Big Trouble in Paradise

HERE’S A STORY I wrote for the Philippine News Agency (PNA) about Coron, a beautiful island municipality in northern Palawan. It’s about a planned undersea park being proposed by Coral World Park (CWP), which claims to be “the largest Marine Reserve and Coral Reef Conservation program in Asia. ”


Beautiful Kayangan Lake in Coron Island, Coron, northern Palawan.


This photo of the small inlet that leads to Kayangan Lake was taken from a promontory where I stood for a while to take in the charming view.

The reason why it’s controversial is in the story.

Tagbanua tribes in Coron spurn Nickolodeon undersea park

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, July 27 — The Tagbanua indigenous peoples (IP) community in Coron and nearby islands gave the thumbs down Thursday morning to the propositioned 400-hectare Nickolodeon undersea park due to fears of irreversible negative environmental and cultural impacts.

Amil Abella, representative of the Tagbanua Tribes of Coron Island Association (TTCIA), said in a Greenpeace Philippines-hosted press conference here that the project will only displace them from their ancestral domains, and will spoil their traditional fishing grounds.

“If there are investments that will build structures that will cause destruction to our ancestral domains, our agreement is we will not accept them,” Abella said, adding they live independently and are reliant on Calamianes’ beauty and blessings.

The Calamianes is an area in the northern part of Palawan that includes Busuanga, Coron, and Culion island towns, and the islands of Calauit, Malcapuya, Banana, Pass and Calumbuyan, and several minor islets.

“The legendary heroes of Coron will unite and defend the last ecological frontier of the country, where we live with freedom and abundance,” he added.

Continue reading the story here:

It’s really difficult to marry development with environment conservation, especially if it would have irreversible impacts on the lives of the indigenous peoples and their ancestral domains.

I am for development. The SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT kind. The one “that meets human development goals while at the same time sustaining the ability of natural systems to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services upon which the economy and society depend.”


You’ve never been to Coron if you haven’t been to Kayangan Lake.


Sustainable development should not be compromised.



Sabang’s Rich Landscape

When it comes to beautiful landscapes, Puerto Princesa is a dime a dozen, and I didn’t say that to be negative. Everywhere you look in this city, the landscapes are great — wide-ranging, sweeping, overwhelming, and they’re as alive as the people, who live near them.

The Puerto Princesa City Subterranean River National Park (PPCSRNP) in Sabang, Barangay Cabayugan, for instance, does not only have the underground river to be proud of. It also has an amazing landscape.


For more photos, please visit and like my page:

Berjaya Hills, Bukit Tinggi

An hour’s ride from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia is Berjaya Hills, Bukit Tinggi in Pahang rising some 2,500 feet above sea level. It’s the closest one, who has never been to France, can get to experience a little bit of the lifestyle of the French people.

Colmar Tropicale, located in Bukit Tinggi, Pahang, is a replica of a collection of buildings from a north-eastern village in France dating back to the 16th Century. The French themed resort was opened in July 2000. It’s surrounded by tropical forest land.

The theme hotel is made up of eight blocks of architectural wonder, each with its unique style, from its colourful roof tiles to cobblestone ground. The hotel has several outlets, where you can dine in the French way. Central to the village is Colmar Square where the aroma of the blooms will tantalise your senses. There are fountains and park benches in the square for relaxation after a hard day’s work browsing in the 17 theme shops, or should one wish to take a breather from participating in the various activities. The drawbridge reminiscent of ancient castles, clock tower with an original cuckoo bird clock, and the viewing tower complements the ambience.

That’s according to Wikipedia 🙂 I had to Google because when I was there, there was no chance to talk to someone and ask how it came to be without disturbing the need for me to take photos everywhere I turn.

The place is so wonderful!

An Island Named After A Shell…

On the eastern shores of Palawan in Puerto Princesa City, there is a bay that is popular among tourists because of its tropical island destinations — it’s called Honda Bay. The islands are named Luli, Pandan, Cowrie, Starfish, Fraser, and the high-end Dos Palmas Island Resort on Arraceffi.

Of all these, Dos Palmas and Cowrie are my favorites except that the first is rather expensive to visit even if I already live in Puerto Princesa. I was on Cowrie Island with some friends a couple of months ago; let me share some photos I took there 🙂

Here’s our motorized boat going KNOTS to Cowrie Island, Honda Bay below nice blue sky and clouds.

Floating cottage off the waters of Cowrie Island, Honda Bay.

From what I heard, Cowrie Island was named after the egg-shaped marine gastropod mollusc that goes by the same name in the family Cypraeidae. Recently, the owners of the island have developed it into an island resort destination, where families and other guests can relax and enjoy.



