Puerto Princesa, Palawan: A Return to Love, Advent

Tripoto
23rd Dec 2014
Photo of Puerto Princesa, Palawan: A Return to Love, Advent by Gian and Sheila
Photo of Puerto Princesa, Palawan: A Return to Love, Advent by Gian and Sheila
Photo of Puerto Princesa, Palawan: A Return to Love, Advent by Gian and Sheila
Photo of Puerto Princesa, Palawan: A Return to Love, Advent by Gian and Sheila
Photo of Puerto Princesa, Palawan: A Return to Love, Advent by Gian and Sheila
Photo of Puerto Princesa, Palawan: A Return to Love, Advent by Gian and Sheila
Photo of Puerto Princesa, Palawan: A Return to Love, Advent by Gian and Sheila
Photo of Puerto Princesa, Palawan: A Return to Love, Advent by Gian and Sheila
Photo of Puerto Princesa, Palawan: A Return to Love, Advent by Gian and Sheila
Photo of Puerto Princesa, Palawan: A Return to Love, Advent by Gian and Sheila
Photo of Puerto Princesa, Palawan: A Return to Love, Advent by Gian and Sheila
Photo of Puerto Princesa, Palawan: A Return to Love, Advent by Gian and Sheila
Photo of Puerto Princesa, Palawan: A Return to Love, Advent by Gian and Sheila
Photo of Puerto Princesa, Palawan: A Return to Love, Advent by Gian and Sheila
Photo of Puerto Princesa, Palawan: A Return to Love, Advent by Gian and Sheila
Photo of Puerto Princesa, Palawan: A Return to Love, Advent by Gian and Sheila
Photo of Puerto Princesa, Palawan: A Return to Love, Advent by Gian and Sheila

Love is sweeter the second time around! No, don’t get us wrong. We didn’t fight, break up, and reconciled. Rather, Sheila and I have been in this amazing relationship for two years! Yes, two years of love, inspiration, travel, and adventure, and we’re still going strong. In concordance with our love for each other, we wanted to celebrate our second year together by doing something nostalgic and special.

We decided to return to where we celebrated our first year together, in the paradise island of Palawan. This time, however, we decided to let other friends join in our anniversary adventure. With us were lovely Alexa; the Duders Kristine, Lilian, and Muffins; the mountaineer sisters Agnes, Sam, and Reynen; and the sweet family Kei, Zaldy, and Eli.

Except for us, it was their first time to set foot in Puerto Princesa, and they were utterly excited. But the real adventure—and our real 2nd year anniversary celebration—is 238 kilometers north of Puerto Princesa. Yes, we celebrated our 2nd year anniversary in the municipality of El Nido.

Our excitement for this trip had a tight grip on us since the night before. So much so that we woke up really early even though our flight was still scheduled at noontime! Thus, Sweetie, Alexa, and I were at the airport a little before 9AM. We were there before the check-in counters opened! Duders Kristine, Lilian, and Muffins arrived at around 10AM. In no time at all, we boarded the Cebu Pacific aircraft that would take us to Puerto Princesa.
 

For Sweetie and I, it was such a nostalgic feeling when the aircraft reached its cruising altitude. The one-hour flight suddenly brought pleasant memories of our first anniversary last year. After all, we celebrated the first year of our relationship in beautiful Puerto Princesa.

For Alexa, it was an exhilarating, wondrous experience. You see, it was her first time to actually see cottony clouds and the clear, blue sky in daylight! True, she has been flyingwith us a couple of times, but we always flew at night or early morning. During those times, she couldn’t see anything outside but darkness.

