Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Palawan Wedding Experience

Located at the southern part of the Philippines, Palawan is said to be the last frontier in this part of the world. The place is host to some breathtaking sights and wonders of nature where visitors would dub it “paradise lost—and found.” People from all over the world come to Palawan to witness and experience nature at its very best. Locals often migrate and spend their retirement away from the hustle and bustle of the city life in one of the places there and truly are bowled over by its magnificent sights to offer.

Life in Palawan is so simple yet so full, light but always bursting with excitement and anticipation. People would often dream of spending their special occasions on the shores of one of those beaches in Palawan where sparking sands and blue waters lure the free spirited souls.

Let me share with you the fascinating experience of Ricky Barba who picked Palawan as their wedding venue in 2003. His bride and family members were so mesmerized and captivated that having a good time and so much excitement was an understatement.

Ricky Barba joined South East Asian Urban Development (SEAUD) as Safeguards Specialist last October. A national of the Philippines, he obtained his Master’s degree in Economics from the National University of Singapore and his Bachelor’s degree in Development Economics from the University of the Philippines, Los Banos (UPLB).

Ricky started his career teaching at UPLB in 1991, and while in UPLB was involved in various research projects on poverty and income inequality assessment. From 1995 to 1996, he was a Research Associate for USAID’s Environmental and Natural Resource Accounting Project III. For 11 years, he worked as a consultant for various departments of ADB and since 2004, has assisted SEAUD in ensuring projects complied with safeguards policies. The following is our conversation with him:

Question: Do you have any other place in mind to visit before deciding to go to Palawan?
RB: Bali.

Question: Who’s with you? Are you alone or with your family?
RB: My wife, our parents, my wife's siblings, our best friends.

Question: Why Palawan? How did it become your choice of place to visit?

RB: We initially wanted to go to Indonesia, as my wife and I have spent a lot of time in Indonesia--but our requirements were quite straightforward, a place we could gather immediate family together which would be an escape from work and Palawan was the better option to Bali.

Question: Before visiting Palawan, do you have any expectations on what’s in store for you there? Any apprehensions or doubts?
RB: We had gone on a trip first before deciding on the resort. We had no doubts and what we saw exceeded our expectations.

Question: Where exactly in Palawan did you stay? And what sort of activities you have?

RB: We stayed in El Nido, roamed a bit in Puerto Princesa City. We got married in Palawan, we had a luau party, we kayaked, and we hiked around the island, swam and snorkeled a lot of course.

Question: It sure was a lot of fun and good times. How do you find the locals there? Any difference in terms of character in where you came from?
RB: They were largely the same--curious, eager to help. The priest in our wedding was from Puerto Princesa City.

Question: Exactly how do you feel the moment you looked around and marveled the place? Can you define it? Any similarity in any place you have already visited?

RB: It gives you a feeling that the Philippines truly has a lot more to offer. It was quite a refreshing place. Very tranquil and relaxing too. The limestone formations are similar to Halong Bay in Vietnam. The beaches are comparable other island clusters. But the fact that it's in the Philippines makes you feel at home.

Question: Before you came to Palawan what exactly you have in mind? Do you expect a place that resembles a paradise? Or just another place to visit just for the sake of it?
RB: Yes, we hoped it would be like paradise and it was!

Question: Do you think visiting the place with your family coming along is worth it in terms of expenses and experience?
RB: Yes. Our family especially enjoyed our advance trip to Puerto Princesa. We went to Palawan State College museum and looked at archaeological and ethnological collections from Tabon caves and some artifacts from Cuyo Island. We enjoyed it.

Question: If you are going to rate Palawan against any other places that you visited. 10 as highest and 1 as the lowest what would it be? Why?

RB: 10. It couldn't be any better. I hope it remains as is and does not become overdeveloped and crowded.

Question: What do you think is the distinction of Palawan and its people? Do they have any distinguishing traits or culture that makes them memorable to visitors?
RB: They are the same as all Filipinos--warm and friendly. That is memorable to all non-Filipinos.

Question: What places in Palawan would you recommend to a new comer?

RB: Lagen or Miniloc in El Nido, and Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. The underground river there is truly amazing and navigable. This river stretches eight kilometers deep into an underground lagoon with crystalline waters. I suggest you visit first Puerto Princesa. Being the capital of Palawan and the nerve center of it, you can decide your options there by getting around familiarizing with the place and the locals especially if you had plans of migrating and settling in the place.

Palawan is truly a paradise, an amazing place where breath taking sights will continue to astound your imagination, more so when a most important moment of your life is spent there just like Ricky's wedding. Having it with your family and friends is quite an exhilarating experience—but sharing it to the world is another thing. I’m glad Ricky agreed to share with me a piece of his encounter in bliss, and I’m sharing it to the world in this piece.

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