Wake Up, Philippines!

Discovering Cuyo, Palawan

Posted in Tourism, Travel by Erineus on March 12, 2009
April 25, 2008, 2:13am

Cuyo is divided into two island groups. Up north is the Quiniluban group to which Pamalican island is part and where the 89-hectare, ultra-exclusive Amanpulo Resort belongs. To the south are the Cuyo islands, where the village of Cuyo is located.

An hour and 30 minutes by air and 24 hours by sea from Manila, Cuyo is a fourth-class municipality composed of 17 barangays. With a population of 18,257 people (2000 census), it is one of the unexploited islands in the country. Home to a fort—which shelters a church and a convent in its high stone walls—constructed during the Spanish period to protect its population from Moro pirates, Cuyo has one of the most ancient forts in the Philippines. Incidentally, Cuyo was the second capital of Palawan from 1873 to 1903.

An island where flowers do not grow due to the coastal climate and strong seasonal winds, Cuyo is nonetheless a place blessed with nature’s beauty. Secluded and quiet, it is covered with cashew and coconut trees that gracefully sway to the wind. Thick clumps of bamboo abound. And of course, the vast blue seas—home to a myriad of corals and sea creatures—that seem extend to eternity.
The island would appeal to hardy, outdoor types of people who enjoy taking walks, swimming, and discovering a unique local culture, rather than indulging in material pleasures. And forget five-star hotels: There is only one on the island—Cuyo Place. Cuyonons live on the basics and hardly complain. They are very resourceful and have found ways to make the best of what they have, like making tuba from coconut, and cashew brittle their specialties. Life is slow, timeless, and the epitome of “rural living” in its simplicity, the kind that grows on people who visit the island.
During the filming of Judy Ann Santos’ highly anticipated film “Ploning,” the staff and crew had a blast making bonfires and feasting on banana-cue (skewered bananas cooked in oil), kamote-cue (skewered sweet potatoes cooked in oil and coated with a little sugar) and small crabs called peye laid on banana leaves. The film’s actors instantly fell in love with the place. Judy Ann, Mylene Dizon, Meryll Soriano, and Ces Quesada even called themselves adopted daughters of Cuyo.
“Ploning,” shot entirely on the island, uses some of the lovely town’s areas as sets—the unfinished pier served as the waiting place of Ploning (played by Judy Ann), the basketball court of Igabas served as the place where Rodrigo (played by first-time actor Cedric Amit) and Celeste (played by Mylene) meet for the first time, and the Intigban beach where Ploning and Rodrigo walk while holding hands, among others.
Furthermore, unique practices of Cuyo like making cashew nut brittle and harvesting salt will also be shown in the movie. Panoramanila Pictures Co., the film’s producer, took great pains to ensure the authenticity of the film and in fact, 40 percent of the movie will be in the Cuyonon dialect. Screenplay writer and director Dante Nico Garcia, a native of Cuyo, made sure to bring out the islands’ socially and culturally unique elements.

There is nothing to be lost in Cuyo except perhaps one’s heart. Its untouched beaches, gracious townsfolk, and simple life are its gems. Rare are places where the concept of excessive materialism does not exist yet people are thankful and welcoming, where happiness is equated with putting value on love and life, and living means working with nature and not trying to change it. Cuyo is also ideal for kite flying and windsurfing for those tired of the overcrowded Boracay. If only for these things, Cuyo is a traveler’s dream.


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Puerto Princesa underground river makes history

Posted in Heritage, Tourism, Travel by Erineus on March 12, 2009
Official Philippine nominee for the New 7 Wonders of Nature
January 14, 2009, 1:47pm
(Photo by George Tapan)
(Photo by George Tapan)

The people have spoken: Palawan’s Subterranean River will represent the country to the world.

Winner of the national qualifiers category, the renowned Underground River will be the Philippines’ bet in the New7Wonders of Nature race. Results of the first phase of voting in the Official New7Wonders of Nature campaign were revealed today at the New7Wonders Foundation headquarters.

“We are proud to announce that the Philippine marvels have stood strong in the first round of voting. This affirms the support of Filipinos as well as other tourists in helping our natural sites make their mark on a global scale,” Tourism Secretary Ace Durano said.

Recently awarded for his efforts and advocacy in ecological tourism, he added, “With billions of supporters all over the globe, promotion of spectacular sites from all over the world has been set to greater heights. It is also very important to call on the sustainable promotion of these tourism sites, which are nature’s blessings.”

The first stage of the Official New7Wonders of Nature campaign officially ended with the old year. At midnight on December 31, 2008 on the International Date Line, all voting was suspended on the New7Wonders website until January 7 for the organizers to tally and verify all votes.

Tia Viering, head of communications for New7Wonders, says “We congratulate the successful qualifying locations from the Philippines and wish them the best of luck in the second phase of voting.”

