Palawan Travel Information
 
PALAWAN : NATURE'S LAST STAND
 

I. OVERVIEW

Palawan, an island province southwest of Metro Manila, is revered as one of the Philippines' and Asia 's most haunting and final frontiers.

Palawan, the country's last environmental frontier, is blessed with 1780 islands and islets most of which have irregular coastlines that make excellent harbors. Thick forests covering these steepIy sloped mountains assure adequate watersheds for rivers and streams. Palawan is surrounded by a coral shelf that abounds with varied and colorful marine life, hence the island province has been declared a nature sanctuary. The province boasts of extraordinary scenic wonders like El Nido, St. Paul Underground River, Tabon Caves and Honda Bay Islands.

Puerto Princesa is the capital of Palawan.

A. BRIEF HISTORY
The history of Palawan may be traced back 22,000 years ago as confirmed by the discovery of fossils of the Tabon cave man in Quezon, Palawan. AIthough the origin of the cave dwellers is not yet established, anthropologists believe these came from Borneo travelling across the land bridge that connected Palawan with Borneo. The similarity of Palawan's flora and fauna with that of Borneo fostered this belief.

There are several versions regarding the origin of the name "Palawan". Some contend that it was derived from the Chinese word Pa lao yu" meaning" Land of the Beautiful Harbours". Others believe that it came from the Indian word 'Palawas' meaning territory. Still others believe that it was derived from a plant which the natives called 'Palwa'. But the popular belief is that "Palawan" is a corrupted form of the Spanish word "Paragua" because the main island's shape resembles a closed umbrella.

B. GEOGRAPHY
Palawan has a land area of l,489,655 hectares. It reclines between Mindoro and North Borneo Islands. Palawan is appoximately 586 kilorneters southwest of Manila. The island province extends toward the southwest forming a partial land bridge between Mindoro and North Borneo. The western side of the island faces South China Sea. Palawan's important islands are Busuanga, Culion, Linapacan, Cuyo, Dumaran, Cagayanes and Balabac.

The mountain ranges average 3,500 feet in attitude with the highest peak rising to 6,800 feet at Mount Matalingahan. On both sides are virgin islands with rivers and streams serviceable for irrigation. The vast mountains are the source of valuable timber. Palawan's main island measures 425 kilometers long and averages 40 kilometers wide. Palawan has 1,959 kilometers of coastline which is mostly irregular and thus make excellent harbours. Puerto Princesa, the capital city, is the chief seaport and the center of trade and commerce.

C. POLITICAL SUBDIVISION
The province is subdivided into 23 municipalities namely Aborlan, Agutaya, Araceli, Balabac, Bataraza, Brooke's Point, Busuanga, Cagayancillo, Coron, Cuyo, Dumaran, El Nido, Kalayaan, Linapacan, Magsagsas, Marcos, Narra, Quezon, Roxas, San Vicente and Taytay. Furthermore, there are 420 barangays and one city. Twelve municipalities are located in the mainland. The other 18 island municipalities are accessible by motorized bancas and launches plying the neighboring municipalities and the city of Puerto Princesa.

D. CLIMATE
The province has two types of climate: the first type which occurs in the northern and southern extremities and the entire western coast has two distinct seasons - six months dry and six months wet. The other type, which prevails in the eastern coast, has short dry season of one to three months and no pronounced rainy period during the rest of the year. The southern part of the province is practically free from typhoons but the northern part has persistent gales and torrential rains during July and August.

E. POPULATION
Palawan's projected population for 1995 is 750,000. This figure includes native Palawenos and migrants from the various provinces within and outside Region IV.

Population density is 36 persons / square kilometer while sex ratio is 116 males : 100 females.

Source: National Census and Statistics Office (1990)

Palawan is a melting pot of 87 different cultural groups and races who live together inpeace and harmony. Generally, the people are of Malay origin but there is a strong evident influence from Borneo, China and the Middle East. Eighteen percent (18%) of the populace is composed of the following cultural minority groups:
1. Tagbanua 2. Pinalawan 3. Batak 4. Ken-uy or Tao't Bato 5. Calamian

The Muslim group is represented by the following tribes:
1. Jama-Mapuns 2. Molbog 3. Tausug 4. Samal-Bangingi

The native born Palawenos, still predominate the populace. They are characterized as very religious, proud, cordial, cheerful and with a highly developed community spirit. They place a high value in education and are influential in shaping the political cultural, social and economic life of the province. Next predominant group is the Muslim group, then the Bataks.

