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  1. #11
    In Puerto Princesa: boutique hotel within a forest

    By Amadís Ma. Guerrero

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    10:53 pm | Saturday, June 1st, 2013

    In a secluded forested area a few kilometers from the urban center of Puerto Princesa, capital city of Palawan, you will come upon an elegant, tastefully-designed (with a brown and white motif) boutique hotel garlanded by the multicolors of flowers, the green of leaves, and the brown of the tree trunks.

    This is the Palo Alto Bed & Breakfast (, owned by entrepreneurs Guido and Lalaine Ylaya. Guido is a civil engineer who designed the hotel himself, while Lalaine heads an insurance agency in Alabang, Metro Manila.

    Palo Alto has been given awards for excellence by Trip Advisor twice in a row, along with other awards.

    “After working in Manila for 25 years, it has always been our dream to have something like this in Puerto Princesa,” says Guido. The dream began to be realized when they invested P600,000 in the present 1,500 square meter lot, buying it in 1995 at P400 per square meter.

    “At first we just wanted a place for ourselves, a family home,” recalls Lalaine. “But then friends learned about it and they started to visit.”

    And so the place built around the trees just grew and grew through the years and became a business, and a chic hotel. An events pavilion (with a swimming pool) good for 200-250 persons followed, along with a travel and tours agency.

    Total investments for the inn reached P15 million.

    Palo Alto’s room rates range from P3,500 for a twin deluxe to P8,500 for a “family deluxe pool view.”

    The hotel is made up of acacia and mangium native wood from Australia, rattan sticks, abaca and capiz shells. “We made it as indigenous as possible,” says Guido.

    The Ylayas’ daughter, Pauline, 23, a marketing graduate of the Ateneo de Manila, takes care of promoting and marketing the hotel, which also conducts tours to the Underground River, (P1,000); Honda Bay islands (P1,000); City Tour (P500); Maoyon River Cruise (P1,500); Estrella Falls (P1, 400); Tabon Cave (P1,600); and a Dos Palmas Resort day tour (P2,500) in Honda Bay.

    Clientele of Palo Alto consist of domestic and foreign tourists, including families, and the hotel (operational since June 2011) has been making a name for itself, winning this and that award.

    The occupancy rate, according to the Ylayas, is 60-75 percent and the ROI (return-on-investment) is being eyed within seven years.

  2. #12
    Palawan’s UN status as eco reserve in peril

    By DJ Yap

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    9:56 am | Saturday, October 5th, 2013

    MANILA, Philippines—The country’s last ecological frontier, Palawan, may lose its status as a “Man and Biosphere Reserve” under the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) if a plan to build a coal-fired power plant in one of its towns pushes through, an environmentalist organization warned.

    The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-Philippines sounded the alarm earlier this week in response to reports that a coal plant would be built in Aborlan town to help meet the province’s increasing electricity needs.

    In a statement, the group warned the construction of the coal plant would threaten Palawan’s natural resources and put at risk its special designation as a Unesco reserve.

    In 1990, Unesco declared Palawan as a Man and Biosphere Reserve, classifying the province as a “site of excellence where new and optimal practices to manage nature and human activities are tested and demonstrated.”

    Palawan hosts two Unesco World Heritage Sites: the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Marine Park and the Puerto Princesa Underground River. Palawan is also one of the country’s most popular tourism hot spots.

    On Monday, some 1,500 students at Western Philippines University students marched to Aborlan to protest the plan, said Lita Sopsop, dean of the university’s College of Arts and Sciences.

    Sopsop, who has a doctorate in Environmental Science from the University of the Philippines-Los Banos, said a coal plant’s adverse effects on Palawan’s marine ecosystem would be “massive.”

    WWF-Philippines said the coal plant was originally supposed to be put up in the town of Narra but it “faced such strong local opposition that the developer was unable to get the local government endorsement it needed to continue with the project.”

    It had to transfer the proposed site to the municipality of Aborlan, the group said.

