Monday, February 22, 2010

Underground River, Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Puerto Princesa Underground river.  Also previously known as the St. Paul subteranean river. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This eco tour has become so popular that the Bureau of Tourism is recommending that people book as far in advance as possible.

The tourism office recommends the earlier the better, as the waves begin to increase as the day goes on. We started at 7A.M. We took a van and arrived from Puerto Princesa a little over an hour and a half later to the town of Sabang.

You can buy the tour at any hotel with a certified booking agent. Or click here for a list. Check out reviews for the Underground river on Trip Advisor.

We then took a motorized banca (outrigger boat) to the beach near the cove to the river which takes another 15 or so minutes. The scenery along the way in the banca is breathtaking....beautiful limestone cliffs set in clear green water! The cliffs at the cove are
worth taking shots of as well.

Once you hit the beach there is a short walk along wooden planks that were confiscated from illegal loggers. Then you get to the next cove. There is a waiting shed out of the sun when you wait your turn to get into a small hand paddle canoe into the river itself, as motorized boats would destroy the natural formations inside the cave. The whole tour inside the river is about 45 minutes round trip. There is much more of the river, but the portion not shown is off limits as specialized equipment is needed, as well as special permission.

Everyone is handed a hard hat helmet and a life vest for safety, and one person in the ground is handed a large flash light. Once inside the cave, the darkness without the light is total. The guide then tells the person with the light to point to the most important mineral formations and most of the guides have some sort of funny story to tell. The formations are truly breathtaking. The river, which runs under the limestone mountains you pass on the way to it is over 8 kilometers long.

The underground river has been nominated as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. I highly recommend this tour if you get to Puerto Princesa, Palawan. We have been to it twice, and each time we go, we see something new!

"Welcome to PPSRNP by Edward Hagedorn on Jun.17, 2009, under PPSRNP. The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) is one of the most distinguished biodiversity conservation areas of the Philippines. It is known for scenic natural beauty, intact old growth tropical rainforest, interesting wildlife, pristine white sand beaches and a spectacular limestone formation that possess a most impressive cave system. The main focus of the PPSRNP is an 8.2 km long underground river that is reputed to be the longest navigable underground river in the World.
The PPSRNP is currently managed by the City Government of Puerto Princesa on a program centered on environmental conservation and sustainable development. It has the distinction of being the first national park devolved and successfully managed by a Local Government Unit. It has been cited as an example of best practices for biodiversity conservation and sustainable tourism.

The PPSRNP has been declared a World Heritage Site. It is the Official Nominee of the Philippines in the global search for the New 7 Wonders of Nature. As a natural area, it has attracted an increasing number of scientist, environmentalist, protected area managers, students, wildlife enthusiast, photographers, and nature lovers. It 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." Quoted from the official Underground River site at:

Check out Trip Advisor for the most recent reviews

I think all the tours are now through acredited agencies...I cannot guarantee the information below anymore. June 2015

Entrance Fees: Prices updated April 23, 2012

Park Rates and Other Fees:
General Entrance Fee Adult  -  P 150.00
 Minor  -  P 100.00

Underground River Tour*  Adult -  P 250.00
 Minor -  P 150.00

UR Express Tour -  P1,000.00 each (minimum of 4)

Commercial Video Fee -  P3,000.00

*Filipino Senior Citizens 60 yr. old and up, minors 12 years old and below, & the handicapped are exempted from paying for the Underground River Tour.

*minors two years old and below are not allowed inside the Cave.
Boat to Underground River Beach
P700.00 for 6 persons - two way
Van Rental from the City Proper:
P 3,500.00 - two way (average van rental price) This is a private hire. You can go and come back at your own pace. (Does not include the underground river fees and lunch, this is just so you will have a van at your disposal and you will not have to go with people you do not know if you don't want to. You can come and go as you please.)

Packaged tours P 1,500 per person. Best Deal
Includes van- round trip, Underground River tour and permits, boat ride, lunch and other things depending on the tour operator. You will be with other random persons and this is a full day tour. Most of the reputable hotels have tour packages. There are many tour agencies on Rizal Avenue near the airport as well.

They call this formation the mushroom, for obvious reasons.

This stalagmite is over 60 feet high!

