Tuesday, June 05, 2012


The  20th Annual Convention of the Canon Law Society of the Philippines was held in Puerto Princesa and a visit to the Underground River was part of the city tour. This was just after Puerto Princesa Underground River officially got into the elite list of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.  Being the first summer since its proclamation as one of the seven new wonders, plenty of tourists mostly Filipinos were eager to visit and see for themselves this attraction.  The city was really caught off guard with the influx of thousands of tourists. Beginning from the airport itself, chaos already ran. Imagine from two flights a day a few years back to 18 flights per day, the airport could just barely accommodate the flights and all the passengers. 

Our Cebu Pacific flight from Cebu was supposed to leave at 12 noon for Puerto Princesa. However, because of the late arrival of our incoming plane it was announced that our flight will be delayed.  By three o’clock in the afternoon we were still waiting. By four pm it was announced that our plane was already on the runway in Manila waiting for its departure for Cebu. Is it really possible that  the plane waited for four hours to get its turn for take off since the plane only arrived Cebu by nine in the evening?  It was already past eleven in the evening when we finally arrived at Puerto Princesa after being delayed for nine hours.  At the airport in Cebu after several  complaints from the passengers, we were given a cup of noodles with no hot water for snacks and later on a one small piece chicken leg from Jollibee for dinner.  We were also given a card with a number to call for a free one way ticket.

It was more than ten years ago since I last visited the underground river.  The road then was not yet cemented and it took almost three hours of dust and bumpy ride to reach the place. Hence I wanted to see what improvements have been made since then.  This time the ride was already smooth and we arrived after just an hour.  There was already a concrete port in Sabang where passengers had to wait to get into the boat which would bring them to the mouth of the underground river. We arrived at nine in the morning.  There were already hundreds of tourists waiting for the fifteen minute boat ride.  It took us two hours of waiting to ride on  the boat that will  bring us to the entrance of the underground river.  From there we had to wait again for almost another two hours to get to the bancas which would tour us for thirty minutes inside the underground river.  I got information that there are only 13 boats which go into the underground river and they all took a noon break which further prolonged our waiting.  Can they not just add some boats and increase the number of boatmen so that the service will not  be interrupted while other boatmen  take their lunch?

The flight back to Cebu was another nightmare. The terminal was jampacked with passengers. When I finally got to the counter after being squeezed into the line, I told the agent that I would need to connect to Tacloban since I only had a 30 minute layover in Cebu.  The person at the counter would not do it, and just told me to check in again in Cebu. I tried to insist but he would hear none of it.  I understood because there were really plenty of passengers and Cebu Pacific flights were coming and going at almost an hourly basis. As I guessed it, when I arrived in Cebu my flight for Tacloban was already closed and to think that it was the same plane that I boarded which would fly to Tacloban. Had I known beforehand of the chaotic situation in the airport I could have checked in online.  Anyway, I just hope that the city of Puerto Princesa will work double time to have their infrastructures ready to accommodate the growing number of tourists coming to visit their city and make some adjustments to the system that is being implemented at the Underground River so as to make the whole trip truly an enjoyable experience.  The unsolicited advice also goes to the Cebu Pacific to be more considerate with their passengers.

The package tour to the Underground River costs 1,500. This includes the round trip van ride from Puerto Princesa, boat rides, entrance fees and buffet lunch after the tour in Sabang. 

 Hotel Centro in Puerto Princesa, one of the newest hotels in town, where we had the 20th  CLSP Convention

 Hotel Centro

Facade of the Palawan Heritage Center.

 This  newly opened Palawan Heritage Center is a modern museum with a more upbeat design, touch, look and ambience. It boasts of a hologram of a Tagbanua lass greeting the visitors with her gracious and warm welcome. 

Wind and solar powered street lights along the road to the underground river. 

 There was a one pit stop along the way for the tour to the Underground River. 

The terminal in Sabang, the jump off point to the Underground River.

Several brand new tourist vans are ferrying tourists to the newest attraction of Puerto Princesa. 

 The crowd in Sabang waiting for their turn to take the boat that will bring them to the underground river.

Once called to this tent, it will  just be a matter of  time before  boarding.

 Finally after two hours, we were able to ride on the boat which would bring us  to the mouth of the underground river. 

Some secluded white sand cove along the way to the underground river.

 The beach where the boats coming from Sabang would dock near the underground river.

Getting off the boat to go to the Underground River.

 From the shore, it would just be a five-minute walk through a wooden pathway to the mouth of the river where we will take the boat to the underground river. 

The mouth of the Underground River.

 Waiting for the bancas to bring us to the underground river.

 Pictures are taken while waiting for the boat.

Finally, we are on our way...

 Some of the sights inside the cave. 

 Actors Aga Mulach and Rowell Santiago were about to do some shooting as we arrived from the tour.

Buffet lunch was served after the tour back in Sabang. It was already two o'clock in the afternoon.

The white sand beach in Sabang.

  Since swimming was prohibited at the underground river, I did not pass the chance to go for a short dip at the beach here in Sabang. 

 The Sheridan Beach Resort & Spa in Sabang was just a short distance away from the terminal.

Administering the Oath taking of  the new members of the Canon Law Society of the Philippines. 

 We had a Hawaiian themed dinner during the Convention.

 The young Dominican canon lawyers came in full force during the convention.

  Members of Tribunal staffs from all over the country regularly attend also the convention.


Orville said...

Palawan never fails to amaze me. Nice post =D

Anonymous said...

you sounding bitter with the airlines

Anonymous said...

this is a nice blog, peole should know this and discover the Philippines' undoscovered beaches...no wonder because we are 7,107 islands...hihihi! kudos to this and the blogger, may yu go to as many beaches not only in the philippines but also in the whole wide world.