Saturday, October 4, 2014

Hospitals Cannot Hold Patients Hostage

It's a habit Palawan Cooperative Hospital to hold the patients hostage for inability to pay. LEGALLY HOSPITALS CANNOT HOLD YOU HOSTAGE. This is MAINLY FOR LOW INCOME PERSONS IN A WARD, NOT IN A PRIVATE ROOM. The hospitals typically keep charging them for the days they are FORCED TO STAY! This is not legal as per RA 9439, and yet they keep doing this.

If you are having issues with any hospital in Palawan, please write to the DOH Regional Director via email. Give the patients full name, date of Admission, the complaint and the Full name and address of the hospital.

DOH Regional Director 4-B- Eduardo Janairo- EMAIL- eduardojanairo@yahoo.com
CC: USEC OF DOH-Ted Herbosa- EMAIL ted.herbosa@gmail.com

Here's some information you need to know. We should not put up with this and make them abide by the LAW.

Our poor staff really was held up this week at the PALAWAN COOP HOSPITAL,AND THEY HAVE A HABIT OF DOING THIS TO THE POOR.

SUBJECT: Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 9439, otherwise known as "An Act Prohibiting the Detention of Patients in Hospitals and Medical Clinics on Grounds of Nonpayment of Hospital Bills or Medical Expenses".

I. Rationale: The passage of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9439, otherwise known as "An Act Prohibiting the Detention of Patients in Hospitals and Medical Clinics on Grounds of Nonpayment of Hospital Bills or Medical Expenses", addresses the problem involving some hospitals and medical clinics that refuse to discharge patients due to the latter's inability to pay their hospital bills or medical expenses by encouraging them to employ appropriate payment schemes. It also emphasizes the responsibility of patients to honor their obligation with the hospital or medical clinic to pay their bills.
Sec. 4 of R. A. No. 9439 authorizes the Department of Health (DOH) to promulgate the necessary rules and regulations. II.

Objective: This Administrative Order sets the implementing rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of R. A. No. 9439, otherwise known as "An Act Prohibiting the Detention of Patients in Hospitals -and Medical Clinics on Grounds of Nonpayment of Hospital Bills or Medical Expenses". III. Scope: This Administrative Order applies to patients admitted in government and private hospitals and medical clinics, except those who stay in private rooms.


III. Scope:

This Administrative Order applies to patients admitted in government and private hospitals and medical clinics, except those who stay in private rooms.

IV. Definition of Terms:

For purposes of R. A. No. 9439 and its implementing rules and regulations, the following definitions are provided:

A. Co-Maker - a person, natural or juridical, who binds himself jointly and severally to pay the unpaid hospital bills or medical expenses/hospitalization expenses of the patient.

B. Complaint - a sworn written statement of ultimate facts, filed by the patient, charging the official or employee of the hospital or medical clinic with any violation of R. A.. No. 9439 and its implementing rules and regulations.

C. Detention - an act of restraining a person from leaving the hospital premises for nonpayment of hospital bills or medical expenses in part or in full.

D. Guarantee - an expressed assurance by the co-maker to the hospital or medical clinic that certain facts or conditions are true and/or will happen. The hospital or medical clinic is permitted to rely on that assurance and seek appropriate action if it is not true and/or followed.

E. Hospital - a health facility for the diagnosis, treatment and other forms of health care of individuals suffering from deformity, disease, illness or injury, or in need of surgical, obstetrical, medical or nursing care. It is an institution where there are installed bassinets or beds for 24-hour use or longer by patients in the management of deformities, diseases, injuries, abnormal physical and mental conditions, and maternity cases.

F. Hospital Bills or Medical Expenses/ Hospitalization Expenses - costs of diagnosis, treatment and other forms of health care of patients, which include, but not limited to, doctor's fees, amount owing for clinical and ancillary services rendered, charges for room, meals, medical supplies, drugs and medicines, and payments for use of equipment.

G. Medical Clinic - a health facility that satisfies the above definition of a hospital but uses the phrase "medical clinic" in its business name.

H. Mortgage - a method of using real property (land) or personal property (other physical possessions) as security for the payment of a debt.

I. Officer or Employee of a hospital or medical clinic - a person acting in behalf of a hospital or medical clinic responsible for releasing patients in accordance with written policies and procedures of the hospital or medical clinic.

J. Patient - for the purposes of R. A. No. 9439 and these implementing rules and regulations, a person who is already admitted and availed of health care services in a hospital or medical clinic.

