March 18, 2002

Palawan: Nature tourism at its best

PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan (PNA) — Time seemed to have stood still in Palawan. Known among the travel and tourism industry as the country’s last frontier, Palawan has managed to preserve its awesomely natural habitat over the years in spite of the many developments the province has undergone in the previous years.

Situated southwest of Mindoro and north of Malaysia’s Sabah Island, Palawan is the country’s largest province with a land area of 1.5 million hectares.

It is composed of more than a thousand islands and islets, making it an ideal breeding ground for tropical flora and fauna.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Air Philippines offer direct flights from Manila to Puerto Princesa daily. PAL also has a connecting Cebu-Iloilo-Puerto Princesa flight every Monday and Friday. WG&A and Negros Navigation also sail to Puerto Princesa from Manila weekly.

Indeed, it is in Palawan where endemic Philippine animals like the bearcat, mousedeer and Palawan peacock pleasantly co-exist with some of Africa’s wildlife species such as giraffes, elands, zebras and gazelles.

Through the years, Palawan has attracted peoples from different nations and provinces such as Cebu, Samar, Ilocos, and even city dwellers from Manila.

The local’s dialect – a mixture of Cebuano, reflects the origin of the people who have come from 81 different cultural groups, opting to settle in this captivating island than the fast-paced lifestyle in the city.

The dramatic landscape of the province adds to the amazing features of the island – from coral reefs to mountain ranges, stark cliffs or sheer limestone, rainforests abundant with rare wildlife, and unmatched underwater marine life highly acclaimed by expert divers from different parts of the globe.

Tourism Secretary Richard Gordon recently cited the commitment of the Palawan local community for sustainable ecotourism development in his presentation before the heads of states in the Asia Pacific Region during the “Asia Pacific Ministerial Conference on Sustainable Development of Ecotourism” held in Bandos Island Resort in Maldives.

The development in Palawan of an up-market resort noted for its commitment to environmental protection, specifically in the island town of El Nido, did not only result in increased promotion and awareness of the area but also provided economic opportunities for the local communities,” Gordon said.

He added, “the development of more guest houses, small cottage accommodations, retail shops, restaurants, and other services in El Nido was largely encouraged by the growing number of adventure travelers that visited the resort.”

One can go to different scenic attractions and one of premier natural attractions is the Subterranean River National Park which features an 8.2 kilometer navigable Underground River. It is said to be the world’s longest river, the tail-end flowing into the South China Sea.

Within the Park is a series of wooden steps encouraging trekkers to take the Monkey Trail leading thick portion of the forest.

The El Nido Marine Reserve, occupying an area of 96,000 hectares, is a popular nature spot which boasts of diverse ecosystems such as rainforests, mangroves, white sand beaches, coral reefs and limestone cliffs.

With its numerous islands, Palawan easily lends itself to diving, snorkeling and kayaking. Some of the more popular dive sites are Rita Island at Tres Marias, Pandan Island, Panglima reefs and Tubbataha Reefs.

The Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park is located in Cagayancillo town. It is reputed as the country’s best dive spot and one of the best in the world. The Park was named a World Heritage Site in 1991 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) because of its abundant marine life.

The Calauit Game Preserve and Wildlife Sanctuary, which is located on the northwest coast of Palawan is a 3,700-hectare showcase for wildlife habitat conservation.

Here, African mammals co-exist with endemic and endangered Philippine animals such as sea turtles (pawikan), seacows (dugong) and other variety of marine life nestled at its shores.

Ursula Island Game Refuge and Bird Sanctuary. This island near the village of Rio Tuba in southern Palawan is a haven for birds that converge here two hours before sunset.

The Tabon Caves, popularly known among spelunkers as the “Cradle of Philippine Civilization,” is the oldest known habitation site in Southeast Asia. It is in this cave where a skull said to date back to 22,000 years ago was unearthed.

Tabon Caves, is located in Lipuun Point Reservation where numerous archaeological artifacts and ecofacts belonging to the different periods ranging from 30,000 years ago to the 14th century A.D. have been discovered. (PNA)

Kayangan Lake which is located in Coron Island is enchantingly beautiful set amidst tropical green forests and majestic rock formations.

The Kayangan Lake now proudly belongs to the Hall of Fame Awardees as the “Cleanest Lake of the Philippines” in a nationwide campaign for “Clean and Green Search.”

One can also go to the Crocodile Farming Institute; the Galeri Kamarikutan, where endemic orchids and forest trees an be found; Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm and the Palawan National Museum. (PNA)


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