    “The question is not whether Palawan should develop. The question is how it should develop,” said WWF-Philippines vice chair and chief executive officer Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan.

    WWF-Philippines said it would be highlighting the plight of Palawan through what it called the “Seize Your Power Campaign.” The campaign calls on financial institutions and government to divest from dirty fossil fuel investments and to invest more in cleaner, renewable energy solutions.”

  3. #13
    Women in forefront of anticoal drive in Palawan town

    By Redempto D. Anda

    Inquirer Southern Luzon

    10:47 pm | Friday, September 27th, 2013

    ABORLAN, Southern Palawan—After abandoning its original plan to put up a 15-megawatt coal-fired power facility in the adjoining town of Narra due to intense local opposition headed by its mayor, the Consunji group’s DMCI Powers Inc. has again found itself ranged against mostly women anticoal campaigners in this municipality.

    A village council dominated by women, academics from the state-run Western Philippines University (WPU) and relatives of this town’s fallen hero Dr. Gerry Ortega are leading the snowballing campaign against a proposed coal-fired power plant here.

    Grace Dantic, barangay captain of San Juan, where DMCI plans to construct the power plant, told the Inquirer that the majority of her constituents and their women-dominated village council was opposed to hosting the coal plant.

    “The truth is that most of our constituents don’t want the plant to be put up here. But we will allow DMCI to conduct its information campaign,” Dantic said in Tagalog.

    The local Catholic Church, headed by its parish priest Fr. Armando Limsa, has put up tarpaulins around town calling for opposition to the plant, citing its adverse health effects and its threat to the environment.

    DMCI, in a letter addressed to the barangay council, has expressed interest in finding a suitable place within the coastal village to put up the plant. It had recently scuttled early plans to set up the facility in Narra after the municipality, headed by Mayor Lucena Demaala, refused to endorse the project.

    “As a woman leader, I have an obligation to our people, especially to the women and children, to protect them from the ill effects of the emission of the coal power plant,” Demaala had said.

    DMCI then decided to head for neighboring Aborlan and began efforts to solicit support from the local community, holding a series of meetings in its coastal villages.

    WPU officials have lamented that the provincial government, headed by Gov. Jose Alvarez, is campaigning for support to the coal plant.

    Provincial information officer Gil Acosta confirmed in a radio interview that Alvarez personally spoke with local officials in Aborlan to solicit local endorsement of the coal plant project.

    “This was because of the governor’s strong position that we urgently need additional power supply to spur growth,” he said in Filipino, in an interview with local radio station dwAR.

    On Monday, the administration of WPU, which is located in Barangay San Juan, submitted its position paper to the municipal council of Aborlan opposing the coal plant project.

    Dr. Lita Sopsop, dean of the WPU College of Arts and Sciences, warned the municipal council of the proposed plant’s pollution impact on health and the towns marine resources.

    “The project threatens our sole marine sanctuary. We can only hope the municipal council will reject it,” Sopsop said.

    The women relatives of murdered journalist and anticorruption campaigner Ortega, including his family, who lives in Aborlan, launched this week an online campaign against the coal plant in a bid to pressure local officials not to allow the project.

    “If Kuya Gerry were alive today, he’ll be in the forefront of this campaign,” Ortega’s younger sister, Angela, said.

    “We vehemently reject the building of any structure that will snatch away our health, our life and our children’s future,” she added.

    The Palawan Electric Cooperative, which awarded DMCI a 25-MW supply contract following an open technology bidding, said DMCI could not meet its mandated schedule to start operations because of its failure to secure permits.

    While DMCI had previously secured the support of most political leaders of the province, including the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, which issues a special clearance to all environmentally sensitive projects in the province, it has yet to hurdle the opposition in the communities.

  4. #14
    ‘Yolanda’ spoils foreign tourists’ vacation

    By TJ Burgonio

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    4:50 am | Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

    CORON, Palawan—Stranded for days, tourists scrambled to fly out of this famed diving and snorkeling haven, lest they get caught in another storm.

