Been busy the past weeks since leaving for Bali and my unexpected India trip last April. I just got back from a week in Cebu and had the idea of sharing some of my Palawan Journey photos and some snippet.
I have to admit though that I’m starting to love Instagram more Facebook and blogging. I forgot about Twitter already. haha
Palawan Journey: A Celebration of Death is my way of meditating on my father’s death and the end of a very important relationship in my life. Celebrating death and life and love. Along the 922 kilometers of the journey I was sprinkling my father’s ashes because his last request before he died is to visit Palawan for 2 weeks. Here’s the fulfillment of his wishes:
Day 1: Puerto Princesa – San Vicente, Long Beach (via Itabiak Road)
I took off the city around 9am and started the journey northwards. My initial plan was to drive up till El Nido but when I arrived at Roxas after 2.5hours I was exhausted. So I took the left via Itabiak road, 15 kilometers after I found myself in the Philippines’s longest white beach- 14,000 meters (8.7miles) of fine white sand beach without any tourist around. Lucky to find a spot where I can just hang my hammock and sleep with the lulling waves.
This is the first spot where I sprinkled my father’s ashes. Papa, I hope you are enjoying the sunset.
Day 2: Around San Vicente
I stayed in a kubo beside a fisherman’s house I met a year ago. He invited me to have dinner a year ago and offered me coffee everytime I visit the beach. Since then we became friends.
I also toured around San Vicente and visiting beaches without tourists- just coconut trees and gentle waves.
Plus imagine peeking from your hammock with this amazing horizon?
Day 3: Chill at San Vicente
How can you not stay one more day with sunrises like this?
I got so comfortable with San Vicente long beach. I have my hammock set up, the fisherman allowed me to use their electricity for me charge my gadgets and I buy rice and fish and eat with them. I hang out with him and his friends. They were drinking rhum while I share with them my Jack Johnson playlist. Just good vibes!
Day 4: San Vicente – Taytay – El Nido.
I decided to continue my journey. The reality of travels is that whether you like it or not, you have to say good-bye to a place you love. Like relationships, good-byes, whether temporary or otherwise, are an important part. For growth to happen, pain must be there. A seed would not sprout if it die not.
I arrived in El Nido after 2.5 hours of biking. I went to Corong-Corong beach a kilometer before the town center to nap on my hammock and wait for the famed sunset.
I have to catch the last shuttle van trip to Puerto Princesa because I have to deposit money to my girlfriend’s account. So I left my motorbike to El Nido bus terminal and took the 8pm. Arrived 1am in Puerto Princesa. Another reality about travels is re-routing or change of plans, you just have to accept it. No big deal.
Day 5: A Day in Puerto Princesa, then back to El Nido – Nacpan Beach
I just did a bank errand and as soon as I was done, I took the bus to El Nido. Arrived around 7:00pm. Quick dinner of fish sinigang at a carinderia near the bus terminal and off I went to my fave beach in El Nido- Nacpan. Been wanting to do some starry night shots:
Day 6: Nacpan Beach, El Nido
Nacpan is fastly becoming famous for backpackers. The beach starts to feel the footprints by 10am when party-goers are beginning to wake up and head to another adventure. By 11:00am the stretch of sand is full of sarongs and beach towels with sun-worshippers.
I was up early as I wanted to have a sunrise photo of the triple cove. Of course, this is a perfect spot for more ashes sprinkling. Papa, loving this beauty?
Nacpan was like San Vicente. I hang my hammock between two coconut trees and wore my hoodie and bonnet because it was cold. Amihan winds were blowing like crazy, the waves 1-2 feet, the big house in Nacpan was the only lighted building by 12:00mn. A dog came to me and became my companion for the night.
Day 7: Nacpan Beach – Duli Beach – Santeria, San Fernando, El Nido
Another move is necessary. Before that, I enjoyed my horizon and snack of mangoes and avocado shake. I even wrote this realization about how the world thinks and lives like a box: Living Outside the Box.
I believe the next attraction in El Nido would be the Duli beach which is less than 30 minutes from Nacpan. I said this to Nacpan beach when I first saw it 4 years ago.
Then I drove eastward not knowing where to sleep. I saw this sign of Santeria where I can have a quick snack. I met with the owners, Luke and Dana, and before long I found myself booking the small kubo for a night. I badly want a proper shower and a little break from beach waves to forest view. They have an amazing view of San Fernando sea. The guesthouse is surrounded with cashew trees which were in season that time. If Sagada is famous for the smell of pine trees, Santeria is of cashew- fruity and sweet!!