Here is a video I took at the entrance to the Underground River in the small outrigger paddle canoe.

Philippine President President Benigno S. Aquino III  "PNoy" Aquino visited the
Puerto Princesa Underground River as guest of  Mayor Edward Hagedorn. Feb. 9. 2011
Photo by Diana J. Limjoco 2011

To learn more about Puerto Princesa City, Palawan and it's various activities and annual festivals visit:

All photos on this site copyright Diana J. Limjoco

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Love Affair with Nature- Puerto Princesa

February 14th, 2010. Puerto Princesa City’s expression of love for Mother Nature is celebrated in an extraordinary way every on Valentine's Day. The annual celebration features a mangrove planting festivity in the coastal zones to restore degraded mangrove areas after a mass wedding of unwed couples. The event heightens awareness on the ecological role of mangroves and other coastal ecosystems in the vital web of life. Environmental quiz bees, film showing, band concert and beach games liven up the event.
"Mangroves protect coastal areas from erosion, storm surge (especially during hurricanes), and tsunamis. The mangrove's massive root system is efficient at dissipating wave energy.Likewise, they slow down tidal water enough that its sediment is deposited as the tide comes in, leaving all except fine particles when the tide ebbs. In this way, mangroves build their own environment. Because of the uniqueness of mangrove ecosystems and the protection against erosion that they provide, they are often the object of conservation programs includingnational Biodiversity Action Plans." (From
This year we were able to attend. Since our Green Tech Ecocenter is the service center for most of the City's Electric Vehicles, Mayor Hagedorn requested them to be brought to the event and participants were picked up along they way to the mangrove area so they could enjoy a noise and emission free ride to the site.

We woke up at 3 A.M. and arrived at the Green Tech EcoCenter at 4:30 A.M. We headed down the National Highway in an impressive convoy (for a small city) of 6 Electric vehicles. It was still dark when we got to the mangrove planting area and they had a group of volunteers performing exercise routines in front of a huge LED screen for the public to view.
Hundreds of couples attended and lined up to register for the free marriage ceremony. Several little wedding cakes were nicely placed upon even a larger cake, which the couples were able to enjoy after the ceremony and before the mangrove planting ritual which was a condition for the free wedding.

The couples lined up and were given instructions on how to plant the mangrove plants.
Mayor Edward Hagedorn with some of Puerto Princesa's beauty Queens and a guest from the New 7 Wonders of the World site.

Before dawn with Mrs. Ellen Hagedorn who also helps to coordinate the event, with hubby Dave Dewbre who is in charge of some of the City's Electric Vehicles for maintenance and service.
Our two Electric trikes are far left.

Dave Dewbre driving the Eagle Etrike
After the mangrove planting there was a ground breaking ceremony for a pioneering biodigester facility that can provide electricity for the city’s public transport fleet as well as its other energy requirements.

Mayor Edward Hagedorn drove an electric jeepney to the ground breaking site, carrying members of the Press with him and his VIP guests for the day. This E jeep performed very well! Dave is looking to enter a discussion with the makers of this electric vehicle.
See Article on GMA News

"The city is currently considering local bank and financing options for a multi-stage replacement of its fossil-fueled public transport vehicles, including around 4,000 polluting tricycles." referenced from GMATV news article

Visit Mayor Hagedorn's personal website:

Monday, February 15, 2010

Badjao Seafront Restaurant

We were brought to Badjao Seafront Restaurant in May 2009 for the first time by Mayor Hagedorn. And since we moved to Palawan, it's one of our favorite places to eat. It's known most for it's seafood although they do have  a wide variety of choices, both Continental and native Filipino dishes.

You walk across a long wooden bridge to get to the restaurant which is situated over the water in a mangrove forest, You can see these mangroves up close and personal from there 43% of the entire mangrove population of the entire Philippines exist here in Puerto Princesa. If you are lucky, you can view some of the king fisher birds that land in them.

The views are really delightful from any seat. I like to sit nearest the water so I can look down and see the fish swimming in the clear waters below.

One of the 43 types of mangrove varieties of Palawan at Badjao SeaFront Restaurant

Sunset was quite lovely tonight.

Any time we have first time guests to Palawan, this is almost always the first stop we make so they can get that "island" feel.