    As soon as the domestic airport here resumed operations on Monday, hundreds of tourists—foreign and local—made a beeline for the terminal for a flight to Manila and elsewhere.

    More than half of the estimated 444 tourists took the first available flight out of Coron, said Mayor Clara Reyes.

    “We’ve been coming here since Friday, and they would say go back, and wait for advice,” Russian Kovalenko Vladimir said while waiting for a flight to Cebu on Tuesday.

    Vladimir, who flew to Coron with his extended family of 11 on Oct. 28, said they were booked for a flight out of Coron on Friday.

    All the flights were canceled that day as Supertyphoon “Yolanda” barreled across the Visayas before swirling out into the West Philippine Sea, leaving in its wake a high death toll and massive destruction.

    English Nicholas Dean and Stephanie Hasset, slouched on the floor of the terminal’s predeparture area, said they had been waiting for a flight back to Manila since Friday.

    Dean, 31, a construction consultant, and Hassett, 32, said they had to move out from their “guesthouse” after a tree crashed on it. They had earlier moved from another guesthouse on stilts amid fears of storm surge.

    “We haven’t seen anything like this. Not in our lifetime. We’re from England and we don’t have typhoons there,” Dean said.

    Coron draws an average of 100,000 tourists every year, raking in a conservative P1 billion, local officials said. Divers around the world are drawn to the World War II shipwrecks underwater, while locals prefer to go island-hopping.

    Yolanda’s fury, however, has left a deep impact on the tourists.

    “We had to cover windows with pillows because of the strong winds. We covered our kids with blankets. We didn’t sleep all night,” said Vladimir, a 37-year-old businessman from Vladivostok. “It was scary.”

    Vladimir and his family stayed at Koko’s Nuss, which was in shambles.

    “It was fiercer than the hurricane we encountered in Fiji last winter,” he said.

    Rehabilitation work

    It was the Vladimirs’ second trip to Coron in five years. But given the huge damage left by the supertyphoon, Vladimir said they have no plans of flying back soon.

    “It needs more time for recovery,” he said. “It was beautiful then, but not now.”

    Mayor Reyes agreed that it may take time before the industry could fully recover. But she acknowledged that businesses have the capability to get back on their feet on their own.

    She has called a meeting of all the stakeholders to assess the damage and draw up measures to restore tourism to its old vibrant self.

    “We can’t let this halt the local tourism industry,” she said.

    At least 11 people, including a 69-year-old Dutch diver, died in Yolanda’s deadly onslaught in Coron. Like the other affected areas, food was a major problem. The municipality’s 45,000 people have only two days’ supply of rice.

    The supertyphoon destroyed 85 percent of the houses, power lines, business establishments, crops, livestock and aquaculture. Officials estimated the damage at a minimum P5 billion.

    “We were isolated,” Reyes said in an interview inside the sweltering Coron coliseum behind the municipal hall where she supervised relief operations.

    She said the National Food Authority in Coron had only 200 sacks of rice left. It didn’t help that 980 of the 1,000 registered fishing boats were damaged.

    “That’s why we’re appealing to the media outlets. There’s so much attention on the Visayan region. Of course, they need more. But we hope they will not forget other areas hit by the storm, especially Coron. It’s really hard in Coron; we were totally isolated,” Reyes said.

    There are 12,000 people in evacuation centers in the 23 barangays (villages).

    Soup kitchens

    To deal with the dwindling food provisions, Reyes said she planned to set up soup kitchens, distributing porridge mixed with noodles twice a day.

    Sensing their boredom in the aftermath of the storm, Reyes said she had asked tourists to help pack relief goods that came from local businessmen. “Now there’s nothing to pack,” she said.

    To prevent prices from spiraling, she said the local government would purchase all the rice, sugar and coffee, and other basic commodities and sell them at the right price.

    Since power was down, the municipal government and the rest of the business establishments were relying on generators. It may take two months before the power lines are rebuilt and become operational in the town proper.