Ask local travel guides on how to get to Honda Bay because they have packaged tours that are perfect if you want to be trouble-free on your trip. If I’m not lazy to drive my car, I use it to go there. If I am, I just take a multicab or a tricycle.

Multicab fare ranges between PhP15.00 to PhP20.00, I have to update this information though because it’s been a long time I rode one going there. Tricycles, on the other hand, that can accommodate about 4 passengers, may charge up to PhP70.00 or PhP100.00 — depending on how many are traveling.

Boats to get to the island destinations charge differently. You may go to the information center to ask how much an island hopping tour costs (4 islands at best). If you’re visiting only 1-2 islands, the charge is also different, maybe even cheaper.

Some islands, like Cowrie, charge entrance fees but if one’s going through a travel agency, this is normally included in the packaged tour along with your meals and snacks for the day.

Southern Palawan Road Trip

I am so busy, I forgot that there was a road trip I did with some friends last July; out of that, I have wonderful photos I only got to see last night.

These photos were taken from Bataraza, a mining town in Palawan. I thought there’s nothing I’d be able to document that would turn out beautiful because of the character of the place as a mining town. But I was wrong. The place has its own beauty.


The bridge helps transport ores to barges.

Bataraza Reflection

Beautiful reflection

Philippine Navy Boat

A Philippine Navy boat off the shores of Bataraza. This keeps the border secured between the Philippines and Malaysia against illegal activities, such as human trafficking, drug trafficking, smuggling and illegal logging.

Bataraza Sunset

The sun sets beautifully over the mine tailing pond of Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation. The tailing pond is where the mining company’s left over materials flow after the process of separating valuable fractions from uneconomic fractions of ore.

Tropical Breeze @ Puerto Princesa Underground River

Somebody hired me middle of this month to take photos for her of the Puerto Princesa Underground River, the most popular tourism site in my city, for her Tropical Breeze Travel and Tours. I could not say no even if I was busy because she’s my friend, and I am addicted to the beauty of the place.

I’ve been to the PPUR countless times, and when it was held one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, I was naturally happy since that would mean more protection to the park where it is located at Sitio Sabang, Barangay Cabayugan.

Here are some photos I wish to share 🙂

The PPUR always has that relaxing effect to a tired mind…

Rural Scenes


Except for one, which is that of three boys having fun in the river (thanks, Arnold Alcala, for the raw file!), the rest of the photos were taken during my last trip to Southern Palawan. All of them are my own shots of rural scenes, turned to have painting-like effects, or Amorsoloesque.

I love the effect of Amorsoloesque, particularly on rural scenes.

A Quick Departure Called Bataraza…

I just opened a page on Facebook but I’m wondering why…

I have not published it because I’m still thinking if I really need a page. And yet, and yet… I’ve started filling it with my photos, and so far, I like what I see. I’ll keep it handy for whatever; maybe I would need it someday.


Last month, I went on a quick departure to a mining town in southern Palawan called Bataraza with some good friends: manang Jane Timbancaya-Urbanek, manong Caloy Fernandez, Dr. Oscar Evangelista, Debra Pritchard, Mike Doblado, Marcus Swanopoel, and my sorority sister Bing de Guzman.

I was happy to make the trip; the place is surprisingly refreshing despite the mining operation that is going on, and the friends I was with were all game about a lot of topics.

After the Rain…

I miss my dad a lot… especially today.

I dedicate all these photos to him… photos I’ve taken just outside the house after a lonely rain.

Except for the floods it gives, we really need to give rain proper credit for watering our crops; taking part in washing off dirt anywhere; bringing down pollution from the air; it’s free air conditioning; it’s a major water component; it brings suitable conditions for many kinds of ecosystem…

And it masks tears and soaks them away.

Princess City


Puerto Princesa where I live is a “Princess City.” I can’t imagine life living away from it for a long time; perhaps the reason why I never really considered working abroad.

Princess City because according to old stories, it was named after a beautiful princess who was said to “have roamed the place on certain nights of the year.” Others also claimed that it was named Puerto Princesa because of its geographical make up as a seaport. The bay where its pier is located is “naturally-protected” from bad weather conditions, and it is deep and can accommodate any size of vessel.

There’s a lot of beautiful places in this Princess City — one of them is the Puerto Princesa Underground River at Sitio Sabang, Barangay Cabayugan, recently held as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Below is from

The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is one of the most distinguished protected areas of the Philippines. It is located some 360 miles southwest of Manila, the country’s political and economic capital. It was established as a National Park in 1971primarily to protect and preserve the intact old growth forest, interesting wildlife, pristine white sand beaches, unspoiled natural beauty and one of the most impressive caves systems in the world.

