Tag Archive: Puerto Princesa

What is it, really? Would you go for the baked goodies (think HOPIA)? Or for the spruced up garden overlooking the hills?



Santa is in Baker’s Hill, Puerto Princesa!



It was still the Christmas Season, so the garden and pseudo-park is decorated with American holiday decor from Santa Claus to a giant pine tree to Marilyn Monroe in Christmas red. (Well actually, Marilyn M stays even after the holidays to keep the Walt Disney (or is it Looney Tunes?) characters company for the rest of the year. A Mini-Theme Park! And no admission fee. Free!




Marilyn Monroe in Christmas Red. She’s a permanent fixture here.



It’s been sometime since I last visited. A pleasant surprise….. but they’ve expanded the garden and it’s certainly a good place to while away the time. There’s a good breeze and the panorama from the promontory at the end of the garden offers a respite after an exciting underground river tour from nearby Sabang. Well, just don’t mind the talking bird who wouldnt shut up near the area where they keep the peacocks.




Christmas in Baker’s Hill.



Tamilok, anyone? Ain’t that brave. Fear Factor enthusiasts and fans may try these wood worms here. Prepared raw, “cooked” by marinating in vinegar. Tastes like oysters, they say. I may have tried it though if not for this bum stomach. Couldn’t risk it as there’s a flight to catch.




Yeah. Woodworms. Fear Factor-ish.



Well, there are other choices. Baker’s Hill is really more than just a bake shop. It’s an amusement park, mini-zoo, restaurant row all rolled into a single place. Try the halo halo (literally means “mix mix”) for snacks or dessert. As for me? I would rather try one of the pizzas.




Choose your pizza!


And this theme park is free!


Who lives here?

A typhoon hit Palawan the day before our arrival. The same typhoon was expected to move out of the province late afternoon of our arrival. And so with fingers and toes crossed, our group of 9 pax trooped to the airport ready to be crushed. All those weeks of planning for this family vacation wasted? Not so for this group of intrepid travelers.


On the airport bus, we were asked to get off and wait for further announcements. After over an hour, we boarded the bus to the plane, and flew out of Manila. Just a 2 hour delay.

Our flight out of Manila was delayed by 2 hours but we had a good flight and landed safely in Puerto Princesa. The Underground River Tour was cancelled though so we decided to rebook on the day of our departure instead. This was the wisest decision we ever made. There was time to drive north to El Nido, hop around the many islands, drive to the twin beaches of Nacpan and Calitang and then drive back to Puerto Princesa early morning of the day of our return flight to Manila.


This is Buenavista where we made a brief stop to take photos before reaching Sabang Port.


This is Sabang Port. Those small boats literally “flew” over the waves and swells of West Philippine Sea aka South China Sea.

Just 2 stopovers on the day we were to fly out of Puerto Princesa. A 聽pee-stop in Buenavista, then on to Sabang Port where we took the boat to Saint Paul Subterranean Park. Not my first time, but it is for my family and some friends making up our contingent of 9 pax. West Philippine Sea was far from calm, but we braved the short boat ride. Mercifully, the monkeys and monitor lizards “guarding” the boardwalk in the park were tame and didn’t add to our anxieties.


This monkey guarded the entrance to the Underground River Tour.


The Boardwalk towards the mouth of the Underground River. Watch out for monkeys and monitor lizards.

I purposely didn’t tell my family how the Boatmen cum Tour Guides conduct the Underground River Tour. The “spiel” on the rock formations inside the cave is a carefully crafted one. Tinged with witty humor, it was no surprise that our group thoroughly enjoyed the hilarious narration on the stalactites, stalagmites and the colony of bats inside while doing the slightly more than a kilometer boat ride. The entire length is not open to the public, but the kilometer boat ride is enough for the slightly over an hour’s tour. Hailed as one of the 7 New Wonders of the World, my family and friends were only too happy to have experienced this adventure and visited this heritage site which renders every Filipino proud.


All set and ready to enter the Saint Paul Subterranean Underground River.


An interior shot showing another boat of tourists with our light focused on some rock formation.

The references to Sharon Stone, a variety of fruits and vegetables, animals and holy images were most interesting. Amazing how natural forces like water and wind shaped 聽these rock formations to resemble such. As we sailed out of the cave, we met other boats filled with tourists sailing in. Our guide remarked we were 10 coming in, and now number 9 going out, with a request for the next boat to pick up our missing companion. I’m sure it’s part of the script. I’ve heard that spiel before, yet I laughed just as hard like I heard it for the first time. 馃檪


Inside the Cave. And yes, Martin, this is right inside that limestone mountain you saw outside!


The Holy Trinity.