F. LANGUAGE / DIALECTS
There are 52 dialects in the province, with Tagalog being spoken by 28% of the people. Other major dialects are Cuyono (26.27%) Pinakawan (IIonggo 11.08%) and IIonggo (9.6%).

 

G. MAJOR INDUSTRIES

1. Agricultural Crops
Palawan has a potential agricultural land area of 454,407.5 hectares of which only one fifth is cultivated. Most of these uncultivated land are suitable for both commercial and staple crop production.
Listed below are the major crops grown in the province:

 
a. cacao d.corn f. abaca
b. coconut e.banana g. napier grass
c. cashew nut
 

2. Livtestock Raising
The readily available source of cheap feeds for poultry and the vast grazing land for cattle fattening make livestock commercially viable.

3. Fishing
Palawan's fishing grounds are among the richest in the Philippines. It is the source of more than 37% of commercial fish output in the country (although most operators come from Manila).

Estimated area for inland fishing is 40,126 hectares. Likewise some 637 hectares are suited for mussel, oyster and seaweed. Of the 1,169 hectares of existing and developed fishponds (brackish and freshwater), only 288 hectares are productive. A total of 27,943 hectares are identified for fishpond development.
Aquaculture:
a. tuna fishing
b. prawn culture
c. carp, catfish, mullet, eel, milkfish and tilapia culture
d. mussel and oyster farming
e. seaweed farming

4. Forest Resources
The total forest area in mainland Palawan is 733,400 hectares and 46,450 hectares of mangrove. In the island municipalities, the total forest area is 888,888 hectares while mangrove is 13,780 hectares.

Major lumber products are apitong narra, ipil, malugai and falcatta. Minor forest products available are almaciga resin, rattan, nipa shingles, bamboo, buri palm midribs and honey. Logging wastes may also be processed using available technology for specific purposes.

5. Manufacturing
Forest products can sustain secondary industries such as furnitures, hand bag, baskets and other crafts.
industries:

 
a. cashew processing f. rattan furniture
b. charcoal g. fishmeal processing
c. concrete products h. feedmilis
d. metalcraft i. boat building
e. woodworking j. briquetting of logging wastes
 

6. Mineral Resources
Palawan enjoys abundant mineral resources--nickel, copper, manganese, chromite, limestone, gold, iron pyrite, sulphur and guano.
a. Metal based resources:
1. chromite
2. nickel
3. metallic mercury

b. Non-metallic resources:
1. limestone
2. guano
3. coral
4. marble
5. silica
6. sand and gravel

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II. TOURIST ATTRACTIONS
 
A. HISTORICAL

1. Taytay Fort
Location: Taytay
How to get there: From Malvar Terminal in Puerto Princesa, one can take a Taytay-bound jeepney and get off at the Taytay Church. The fort can be reached by a three-minute walk from the church going straight towards the end of the road. Jeepneys service the Puerto Princesa-Taytay route daily. Taytay is 117 kilometers away from Puerto Princesa City.
Travelling Time: Eight (8) hours by jeepney
Description: The historic Taytay fort was built by the Spaniards in 1622 and used as a Military station during that period. The fort features a small chapel and a cannon that is still intact.

B. CULTURAL

1. Palawan Museum
Location: Puerto Princesa City
How to get there: From the city proper, one can take a tricycle and ask to be let off at the Mendoza Park.
Travelling Time: Five to ten (5-10) minutes
Description: This museum features archaeological artifacts and prehistoric diggings which includes fossils and crude tools of ancient man.

C. NATURAL

1. Calauit Island Wildlife Sanctuary
Location: Calauit Island
How to get there: From Manila, Sea Air corporation service the Manila-Busuanga route at least once daily using an 18-seater aircraft. Upon arrival at the Yulo King Ranch in Busuanga, jeepneys will take visitors to the Decalatiao Wharf, where boats will be waiting to ferry passengers to Calauit island.
Travelling Time: One hour & 30 minutes by plane
30 minutes by jeepney
three (3) hours by boat
Description: Covering an area of 3,700 hectares Calauit Island Wildlife Sanctuary is home to both endemic animals and African wildlife. Eight species of African animals from Kenya, which includes giraffes, zebras, impalas, waterbucks, bushbacks, gazelles, elands and topis live in harmony with endemic Philippine animals like the Calamian deer, mousedeer, bearcat, Palawan peacock pheasant, Philippine crocodile and sea turtles. Modest accommodations are available for an overnight stay.

