On the weekend of Nov. 30th last year, Jon Limjap got the chance to visit Puerto Princesa City on a three-days leisure trip with his wife and her barkada. "We were supposed to go the week before, but typhoons Lando and Mina had us rebook it." Jon is a 27-year old software developer, married, and has a 3 year old daughter. He blogs a bit and help out in his wife's travel agency business.
On the first day, they took the Honda Bay tour, snorkeling at Starfish, and Snake Islands. On the second day, they went to the Underground River and visited Estrella Falls on the third day.
During this trip, Jon had difficulty in choosing between the snorkeling at Honda Bay and the Underground River tour. "It's the first time for everyone in the trip except me, and my "motive" for going to the Underground River was to photograph what I had first seen as a teener more than 10 years ago. The snorkeling, on the other hand, was a new experience for me, and I had fun seeing all those fish and corals in their natural habitat for the first time."
Jon considers Palawan unique from all the places in the Philippines because of the community effort to keep the province's ecotourism industry alive. "Everyone would remind you of their strict no-littering law (to the detriment of one of our chain-smoking companions, even!), nobody's too keen on the urban development the rest of the Philippines is drooling for -- simply because ecotourism has become their livelihood and preserving nature is to the best of their interest."
"It is also the first time I saw the traditional Philippine rural setup again. In various places in Luzon (my wife was born in Pangasinan so we always go there) farm houses are concrete-and-hollowblock affairs or shanties with plywood walls and corrugated steel roofs. In Palawan I got to see the traditional bahay kubo (nipa hut) in all its glory. I guess we owe that to the fact that they don't get typhoons much, but it was nostalgic for me to be able to see a bahay kubo which I thought has all but been erased from Philippine culture."
"Carabao use was still widespread too, unlike in Luzon where they are being replaced with motorized hand-tractors.
And then there are the limestone cliffs -- you never get to see that anywhere else. The beaches are comparable to everywhere else but those limestone cliffs make the scene simply amazing."
With his recent trip experience, Jon now wants to live there!
"The city in itself has all the urban amenities that I need thus far: electricity, water, internet connection, and cable TV. The roads are wide and clean (I admire Rizal Avenue's design, where parking space for cars were taken into account along with the width of the road). And then a few hours drive away is paradise. I'm not sure if there's any other place in the country quite like it."
He now looks forward in going back there either in late 2008 or in 2009. "We intend to take up the Dolphin watching tour which we missed. We'd also like to explore the rest of Palawan outside of Puerto Princesa, perhaps Fort Barton (which I heard had the 7 km white beach comparable to Boracay), El Nido, or perhaps Coron, Busuanga. I'll still have to figure out when I could buy a house there though."