    Four days after the storm, the town proper was now bustling with activity; the public market, retail stores, souvenir shops and hotels were open for business. The debris from fallen trees is slowly being cleared off the streets.

    But the scars remain. From the air, one could see streaks of brown—fallen trees whose leaves have turned brown—across the face of the island’s otherwise green mountains.

    Getting off the airplane, the first thing a tourist would see is the blown-off roof of the old terminal of the domestic airport, and then the missing glass walls that had been shattered by Yolanda.

    The winding road to and from the airport in the middle of a vast expanse of green remains littered with fallen trees and a stalled jeepney that turned on its side because of the strong winds.

    “It’s the fiercest storm in memory,” said driver Joselito Villoga.

  5. #15
    Tourism back in business in Palawan, Boracay

    By Marlon Ramos

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    2:20 am | Friday, December 6th, 2013

    The tourism industry in Palawan and Aklan has bounced back from the destruction wrought by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” nearly a month after the monster typhoon thumped the two provinces and other areas in the Visayas, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said yesterday.
    “Definitely, the tourism industry in Palawan and Boracay is back in business,” Roxas said in a statement.
    Along with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, Roxas visited Puerto Princesa City in Palawan and the world-famous Boracay island in Aklan last week.
    They also visited 13 other towns in Palawan to check on the situation and the needs of typhoon survivors. They then went back to Aklan before flying to Capiz and Iloilo.
    Quick recovery
    Roxas said the two tourist destinations were not among the worst hit by Yolanda.
    “We have met with tourism stakeholders and concerned government officials in Palawan and Boracay who have informed us that they are back in business despite some minor hitches,” Roxas said.
    “I’m pleased that the tourism industry has recovered quickly… I admire the resiliency that the people of Palawan and Boracay showed in rebuilding their communities,” he said.
    Roxas assured the resort operators and other stakeholders of the government’s support for the local tourism industry, underscoring the need to fast-track repairs of damaged infrastructures in time for the holiday season.
    Roxas, vice-chair of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), also reminded the local government units (LGUs) in typhoon-ravaged areas to “build safer communities.”
    ‘New normal’
    Saying “Yolanda (is) the new normal,” the interior secretary said LGUs should review and update their respective Comprehensive Land Use Plans (CLUPs) and Comprehensive Development Plans (CDPs) to minimize the adverse effects of the climate change.
    “We have learned an important lesson from this tragedy. Local governments should seriously consider the construction of safer communities,” Roxas said.
    “We have no choice but to build safer communities. Every life is important. Time is of the essence. We have to do what we can to save lives.”
    He said the review of CLUPs, CDPs and zoning ordinances would help LGUs “come up with a ‘build better’ plan guided by latest geological assessments that will minimize, if not totally prevent casualties, in times of natural disasters.”
    Citing the Local Government Code of 1991, Roxas said local chief executives were mandated to prepare, revise and update the comprehensive land use plan of every province and municipality “which shall be enacted through a zoning ordinance.”
    “CLUP is a planning document prepared by LGUs to rationalize the allocation and proper use of land resources. It projects public and private land uses in accordance with the future spatial organization of economic and social activities,” Roxas said.

  6. #16
    Vietnamese cuisine gets acculturated in Palawan

    By Micky Fenix

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    4:33 am | Thursday, January 9th, 2014

    All that remains of the Vietnamese refugee camp in Palawan is a big hut that spells out “Vietville” at the entrance. But that’s not accurate. In the kitchen, there are two elderly Vietnamese ladies who cook the food served at the restaurant. And our waiter, “Jojo,” as he likes to call himself, is also Vietnamese.

    I had so wanted to go to the camp during my first visit in the last decade of the old millennium. I wanted to see the herbs planted for the ingredients used in the cuisine such as sawtooth, mint and basil. But, at the time, the place was too far off downtown Puerto Princesa.

    Fortunately, on my recent visit to Palawan, Vietville was on the way to Daluyon Resort in Sabang, our group’s final destination. Our host, Butch Tan Jr., wanted us to taste what is now part of Palawan’s cuisine.

