Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cruise to Tubataha and day trips around Puerto Princesa

Sakura Charters

We recently went to Mangingisda to swim off the pier with the kids, and saw this great looking boat parked in the bay. Just so happened the owners were on the way there and we met them.

If you want to head to Tubataha Reef check out this boat...they also go for day trips they do pick up passengers from Puerto Princesa dock for both tours on the off season.

Here is their schedule for Tubataha Tours 2013

Tubbataha is a great reef in the Philippines. Live aboard trips on Sakura are run from mid-March to early June every year. All trips are subject to the Terms & Conditions.

Prices start at $1100 USD/person
Trips are all-inclusive minus alcoholic drinks and dive gear rentals
You can buy alcohol from the boat
You can bring your own alcohol and snacks
Full dive gear rentals are available
Longer trips and group rates can be arranged

If you click the highlighted texts on this page, it will open a new window and take you to their website to view more details.

They also do day trips from Puerto Princesa to Dos Palmas Resort as well as dolphin watching in Puerto Princesa Bay.  They even go as far as the Underground River for day trips as well.

They do a 4 day, 3 night trip to El Nido which includes transport to/from Puerto Princesa, 2 tours, and 3 nights in a beach front Bed & Breakfast.

From March 23 to June 3, they do trips to Tubatahha Reef. Those are several days and include all meals.

Longer or shorter trips can be arranged for all tours.

You may contact them directly online by using their own email form.
Or visit their website at:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Elephant Yam or Pongapong flower

Amorphophallus-paeoniifolius- about 11 inches in
circumference. Click photo to enlarge.
Amorphophallus-paeoniifolius (another synonym: Amorphophallus-campanulatus). Amorphophallus means 'amorpho' (without shape or misshapen) and 'phallus' is penis.  It is also called elephant foot yam or pongapong in Filipino.

I came across a singular plant on our property in May of 2012. It looked liked a crazy coloured and whacked out Calla Lily.  When I opened up the closed flower, there were many beetles inside of it, and I have since found out the beetles pollinate the plant.

The larger one in the photo beside this text is the 2nd one I found a week later. It's so much bigger. The first one I found was only about 3 inches in circumference. The one I found today is about 11 inches.  Apparently they grow up to over 6 feet tall.
The first specimen of elephant yam
I came across on our property.
I've found references to it from Northern Samar and Cebu.  In fact, it is a famous Christmas Delicacy in San Roque, Northern  Samar.

The plant generally attains maturity in 6 to 7 months. Each plant produces one big root which is then cooked with coconut milk and sugar. The plant can be harvested from September until December of the same year or until January the following year.
From this article:

I think I will dig up the tuber of the first plant I found, since it's in the middle of a pathway, and put it in a large planter near the house.
This is a huge tuber of the elephant
yam plant.

I found another blog about this plant and I borrowed this photo of a chap holding a large tuber. The flower apparently smells quite bad.  I'd been smelling something that reminded me of an American skunk, and maybe it was this plant. By the time I came across the fist small specimen, it didn't seem to have that odor.

The largest Pongapong has opened up. I guess it smells funky as it drew my cat in the smell it. I, on the other hand
didn't notice any particularly bad smell. Go figure.

Elephant yam plant stalk and leaves.

The largest of the elepant yam flower without the cat in frame.

This first specimen amazed me..but after seeing how large they get I'm even more
intrigued by this plant.  Scroll down to see one as tall as a person. Actually, the 2 new flowers don't seem to have this long stamen. I am wondering if this is the male version of this flower or a different variety. This one was on a long stem as well, while the new flowers are blooming next to the ground.
This third Pongapong flower has a little bit taller stem than the larger, and some yellow dots at the top. Of the three on my property. Each has different variations.

Elephant foot yam or pongapong in Filipino, on our property in Luzviminda, Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
A gigantic elephant foot yam!

Monday, June 4, 2012

RoRo bus versus Vans to El Nido

I stumbled across this article on the huge new RoRo buses plying Puerto Princesa city and El Nido, Palawan.
Since we live here, we have our own vehicle. I have just put this up for travelers.

Click the above link to see the entire article along with prices and schedules! Plus many other good links to other Palawan areas of interest!

Here is another blog with good information from someone who has taken the different types of transportation personally. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Living La Vida Loca

Covered stairs to our native deck.
Puerto Princesa is experiencing unprecedented growth is the last 2 years. We have been here going on 4 years and it's changed drastically. New hotels, Inns, restaurants and even a giant Robinson's Mall has gone up in this amount of time. Brownouts were already hurting many small businesses back in 2009. Now it's affecting everyday life even more.

We just had a 10 hour electrical brownout from midnight to after 10 AM today. I'm just so grateful that Dave is such a handyman arming us with solar lights at night and a generator to power the refridgerator, TV and aircon.  With the roads being fixed and the rains coming now, the roads are muddy and it takes us almost an hour to get to town. We usually stock up on meats and such to store in the freezer to save on trips, without the generator all this food would have spoiled, or we would have to spend more time going to town for food.
Our electric motorbikes are
charged by the sun.

At least if all else fails and there is a little sun, our electric motorbikes can be charged via our solar panels and we still have transportation around the village for our staff. We like to drive our electric Trikes around the village, it's hard to charge them with no power, they take more solar panels than we have at the moment to charge.
A two carabao sled family!

Yet, even with all this to deal with, I do love living in the countryside here in Luzviminda. We have clear blue skies. There is no traffic to speak of. What traffic there is, are Carabao (water buffalo carts or sleds) trundling down the paved road and making no noise at all, except for my dogs barking as they go by.

I must admit, when they cut down the 20 or so hectares of old mangoe trees for put in a Robinson's mall, I was the first to feel deep sadness over the loss of those trees. Now I am Robinson Supermarket's most avid fan. I still do wish they had left some of the old Mango trees for shade, between the mall and the Go Hotel next door, the cement with no shade has heated up the temperature that part of town quite a bit. I do also wish they had put in solar panels on the massive roof to offset the power the mall sucks up. I know this is contributing greatly to the mass and lengthy brownouts.

What with Cebu importing 85% or more of potable water, I was hoping the City Planners would have taken note and had new develpments use some sort of rain harvesting system to water their plants with. We do harvest a little rain on our land in Luzviminda where we are trying the best we can to learn about sustainability.  We collect about 2000 liters of rain water at a time in our two 1000 liter reservoirs.
The electric Trikes we drive around Luzviminda.
I'd love it if businesses had to replace what greenery they cut down with equal shade value. Robinson's, as most businesses in town seem to favor the Palms, which are slow growing and take so long to give the much needed shade. I can only assume this is because most shade trees lose a lot of leaves and therefore present a maintenance issue. Surely there must be a type of tree that grows faster than a palm and gives shade without too much debris.

We all need to think sustainable if we want to save our dear Mother Earth.