Steamed fish with lemon sauce
Yummy crabs, messy but good!

Lobsters with grilled tanigue.

They serve this clam broth with most of the meals.

Located at Abueg Sr., Puerto Princesa City.

Tel. No. (048) 433-3501
Mobile (0918) 910-3438


Open 10:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M.

My life in Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Me and Dave with former
Mayor Edward Hagedorn.
Presenting to him a book I
was in by GoNegosyo
In Oct. 1, 2009, my husband Dave Dewbre and I, Diana Limjoco, moved to Puerto Princesa, Palawan with our daughter. We first came here in May of 2009 as Dave came to consult with Mayor Edward Hagedorn about his electric vehicle conversion project to protect the clear blues skies and residents of his beloved city in a forest.

Me with Jacques
Cousteau in 1976
We were very impressed by the friendliness of the people and also the cleanliness of the town. No trash to speak of, scattered here, there and everywhere like most cities in the Philippines. I had heard about Palawan in general from Jacques Cousteau in 1976, with whom I worked in 1976 on his Involvement Day Project. It was one of the first seminars to teach us how we were polluting our oceans with our daily chemicals such as laundry soaps, which eventually leach into the sea.

Me with former Mayor Edward Hagedorn
In June 2009, we were invited by by Mayor Edward Hagedorn to connect an existing local tricycle side car to one of our company's 3000 watt electric motorcycles. His thought was to convert the existing sidecars to all electric. Dave successfully converted one, and it did indeed operate quite well, but the sidecar was too heavy to haul a load of passengers up one of the steeper hills in the city.  The mayor had also by then, seen the Electric Trikes that the cities of Makati and Taguig (Fort Bonifacio) were using and decided he liked the look of those instead, and that they would be more appealing to the increasing number of tourists visiting every year.

Dave and me in front of our half moon shape
electric tricycles.
View from of our backyard in Subic 2008
Meanwhile, we were living in a beautiful home in Subic Freeport, Olongapo, overlooking the pristine forests there. But it was lonely in our citadel on a hill and we didn't like that you can't actually own the land, it has to be leased for whatever period is left by former owners.

After much scouting about the various towns in Palawan, we decided to move to a a farm lot outside of Puerto Princesa city, but still within its jurisdiction. We though it would be a great place to raise our young daughter. 

It's hard to believe it is going on 7 years since we moved here. So many changes since 2009. The traffic is horrendous now, too many tricycles, unskilled motor cycle drivers, more private cars and tons of tourist vans clog the narrow streets. I don't think past city planning ever thought the city would grow so fast in such a short time. I hate to even go into the city anymore, except to buy food and life's other necessities.

For those of you thinking of moving to Puerto Princesa, here are some facts.

There  are many Supermarket here now to choose from.  I happen to like a little Bakery/Coffee shop, Café Olé for my flour tortillas for my home made burritos. Actually, it's the only place I have been able to find them.

If you are looking for a car, there are many dealerships, like Kia, Toyota, Hyundai and recently a Honda and Ford dealership. (Although they are still working on the Ford building)

The only recommended hospital is the Advestist Hospital.  We had to take our little girl there. She had a high fever, they never even detected the fever and they didn't catch that she had a bladder infection. We wound up taking her to a local Pediatrician who did nail it and gave her the appropriate medicines. Most people who really have something severe fly to Manila, so keep this in mind if you think you want to move here, but have serious health issues.

Good US standard housing is almost nil, and if the houses do come up for rent, the cost is about 20 to 30,000 pesos which for here, and what you get here, is usorious.

We sorely need responsible developers to come in and build good housing. I'm hoping that they will try to implement some sort of green construction techniques like grey water recycling and rain harvesting, or this city will go the route of Cebu, and when the population explodes someday, we will have to import our potable water like that city.

The city's infrastructure and power grid are sorely lacking. We have been having electrical brownouts every day now for the past month, for 3 to 4 hours at a time. Dave has put in lots of solar features which run all the lights in the house, and 3 fans. We have a backup generator as well, for those rainy days.

Now the powers that be want to put in a Coal fired plant, and I am fighting to save a one of a kind marine sanctuary, Turtle and Binunsalian bays, in my own backyard as it were.