Carolina: Cruising Past 70: OLA: Marveling at Palawan's Beauty, Part 2

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

OLA: Marveling at Palawan's Beauty, Part 2

Baker's Hill a la Knotsberry Farm
Would you believe there is a smaller version of Knots Berry Farm called Baker’s Hill? Children can play on its themed grounds for free while their parents saunter around for souvenirs, baked items (especially hopia, their flagship product, and great views of the city. Nearer the city is the Bay Walk which is the half-finished area around Puerto Princesa Bay reclaimed from squatters who have been relocated to tenement houses nearby.  A statue of Princess Eulalia (born in 1864 to Queen Isabella II of Spain) lords over the city named The Princess’ Gate, the largest in the country in terms of land area. 

Princess Eulalia at the Baywalk
And it cares for the future of people.

Viet Ville today
 Here, on the road back from the Underground River, you will pass by Viet Ville, the camp established for about 90 refugees from Vietnam after it fell to Communist rule in 1989. The population grew to 1,600 until the US finally agreed to give them asylum in 1995. Now only about 7 families (those who intermarried with Filipinos) remain in Viet Ville, largely propped up by the Catholic Assistance for Displaced Persons who took over their care in 1996. A Vietnamese Restaurant, a souvenir shop, and a noodle factory remain as sources of livelihood.

prison without walls
Then, there is the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm. In contrast to a penal establishment one would have in mind, it is essentially a ‘prison without walls’, a village of about 28,000 hectares, for about two thousand inmates. One will be surprised that the colony only has barriers for the maximum security sectio). No prisoners attempt to escape because they would face certain death on the mountains. Besides, the inmates (minimum and medium security) are allowed to live with their families during the time they are serving their sentence and are provided with the resources to build a livelihood such as land and farm animals. The sign in front says (translated from Tagalog): ‘A prison can be a paradise if it is conceived with God in mind and run in a humanitarian spirit.’ Part of the land is actually used by freed prisoners who have made Palawan their permanent home!  

Palawan's famed cherry blossoms

Skylight's breakfast buffet

With our stay at Skylight Hotel for just $30 a night, inclusive of a huge breakfast buffet every morning, we spent only a little over $500 for our 5-day/4-night stay inclusive of airfare (40%), accommodations (25%), tours (25%), food (5%) and souvenir items (5%)! It is not a backpacking trip and neither is it a first class vacation but it was a vacation where we met people who belong to the same generation as us, the Z Generation and their cruising lifestyle: Jure and Katerina from Slovenia with whom we shared the Underground River tour and a crocodile dinner at Kinabuch; Bryn and Sofia from Hongkong with whom we shared the Honda Bay Cruise and a seafood feast at Kalui.
Mendoza Park at night
The beauty of Palawan is forever preserved in eco-tourism, abundant in her many natural playgrounds, and etched in her heart for many humanitarian causes. It is such a special place on earth and the tropical cherry blossoms among centuries-old acacia trees adorn its streets. Mendoza Park and its eternal Christmas trees rock with variety shows on Saturdays.  Then when you think about how affordable it is to create a magical vacation there, it has become a top Philippine destination and a place not to be missed by Filipinos and foreigners alike. And we have not even seen El Nido, Amanpulo, Coron, the Palawan Safari, and Tubbataha Reef! We eagerly await the next chance!
Daniel, Jure, and Katarina with Bill
Bryn and Sofia with Bill


  1. Sounds like an interesting trip. From a kid's play area to a prison! It also appears that you met some very interesting people, that's always fun. BUT --- it looks like Bill needs to cut back on some of the great food!

  2. A lovely update. I knew you would have a good time. Thank you for sharing it and your photos with us.

  3. Thank you so much for stopping by! I am glad you appreciate the tales of our travels.


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