Thursday, November 4, 2010

Weekend in Puerto Princesa (First of Two Parts)

It's official---I'm in love...again.

In a blink of an eye, I found myself deeply and passionately in love again...with a place!

Over the weekend, I packed my things for a short yet sweet weekend getaway in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan together with my family. I cannot forget the day mommy told me that she already booked a plane ticket bound for Puerto Princesa for the four of us.Yipeee! I'm going to Palawan to see and experience the underground river, I kept telling myself. God knows how I badly wanted to see the said tourist spot since I was a fifth grader. I first heard of it from my favorite Hekasi teacher who went there during that time. Man, I was so thrilled with his stories that I told myself, someday I'll set foot on that island. And after almost a decade, I finally did. Yahooooo :)

It's our first time to avail AirPhil's seat sale promo and we thought that its operations will not be affected despite the ongoing exodus of the pilots and FAs of its mother company, PAL. But we're very wrong. The night before our flight, my mom panicked after receiving a text message informing us that our 8:30 am flight will be rescheduled at 10:40PM WTF! After using her connections, we learned that the announcement was was 10:40 AM My goodness!Mistakes like that are unforgivable since it's time that we're talking about here and we know for a fact that we cannot turn back the hands of time.My mom almost cancelled our trip that night and if that happens, I would surely boycott AirPhil for life because of its stupid mistake! 

But the "announcement mistake" was just the beginning of some unfortunate series of our supposed fun trip.

The next day we left the house early to catch the said flight. Lo and behold, the flight was delayed hohoho!AirPhil's such a disappointment that I would never ever book my flight with this airline even if they will offer the best airfare sale in town!NEVER. itaga nyo yan sa bato!

Boo you!

 We arrived in the airport at past 12 already since the whole trip only lasted for an hour. Kung mamalasin ka nga naman, umaambon pa when we disembarked from the plane. Good thing it only drizzled for a short time and the sun greeted us with a big smile. It took us more or less a good 10-15 minutes before getting our luggages.And more or less, a minute or two before the hotel staff finally found us (or is the other way around?) and gladly transferred us to the hotel to grab a quick lunch before the city tour.
Hello Puerto Princesa, we're here :)

The arrival

Quick lunch at the hotel

Ready, set, eat eat eat :)
By the way, we stayed at Microtel Inn which was 20-30 mins away from the airport. What can I say? The place was big although it's not yet fully developed. But it's promising considering its land area.  The room was spacious for the four of us and has high ceilings haha! The  bathroom was okay, not that impressive but at least it looks very decent. My pet peeve in travelling is actually poorly maintained bathroom hotels and I was relieved upon seeing the bathroom for the first time. Our room was supposed to be beach front but when we arrived we cannot see any waters since it's low tide. When we got back to the hotel after the tour, I'm surprised that the water level in the shore was only ankle-deep. Nyahaha!
Feeling homey at the lobby

Front desk minus the staff

FCD shot: Microtel Inn Puerto Princesa

Early morning at the lagoon

Enjoying the "duyan"

This is what I'm talking about--low tide kung low tide!
Baby brother at the "duyan

Early morning shot

"Beach front"

Another angle of the "beachfront"
 And now, my PP experience :)

The remaining half of the day was spent for our four-hour city tour which was facilitated by our bubbly tour guide Ate Joms (not with a z as I thought haha). Our first stop was the Palawan Crocodile Park. To be honest, I'm not really excited since I've been to a crocodile farm back in 2007. But as I've said before in my previous post, one good thing about travelling is seeing and experiencing new things. And for this particular visit, what made it different with my previous crocodile farm trip is that I was able to hold and take a picture of a baby croc! It's really an experience for me since I'm not the type of person who loves touching or carrying animals. An interesting fact that I got during the short trip: crocodiles can only consume 5 percent of their prey. In the Philippines, the said largest crocodile was caught by PP locals after it devoured only the lower part of a fisherman. So alam na, hindi tayo makakain ng buo ng mga buwaya!
Should or shouldn't?

