Friday, December 20, 2013

Hello, Palawan! Day 2 (Part 3) - Iwahig Firefly-Watching Ecotourism and Wildlife Park

A rather extended post about fireflies and stars

⇠  DAY 1 |   Day 2 Part 1 Day 2 Part 2  | Day 3 

With more goods bought from Binuatan Creations added to the packs of cashew from the market loaded on our taxicle, we travelled for about 20 minutes from Sta. Monica to the Iwahig Firefly-Watching Ecotourism and Wildlife Park in Iwahig, Puerto Princesa. The Park entrance a few meters off the highway is past the end of the old South Road Bridge that spans the Iwahig River.

Iwahig Firefly-watching and Eco Park Entrance1
Welcome sign looking out to the main road.

The firefly-watching tour at the Eco Park, managed by the Iwahig Community Ecotourism Association, Inc. (ICETA), started in 2008. Established jointly by the ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc. through its former Palawan Ecotourism program manager, the late broadcaster and environmentalist Dr. Gerry Ortega, with the city government of Puerto Princesa and the Tourism Department, this community-led activity received the Gold Award (Ecotourism Project category) from the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) in 2010. It won the award over 65 other nominees from the Asia-Pacific region.

I didn’t really know what to expect from this evening firefly tour at all—I didn’t know what this first-time visit to Palawan had in store for me either, much less of the Underground River tour scheduled for Day 3 that convinced me to fly there—but anyhow gamely told my companions who had previously been to Puerto Princesa that I was open to doing whatever or be brought to wherever provided some internal matters like meetings or initiating contact with local community networks or groups were dealt with for example, and/or reunions with friends based in the city were done.

With the reunions and brief meetings fulfilled, and some happy shopping by my companions plus key tours of the city accomplished that afternoon and the day before, this firefly tour was, quite surprisingly, to be the highlight of our day. It was, at least, very much of mine.

A game-changer

Since its inception, the term “ecotourism” has often been misappropriated or misconstrued. Anyone with a room to let and a vista to display can claim to provide “ecotourism” experiences as had been mine in previous other instances so I tend to take locations that brand themselves as such with a bit of circumscription.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hello, Palawan! Day 2 (Part 2)

⇠  DAY 1 |   Day 2 Part 1 | Day 2 Part 3   | Day 3 


Binuatan IMG_5507-hello PP2 kv BIN
Binuatan Creations, Sta. Monica, Puerto Princesa.

If traditional crafts is your thing, Binuatan Creations, a family-run weaving factory and shop tied-in with most guided tours, is a recommended stop. It was skipped by our tour package on Day 1 by around 5 p.m. from Baker's Hill so we went there on our own.

Binuatan can be reached on a hired taxicle like we did which would take about 15-20 minutes travel time from the city proper. The shop and factory is located off the main road of Puerto Princesa South Road (the one that leads to the Mitra Ranch, Baker's Hill and the Crocodile Farm) on barangay Sta. Monica.

Arriving there past 6 p.m. afforded us more chances to linger a bit, talk to the weavers and look over a variety of products at their store.

Hello, Palawan! Day 2 (Part 1)

⇠  DAY 1 |  Day 2 Part 2: Binuatan Creations ⇢ | Day 2 Part 3   | Day 3 


Our plans for Day 2 in Puerto Princesa that involved more of exploring the city included [a] lunch at La Terrasse, [b] shop for kasuy (cashew) in the downtown market, [c] go to Binuatan Creations, a weaving factory, and [d] end the day at Iwahig River for its guided Firefly Watching tour.

Our first breakfast at Puerto Pension’s Café Tribu on the 4th floor was moved 30 minutes later from original wake-up call time because we arrived past midnight from a night out with friends in Casa Nieves.

This morning was also cooled by the drizzle, a spillover of sorts from overnight rains which made us somewhat apprehensive of the Firefly Watching scheduled in the evening.

The urban creatures that we are, changes in weather made us uncertain about these things: natural or outdoor tours largely dependent on forecast and terrain, for example, as I envisioned the Iwahig fireflies all gathered in full company call (like a general meeting) on that overcast showery morning, to decide on whether they were to put on a night’s show or not.

Chingbee would definitely place a call to the association in charge so we could adjust our itinerary as may be the case.