Day 8: San Fernando – Sibaltan – New Ibajay – Mabini, El Nido – Taytay (via East Coast Old Road, jungle rough road)
After half of day of beach bumming at San Fernando, I continued my jaunt to Sibaltan – New Ibajay and the last town of El Nido on the east Mabini. There is an old coastal road that connects Mabini to Taytay passing through forest and unlimited rice fields. They said that it is unsafe to pass by there but it was safe and fun. The changing terrain and views were a treat to my eyes. It took me about 3.5 hours from New Ibajay to reach Taytay Fortress.
Two interesting historical spaces can be visited- the Balay Cuyunon (House of Cuyunon) at Sibaltan. Cuyunon are the native people of the islands of Northern and Central Palawan. In fact, if you go to Puerto Princesa you will hear the old people speaking in this dialect of Cuyonon or Cuyunin. Another is the Ille Caves in New Ibajay which has an important links to Tabon Cave in Southern Palawan (Note: The caves in Sabang and Ugong Rock links the two caves). The caves in Palawan were believed to be multi-period burial and occupation sites. One must understand the way of life of our forefathers. These caves were used as camp sites as they are nomads. So they go here for shelter and of course live but not forever. Another generation comes and it is used again. From nomads they became semi-nomads and started to farm and fish, they started dwelling in these caves. As these shelter became central to their lives they started to bury their dead.
Of course, I won’t pass the opportunity to sprinkle some of my father’s ashes at Ille Cave to be with his forefathers ashes. Powerful vibrations inside the cave mouth!
Day 9: Taytay Fortress – Lake Danao – Port Barton
I stayed at Pem’s Guesthouse which is just beside another important historical piece- The Taytay Fortress. During the Moro Raids of the late 18th century, the Spanish priests started building Fortress Churches along the Visayas and and up to Luzon and westward to Palawan. They used these fortress churches to protect the locals because the Moros would try to captive the abled young men of the islands to sell as slaves and work for tea plantation to as far as Acapulco, Mexico.
I took out some of the ashes and sprinkled in front of the Fortress and head southwards to go to Lake Danao. Lake Danao is the biggest lake in Palawan, one of the cleanest too. I hang my hammock for an afternoon nap, sprinkled more ashes and drove westward to Port Barton, the laid-back town which is favored by backpackers sick and tired of El Nido’s tourism.
Day 10: Port Barton – Waterfalls – Sabang, Puerto Princesa
Since I wanted to stay more nights at Nagtabon, I didn’t went to do island hopping in Port Barton and just enjoyed the Pamoayan waterfalls. It is just a 45-minute trek to the falls. A perfect treat before the heat of the sun on the road. It has a natural pool and you can jump from the rocks on the leftside.
After lunch, I headed south to Sabang. It was a long ride and I forgot to gas my tank up. The road to Sabang was dark because there were no electric posts in the area, also electricity hasn’t gotten to Sabang yet even though this part of the city has seen lots of tourists money, simple development such as street lights and electricity is absent.
I saw a small store selling gasoline so I bought a liter. I arrived at Sabang pass 7:00pm, had dinner. I found a small kubo for rent at Php500, the owner allowed me to stay for only Php300 since I’m solo.
Day 11: Sabang – Nagtabon Beach, Bacungan, Puerto Princesa
I left before lunch and stopped over at Elephant Rock Formation past Ugong Rocks then headed further south this time turning a right to Bgry. Bacungan to visit my fave cove beach in the city- Nagtabon.
I always stay at Kuya Dodoy and Ate Maricel’s place, they own beach front kubos for rent. But since I’m friends with them already, I would just ask if I can hang my hammock.
Day 12: Nagtabon Beach
I mostly laid down on my hammock and read my Kindle paper. Really forgot what I did during this day. Ohh, yeah, I sunset surfed with my dad’s ashes.
Day 13: Nagtabon Beach – Sta. Lourdes – Puerto Princesa
Breakfast like a boss! Brewed coffee anyone?
I ended the journey by visiting the overlooking property we bought in Sta. Lourdes, Puerto Princesa City. My father was sooo happy when he found out that we were able to buy a piece of land in one of his beloved provinces. He was excited to visit and see the house we wanted to build. For now, his ashes would join the bushes growing on our land.
Day 14: Back to Puerto Princesa
Time to rest and pack my stuff as I’m going to back to Manila in two days then fly to Bali, Indonesia after 5 days. What a journey it has been!
THIS POST IS DEDICATED TO MY LOVING FATHER-
ROEL E. BETIA (1956-2014)
Dear Papa Roel, thank you so much for teaching me how to ride a motorbike 17 years ago. That skill you taught me has brought me (and you) to places I dreamed of. Although you were in ashes I know you were with me in spirit. My love and gratitude goes to you! Thank you for sharing your life to me and to the world.
May your death continually remind me that life is temporal and fleeting. You have been an inspiration and forever will be. I know that only the body dies, your spirit lives on, immortal! I love you and I send you to the light!