K. Private Room - a single occupancy room or a ward type room divided by either a permanent or semi-permanent partition (except curtains) not to exceed 4 patients per room who are admitted for diagnosis, treatment and other forms of health care maintenance.

L. Promissory Note - an unconditional promise in writing made by the patient and/or his/ her next of kin to the hospital or medical clinic, engaging to pay on demand, or at a fixed or determinable future time, a sum certain in money to order or to bearer.
V. Policies and Guidelines:
A. General Policies:

1. Patients, except those who stay in private rooms, who are partially or fully recovered and who wish to leave the hospital or medical clinic but are incapable to pay, in part or in full, their hospital bills or medical expenses/ hospitalization expenses shall be allowed to leave the hospital or medical clinic and shall be issued the corresponding medical certificate and other pertinent documents for their release from the hospital or medical clinic upon execution of a promissory note covering the unpaid obligations. The promissory note shall be secured by either a mortgage, or a guarantee of a co-maker who shall be jointly and severally liable for the unpaid obligations.

2. In the case of a deceased patient, any of his/ her surviving relatives shall be issued the corresponding death certificate and other pertinent documents for interment purpose only. For other purposes, such documents shall be issued only upon execution of a promissory note covering the unpaid obligations by any of the surviving relatives. The promissory note shall be secured by either a mortgage, or a guarantee of a co-maker who shall be jointly and severally liable for the unpaid obligations. In the event the documents will be needed for purposes of getting the benefits from the Social Security System. Government Service Insurance System, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, insurance policies or pre-need plans, the hospital may require the execution of an assignment of proceeds up to the extent of the hospital bills or medical expenses/ hospitalization expenses.

3. In the case of a deceased patient, any of his/ her surviving relatives who refuse to execute a promissory note shall be allowed to claim the cadaver and can demand the issuance of death certificate and other pertinent documents for interment purposes. Documents for other purposes shall be released only after execution of a promissory note.

4. Any hospital or medical clinic detaining or causing, directly or indirectly, the detention of patient for reason of nonpayment, in part or in full, of hospital bills or medical expenses/ hospitalization expenses shall be held accountable for such unlawful act. Detention occurs when all of the following are present:

a) The patient who is partially or fully recovered has expressed his/ her intention to leave the hospital or medical clinic, or the attending physician has issued a discharge order;

b) The patient is not confined in a private room and is financially incapable to settle in part or in full the corresponding hospital bills or medical expenses/ hospitalization expenses;

c) Patient has executed a promissory note covering the unpaid hospital bills or medical expenses/ hospitalization expenses; and

d) The officer or employee of the hospital or medical clinic responsible for releasing the patient has restrained him from leaving the hospital premises.

5. In the case of a deceased patient, any hospital or medical clinic refusing to release the cadaver for reason of nonpayment, in part or in full, of hospital bills or medical expenses/ hospitalization expenses shall be held accountable for such unlawful act. Detention occurs when all of the following are present:

a) The medical officer has made the pronouncement of death;

b) Any of the surviving relatives is incapable to pay the corresponding hospital bills or medical expenses/ hospitalization expenses;

c) Any of the surviving relatives has executed a promissory note covering the unpaid hospital bills or medical expenses/hospitalization expenses; and

d) The officer or employee of the hospital or medical clinic responsible for releasing the deceased patient has refused to release the cadaver and/ or relevant documents.


B. Specific Guidelines:

1. Classification, Admission and Discharge of Patients

To minimize, if not prevent, incidence of patients being unable to pay, and hospitals or medical clinics detaining patients for reason of nonpayment of hospital bills or medical expenses/ hospitalization expenses, patients and hospitals or medical clinics alike may institute and observe the following:

a) Government hospitals or medical clinics shall classify patients in terms of their capacity to pay according to the guidelines set by the DOH in Administrative Order No. 51-A s. 2000: Implementing Guidelines on Classification of Patients and on Availment of Medical Social Services in Government Hospitals, dated October 12, 2001.

b) Private hospitals or medical clinics shall have written policies and procedures to classify patients in terms of their capacity to pay. For this purpose, private hospitals or medical clinics may refer to AO No. 51-A s. 2000.

c) The DOH, government and private hospitals or medical clinics shall, as far as practicable, assist patients in looking for financial assistance from government and non-government sources to settle the unpaid hospital bills or medical expenses/ hospitalization expenses. Toward this end, the DOH shall work closely with financial institutions like, but not limited to, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, Local Government Units, as well as ,Congress, to provide funds for this purpose.

d) All hospitals or medical clinics shall establish billing and collection procedures subject to current accounting and auditing rules and regulations.

e) All hospitals or medical clinics shall have written policies and procedures for admitting and releasing patients, including identifying the officer/s or employee/s responsible for releasing patients.