    Jojo introduced us to his mother, Le-thé Ngoc Minh, who was still doing her prep for the fresh lumpia (goi cuon) which we would have as appetizer. His aunt, Pham thé Anh, learned to cook from his mother, and the elderly duo did their Vietnamese dishes we had ordered. Most of the dishes were familiar to me, having ordered them at restaurants in Manila and in Ho Chi Minh City.


    We had two soups because we needed a stomach-warming first meal. The pho bo (beef noodles) was like a warm welcome to the province and a spirit-reviving dish, after the stress of travel and no proper breakfast due to the early morning flight. The other was a shrimp sour soup like our sinigang.

    There was pork barbecue (thit nuong) and lapu-lapu in tausi, which, taken with rice, were quite filling. And to think we had another carbo loading because we just had to have the French bread with roasted pork (banh mi thit).

    The French bread is baked by Jojo and we were so impressed by the texture and taste that we ordered some to take home. We were to pass by for the bread on the way back to the town from Sabang. Just place them in the freezer, Jojo said, and it can last a long time.

    The bread didn’t last that long because the boys at home couldn’t get enough of them. But friends who got their share of the bread said it was still good after two months.

    ‘Chow lang’

    I remembered another visit to Puerto Princesa when tricycle drivers told us that they liked to eat at Vietnamese restaurants because the food was cheap. One of the drivers brought us to Bona’s Chao Long Haus and Restaurant. It was one of the oldest, opened in 1995 by Nguyen Lan, who migrated to the United States after he sold the rights to the Bona family in 2000.

    Chao Long turned out to be pho with its noodles, but the soup was orange in color because a daughter-in-law of the Bonas gave it a Chinese twist. The thing is, chao long is Vietnamese porridge, so the name is wrong. We asked Jojo of Vietville to explain, but his answer did not clear things up because he said the name came from Filipinos who said the soup was “Chow lang,” (only food).

    Vietville Restaurant opened in 1996. Outside the dining area, what remains of what must have been a big camp are a smattering of houses, a gazebo that honors the Virgin Mary, and another one farther down that has a Buddha statue done by former Vietnamese camp habitués.

    The elderly ladies in the kitchen told me that they sailed from Saigon on an American navy boat. One of them married a Filipino journalist she met during the Vietnam War, and she spelled out his name on my notebook. That’s probably why she decided to stay on.

    Jojo’s mother seemed to like living in Puerto Princesa, and so made the temporary arrangement permanent.

    The two cooks both have two children, who, we hope, will learn to cook from their parents and keep alive the lore that, once upon a time, there were Vietnamese refugees in Palawan.

    There’s more of our Palawan sojourn next week, including Sabang that is near the Underground River. But, for me, the main attraction is Filipino food, Palawan dishes that were a surprise to find in a resort.

  7. #17
    Palawan is ‘top island in the world’

    By Matikas Santos | 2:52 pm |

    Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

    MANILA, Philippines—With its world-renowned underground river, the island of Palawan in the Philippines emerged as the top island destination in a poll by an award-winning US travel magazine.

    Beating 147 other islands throughout the world, Palawan was voted as “Top Island in the World” in the 27th annual Readers’ Choice Awards of Conde Nast Traveler magazine.

    The magazine announced the results on its website Monday October 20 (US Time) after over 76,600 readers cast their votes.

    Palawan was given a rating of 88.750 by the readers owing mostly because of the declaration of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River as one of the new seven natural wonders of the world.

    “Palawan’s natural wonder is one of the longest underground rivers in the world, traveling five miles through a subterranean cave system. Guided boat tours take visitors down a portion of the waterway, where karsts, natural rock formations created by dissolving limestone, loom in every direction,” the magazine said.

    Boracay Island in Aklan province was also included in the ranking at number 12 and given a rating of 82.683.

    “This itty-bitty island (10 square miles) in the Philippines is as close to the tropical idyll ideal as you’ll find in the Philippines, with gentle coastlines and transporting sunsets. Add in a thriving nightlife scene, and you have one of the top tourist spots in the region,” the magazine said.

