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With reckless abandon. That’s how I described our trip to El Nido in general. Not much planning was involved. We dove into it even though we had not even found a place to stay. And we pushed through with it even though we were in the middle of a very critical season at work. All we wanted was that feeling of peace and some time for ourselves. It was like we abandoned everything we had in the city and jumped into this trip blindly. But it was all worth it.

We began island-hopping on our second day in El Nido. The weather was pleasant and the waves were gentler than usual. We were supposed to do Tour A but noticing how favorable the boating conditions were that day, our boatman politely suggested that we take Tour C first. Tour C islands are farther and getting there take more time so he figured, we could take advantage of the friendly day. We agreed.

I wish it were my house
I wish it were my house

Our first stop was Matinloc Island. It was one of the farther islands from the town proper. On the way there, we passed by several islands and had a sneak peek of what was in store for us in the next few days.

After almost 20 minutes of mingling with the waves and singing Kesha songs with friends, our boat docked on a little white beach where we were greeted by a sculpture of Jesus Christ in a small cave and a concrete gazebo (which reminded me of Greece in an instant).

The white beach near the Matinloc Shrine
The white beach near the Matinloc Shrine
The entrance to the shrine is this gorgeous beach!
The entrance to the shrine is this gorgeous beach!
Some religious sculptures at the Shrine
Some religious sculptures at the Shrine

While the rest of the boatmen secured the boat, the lead boatman led us to the left and invited us to climb a limestone cliff standing mightily on the beach. We followed him and we were blown away. The top of the cliff offered a magnificent view of some parts of Matinloc Island and other nearby islands and beaches. From there, we saw the waves rolling, slapping the white shores as other boats sailed by. It was a pleasant feeling. We were the only people in the area and we felt like we owned the place.

Looking up, there was a reminder that this is also a religious, or at least spiritual, place — a cross, standing mightily on the tallest peak of the cliffs. Word of caution, by the way, the cliffs are steep and the rocks are pointed that one wrong move and you’ll be in bloody trouble. Watch your steps.

See how sharp and pointed the rocks are? One wrong move and…
See how sharp and pointed the rocks are? One wrong move and…
The beach just across the Shrine as viewed from the top of the cliff
The beach just across the Shrine as viewed from the top of the cliff
Port beside the shrine
Port beside the shrine

Not far from the base of the cliff was a narrow runway over the water leading to a platform, which reminded me of those old, abandoned ports I see on TV. We were drawn to it like nails swarming around a magnet because at first look, we knew it would be a perfect spot to have a jump shot.

I stayed a little longer on the platform, admiring my surroundings that I didn’t realize I was the only one left there. Moments later, I heard my friends called out my name from the building nearby. They were on the second floor terrace and I thought they wanted me to climb up there, too, so I could appreciate the view. Apparently, they just wanted me to take more photos of them. My friends are the greatest.

Out the window…
Out the window…
Matinloc Shrine has been abandoned
Matinloc Shrine has been abandoned

The view of the beaches was fantastic from the second floor of the building. But it wasn’t the outside view that got my attention but the inside. It was empty. Other than a couple of couches, nothing much was inside. The first thing that entered my head was, “Hmmmm. It’s a perfect location for a suspense thriller.”

But yeah, kidding aside, the place is fascinating. I actually loved the idea that it was abandoned because it adds to the overall appeal of the place, especially that it is a shrine. BUT, a big part of me was hoping that the place be functional and be put to good use. Sayang kasi.

“Why is the place empty?” I asked our boatman.

He answered that there used to be a lot of furniture pieces and other items inside but they vanished slowly as time passed. When asked why only the couches were left, he told us grinningly that it was only because an average boat can’t carry big couches. We all laughed but it was a sad, why-am-I-laughing kind of laugh. I have no way to verify whether what our boatman told us was true, though.

We stayed another 10 minutes in the place. And while we sat at the gazebo and talked, time passed so fast that we had to abandon the shrine.

Top Budget Hotels and Resorts in El Nido

As scored by Agoda customers.

Posted: 2012 • 2 • 11

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Ninia Francisco Altamia

masarap mg floating dyan sabay langoy aso! pg ahon mho amoy sao k n rin!

Bobby Nacino

Fantactic shots, Beautiful place :)


That retreat house in Matinloc is a big “sayang”. One of my friends who worked for the company who owned the place went bankrupt that’s why it was abandoned.

Demented Sanity

It was a place too expensive to maintained. No wonder the owner went bankrupt.

Remy Cabansag

When I was in the Philippines and studied from elementary to college, the Palawan that I knew is a place of” Ketong”, and that’s why the impression before is so risky of our health for the conatagious illness, but these days, totally different, but just for curiousity, where did they go and how’s that place now? did they make also as beauty spot for the tourists.

Kenneth Alday

We all know that Palawan is one of the tourists spot here in the Philippines….it makes us proud to be a filipino….
Guys! Wake up!! Save Palawan!!
Stop mining in PALAWAN!!

Ahziren Montinola Berina

@Remy-cullion island in busuanga is the place where the leprosy stayed to undergo in medication during the spanish era, but last year when i visit the cullion island only memory of the past u will see and it is different now coz i have a kamag anak there, a very nice and peaceful place… :)

Marc Cabrera

Been there. Creepy and definitely the spot to stay for the night.

Annabelle Santos-Daokaew

Beatiful and should be promoted, however, I wish the El Nido governing body should renovate the whole place and promote it as another tourist destination.


@gabz, most probably i know who your friend is. I used to work for that company who developed that part of the island in to a retreat centre. yup, a retreat centre. and at the same time, a family rest house (company owner’s). even during its construction, a lot of activities are already happening in that place. every end of May, there’s what they call a fluvial parade. hundreds of boats and residences of el nido town proper are flocking this island to celebrate the feast of ‘Our Lady of Matinloc.” Just a background, this island was discovered when a fisherman dreamt of Mama Mary saying, “look for the heart of my son it is in Matinloc Palawan. These words spread thru the whole province of palawan until missionaries found out that there is this certain island named “matinloc”, which means beautiful, in el nido. The missionaries, which includes the owner of the company i mentioned earlier, located the island and initially found nothing about the “heart of my son.” But when the missionaries tried to look at the island in different views, from tapiutan island, it looks like a lying mother mary, and from the top view, there you’ll see that the island is indeed heart-shaped. see this for reference:
Prior to the Feast of Our Lady of Matinloc, the owner of the company sponsors a week-long celebration. The owner invited selected pupils from different schools in palawan to have a recollection in matinloc island. The island was so alive back then. Well, those were the days. I actually missed the times i used to stay in that island for weeks. if not for the unfortunate events, Im pretty sure the owner will definitely continue to develop this island. I can tell a lot more about this island.. maybe next time.

Erika Smith

I would love to have my wedding on this sacred island. This is where me and my boyfriend traveled to for the first time. Do you know if it’s possible?


[…] on what we know Tour C includes a trip to Matinloc Shrine, but for some reasons our guides said that we will do the snorkeling instead. And we had no […]


We just got back from our trip from El Nido. Matinloc shrine was one of the stops on our tour. They charged us P100/person to enter. What for? One would expect that since they charge for an entrance fee, they would maintain the place but it was dirty. The restrooms were very nasty. With the money they collect everyday from the tourists, they should at least keep have decent and CLEAN restrooms. Where does all the money go?