Is it a coconut husk?


Towards the exit.

Ka Inat么 was a surprise waiting for us. It wasn’t planned, but Ka Lui was closed on the day we arrived in Puerto Princesa City. Our 3rd disappointment after a flight delay of 2 hours and a cancelled Underground River Tour. Our van driver suggested lunch here before our northbound trip to El Nido. Well along the way, Ka Inat么 is in Rizal Street just as you approach the exit out of the city center.




Ka Inato along Rizal 聽Street just as you approach the exit out of Puerto Princesa City.


Interesting wooden sculptures. Very artsy.



I’ve read somewhere that Ka Lui partly owns Ka Inat么. If true, it explains the “KA” in the name, the ambience and the food quality. It’s unconfirmed, but let’s just say I wouldn’t be surprised. I wanted my family to experience dining in Ka Lu铆 but the place was closed. So was Kinabuch’s. My apprehension over Ka Inat么 was completely wiped out upon seeing the place. Very charming. Very artsy.




Open air. The wind chimes add to the rural, carefree ambience. I love how this resto was laid out. Simple decor but each item placed somewhere with careful thought.


This corner reminds me of a rural sari sari store. The paintings are of children exuding innocence and fun.



The “open air” atmosphere added to the ambience. The wooden sculptures, paintings and hanging chimes all combined to give a local flavor. We were early for lunch so it was not a problem choosing a table. Judging by the menu, the place caters to all clientele. Pinoys would love the local cuisine. As well as the seafood dishes. Then there are pasta dishes for the foreigners …. and for the teenager in our group. Fruit shakes and frothy iced teas complete the deal.




Somehow, I feel like I’m in some gallery somewhere in Angono, the art capital of the Philippines.



Service quality was likewise commendable. The service crew was most attentive despite our indecisiveness over what to order. Bless the children in our group who knew exactly what they wanted to eat while the adults agonized over what to order.




Love the colors and the layout of this resto!


Everywhere you look, there would always be a piece of art inviting a lingering look.



Art surrounded us while we waited for our lunch. 聽Somehow, I felt I was in some gallery in Angono, Rizal. There were enough art items inviting our attention. And the food didn’t disappoint. LUNCH!




Freshly-grilled stuffed squid, shrimps in some savory sauce, steamed veggies wrapped in banana leaves, grilled fish with vegetable sidings. Yummy lunch!


This is their signature dish. Chicken Inasal to many. Inato here in Palawan.


The Pasta dish didn’t disappoint too!



Ka Inat么’s signature dishes include their local inasal (called inat么) or grilled chicken. But we won’t be deprived our seafood favorites and guilt-diffusers like steamed veggies. The kids ordered their favorite shakes and iced tea. I have to say that food presentation pleased the senses. Simple. Not exactly a cut above the rest, but for the price tags, I’ve got to say Ka Inat么 knows how to please their guests.




Fruit Shakes and Frothy Iced Teas!


Cheap! Value for Money, indeed. But we should have ordered the other signature dish….Sinuglaw. Combination Sinugba (grilled) and Kinilaw (local ceviche)


And there’s more at very low prices. There’s a meal for every budget !



By the time we were done with lunch, we were all smiling in content. Notwithstanding the long drive, we were all raring to get into the van, all psyched and longing for a long afternoon nap. Aaaaahhh, never underestimate the power of a good meal. Uncomplainingly, the children claimed their seats in the van and snored away. 馃檪


St. Paul’s Subterranean聽 River National Park in Puerto Princesa certainly deserves to count among the 7 wonders of the world.聽 My friends and I thought it’s about time we visit this famous underground river which has been declared a UNESCO Heritage Site , and check out the many other attractions of this southern part of Palawan. We were pleasantly surprised to find many more wonders in Puerto Princesa. And this is how our adventure went.


St. Paul’s Underground River


It took us a couple of hours to reach the place.聽 That’s over land.聽 Next step is to board a boat passing limestone cliffs to reach the entrance to the underground river. The boat ride was another 30 minutes. When we got off the boat,聽 we found a path “guarded” by monitor lizards and swinging monkeys through this mini rainforest which led towards the river. Waiting for us at the mouth of the cave were professional guides who divided us into small groups. Each small group to a professional rower guide to each boat. While waiting for an earlier batch to come out of the cave entrance,聽 we listened to instructions from our guide while taking in the sights around the entrance.聽 I asked about this tree which must have stood by the cave entrance for many years to witness all the comings and goings in this world wonder. The Dangkalan tree is a fitting guard that stands between the open sea and the cave entrance.聽 By the time we were instructed to board our boat and don our helmet,聽 I was satisfied with the pictures I took of the lovely tree.



