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.


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