2. Execution of Promissory Note

a) Except those who stay in private rooms, patients who are partially or fully recovered and who wish to leave the hospital or medical clinic but are incapable to pay, in part or in full, their hospital bills or medical expenses/ hospitalization expenses are obliged to execute a promissory note secured by either a mortgage, or a guarantee of a co-maker.

b) In the case of a deceased patient, any of his surviving relatives is obliged to execute a promissory note secured by either a mortgage, or a guarantee of a co-maker.

c) Hospitals or medical clinics shall have written policies and procedures for execution of promissory notes secured by either a mortgage, or a guarantee of a co-maker.

3. Penalty

Any officer or employee of a hospital or medical clinic responsible for releasing patients who has been found to commit any violation of R.A. No. 9439 and its implementing rules and regulations shall be punished by either a fine of not less than Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,OOO) but not more than Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000), or imprisonment of not less than One (1) Month but not more than Six (6) months, or both such fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the proper court.

VI. Repealing/Separability Clause:

Provisions from previous issuances that are inconsistent or contrary to the provisions of this Order are hereby rescinded and modified accordingly.

If any provision of this Order is declared unauthorized or rendered invalid by any court of law or competent authority, those provisions not affected thereby shall remain valid and effective.

R. A. No. 9439 repeals or amends the pertinent provisions of the Revised Penal Code, particularly Articles 267, 268 and 270, decrees, orders, rules and regulations inconsistent with the same, in so far as the same involves hospitals or medical clinics, medical practitioners, and their staff and employees.

VII. Effectivity:

This Order shall take effect fifteen (15) days after publication in a newspaper of general circulation.

(Signed)
FRANCISCO T. DUQUE, III, M.D. M.Sc.
Secretary of Health
If you are having issues with any hospital in Palawan, please write to the DOH Regional Director via email. Give the patients full name, date of Admission and the complaint and the Full name and address of the hospital.

 DOH Regional Director 4-B- Eduardo Janairo- EMAIL- eduardojanairo@yahoo.com
CC: USEC OF DOH-Ted Herbosa- EMAIL ted.herbosa@gmail.com


I received a response from the Regional Director who had sent the complaint to the hospital. And this added note in an email. " A fine may only be enforced by judicial courts after final judgment on the action filed before it. As per R.A. 9439, both criminal and civil action may be instituted on the private capacity of an aggrieved party. The Department of Health only formulated the Implementing Rules and Regulations to make the law operational. Rest assured that the Department shall press legal means in case that another incident occurred bearing the same unlawful act."


PAGE TWO


Monday, September 22, 2014

Box Jellyfish spotting

We took out native pump boat or banca out a couple of days ago into Turtle Bay. We spotted this jelly fish. Turns out it is a box jelly fish. This jelly fish is normally one of the most toxic in the world, but I'm told that the variety in the Philippines is not that lethal except to older people and children.

There is no anti-venom available in the Philippines against box jellyfish.  Urine or vinegar can be poured on the wound, and the sap (better hot) of the Crinum asiaticum [asiatic poison lily, poison bulb] - Spider lily, "bakong " in tag , origin tropical Indo-pacific that you can find in most of the beaches in the Philippines can be very efficient on the box jelly fish stings.  Never remove the tentacles with your hand. Use a cloth or tweezers between you and it.



This is the spider lilly. Use can use the sap to apply to the jelly fish sting.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Nuat Thai Wellness Spa

One Manalo Place
Bgy Bancao Bancao, Puerto Princesa City
Tel: 048-433-0282 or 434-2103

Cell: 0916-193-6081
Check them out on FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/nuatthai.palawan

I had a great massage here yesterday! I didn't do the full body massage but I chose the head, neck and shoulders as that is all I needed. I came out of there a new woman! It was for 75 minutes and cost 350.00 Php and was worth every cent. They do accept senior discount cards as well, which some spas do not. The first thing they did was take me to a room and washed my weary feet. That set me up for a good relaxing start! They also do home service as well!

The ambiance is the most professional and true spa like that I have been to at city center.

Hallway to the massage rooms upstairs.