2. St. Paul Underground River
Location: Bahile
How to get there: Jeepneys bound for Bahile Wharf are stationed along the Puerto Princesa market. Bahile may also be reached by chartered vehicle. Although trips to the Underground River are irregular, pumpboats along the wharf may be hired for a day trip to the river. From here, a 2.1 kilometer trek towards the river entrance follows. Bahile is 77 kilometers away from Puerto Princesa City.
Travelling Time: Two and a half hours by land.
Description: Deep within the limestone and marble peaks of Mt. St. Paul flows the Underground River, one of Palawan's most famous spots. Outside the river's mouth is a beautiful lagoon with crystal clear waters that teem with fish. Running eight kilometers inland, St Paul's Underground River is easily navigable for at least four kilometers. On board a paddle banca with outriggers, equipped with carbide or kerosene lamps, one enters a new and mystical environment exploring the pitch dark interior recesses of the cavern. Every turn and bend reveal huge stalactites merging at the water's surface and reflecting colors from yellow to reddish brown.

3. Honda Bay Islands
Location: Sta Lourdes, Tagburos
How to get there: Tricycles do the Puerto Princesa route daily. The Sea Lourdes Harbour in Tagburos is located about 10 km. north of the capital city. At the wharf, fishermen rent out their pumpboats for a tour of the islands. The island nearest to the wharf may be reached in 30 minutes.
Travelling Time: Two and a half hours by land.
Description: Honda Bay Islands consist of the following islands: Snake Island, Cowrie Island, Starfish Island, Meana Marina Island, Loli Island and Pandang Island. Many of the islands have shallow reefs and good beaches, characterized as gradually sloping. It is a perfect site for island hopping and other water related activities like swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving. Bat Island, on the other hand is home to more than a thousand bats. These animals can be seen hanging on the mangroves during the day. At night these creatures fly off in search of food in the mainland.

4. Tabon Caves
Location: Quezon
How to get there: From Puerto Princesa, take a five-hour bus or jeepney trip to Quezon over first class asphalt road. The first trip is at 6:00AM At the Quezon Wharf, pumpboats are available at chartered trip to Tabon Caves. Quezon is located 157 km. south of Puerto Princesa.
Travelling Time: Five hours by bus/eepney, 30 minutes by pumpboat
Description: This chain of caves is where fossils and crude tools of ancient man dating some 22,000 years back have been unearthed. The main entrance to the caves, measuring 18 meters high and 16 meters wide, overlooks a beautiful bay studded with white sand beach islands. This leads to a dome shaped chamber of imposing dimensions about 90 meters deep. At the time of Tabon Caves' discovery a large quantity of cultural materials and chinese pottery were found. Most of the artifacts have been transferred to the National Museum in Manila for preservation. Excavations established that these caves are among the oldest habitations in Asia. Of the 200 caves in the Tabon Caves Complex, only seven are open to visitors.

5. Nagtabon Beach
Location: Nagtabon
How to get there: Bacungan-bound jeepneys leave Puerto Princesa at 6: 00AM. Due to the unavailability of jeepneys from Bacungan to Nagtabon, visitors are left with no choice but to trek for eight km. all the way towards the Nagtabon beach. Nagtabon is accessible by private vehicles.
Travelling Time: 45 minutes by jeepney
Description: Nagtabon is a lovely stretch of white sand beach with crystal clear waters. After traversing several rivers and making a number of climbs on the road from Bacungan, one can see Nagtabon at the end of the walk. Accommodations are open throughout the year. Nagtabon consists of three native-designed beach resorts with basic facilities. Meals are arranged for, if ordered in advance. Lamps are utilized at night due to the absence of electricity. Island Hopping to the nearby Hen and Chicken Islands is possible.

6. Port Barton
Location: San Vicente
How to get there: Jeepneys bound for Port Barton are stationed at the Malvar Terminal. Stopover for meals is at Brgy. San Rafael, which is about three hours-drive from Puerto Princesa City. Port Barton is situated 166 kilometers northwest of Puerto Princesa.
Travelling Time: Five to six hours by jeepney
Description: .....Port Barton is the jump-off point to the many white sand islands surrounding San Vicente. In the middlemost portion of the beach, there are five beach cottage with rooms and facilities for rent. Some also offer diving equipment.

D. MAN MADE

1. IRAWAN CROCODILE FARMING INSTITUTE
Location: National Road, Puerto Princessa
How to get there: From the city proper, one can take a tricycle and get off at Irawan where the crocodile farm is located.
Travelling Time: Five minutes by tricycle
Description: The Irawan Crocodile institute aims to preserve and further research studies on crocodiles. It also intends to make good use of the raw materials derived from the crocodile skin. The farm is open Monday to Friday from 1:00-4:00PM. Admission is free.

