idyllic, with crystal clear waters surrounding it, with the best natural wonders, best undersea adventures with snorkeling and scuba diving in its deep sea picturesque gardens. Palawan is the “gem” in the Philippine “crown,” with sugar-white sand beaches, virgin forests, scenic mountain ranges where you see arched rainbows in its horizon. This is like a dream scene.
Palawan archipelago has 1,780 islands west of the Philippines, the most concentrated islands but the most scarcely populated. This is possibly the reason why it has maintained its pristine beauty. The most known point of interest is the longest Subterranean River,
St. Paul’s Park has been named as one the Modern Wonders of the World and declared by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The river is almost five miles long. Its entrance is surrounded by virgin forests where wild animals roam. Playful monkeys are hopping from tree to tree. We were reminded to hold our bags. Some monkeys get them. We had fun watching a monkey painting its face with lipstick. Big monitor lizards roam on the ground. We prepared to enter the park. I was free as a senior citizen.
Instructions were given. We were given covering for our heads to protect us from the droppings of the bats roosting on the roof of the cave. We boarded the boat. The tour guide had a hat with a special light like a search light while lecturing us on the wonders of the cave. There are chambers, stalactites, stalagmites and limestone formations of curious shapes like cauliflowers, mushrooms, images of sacred figures on the walls. There are numberless bats hanging from the roof roosting. These are nocturnal animals that are out of the cave at night to look for ripe fruits in trees which they eat. Near evening people outside the cave watch the flock of bats like a dark cloud formation in the sky.
The other parts of interest are the Coron Strait, Tubbataha Reefs, Honda Bay, Calamian islands, El Nido Resorts Complex are unique. El Nido is of interest to me. It is in Minilou Island. It has numberless species of fish and corals, five species of endangered sea turtles and a lush forest of 100 species of birds. My son, architect Francis after passing the board worked at Shellinks Firm. He was requested to construct a model of the El Nido Resorts Complex. He did it masterly up to the last details. It was a conversation piece in their office. When the list of new architects was released where the master works were mentioned it cited — model construction after the name of Francis. Their office also worked on the uniform edifice of all Philippine National Bank. They also constructed the exact replica of the New International Airport.
Tubbataha Reefs is another chief feature of Palawan. My husband, Virgilio, translated a book about Tubbataha Reefs from German to English. For this reason I came to know about these unique reefs a wonder in the Southeast Asia region. Remember when the US vessel Guardian hit the reefs by running aground; damages were filed for payment of the destroyed reefs. It took time but finally US paid the damages. Reefs will take centuries to be replaced.
If you look at the map of the Philippines you will notice that Palawan is somewhat far from the mainland of our three major islands. Palawan has an interesting geologic history. It belongs to the Philippine Mobile belt. Tectonic plates arrangement surrounding our islands formed this. We are lucky that Palawan was officially made a part of our country. What if it would have been one of the islands which the Chinese claims to be theirs. Palawan is near Spratly Island.
While in our faculty tour we decided to visit Tabon Caves where our pre-historic ancestors were believed to have originated. This was researched on by anthropologist, Dr. Fox. We were warned that the trip is hazardous. It is a one way trip and no one must give up on the way until the trip is completed. This made me decide not to proceed and opted to remain in the city. I spent my time shopping for souvenirs. I went to the curio shop of Mrs. Hagedorn the cordial wife of the mayor. I fancy buying necklaces made up of beads found in the place. I got one costing 350 pesos. Mrs. Hagedorn told me that it is a fake version of the real gem beads which she saw in Rustans costing 3,500 pesos. At least, she told me the truth. I met Mayor Hagedorn, my favorite environmentalist active advocate. He has the same mien as our Mayor Duterte. The same bravado with the rugged handsome looks. He said he already killed a man justly for committing a crime in his presence. I think I have heard that sentence in Davao also. Mayor Hagedorn wants to keep Palawan as a unique city in its environment and natural wealth.
Together with this account of the qualities that make Palawan the most beautiful Island in the world, I would like to cite Davao and its own merits as a friendly city and a future commercial hub with its international port of entry for investors in our city. It has been mentioned as a possible site for the Apec summit to be held in the Philippines. I still have to experience Christmas and New Year revelry without fire crackers and troubled incidences in the streets. I have to go to Pasig City my hometown to be with my clan as a tradition.
Read more: http://www.sunstar.com.ph/davao/opinion/2014/12/02/hidalgo-palawan-place-interest-me-379704