This is the room for couples massage. I suppose you could request it for a BFF as well!
They have a very big diverse menu of different types of massage combinations. They have hot stones massage, Swedish, Thai or a combo of Swedish and Thai, massage with aromatherapy, herbal foot spas to name just a few!

It's really worth checking out and I for one, will certainly go back!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

No to Coal in Palawan

FOR THE FAQ'S ON COAL SCROLL PAST THE UPDATES.

UPDATE- June 17th-2015

Click here to view the entire motion.

MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION to stop the coal plant

The Palawan NGO Network Incorporated, through its NGO representative in the PCSD, respectfully avers:

PREFATORY STATEMENT
1. Two of the principles enshrined in the SEP law are Social Acceptability
and Participatory Processes;

2. When notices of meeting were sent less than 24 hours from its approval,
for a project that was not even in the energy master plan of the province, has no
EIA for its new site, by-passes the ECAN board currently hearing the issue and
did not undergo public hearing in the council, the same is NOT participatory;

3. And is bereft of social acceptability.
------------------------------------

UPDATE: PCSD-Palawan Council for Sustainable Development has APPROVED THE COAL FIRED PLANT.
http://palawan-news.com/pcsd-oks-narra-coal-plant/

Click the link to sign the new petition against coal for a third new location in Narra, Palawan. The fight is not over until it's over...
http://act.350.org/letter/save_palawan_stop_coal PLEASE SHARE IT. We need help now!

There are many other ways to power this island. Coal is the last thing we need here. The eco systems here are too diverse and too vulnerable.

Common questions about coal answered with facts.

MISINFORMATION RELATED TO ENERGY DEVELOPMENT ON PALAWAN
1.      Blackouts are caused by a lack of generating capacity --- FALSE.
The majority of blackouts are caused by ground faults, equipment failures and lack of protection in the distribution system. Since January, 2013, the generating capacity on the Palawan mainland grid has increased from 40Mw to 54Mw.  The number of blackouts, however, has actually increased significantly compared to the same period in 2012. Because of obsolescence and lack of capacity in the distribution grid, increasing demand from commercial and residential consumers is actually exacerbating the blackout problem. The distribution system must be modernized to provide redundancy and a sectionalized grid arrangement to avoid total system failure. Additional substations are required to provide magnetic isolation to protect the generation sector.

2.      Palawan needs more power generation capacityFALSE.
There are many views on the generation needs of Palawan. Future needs depend on demand growth with is directly related to GDP growth in Palawan. The national average demand growth for the Philippines is 4.4%. PALECO forecast a growth in demand for Palawan of between 12-18% per year and the contract with DMCI is based on this optimistic projection. Despite this possible over-contracting of generation capacity if developers can be found to invest their risk capital in putting up renewable energy facilities to be used as and when they can generate, each renewable kilowatt hour will save NPC and Philippines electricity consumers Php 6 and will save Palawan electricity consumers 12% VAT. Renewable energy development is without any risk to the consumers, or NPC whereas fossil fuel use is dependent on international market prices the risk of which is borne by NPC and Philippines consumers.

3.      No serious proposals for renewable energy development in Palawan have been madeFALSE.
This is a seriously misleading statement. Since 2007, proposals for hydro development under valid renewable energy service contracts with DoE have been made on at least 5 separate occasions to both PALECO and NPC. All proposals have been ignored. In order to finance development it is first necessary for proponents to have an electricity sales contract which has proved impossible to obtain despite considerably lower tariffs than fossil-fuelled options having been consistently offered.

4.      There is a lack of investor interest in renewable energy development on Palawan ---- FALSE.
The Palawan Chamber of Commerce and Industry receives many inquiries from foreign and domestic firms and funding agencies inquiring about development opportunities for renewable energy on Palawan. There are currently three private firms, two of which hold renewable energy service contracts with government, which are active in the development and pre-development stages of installing solar, biomass and run-of-river hydro power plants on mainland Palawan. Work on the hydro plants has been ongoing continuously since 2007; despite this it has proved impossible for the developer to sell the power to be produced. The problem is not a lack of investor interest, but the existence of policy, political, and bureaucratic constraints and a lack of clear guidelines for development and implementation of renewable energy on Palawan and throughout the Philippines.