It only took around 10 minutes from the airport to reach the humble but very cozy Victoria Guest House and Cottages, our home for the next couple of nights. Victoria Guest House and Cottages is an affordable bed-and-breakfast that does not only offer excellent accommodations but also acts as a tour agency, assisting guests in their Palawan tours and adventures. Warmth, friendliness, hospitality, and tradition all in one place! The entrance to Victoria Guest House featured gardens, native materials, and traditional paraphernalia such as tribal masks, clay jars, and gongs. A neatly arranged footpath led the way to our rooms and other areas of the bed-and-breakfast. Rock gardens, shells, potted plants, wooden furniture, and structures made of native materials all add to a homey, classic, friendly Filipino atmosphere. Aside from the friendly dog which roams freely around, Victoria Guest House also keeps some resident pets. They have a handsome black Mynah who can utter greetings and a magnificent serpent eagle who glares at passers-by balefully. Personally, though, we would have wanted these beautiful creatures out in the wild, not in cages. Lunch was worth the one-hour wait. We had a sumptuous seafood lunch consisting of huge bowls of Tinolang manok and sweet-and-sour fish. After we took our lunch, we started our Puerto Princesa city tour, which served as a warm-up for the coming activities.
Photo of Victoria Guest House & Cottages, Puerto Princesa, MIMAROPA, Philippines by Gian and Sheila
Photo of Victoria Guest House & Cottages, Puerto Princesa, MIMAROPA, Philippines by Gian and Sheila
The last time we visited the center, we didn’t have the opportunity to show our dear readers a photo that shows how large and how long Rio is. Now, you can see just how massive Rio the crocodile is; just compare the size of that skeleton to our three lovely friends Agnes, Sam, and Reynen. These juvenile crocodiles were vicious! A few seconds after this photo was taken, that nearest croc with the open mouth suddenly attacked the fiberglass wall of its pen. It scared the wits out of me! The bite force of a crocodile, even a young one, is so strong that it can sever your fingers easily. After we had enough of the crocodile pens, the ladies stopped by the souvenir stalls to see if there is something interesting to buy. We love the crocodile stuffed toys, but they were quite expensive given our limited budget. Oh well.
Photo of Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, Puerto Princesa, MIMAROPA, Philippines by Gian and Sheila
Photo of Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, Puerto Princesa, MIMAROPA, Philippines by Gian and Sheila
Photo of Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, Puerto Princesa, MIMAROPA, Philippines by Gian and Sheila
By mid-afternoon, tummies started to growl despite the full, hearty lunch. Thus, we decided to go to the quaint and lovely Baker’s Hill to grab a bite to eat. Before that, however, we stopped at Rancho Santa Monica to enjoy a view of gorgeous Honda Bay and quaint Puerto Princesa City. When Senator Mitra was alive, he was a huge fan of horses. The Mitra family carried that tradition of his love past his death. Thus, it is no surprise that many horses roam freely here. A beautiful rainbow arched across the sky when we visited Rancho Santa Monica. It certainly was a good omen, don’t you think? We spent only a quarter of an hour in the Ranch before our tummies really complained. Well, it was time to have some hot merienda in magical Baker’s Hill. The verdant landscaped gardens, statues of favorite cartoon characters, brick pathways, and expertly sculpted topiaries coupled with the fragrant scent of freshly baked bread never fail to bring back the child in us. Just like our visit last year, we were transported to a fairy-tale world. Baker’s Hill’s resident peacock spread his tail in all its splendor! For many of our friends, it was their first time to see a peacock. Every time the creature rustles and spreads its tail, our friends let out a whoop of delight! Awesome!
Photo of Baker's Hill, Puerto Princesa, MIMAROPA, Philippines by Gian and Sheila
Photo of Baker's Hill, Puerto Princesa, MIMAROPA, Philippines by Gian and Sheila
Everyone enjoyed the peace and relaxed atmosphere. However, we weren’t able to see a glorious sunset due to the thick gray clouds that gathered quickly at the horizon. We would have wanted to let our friends witness the glory of Puerto Princesa’s sunset, just like the last time we visited here. Here’s something you don’t see every day…unless you’re in Puerto Princesa. The Duders ordered sorbetes (Filipino ice cream made of purple yam and cheese) in a hamburger bun. Lilian said it was delicious!
Photo of Baywalk, Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines by Gian and Sheila
Our last stop for the day was Plaza Cuartel, a historic place in Palawan where a number of American and Filipino soldiers were brutally executed by Japanese troops during World War 2. Aside from the reverence and the solemnity, the Plaza is a cool place to hang out and to escape the din of the city. It’s a place where students congregate, where lovers whisper sweet nothings, and where veterans pay their respects to fallen comrades.
We woke up early the next day at around 5:30 AM to have a quick breakfast. Even though eyes drooped and tired limbs gently screamed for us to crawl back into the covers, everyone was filled with excitement. It was the start of the real adventure, which begins with a visit to the eerie and majestic Puerto Princesa Underground River, one of the most well-known UNESCO Heritage Sites and one of the New 7 Natural Wonders of the World. After more than an hour’s drive toward the town of Sabang, we took a break at a popular stopover. Check out the name of this stopover. Quite a tongue-twister, isn’t it? We arrived at Sabang around 8:00 AM. Even at this early, there were already plenty of people. In fact, we needed to wait more than an hour to board our boat that will take us to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park at the other side of Sabang Bay Like guardians watching over the denizens of a clear, green sea, the towering limestone cliffs and secret beaches of Sabang Bay never fail to hold us spellbound. After a 30-minute ride, we reached the beautiful, white-sand Sabang Beach and the entrance to the National Park. Swimming is not allowed here because this is a marine protected area. The waters do look tempting. Entering the PPUR was like entering an alien world. Squeaks from thousands of bats, the calls of thousands of swiftlets, and the sound of dripping water from stalactites all form a strange cacophony of otherworldly music. Those dark spots are actually bats hanging upside down from that gigantic slab of rock. The streaks are their waste, called guano. Guano is used for many things such as fertilizers, lawn treatments, fungicides, and composting activators. The guys and gals listened intently to the guide and rower as he blurted out interesting facts about the PPUR. It was actually fun listening to the guides as they mix amazing facts with wisecracking jokes. If you’re the lazy type of person, don’t sit up front of the boat. That’s because the people sitting up front hold the floodlight. After an hour in darkness, we exited the PPUR and welcomed the warm, bright daylight. When we asked them how was the tour, everyone answered that they were simply amazed beyond words. No wonder they were very quiet inside the cave during the entire tour! Hehehe!
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