IMG_5363-hello PP2 kv
Breakfast at Café Tribu with greetings from Puerto Pension and Daluyon Resort owner Butch (R) and Daluyon Resort GM Ed (L), active ZCR advocates both.

Just as we were ending a hearty breakfast, Puerto Pension’s owner and CEO Butch Tan who also owns the multi-awarded Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort in Sabang where we were to stay on Day 3, accompanied by Daluyon's GM Ed Gomez, joined us at our table.

Homey and green (and windows preferred)
Genial, welcoming and down-to-earth, Butch also soon became our Puerto Princesa informant of sorts. He said that most local fruits we’re familiar with in Luzon (mangoes, for example) are generally more expensive in Palawan because they’re not grown much there.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Hello, Palawan! (Day 1, Part I)

TigerAir IMG_5084-hello PP1 kv

Finally! Palawan in 3 days and a very selected (limited) itinerary based on agreed schedule my companions set in March this year when we grabbed a TigerAir promo.

Palawan, sure, why not? My running joke then, as was my actual motivation for going, was to see the famous UNESCO-declared World Heritage Site that is the Puerto Princesa Underground River while it was "there for the taking," so to speak. This sarcasm stemmed from the fact that the Philippines has been at loggerheads with China* since April 2012 over territories covered by Palawan’s 1,780 or so islands—that’s roughly 3.99% of the entire Philippines’ 7,107 islands that just happens to fall under one province alone.

*Specifically, the flashpoint I’m referring to is the Kalayaan group of islands although the stand-off between China and the Philippines is about Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal,** also known as Bajo de Masinloc which is officially and historically part of Masinloc, Zambales Province, in Luzon up north.
(**Also refer to here and here for some basic and interesting info I found on Google. These are linked only as reads and for no other claims of authority,  legality or veracity of disputes.)

Anyway, to Palawan, certainly, in case China does take over not just Panatag Shoal and parts of Kalayaan Islands however it intends to which means requiring a passport to enter, tour and discover, and appreciate certain parts of my country–I don't care, really, for China's flippancy over its passport page designs–a preposterous and completely unacceptable circumstance should that be.

Hello, Palawan! (Day 1, Part 2) - Exploring Puerto Princesa City

DAY 1 - Exploring the City

We got into a guided City tour on the afternoon of our arrival. As we were the last group picked up by the tour van, the route first took us to the Baywalk behind Puerto Pension, then immediately up past the seaport gate on the way to the historic City Plaza Cuartel across of which is the Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral.

Baywalk IMG_5124-hello PP1 kv
Quick shot of the Baywalk from the city tour van.
IMG_5152-hello PP1 kv
City Tour Stop #1: Plaza Cuartel entrance

Plaza Cuartel was a garrison during WW II and is now significant for its tunnel, the opening of which remains preserved and viewable but enclosed to avoid accidental falls. It is in this tunnel where about 150 American POWs were meted out their deaths by their Japanese captors, either burned alive inside it on December 14, 1944, or shot at (or impaled by bayonets); some, according to the entrance marker, were able to escape by swimming across to Iwahig).

Hello, Palawan! (Day 1, Part 3) - Dining Out in Puerto Princesa City

DAY 1 - Dining out

Our original plan was to have lunch at La Terrasse and dinner at KaLui’s. But because we arrived in Puerto Princesa near lunchtime of Saturday, the guided city tour was scheduled at 2 pm, and KaLui’s is closed on Sundays, we opted to move La Terrasse for lunch the following day and have our first Palawan dinner out at KaLui’s instead.

We planned to later unwind and meet May’s high school friend Magda and her husband Bruce at Casa Nieves on Libis Street (across the Shell corner gas station) so I, in turn, could have my reunion with good friend Dante who owns and operates this new haunt.

KaLui’s is an experience in itself. It serves some of the tastiest dishes I’ve ever had but that’s getting ahead of myself. KaLui’s is a highly recommended restaurant and strictly requires reservation. Dinner time accommodates 3 sets of diners from 6:30-10:30 pm.

KaLui IMG_5337-hello PP1 kv
KaLui is so popular, everyone and our "taxicle" driver knew about it.
KaLui IMG_5335-hello PP1 kv
Prior reservation is strictly observed.

