PHILIPPINES - Luzon and Palawan - 2007

 Philippines - March of 2007

In 2007, my trip to the Philippines, began my intercontinental trips. Finally, the dream that haunted me for so many years of knowing the World, materialized now in an exuberant reality...

The Philippines was the first of my great trips and the one that marked me the most. Even today, I feel a compulsive desire to go back there again... 

Mine, Intercontinental first trip                                                   Most of our audacious dreams, those who constantly persecute us and consume our imagination, are often difficult to get concretize them in a physical reality, something concrete that touches us and marks life forever. In most of our existence, dreams will always be dreams and nothing more...

 Dream to reality...                                                                                                         After many "moons" of preparation of the trip, the day of boarding finally arrived and many hours after a terrible atmospheric compression and confined to our tiny space, we arrived at Manila.

The arrival, is something that is probably marked forever by my modest memory. It is impossible to forget the moment where it transposed the swinging doors on the last step of the airport exit. The heat shock was so intense and so suffocating, that the feeling I had, was to have entered a giant furnace... that, it was the Tropics in yours maximum exponent and I was there...

Shells of the Philippines, Palawan 2007 - Specimens, caught by me...

 Information and preparations of the trip...

Geography and Religion: The Philippine archipelago, is the second bigger of the world, with more seven thousand islands. It has a huge diversity of micro natural regions and unique habitats of the world. For being an extremely vast archipelago, visiting some of these islands can be a big challenge and financially expensive... The Christianity, the predominant religion throughout the Philippine archipelago, is the country with the bigger number of Christian believers, throughout the Southwest Asian.To the south of Mindanao Island, is the Muslim Autonomous Zone.

Economy and Security: Economic development is one of the lowest in the region and this is strongly reflected in society... There is a lot of poverty, some crime, prostitution and many other social problems. The Philippines, also has problems related to terrorist attacks, although in last years there have been no relevant attacks, it does not mean that such problems cannot occur at any time. The Muslim Autonomous Zone, south of Mindanao, is one of the places to avoid traveling, or at least if you are visiting this area, taking some extra care... otherwise, is adventure and pleasure.

My first stage of preparation in this kind of trip, is information related with security. I travel with my wife and daughter and for this reason security always comes first. When we were in Philippines, my daughter was only 4 years old and by the time we were there, she was the only western child, within a radius of many miles... 


First part of the trip - Luzon


To think that everything will go well just because we plan everything in detail, is a mere illusion... and this, perhaps, is the most interesting part of any trip on its own. The unforeseen...

The city of Manila is a chaotic, suffocating and uninteresting place to visit. It is an extremely large city, very polluted and full of slums, where millions of people heap in a miserable life. It is almost non-existent any point of reference that one can advise to visit, except the central part of the Bay of Manila and the Rizal Park, that is in that zone. Only then, is it worth spending a day...    Once considered the "Pearl of the East" (before World War II, it was completely destroyed, by the Japanese...), it is now one of the less interesting cities to visit in Southeast Asia.


Some simple advice for Luzon:                                              Exit from Manila and go to the peripheries. Near to the city, have much more to see, it is much calm and less polluted. The air outside the city is much easier to breathe... Rural areas are calm and pleasant to walk around. Luzon, has many beautiful places to see in terms of natural beauty. Forget historical zones and monuments. You will not find anything worth wasting time to visit... enjoy the beaches, the mountains and, if possible, go see the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, which are World Heritage Sites. Unfortunately, I did not see... 


Pineapple Plantation - Luzon, Philippines



PHOTO GALLERY - Manila, Angeles, Batangas - Luzon, Philippines 2007

Second part of the trip - Palawan

Palawan, is the most paradisiacal island in the Philippines and one of the most beautiful islands in the World. I feel privileged, having already had the pleasure of having been there... The city of Puerto Princesa, is nice and calm. It has no monuments to visit, or something similar, but there are many wonderful beaches with fantastic and warm water. Honda Bay, it's a wonderful. There are several Tours which take you around the main islands of the Bay, with lunch included. It is not expensive and well worth the money...

Puerto Princesa, has many other fantastic beaches and little visited by tourists that are well worth exploring. It is easy to discover some of these sites through a Tuk-tuk, run by a friendly philippine. We had our private driver, René, who was five stars...



El Nido, Palawan - Almost Paradise...

when I remember that wonderful place, I almost want to cry of sadness of not being able to go there more often...Of all the good memories that I keep of that place in memory, the one that most marked me, is the immaculate image of the emerald green waters, of a green with no memory of having never seen anywhere else... of all the magnificent colors of the sea which I have seen personally, only two places, have left me truly dazzled. One was El Nido and the other on the Island of Santa Maria, in the Azores. In El Nido, the stunning emerald green, in Santa Maria, an unforgettable turquoise blue...   

El Nido, is composed of an archipelago of several small islands, as shown in the map on the below. But it is not any archipelago with beautiful islands... Palawan is formed by continental rocks, geologically it is much older, than the majority of the islands of volcanic origin. Palawan, was part of the Eurosian plate, which separated from the Asian continent and gave rise to the China Sea. Its geological features are unique in aspect of limestone formations... the entire geography of the island, has been shaped by erosion over millions of years. It is absolutely dazzling to see the laced limestone corroded by erosion, where amazingly the vegetation grabs desperately to life... not less gorgeous, are the undulating rocks lost in the immensity of the sea. There, almost everything is perfect and almost everything, it is of a beautiful gorgeous... 

Some simple advice:

Go to El Nido, from Puerto Princesa, is not very easy or cheap. But it's worth going there, even once in a lifetime...In 2007 when I was there, there was only one road from Puerto Princesa to El Nido and that was on a good part of the course in very bad condition. In some places it was a real adventure to pass... From what I have read of who has been there more recently, it is still not a wonder to get there by car... I traveled in a van, which took many hours to do a little more than 200 km and it was not anything cheap to go. The other option is the plane...The choice of plane is good, especially for those who do not have problems of containment of expenses. You can even go, directly from Manila... From Puerto Princesa to El Nido, it takes about an hour by plane, but it's quite expensive. I just made the return trip to Puerto Princesa by plane and it cost an exorbitance, for us all three... there is a terrible foreign monopoly in that area and as there is no competition, they make the price they want...  

 My general opinion on the Philippines:

Personally I loved the Philippines, particularly Palawan. The Philippines is not a country that has much to offer in "tourist" terms, compared to other countries in South-East Asia... it does not have beautiful palaces, nor forts or magnificent castles, nor museums of great relevance and thinks like these. All that it has and much, is the sympathy of a fantastic people, and beautiful islands, many islands, where you can make good Tours and dive among the corals and fish of a thousand colors. And for those who like or are collectors of shells, there is almost heaven...


El Nido:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Whatever way of transport you choose to get there is always worth, going there. El Nido, is still one of those fantastic and almost pure World places, that fill our soul with pleasure... 

Last note:                                                                                                                                                                                                      Do not be afraid to take your children on the trips they can do... without them it is not absolute funny to be or to go wherever. In the Philippines, my daughter was extraordinarily well treated. And that, it was forever in my heart...