Monday, May 03, 2010

Hello from Puerto Princesa 3

Our group went to two islands today to snorkel, eat, and have fun under the sun. I am officially saying goodbye to Hokkaido complexion. Reapplying sunscreens are not really of much protection. I had fun feeding the fishes. Surely, they will flock to you when you give them bread. A sight to behold.

Tourism is very much a career here in Puerto Princessa. I learned that the tour guides have to pass examinations given by the government and that before they become eligible to take the exams, they have to attend 60 OJTs. That is, of course, on top of finishing a degree in tourism. And it shows. The tour guides and their assistants are so professional in their craft. They arrive on time, treat their clients with respect, and give that extra mile service. Unlike my experiences in Sri Lanka whose tour guides would ask for money or at least hint that you give them extra money, our guides did not give the slightest gesture. The client themselves volunteered to give them. Even my Japanese companions noticed how good the service was.

We went to the Snake Island, but no snakes can be found. It was named as such because of its shape. We had lunch in the island. Part of the tour guides' service was to prepare the food for their guests. They also gave us some Filipino-style oregami. The Japanese were impressed again. Another impressive thing that they do here is that all the garbage were collected and brought back to the main island for disposal. Because it is tourism that feeds them, they want to maintain environmental cleanliness so that more people will visit the place.

Security issues are also quite strict. A fine of at least PhP500 per boat passenger with three days suspension will be imposed to a tour guide if the Coast Guards will see that a passenger did not wear his life vest. All tour guides and their assistants are required to wear the proper uniform of orange T-shirts. Failure to comply warrants another penalty.

Some islands are for sale. Prices vary, too. One island can cost as much as PhP30-million. There are only two islands were potable water can be had. Otherwise, if you want to live in one of these islands, either you stock drinkable water from the main land, or secure a desalination machine. No power sources, too, in these islands. There are also the so called Lulu and Lili islands--lulubog, lilitaw islands. lolzzz

One state university here opened up a course called Petroleum Engineering in 2000. I thought that that was a cool career path. You could get rich in no time. But I was told that the graduates are now working mostly in the Middle East. Another great loss to this country.

As recommended by friends, we enjoyed our last dinner in the city in the splendid restaurant Ka Lui. I was told that this is one of the best in the city, and I agree. Upon entering, you have to take off your shoes. They encourage bare footing. The place is so clean and neat. The ambiance is splendid. The crew are very professional. The food is great. I enjoyed the green mango-ginger ale combo shake. It was fantastic. We had crabs, shrimps, kangkong, etc.

Upon returning home, we went to the Emergency Room of one private hospital because my friend is complaining of heartburn. Fortunately, she needed no admission. We went back home after a few hours. At night, I could smell the scent of trees and feel the less humid air. Trees really make a difference.

Tomorrow, we'll go back to the tree-less city called Manila. Thank you all for joining me in this short trip.

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  1. Hi Gino. Almost 20 years ago, Mark and I went to Pangulasyan also in Palawan. I am not sure if I spelled it right now, but it was owned by the Zobel - de Ayala group. We were so impressed because long before the "green" movement was the in thing around there, Pangulasyan was already doing it. In fact, we were discouraged to use the personal shampoos we brought with us. Instead we were provided by the now called, "eco-friendly" shampoos that they themselves produced (mainly gugo, which I found fantastic). Also, the island's electricity's generated by the recycled water from the ocean. The most impressive, it has low lights to prevent the light pollution in the sky. Glad to know that Puerto Princesa has been true to their word and maintained their ecosystem despite the increasing tourism. I hope to take the girls when we come back to visit. I hope to show them that a simple place with a real basic stuff can be so ambient and so heavenly enjoyable. You know what I mean?
    Like you, I was impressed by the staff's professionalism. We were provided with everything we needed but we hardly see them. On our first dinner, they asked us our plans then suggested what the island offers. They did it quietly, never lingered nor hovered around us. We were allowed to commune and enjoy the tranquility of the place. For once, I was spared from listening to someone's jibberish. To this day, Mark and I still remember the pampering we got, and as the song goes, sana'y maulit ulit.

  2. @Anonymous: Edith, ikaw ba iyan? lolzzz. Oh yes, I hope that you could visit anytime soon. I also hope that Metro Manila will replicate their plant a tree campaign so that the air will become clean. Thanks!