Monday, October 7, 2013's Twitter Timeline and what I believe it missed

Regarding Twitter's IPO,'s Taylor Casti posted this infographic today with a disclaimer (note, by the way, how it still refers to Twitter as a microblog; it still is, according to this description.):

Editor's note: In the infographic, below, Chris Messina is incorrectly identified as an employee of Twitter. He is actually a user of the microblogging network. The infographic will be amended shortly.'s Twitter timeline infographic

Jogging my memory—having been on Twitter since March 2007—I think it left out these other important Twitter milestones:
  1. The rise of the legendary but notorious Fail Whale (lovable nonetheless) in 2008 when Twitter had the most over-capacity issues dealing with scalability and growth in usage.

  2. To further convey the Fail Whale experience during that period, this classic and utterly hilarious video captioned by Crunchgear's Nicholas Deleon and his brother was posted in July 2008 which had most of the Twitterverse's 1.3M users in stitches. (Warning: safe for work but extreme #nerdalert and #geek caution required.)

Monday, August 26, 2013

In support of #MillionManMarch at Luneta today

I have a full day but I offer it not as an excuse. However it is our day is planned and how it turns out, we cannot escape the fact that today marks a momentous day in our shared history – that of showing up, or simply showing our frustration, despair and disappointment and, hopefully, an uncompromising demand for real change in our political system.

Related post on the #MillionPeopleMarch, 04 October 2013, Ayala Avenue, Makati City.

The President went live on camera last weekend to allay fears and doubts about his sincerity on the issues of misuse of public funds, perhaps even on leadership (his) and everything a leader is acknowledged to be in control of, but certainly not the least in the hope that today's gathering will fizzle out. Yet as of noontime today, crowd estimate is at 70,000 in Luneta alone not counting the numbers of FIlipinos joining this movement all over the archipelago and around the world.

It was a dam(n) if you do, dam(n) of you don't situation, as was the case of the recent Luzon-to-Mindanao flooding brought by typhoon "Maring." But "Maring," really, was a lesson unlearned from "Ondoy," when, in 2010, an election year, the devastated Philippine islands were wrought by politicking, not positivity; that when the sun forces to shine through layers of storm clouds, all is forgotten and every life goes, or is expected to go, back to normal. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


that is all that will ever be and he was all that ever was. Where Art is being more like a father whose impact and influences last more than a lifetime. For being under your wing, this isn't enough to say, Thank you, Sir. For everything.

You are very, sorely missed.

ROBERTO CHABET (Mar 29, 1937-April 30, 2013). As we remember him.
Photo by Soler Santos from the Roberto Chabet Archive for
Marlyne Sahakian & Ringo Bunoan, NOV/DEC 2009

05 May 2013


"Bobby" was how his contemporaries called him. To us (and among us), he was just "Sir."

Many others have done and will do justice writing about the man. I’ve always wondered, though, how, if ever, does one realize near-parental responsibilities when (in his case) he isn’t a parent himself in the biological sense, when he set out to pursue and do his vision?

He cannot be summed up in careful, fanatical or schismatic words. Depending on whose point of view one solicits opinions of him from, he was alternately a leader, an innovator, a simple but complex mind or simply contemptible. I think he was kind of like telos and techne in one body; enigmatic, charming and blunt because he cut through the nonsense and broke apart deceptions. Too much, his honesty was; though unintended, it caused discomfort in others. He was just [being] himself, now in incalculable memories that, despite leaving a void, has spilled over and will continue to overflow.

He was someone we, not just his students and colleagues but "the scene"–for whatever that’s worth to generations of practitioners of which I fortunately was among–looked up to, that his passing left us orphaned.
- -
Never is one ready for a sudden journey someone else takes (whether one had control over it or not), and that that someone else being one who had such a strong hand that no matter how brief it held on to yours was firm it left a handprint, yet yielding for it was a hand that brushed away the cobwebs on the lens to see through but left just enough to allow for whatever else one does with it.

What one is is having to deal with being left behind and how the moments are made to at least be up to his, the journey master’s, legacy. As such, it seems that, jointly, all of us who remain will never fill those [running] shoes nor ever cast a bigger shadow (however rightly or wrongly, to others, we probably resemble an amalgamated reference in his form. Quite odd that is.).
- -
Thank you again, Sir. And for bringing us home back to your home. Your peace is enviable because you have claimed true, boundless art |process-ing| no one among the living can ever take away from you.

krvilla.2013 | from images courtesy of Soler Santos/West Gallery


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