The Park features a spectacular limestone or karst mountain landscape. It contains an 8.2 km long underground river that flows directly to the sea. The lower half of the river is brackish and subject to the oceans tide. A subterranean river flowing directly into the sea and the associated tidal influence makes it the most unique natural phenomenon of its type to exist. The presence of 11 minerals, scientifically and aesthetically unique speleothems, and a 20 million year old Serenia fossil embedded in the walls of the cave justifies the declaration of the Puerto Princesa Underground River as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

The Park also contains a full mountain to sea ecosystems and protects forests that are important for biodiversity conservation. It is a representative of Palawan Moist Forests, which are among the most significant in Asia, and is noted for high levels of regional and local endemism. The Site serves as habitat to numerous endangered, rare and endemic wildlife species. In the coastal area, mangroves, sea grass beds and coral reefs are found.

The global significance of the Park is recognized by its designation as a World Heritage Site, a Biosphere Reserve, a Ramsar Site, and an Important Bird Area. Inclusion to these prestigious lists confirms the outstanding universal value of the Park that deserves to be conserved for the benefit of the present and future generations. The Park managed by the City Government of Puerto Princesa thru a multi sector Protected Area Management Board (PAMB). It has the distinction of being the first national park devolved and successfully managed by a local government unit. Under the dynamic leadership of Mayor Edward S. Hagedorn, the Site has become a model for effective protected area management and sustainable tourism in the Philippines.

The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is a source of pride and a key element in the identity of the people of Puerto Princesa in particular and of the Philippines as a whole. It is a symbol of commitment by the Filipino people in the global efforts to conserve our natural heritage.

Cheers to the Princess City! A place I will never get tired of 🙂



Flowers from photography of long ago and present. Just sharing this with everyone, who love flowers like I do 🙂 Too bad I don’t know their names.


Once Upon a Caleruega

Caleruega: Once Upon An Afternoon...

Ever wonder how it feels like to walk to the altar in your beautiful wedding gown?

Just a little ride away off Tagaytay City, there is a church on the hill that’s a favorite among wedding photographers, and couples who are thinking of tying the knot.

This church is said to be named after a small town in Castille-Leon, Spain  —  the TRANSFIGURATION CHAPEL OF CALERUEGA in Nasugbu, Batangas/Tagaytay City.


Transfiguration since its roof that’s hut-shaped is in “remembrance of the temporary sheds that the apostles” apparently “wanted to build for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah during the transfiguration.” Transfiguration, of course, is Biblical, mentioned in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and Peter. It was that day when Jesus transfigured and became “radiant on a mountain with bright rays of light.”

The church is unfamiliar to me. I’ve never heard of it even if I was told actors and actresses, and some famous people have gotten married, or spent time retreating there. That’s perhaps because I’m not Catholic, and that Miag-ao Church in the Visayas tops my bucket list.

But the Caleruega trip, I must say, was a welcome interlude 🙂 I had fun with my siblings at World ShutterZ Avenue ( Traveling is really more fun in the Philippines when you do it with wonderful people who enjoy the same interest with you.

Caleruega has a garden that’s so lovely and vibrant with different kinds of ornamental plants  that go along the footpath to the chapel on the promontory. There are also towering pine trees that I found so enjoyable since they are good protection from the hurtful sun.

The little chapel is so wonderful with its glass stained windows behind the altar. It can only accommodate a handful of people, which means any wedding there is really a close-knit family affair.


Birds Of A Feather…

Birds Of A Feather...

A pale spiderhunter prepares to cool off in the bird bath.

I love birds, no doubt about it. But tonight, there’s that noisy one again… it’s been two weeks. I know what it is, and it’s been hard to catch with my lens… it’s… my goodness… I wish it flies away. It’s past 2 a.m., and sleep is nowhere in sight.

Anyway, the bird in this photo is a Philippine endemic Palawan restricted pale spiderhunter that’s on every birder’s “top birding list” after being separated  from the group of little spiderhunters. The pale spiderhunter, avian experts say, is “of a different species” since “it behaves like a sunbird, but bigger.”

While to some it is hard to find, to me, it only needs a visit to Cynthia Sumagaysay del Rosario’s home somewhere in Sta. Monica. It’s not really that hard to get up close and personal with this bird because everyday, it lands on the bird baths that she has in her home beautiful home.


Summer Time & The Living is Easy…

Summer Time & The Living is Easy...

Sultry opportunity found along the coast of Berong, Quezon, Palawan.

It’s not summer yet, but… but… but… we’re getting there 🙂 I can’t wait for summer! I badly need it to be summer! Summer is the perfect excuse to look for relaxation. To not have any modicum of care to travel, to not think about deadliest deadlines and other things that give pressure. To just sit by the sea and watch while it gently laps the shore.., summer!

I feel like such a loser today!