She added, “We also at this time highlight the strong and enthusiastic participation of the other national nominees that are not proceeding—many have already benefited from a significant increase in worldwide awareness, which in itself is a recognized important benefit for all involved in the New7Wonders campaigns.”

According to the Foundation, these magnificent natural sites are among the 261 nominees now one step closer to potentially being chosen one of the Official New7Wonders of Nature by the people of the world

“The Philippines’ wonders besting the others truly give us more reasons to strengthen not only the promotion, but the preservation of our natural sites,” Eduardo Jarque, Jr., Undersecretary for Tourism Planning and Promotions, remarked.

Jarque added, “The New 7 Wonders campaign, gaining participation from numerous supporters, will inevitably translate to increased interest in seeing these magnificent places. We thank and congratulate all Filipinos who have made their voice heard through the online polls.”

The Philippines’ Underground River shares the spotlight with the Coral Triangle, a multinational participant. Spanning eastern Indonesia, parts of Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, and the Solomon Islands, the Coral Triangle is the global center of marine biodiversity and one of the world’s top priorities for marine conservation.

Of the original 441 nominees, 180, or more than 40%, were eliminated as the next stage begins, lasting from January 7 until July 7, to select the Top 77 – the pool from which the 21 Official Finalists will be chosen.

The qualified 261 national and multinational nominees from 222 participating countries feature iconic locations such as the Grand Canyon, Loch Ness, the Black Forest, and Mount Fuji, alongside the Amazon, the Danube, the Dead Sea, the Great Barrier Reef, Iguazu Falls, the Kalahari Desert, Mont Blanc, and Niagara Falls.

As with the original successful campaign that chose the Official New 7 Wonders of the World thanks to more than 100 million votes, the N7W Panel of Experts will select the 21 Finalists from the top 77, which will be announced on July 21, 2009.

At that time the third and final phase of voting will begin, and the people of the world will then

have approximately 2 years to vote among the 21 Finalists for the Official New7Wonders of Nature, to be revealed in 2011. Over 1 billion votes are expected to be cast.


Tourism Legend Hotel’s Pax: Experience serenity and fun in Palawan

Posted in Hotel, Hotels/Restaurants/Bars, Tourism, Travel by Erineus on March 6, 2009

Updated March 01, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Looking for fun minus the noisy crowd and loud music? If you’re tired of evening parties by the beach and all-night dancing, or if you’re simply not into that kind of groove, or perhaps, family life has given you a new perspective on what it means to have fun and yet peaceful vacation, then Legend Hotel’s PAX (Palawan Experience) is the very thing for you.

Bring along family and friends and discover what it’s like to have fun and peace the PAX way. That is, appreciating the wonders of nature and engaging in activities like fish feeding and cruising aboard a first-class catamaran that may not likewise be enjoyed just about anywhere else.

The PAX three-day, two-night tour package takes you to the Honda Bay islands and the Underground River, two of Palawan’s most popular destinations. Trips to these island jewels are made pleasurable in the company of your very own PAX tour host who promises to make your stay an overall delightful experience. Like a true scout, the tour host may be depended on to offer assistance whenever needed.

The Honda Bay Island Cruise via a catamaran promises fun activities, yet earth-friendly such as snorkeling, fish feeding, Snake Island activities, and an island barbecue lunch.

MB Legend of the Sea offers first-class boat accommodation for the exclusive use of PAX guests. It has a 40-pax capacity and is equipped with an audio-video system, dining facilities, a bar and restrooms. Expect a relaxed, comfortable and leisurely cruise in the bay. Now that’s a lot to look forward to on the first day.

On the second day, PAX summons you to an Underground River Adventure. Aboard a paddle fiberglass banca, you will be taken into the recesses of an eight-kilometer cave that acts as a gallery of century-old stalactite and stalagmite formations. Fabulous, awe-inspiring finds await you as you traverse the dark enclave and still waters of the Underground River.

Video presentations during land travels on board PAX vans are value-added services to ensure that you get the most out of your Palawan Experience. These include a brief on the day’s itinerary and what to expect, tips and suggestions on how to enjoy, information on available activities, and trivia on Palawan — its history, culture, people, and natural treasures.

With PAX’s all-in, worry-free offer, a family of four can avail themselves of a family weekend rate of P12,999/person. For this amount, PAX already takes care of airport transfers, three-day, two-night accommodation at Legend Hotel Palawan, breakfast, lunch and dinner, a Honda Bay Island Hopping Cruise aboard the MB Legend of the Sea, an Underground River Adventure, and not to forget, a tour host at your beck and call. The only pocket money you’ll need would be for pasalubong.

Also, up to two kids aged below seven and sharing bed with adult companions, are free on all meals and tours. This is a special treat for traveling families in search of bonding time and lots of fun.

Book online at www.legendhotels.com.ph or call 24/7 Reservations at 702-2700 to 04.