    “The aptly named White Beach is Boracay’s main draw, with powdery white sand and shallow azure water ideal for swimming and snorkeling,” it said.

    Palawan was able to beat other world-famous islands such as Bora Bora in French Polynesia (25th), Maldives (19th), Bali in Indonesia (17th), Bermuda (14th), Santorini and Cyclades in Greece (7th), and Maui in Hawaii (3rd).

    The Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Survey started in 1988. The 2014 survey got 76,659 responses

    “Individual candidates are judged on a set of criteria relevant to their category, based on a standard five-point scale: excellent, very good, good, fair, and poor,” Conde Nast explained in how they are ranked.

  8. #18
    Palawan, The Most Beautiful Island In The World, Is Sheer Perfection

    The Huffington Post |

    By Carly Ledbetter

    Posted: 11/24/2014 7:00 am EST Updated: 12/08/2014 11:59 am EST

    It's hard to believe the Philippines are an under-appreciated tropical travel destination, especially with their extraordinary hiking, diving, beaches and of course -- islands that are THIS beautiful.

    And while we'd like to visit every single island in the Philippines, there's one island in particular we're zeroing in on -- Palawan, a hidden piece of paradise that was recently named "The Top Island in the World" by Conde Nast Traveler's Reader Choice Awards.

    There, beautiful blue water mixes with emerald green, jungle-filled mountains that appear to rise up from the ocean, and small fishing villages dot the island. Together with its neighboring islands, it creates the Palawan province, aka paradise.

    Described as "the last frontier," Palawan has artifacts that date back 50,000 years. The island is accessible by either boat or airplane -- it's about an hour and a half by air from Manila-- although you can also get there from Iloilo and Cebu. Many say the ideal time to head to Palawan is between about October and May, so we suggest booking tickets ASAP.

    High points include island-hopping around the Bacuit archipelago for the cliffs, sinkholes and lagoons, venturing to Puerto Princesa for its culinary delights and staying in one of Coron's "otherworldly" luxury hotels.

    Incredible (and rare) wildlife can be found on the islands, from purple crabs and Philippine mouse-deer to Philippine pangolin and beautiful butterflies. Just be sure to avoid the creepy-looking Palawan bearcat at night.

    We suggest heading into the water and going below the surface. Palawan has some of the best spots to scuba dive in the world -- barracuda-filled shipwrecks, for example, line the bottom of Coron Bay.

    If diving sounds too scary, try a tour of Palawan's subterranean river (which UNESCO calls "one of the most unique" in the world) or take a bangka boat to travel between the islands.

    Once you're back on land, hop on a "tricycle," one of the preferred methods of transportation on Palawan. We're pretty sure that after all the biking, swimming and exploring you'll do -- you'll never want to leave.

  9. #19
    Top 8 things to do in Coron

    Author: Joan Lopez-Flores

    Monday, 01 December 2014

    Ways to make the most of your vacation in Palawan’s hidden paradise

    Idyllic, scenic and majestic, Coron has been a go-to destination for tourists hoping to get a glimpse of paradise. From pristine white-sand beaches and towering limestone cliffs to agate-blue waters and world-class diving sites, its awe-inspiring scenery alone makes it worth a visit.

    But there’s more to Coron than its sightseeing opportunities. It also offers a wealth of fun activities and exciting adventures you’re not likely to experience elsewhere. Here are Skyscanner's favorites:

    1. Hop from island to island

    If you’re visiting Coron for the first time, then island hopping is an absolute must. It’s your ticket to seeing as much of the area’s natural wonders as you can in a day (or two). You can sign up for tour packages or charter a private boat to take you around. Rates vary based on the destinations to be covered and are typically inclusive of a beach buffet lunch.