Inside the cave, the underground river snaked through for some 4 kilometers before we were led back the same way to get out.聽 We must have spent a good hour inside……..enough to see many of the stalactite and stalagmite formations. I’ve got to hand it to the guide who cheerfully flashed his light on cave formations in different shapes and sizes, resembling various fruits and vegetables, as if we were all out in the market.聽 There was also a spot aptly called Cathedral because of it s height which looked like an atrium with the “Holy Family” cave formation somewhere near.聽 We were careful to keep our聽 mouths shut as there were too many bats too eager to shed some droppings!


Iwahig Penal Colony


If there was ever a prison community with the most cheerful inmates, this is the place.聽 The penal colony spanned many hectares.聽 This correctional institute is really more like a farming community much like the kibbutz farms I have visited in Israel. Some prisoners lived with their families and were given lots to till to earn a living. Along the river were picnic cottages where families of other prisoners stay during “visits”.聽 I met an inmate there with a pet snake,聽 just a small one,聽 but no matter –聽 those slimy creatures still give me the creeps.聽 Another inmate had a pet turtle.聽 Still another had various handicraft products for sale.聽 It felt kind of strange to roam around the place, meeting inmates,聽 chatting with them, even haggling with them for some keychains and other souvenir wood products which they crafted with their own hands.


In another part of the penal colony,聽 we found this old structure with lovely windows. Must be at least 50 years old.聽 Certainly not too old,聽 but it’s got character.聽 Reminded me of some of the old structures that can be found in the old Sangley Point back in Cavite City where our family once lived.聽 Right beside this structure was the handicraft store.聽 Wooden souvenirs,聽 keychains,聽 table mats, etc were up for sale.聽 One can tell these prisoners had their hands full,聽 busy working with their hands to earn a living.聽 No wonder they look happy in this place.


Dining at Kalui’s and Badjao


Not to be missed are these 2 fine establishments.聽 Kalui’s has such a homey atmosphere where diners are asked to leave their slippers outside the hut and don house slippers while enjoying many of Kalui’s seafood delicacies.聽 The grilled fish selections were so yummy,聽 and paired with the local seagrapes salad called “lato” make for a really good lunch.聽 I like the ambience in this place.聽 It is truly an artist’s place.



Badjao Restaurant on the other is a lot bigger, built on stilts looking out into the sea.聽 Seafood is the place’s attraction too.聽 Freshly harvested prawns and lobsters, grilled tuna, and some local vegetable dishes.聽 I can imagine many weddings and birthdays held here.


Crocodile Farm in Palawan’s Wildlife Center


I have never been to any crocodile farm, so this is my first outing with these crocs.聽 Each one of us in the group was made to hold a baby croc and pose for a picture.聽 Naturally,聽 i did not pass up the opportunity.聽 But just like the snake,聽 I have no affection for these reptiles.聽 Forgive me. We crossed a short bridge passing a group of crocodiles who looked like they were waiting for their lunch.聽 Hopefully they did not expect me for lunch.


Viet Ville


On our way back to Legend Hotel where we were booked,聽 we stopped by this place for dinner.聽 We met some ex-refugees from Vietnam here.聽 Obviously, not everyone left for good old America.聽 Some chose to stay behind, and married their Filipina girlfriends.聽 The Vietnamese restaurant where we had dinner boasts of authentic Vietnamese cuisine.聽 We had the usual rolls, barbecued meats and noodle soups. We even tried their air-dried jackfruit slices.


Snake Island


We took a boat and braved the waves in Honda Bay , passing a number of islands.聽聽 We chose to eat our lunch of grilled fish, salted eggs with tomatoes,聽 mangoes with bagoong (shrimp paste), and rice in Snake Island.聽 We also found a couple of snorkelling guides who聽 found the perfect spot for us to see schools of fish.聽 Frankly,聽 I was a bit scared venturing out in open sea.聽 My guide was kind of advanced in years and I was praying he won’t have an attack while watching out for me.聽 Tried hard not to panic, and simply enjoyed snorkelling.


Mitra’s House


The house of the late Congressman Mitra is atop a hill and provided a lovely view of Honda Bay.聽 It was also a house with a unique architecture…………round in shape,聽 with wooden balcony rails to hem in the tourists enjoying the panoramic view.聽 Inside the house, one finds pictures of the entire family.聽 The caretaker still speaks lovingly of the late Speaker of the House.聽 As do most people from Palawan. What a waste.聽 Now, we’d never know if Mitra could have been the republic’s greatest ever president.


Read also my Palawan blog in TravelBlog. 聽More photos can be viewed there. 聽聽