2. IWAHIG PENAL FARM
Location: Puerto Princessa City
How to get there: From the city proper, one can take a tricycle and ask to be let off at Iwahig. It is located 16 km. south of Puerto Princesa City.
Travelling Time: 20 minutes by tricycle
Description: The colony encompasses a 37-hectare tract planted with coconuts, rice and other crops. The prison has a population of about 4,000 and many inmates live with their families in so-called rehabilitation areas. Iwahig is more like a picture of a modern farm rather than a prison. The prisoners toil their farms unguarded and are allowed to earn an income by working in the many shops which make various handicrafts, most popular of which are the hand-carved items made from mahogany wood (kamagong).

3. VIETNAMESE REFUGEE CENTER
Location: Puerto Princessa City
How to get there: One can take a tricycle from the city proper and ask to be let off at the VRC.
Travelling Time: Five to seven minutes by tricycle.
Description: It is here where refugees from Vietnam have established their community away from home. Supported by the United Nations Organization, the refugees are provided with food, clothing and shelter. Some choose to earn a living through bread making. Tourists may visit the camp anytime free of charge but with clearance from the guards.

4. WHITE BEACH
Location: Puerto Princessa City
How to get there: White Beach can be reached by tricycle from the city proper. The beach is two and a half kilometers away from the airport.
Travelling Time: Five to seven minutes by tricycle.
Description: The fine white sand and clear waters of White Beach make it an ideal place for swimming. A few picnic tables had been installed but an overnight stay is not possible since there are no accommodations facilities.

E. FESTIVAL

1. PAGDIWATA RITUAL
Pagdiwata ritual is a family affair and is the focal point of Tagbanua life. Its activities embody their traditional sentiments and contribute to their persistence. It is also used for securing seance when people are sick especially when treated by their relatives as a medium. It includes offering of wine, nuts, wax, food and many other commodities. Pagdiwata is also an offering to celebrate a bountiful harvest or a successful hunting trip. Among all functionaries, the Babaylan (high priest/priestess) is the most powerful and influential. Folk tradition dictates that disrespect for the Babaylan will result in severe punishment by the supernaturals. Activities during the ritual:
a. Planting
b. War dance/ hunting
c. Harvesting
d. Tarek
e. Pagsuldan - the most prominent feature of the Pagdiwata wherein the Babaylan has possessed the spirits being called for.
 
 
III. TOURIST FAClLITIES
 

A. TRANSPORTATION


1. AIR TRANSPORTATION
Philippine Air Lines, Air Philiphines and Sea Air, each serve one direct flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa City daily. Flying time is one hour by airbus. Asian Spirit flies to Sandoval, a few kilometers north of Palawan. Other airports are also in Busuanga and in El Nido.

The Puerto Princesa Airport is one and half kilometers from the city proper and is accessible by tricycle.

 

2. LAND TRANSPORTATION
Tricycle is the city's main mode of public transportation. For long distance trips, public utility buses and jeepneys stationed at the bus and jeepney terminal along Malvar St. service commuters daily. For trips within and outside Puerto Princesa City, jeepneys and tricycles may be hired.

Jeepney and buses leave the terminal for its destination as soon as they get a full passenger load.

KILOMETRIC DISTANCE FROM PUERTO PRINCESA CITY

Municipality / City Distance
Aborlan 69 Kilometers south
Agutaya 339.3 km east
Araceli 200.2 km east
Balabac 273.7 km south
Bataraza 227 km south
Brooke's Point 192 km south
Busuanga 212 nautical miles north
Cagayancillo 178 nautical miles east
Coron 195 nautical miles east
Cuyo 156 nautical miles northeast
Dumaran 1.2 nautical miles north
El Nido 147.6 nautical miles east
Kalayaan 519.6 km north
Linapacan 305.9 km north
Magsaysay 3152 km north
Marcos 207 km south
Narra 93 km south
Quezon 157 km south
Roxas 142 km northeast
San Vicente 166.8 km northwest
Sandoval/Taytay 217.3 km northeast
 
 

3. SEA TRANSPORTATION
WLLLIAM LINES SHIPPING COMPANY - MU Zamboanga

Route: Manila - Puerto Princesa City - Manila
Leave MNL
Leave PPC
Travel Time:
Capacity
Tuesday & Friday
Wednesday & Sunday
24 hours
2003 passengers

ABOITIZ SHIPPING - Super Ferry 3