    Up for an underwater adventure? Make sure your itinerary includes the following:

    • Siete Picados, with its abundant and diverse marine life, including massive corals

    • Barracuda Lake, home to a 1.5-meter-long barracuda

    • Twin Lagoons, which features a small underwater cave leading to an inner lagoon, and the Twin Peaks, sought for its colorful reefs and fish

    • Shipwreck dive sites such as the Skeleton Wreck, Lusong Gunboat Shipwreck and Irako Maru. Some are visible at 10 to 30 feet, while others reach depths of 120 to 140 feet.

    Prefer taking a relaxing dip or basking under the sun? Do drop by:

    • Kayangan Lake, one of Asia’s cleanest lakes. Stop by the lagoon at the midpoint of the trek to this lake. They say it’s Coron’s most photographed site.

    • The lovely and idyllic white-sand beaches of Banana Island, Bulog Island, Malaroyroy Island and Malcapuya Island (where you can also camp under the stars!)

    2. Experience a slice of Africa in Calauit

    Surprising fact: Coron hosts giraffes and zebras from Kenya and you can watch them roaming freely at the Calauit Game Preserve and Wildlife Sanctuary. You can even feed the giraffes yourself by holding out twigs of their favorite leaves!

    The 3,700-hectare sanctuary also counts gazelles, impalas and waterbucks among its African residents, along with endemic Philippine species such as the Calamian deer, bear cat and Palawan peacock pheasant. Trust us, it’s worth the travel time (at least two and a half hours from the town proper if you travel by land and three to four hours via boat ride).

    3. See the lights float in Malbato

    While the tour is called Starry Starry Night, the stars of this boat ride are actually Malbato’s fireflies and planktons and their tiny sparks and luminescent glow (although if you’re lucky, you might catch a meteor shower too). Sign up with Kingfisher Park, and its staff will take you out to the sea at about 7:30 p.m. for an hour of this ethereal light show.

    During the day, Kingfisher Park arranges treks to the Lunes Santo mountain and Kaluluwang Falls as well as kayak rides through astounding mangroves. It also welcomes bird watchers.

    4. Hit the trail on two wheels

    Want to go off-the-beaten path? Rent a mountain bike or motorcycle at one of the town’s shops and explore Coron’s backyard at your own pace. You’ll be traversing a lot of dirt roads, but the scenery that awaits you—from beaches and mangrove forests to waterfalls and rivers—will make it all worthwhile. Just don’t forget to take a look at the suggested routes posted in most shops before you head out.
    Biking at Kingfisher Park.

    5. Saddle up at Horse Valley

    If you prefer taking in Coron’s sights at a more leisurely stride, go horseback riding. The Horse Valley, about a kilometer from town, opens its doors to beginners and experts alike. One of the most popular trails around the ranch passes through the forests at the foot of Mount Tundalara, Palawan’s second-highest mountain. Others weave through farms and over hills, offering equally picturesque vistas.

    6. Savor the views atop Tapyas Hills

    As long as you don’t mind climbing 700-plus steps to its summit, Mount Tapyas will reward you with sweeping views of the entire town plus the outlying Calamian islands. Among one of the tallest peaks in Coron, it also provides a wonderful vantage point for watching sunsets. So schedule your hike later in the afternoon and wait for the sun to dip below the horizon.

    7. Enjoy a soothing or refreshing dip

    Cap off an exhausting day with a relaxing dip at the infinity pools of the Maquinit Hot Spring. The waters here actually come from a dormant volcano (Mount Darala), so the temperature ranges somewhere between 38 and 41 degrees Celsius—perfect for those chilly, breezy nights. While you can drop by earlier in the day, the best time to visit is from 5 p.m. onwards.

    But if you want to cool down after spending hours under the sun, there’s a small but alluring waterfall in Concepcion that’s worth visiting. Fair warning: It can get really cold!

    8. Pay a visit to the Tagbanuas

    Did you know that some of Coron’s top attractions (including Kayangan Lake, Twin Lagoons and Barracuda Lake) are managed by the Tagbanua tribe? You can find the stewards of these sites nearby; just look for the small nipa huts on stilts. But their communities can be found in a more remote part of the island. If you want to gain some cultural insight into their way of life, spend one or two days with them. Step into their homes; join the men as they harvest seaweed and catch fish and octopus using spears; learn how kurot (a wild tuber that’s a staple in Coron) is prepared and cooked; and watch them climb cliffs and caves to gather swift nests (nests made from birds’ saliva and the primary ingredient in Chinese birds’ nest soup).

