It’s a long shot! That’s what I’d tell myself whenever thoughts of going to Palawan seduced me. For the longest time, I’ve been resisting the seduction to explore the island, which lesser mortals, including me, perceive as one of the big-ticket destinations in the Philippines.
|A glimpse of Puerto Princesa City|
Having learned my lessons from past excesses, I’ve become scrimpy as far as traveling is concerned, making the most out of whatever and wherever my rather limited means could take me. If it would cost me an arm and a leg, forget it. I’d readily abort any frilly folly no matter how tempting it may be. Ergo, to splurge thousands of cash on, say, a 4D/3N vacay in Palawan is definitely out of the question.
But, lo and behold, I’ve made it to the Philippines’ Last Frontier just recently! How did that happen? Well, I think it was fate which paved the way for my coming and indulging in guiltless pleasure in the island at a time I least expected it. It all began when I got this invite plus a super low-priced ticket—thank you, generous sponsor!—for a September interlude in that elongated island that’s one of the most raved about hotspots among local and foreign tourists. I guess I was really fated to see Palawan this month what with the advent of some half expected godsend that came my way in the nick of time.
|Puerto Princesa Airport|
Long before our vacay plans were hatched, I’ve already put the island up there on a pedestal of must-see local destinations and Palawan didn’t disappoint me. After roaming around its capital, it’s no longer a question to me now why Puerto Princesa has been hailed as the Philippines’ cleanest city. Believe it or not, Ripley, there were very few traces, if any, of rubbish, garbage, litter or what have you around the city. Undoubtedly, cleanliness isn’t just hype for the folks out there; it’s a habit they practice every single day!
|Puerto Princesa Baywalk|
Populated by around 220,000 Palaweños, the so-called “city in a forest”, which is found in the central part of the island province, is the epitome of a modern-day Eden: verdant, vivid, vestal. And Puerto Princesa is blessed with a seaport so charming she literally lives up to her name as “princess of ports”, at least in that corner of the world. I bet even the most picky among princesses would dare tread in the city whose name rings with royalty!
It was Palawan’s sandy shores, however, which this incorrigible beach bum really looked forward to exploring. A two-hour drive into the countryside, which had us snaking through a well-paved highway (for the most part, that is), brought me and my companions to one of the most popular destinations in Puerto Princesa—Sabang Beach, the take-off point to the subterranean river. Despite the intermittent rains that hampered our trip, its pristine shores had me big time the moment my beach-hungry feet touched Sabang’s immaculate sands.
I’ve seen other more famous beaches in the country but Sabang is something different. Nothing prepared me for it. It felt surreal just watching those frothy surges smashed the beach with a savagery that seemed to tear apart the great divide separating the seaboard from the sea. While this was happening, amazing breaking waves pounded the craggy ridges, producing giant sprays and cloudy mists that reminded me of the movies I’ve seen.
If Sabang Beach hypnotized me, Honda Bay heated me up. All my pent-up emotions for Palawan wanted to break loose as we went around that impressive body of water, undoubtedly one of the most picturesque parts of the city. “Yeehaw!” I blurted out, unable to contain myself. Dotted with several islands, Honda Bay delights sightseers with a magnificent view of sea and sky that seem to conspire in inundating the senses with stirring memories.
Never for a moment did my companions and I regret our decision to avail of an island cruise around Honda Bay even as overcast skies threatened to wreak havoc to the tour. By golly, we not only got a chance to explore two nice islands, Pandan and Luli, but we’re able to catch a glimpse of the others which had very interesting names: Bat, Cowrie, Snake, Starfish, and of course, the notorious Dos Palmas, to name some.
(to be continued…)