Puerto Princesa City, the capital of Palawan, is one of my favorite cities in the world and probably the local city I loved the most. It is one of the largest cities in the Philippines based on land area. Yet, it is brimming with countless natural wonders, topped with good food, outstanding cleanliness, and friendly, disciplined people. The best part, the tourism industry here is so organized that exploring is never a problem even if it’s your first time to set foot on this unique paradise.
Puerto Princesa City may look vibrant today but like many cities in the Philippines, it also has a dark history. This is most evident in a small park in Barangay Liwanag called Plaza Cuartel.
Plaza Cuartel looks like your ordinary city park with concrete pavements, towering trees and benches. The ruins of an old garrison and tunnels are proof of its grim past. Plaza Cuartel is the site of Palawan Massacre. The tunnels were where 150 American prisoners of war were kept during World War II. But on December 14, 1944, the Japanese decided to kill them all by burning them alive. Many perished but eleven prisoners were able to survive and escape the mass execution.
We started the Day 3 of our Puerto Princesa City Tour with a date with butterflies and crocodiles. After a stop at the Palawan Butterfly Garden and the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, we still had four more stops to go to. Bear in mind that we traveled around on a tricycle with Kuya Ding leading us (P300 per tricycle for the whole tour, 09186620495).
When the Poor Traveler was just a young boy, he heard from a magazine show on TV of a child being attacked and then devoured by a huge crocodile in the province. Since then, I had feared crocodiles. I didn’t like seeing them even on TV. Whenever National Geographic Channel would feature them, I’d switch channels. They had been giving me the creeps until our Puerto Princesa City Tour.
Our flight back to Manila was scheduled at 2pm so we still had the entire morning to explore Puerto Princesa City. Again, our original plan was to take the City Tour by Casa Linda, which cost P600 per person. That would allow us to explore the city on an air-conditioned van.
The Poor Traveler isn’t really a brave food lover. I’m just a food lover. But I’d rather be on the usual, ordinary, typical, safe, boring side when it comes to trying a place’s delicacy. That explains why eating sea urchin at Virgin Island in Bohol didn’t interest me. And why I barely touched the stingray served at KaLui restaurant. My tastebuds aren’t bold enough. My tastebuds don’t like anything they are not used to. I always blame my tastebuds, not myself.
After the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park experience, we headed back to Sabang Beach for lunch. We were so tired and hungry so when our buffet lunch was ready, we were more than ready to dig in. Unlimited Filipino food at Sabang’s gorgeous beach — oh life, I love you.
Our original plan was to take Casa Linda’s Puerto Princesa Subterranean River Tour with buffer lunch at P1600 per person. However, the tricycle driver we met (Kuya Ding, 09186620495) referred to us a travel agency that offered the same tour with buffet lunch at a lower price — P1300/pax. We grabbed it.
Ask anyone in Puerto Princesa about the best restaurant in the city and there’s a big chance he or she will point you to Ka Lui.
KaLui is probably the most famous Pinoy restaurant in Puerto Princesa City. It is just 10 minutes from the airport. And lucky us, we just had to walk going there from Casa Linda, where we were staying. The place has that homey feel and very Pinoy since the building and the furniture inside is made of wood. The interior is adorned by artwork pieces — wooden sculptures, ceramic pieces, batik fabric — mostly with fish as their subject. It feels like it’s owned by an art-loving traveler.
After checking in Casa Linda, the first item on our itinerary was Honda Bay. We initially wanted to avail of Casa Linda’s tour at P1,100 per person. Since we were a group of 4, that would be P4,400 for all of us. But we had a better option.
Rewind to an hour earlier, on the way to Casa Linda from the airport our tricycle driver Kuya Ding (09186620495) talked us into just getting his services. He offered to take us to the port at Honda Bay where the boats were and take us back to Casa Linda for only P400. Wow, that’s just P100 per person. We liked it, liked it very much and took it. We got his mobile number (09186620495) and promised to call him after settling down.