  10. #20
    I want to put this here as a warning that Palawan could be next if they follow the Boracay model...

    Save Boracay

    Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:27 AM | Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

    As many as 80,000 tourists are estimated to have descended on Boracay during the Labor Day weekend. Last year it was over 50,000, with the majority of the visitors flocking to the 4-kilometer sliver of coastline known as White Beach at the western side of the island. There, revelers typically engage in a nonstop whirl of beach parties, water activities, sports events, music concerts and the like. In 2014, Boracay received a staggering 1,472,352 tourists, both local and foreign, a figure higher by 100,000 compared to 2013. But that number even fell short of the official government target, which was 1.5 million tourist arrivals.

    At a mere 1,032 hectares, Boracay is fast approaching its saturation point, if it hasn’t already. The green algal bloom that has regularly coated the island’s waters in recent years is back, tarring the pristine pinkish-white sand that has made Boracay justly famous worldwide. Business establishments have blithely dismissed the algae as a seasonal event that occurs naturally, but environmentalists insist it has a more immediate cause: the indiscriminate dumping of sewage and refuse by residents and visitors directly into the waters, resulting in fecal matter and coliform bacteria polluting the very sea in which hordes of people, many of them children and whole families, swim and frolic. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has concurred with this assessment; according to Secretary Ramon Paje, the algal bloom is the result of “poor waste management, with sewage being dumped into the waters.”

    So what has the DENR been doing about it? In February it warned commercial establishments against further polluting the waters by discharging their waste into the sea—a useful reminder, except for the fact that the problem of water pollution in Boracay, like the algae that appears to be its increasingly frequent manifestation, is not a recent phenomenon. Concerned locals and environmentalists alike have long warned about the dangers of pell-mell development on the fragile island, but as tourism has grown, and with it enormous revenues for both the local and national governments (last year’s tourism receipts were a whopping P27 billion), unregulated infrastructure has continued to rise, tourists from all over the world are streaming in unhampered, and everyone is cashing in on the good times while the waters and the beach that have made Boracay one of the world’s paradise destinations is being run to the ground by overcrowding, carelessness and plain mismanagement.

    Some 331 resorts currently jostle for prime space on Boracay’s precious coastline; a 2013 list prepared by the DENR indicated that as many as 293 structures were in violation of the requirement that all buildings should be at least 30 meters from the shore, to protect the beach from subsidence and allow for adequate public access. Many establishments have since complied with the easement requirement, but a more urgent problem remains: Not all structures, whether residential or commercial, are connected to the drainage system being operated by the sole sewerage company operating for the entire island. The sewage system is designed to accommodate only the enormous refuse coughed up by Boracay’s toilets on a daily basis; the garbage generated by visitors is another matter. The Department of Tourism estimates that a tourist is bound to produce at least one kilo of trash; multiply that by the 80,000 “Laboracay” revelers alone that had most recently flooded the island, and you get a waste management problem of nightmare proportions.

    The Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, a coalition of at least 40 environmental groups nationwide, is urging the DENR to put a temporary stop to any more development activities on Boracay until the island has had time to breathe and recover. “Aside from mismanagement, Boracay’s environmental problems show that tourism activities have exceeded the capacity of the island’s ecology to rejuvenate itself,” it said.

    It’s a sensible suggestion. The alternative—Boracay rapidly going to seed, laid waste by greed and neglect and other wholly avoidable afflictions—is an unacceptable option. Sitio Bulabog at the eastern side of the island has already registered dangerous levels of coliform. If it remains business as usual on Boracay, how long before pollution further spreads to other areas and spells disaster for one of the Philippines’ greatest—and irreplaceable—natural attractions?

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