Largest crocodile caught in the country

Family picture @ the Palawan Crocodile Farm

Family picture with crocky :)
 From crocs to prisoners! Yep, you read it right---PRISONERS. After the crocodile farm visit, off we went to the Ihawig Prison and Penal Farm. I only heard this from daddy but as to the concept of this jail, I'm totally clueless. All I know is that some criminals from all over the country were sent to this island. During the course of the trip I learned that SC (or was it the CA?Im not pretty sure) and DOJ (this I'm 100% certain) decide who will be sent to this jail.Ihawig Prison and Penal Farm is very unique. Aside from being considered as jail without bars, prisoners are more disciplined, peace-loving, and free, literally speaking. Just like the Bilibid Prisons inmates that I encountered during our exposure trip in college, Iwahig inmates also have their own "circle," are involved with sports like tennis, boxing, and softball, and try to find ways to make a living.But unlike their counterparts in other prisons, the inmates do not engage in fights or rumbles. Why? Because if they do, they will be given additional years of sentence. Yikeeees! The same punishment also applies to prisoners who attempted but failed to escape. Tatakas ka pa ha!Huli ka din! In addition, inmates who belong to the minimum, medium, and maximum security can easily be identified because of their shirt's color. Brown for the minimum security inmates, blue for those in the medium security, while inmates at the maximum security wore red (I guess?Waah, I totally forgot) 
Welcome to Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm

This serves as the inmates' farm

Wonder how it feels to be one of them?
 Next stop is Rancho Sta. Monica aka Mitra's Ranch, owned by former House Speaker Ramon Mitra Jr.'s family. FYI during his term, Mitra pushed for the cityhood of Puerto Princesa. I was actually disappointed with the ranch since I'm expecting to see many animals like Chavit Singson's Baluarte but I only spotted a cow and horse in the ranch. Oh well, at least the place offers a good view of the city. Too bad we weren't able to get inside the house since Gov. Baham Mitra was there during our visit so automatically, the door is off-limits to tourists.
Rancho Sta. Monica
Me @ Mitra's Ranch

Photo op @ Mitra's Ranch
Photo op @ Mitra's Ranch ver. 2.0
View from the top
 We then headed to Palawan Baker's Hill for some pasalubong shopping. I enjoyed the ambiance of the place!Hehe. Paano ang unique nung mga pwedeng pagpiktyuran wahaha! Snow white and bugs bunny?cmon haha! 
Palawan Baker's Hill

Me @ Palawan Baker's Hill

With Bugs Bunny haha

With Snow White and the 7 dwarfs
Our second to the last stop was Plaza Cuartel. The place is historic by nature. Almost 140 American POWS (Prisoners of War) died there in the hands of the brutal Japanese in the year 1944. In the marker, you could see how Japanese soldiers maltreated their American counterparts.
Rude rude rude Japanese!
@ the Plaza Cuartel marker

Depiction of POWS victims of 1944
Not too far away is the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, which concluded the trip. The cathedral's blue and white color is double purpose since the said colors represent Mama Mary and the official color of the city. 
Cathedral's interior

Outside the cathedral

After the tour, we went straight to Kalui's to cap the night off. Unlike any other restaurants, dining in at Kalui's is by reservation only. And by reservation, you only get to choose between two times. In our case, we took the 6:30 reservation since 8:30 is already late for us. There are sooo many interesting things about the resto. First, you have to remove your shoes before you enter the place. Yes, both customers and staff members are on their barefoot. Second, the place is cozy and very Filipino. They play folk songs in the background and even have this big banga where you can wash your hands before eating. As to the food, it's superb! They serve and specialize in seafoods. Their own version of sisig which is a combination of fish, squid, and shrimp is a must-try! Their vegetable tempura which consists of camote and okra topped with oyster sauce is very unique. My younger brother who's not an okra-eater became an instant fan of the dish! Their sweet and sour Lapu-Lapu is very tasty and I really appreciate their Pinakbet!As for their complimentary dessert, they served mixed fruits- papaya, banana, and watermelon- placed in a coconut shell and topped with muscovado. Yummy :)  So much for my first day in the island.

Famous Kalui
Homey and native
Too many masks in the resto
Dinner with family
Kalui's own version of sisig and pinakbet


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