"Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Philippines Tour"
25.04.2008 - 28.04.2008
When my eldest daughter told her mama that she will give her the Philippine Air Lines’ rewards for a free plane ticket, her mama said she wanted to go to Palawan. It was her long time dream to go to Palawan. You see, from 1987 to 1999, I was a frequent visitor of Palawan. That was when I was with the Department of Agriculture and we were implementing the Palawan Integrated Area Development Project Phase II. As the coordinator of the implementation of the Agriculture components of the Project, I had to go Palawan often for the activities related to its implementation. However, during that long period, my wife was not able to join me even for only a trip to Palawan and thanks to our daughter she was now able to finally visit Palawan!
My wife planned to have her friend Ophie joined her for the trip but at the last minute, Ophie backed out. I have no other choice but to accompany her to Palawan. Good enough, there was still an available seat with my favorite airline - Cebu Pacific Air for Manila-Puerto Princesa-Manila. The arrangement was that I will have to take Cebu Pacific while my wife took PAL Business Class!
On the travel date, I arrived Puerto Princesa at 9:00 a.m., 10 minutes earlier than my wife. We immediately took a motorcycle cab from the airport to the house of my brother Ricardo. I asked the driver how much will he charge us if we will hire him to take us around the city for a site seeing trip. I told him after we will go to Iwahig Penal Colony, then to Palawan Crocodile Farm, then to the ranch house of the late Speaker Ramon V. Mitra and back to downtown. The driver charged us only P600 in addition to the fare of P70.00 from the airport to the house of my brother in Princesa Homes near Western Command. That was really cheap considering that the tourism leaflets I got at the airport showed that price for such trip will be P600.00 per person!
Iwahig Penal Colony is 13 kilometers from downtown Puerto Princesa. After only 9 years since the last time I was here, the entire stretch of the highway from downtown Puerto Princesa to Iwahig is now full of new business and residential houses! All the way from San Jose to Irawan and to Iwahig newly-built houses already transformed the land use for agricultural to residential/commercial!
I am afraid that soon, the Iwahig Penal Colony will have to be relocated. It will be very tempting for the "colonos" to escape and mix with the community as it is no longer isolated!
It was rice planting time at the Iwahig Penal Farm when we were there. The Penal Store was still selling the handicrafts made by the "colonos". We did not buy anything from the Penal Store but when we were taking pictures with the old recreation hall which was constructed during the commonwealth era as our backdrop, a visayan colono asked me to buy from him key chains made of "kamagong" as a way of helping him. We bought few key chains from him for pasalubong.
Next stop was the Pawalan Crocodile Farm. The farm which was a a brain child of former DENR Secretary and fraternity brod Teodoro Q. Pena has some 1,500 baby crocodiles in its rearing ponds. It is nice to know that the Crocodile Farm survived all these years after the foreign funding ended and after the local politicians could not agree what to do it. Its operation is now locally-funded.
We then visited the ranch house of the late Speaker Ramon V. Mitra in Sta. Monica. It is amazing to see that after the late Speaker had constructed his ranch house in that area, several other rich individuals had also constructed their mansions nearby. The view of Honda Bay from the ranch house is simply breathtaking! The ranch house is a tourist spot! The family of the late Speaker specially the son, Congressman Baham Mitra allows the tourists to visit the ranch house and even come inside for photo ops.
We had lunch in Balinsasayaw Grill. Late in the afternoon, we visited the Badjao Beach Front. The full-grown bakawan trees along the beach are very impressive!
We had dinner at Ka Lui Restaurant where we met Mayor Edward S. Hagedorn who asked us to vote the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park for the New7Wonders of Nature! You may also vote for it by logging on: www.new7Wonders.com. You can also visit www.puerto-undergroundriver.com.
Next post, our trip to the underground river.