5.      Renewable Energy is too expensive--- FALSE.
In most cases, the initial capital or fixed cost of renewable technologies is higher than conventional fossil-fuelled alternatives but this cost is borne by the developer and NOT the consumer or the UCME. Renewable technologies generally have much longer life cycles than fossil options and have no or very low fuel costs. Examples are run-of-river hydro, PV solar and wind power.  At present, run-of-river hydro has a much lower TCGR than the proposed coal-diesel plant and requires no subsidy. It is expected that photo voltaic (PV) solar will soon reach grid-parity (equality) with coal-fired plants. In addition to lower generation rates, renewable energy requires little or no subsidy and consumers are exempt from payment of the 12% value-added tax (VAT). The net result of integrating renewables into the power mix is lower rates and reduced subsidy requirements. Both are good for the consumer and for the government.

6.      Renewable Energy is Intermittent and inherently unreliableFALSE.
All renewable energy is dependent on nature. Different technologies have different operational characteristics; wind and solar power vary directly in accordance with the weather. Hydro power varies only seasonally and in any event the plants proposed for Palawan have impounded water which can be used for top up power generation in dry periods. In addition, research by the International Energy Agency proves conclusively that renewable technologies are inherently more reliable and have only 10% of the breakdown time experienced by fossil fuel generation plants.

7.      The subsidy to maintain low electric rates on Palawan is derived from the Malampaya Fund --- FALSE. Subsidies come from the Universal Charge for Missionary Electrification (UCME), a fund which derives revenue from every electric consumer in the Philippines and which is “topped up by NPC”. The level UCME is set by the regulator the Energy Regulatory Commission. The total consumer bill is divided in to three major components: the generation charge, the cost of distribution and the 12% value added tax. On Palawan, the generation charge is heavily subsidized.  The real cost or True Cost Generation Rate (TCGR) is about P12.50 per kilowatt hour on the Palawan mainland grid. Consumers are charged only P6.5896 per kilowatt hour. The difference of about P6 per kilowatt hour represents the subsidy provided by the UCME.  Consumers on the Palawan mainland grid used slightly more than 160 million kilowatt hours in 2012.  The subsidy required to maintain the P6.6 generation rate was nearly one billion pesos.  Adding in the subsidy required to maintain rates in off-grid municipalities or mini-grids brings the subsidy required to more than P1.3 billion/year.

8.      PALECO’s activities are governed by DoE and ERCFALSE.
PALECO’s activities are governed and overseen only by the General Manager and Board of Directors. The mandate of DoE is for national energy policy and planning only and that of the ERC to fix power rates. As PALECO are members of the Cooperative Development Association they are not yet under the supervision of the National Electrification Authority. Local government has no authority over the acts of PALECO – this is exemplified by the provincial council having issued three resolutions; two to PALECO and one to DoE/NPC to utilise available hydropower. Each request has been ignored.

9.      Coal power will be converted to biomass/natural gas 3 years after start of operations –-MISLEADING.
While there are a few examples internationally of such fuel conversions these have been achieved with great technical difficulty and are only now in pilot operation modes. Fuelling 15MW of power with biomass requires 30+ tons/day/MW or 450 tons of wood per day. An earlier contract between PKReco and PALECO using biomass wood chip technology was cancelled due to the technical unfeasibility of this technology.  The option of using natural gas (NG) seems logical, but is in fact, infeasible. The cost of pipeline transportation of natural gas from Malampaya to onshore Palawan is prohibitive given the size of the Palawan market. It was only just feasible to pipe the NG from Malampaya to Batangas to feed a power demand of 2,600MW. The Palawan market of about 40 MW is far too small to justify such an investment..

10.   Electric Power Rates are higher on Palawan than in Manila --- FALSE.
The subsidized rate Palawan consumers pay for electricity is nearly the same as the rate paid by MERALCO customers on the Luzon grid (see PALECO website).  At present, the rate on Palawan is about P10 per kilowatt hour. However, adding in the P6 per kilowatt hour subsidy brings the true cost to nearly P16 per kilowatt hour.

11.   Clean coal technology will be used by DMCI--- FALSE.
“Clean” coal technology does not yet exist. There is no process available which can economically reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuelled power plants. Carbon dioxide emissions are the main cause of climate change, the results of which we are all experiencing recently in changing weather patterns. Technology does exist for removing or lessening some harmful emissions from coal fired power plants but it must be remembered that DMCI proposes to use coal from their Semirara mine which is a low quality “dirty coal” and thus has a low heating value [it is necessary to use more of it] and produces higher emissions than good quality coal.

12.   DMCI will lower the cost of power to Palawan consumers   FALSE.
The cost of power generation to Palawan consumers will remain at the ERC set rate of Php 6.5896/kWh plus VAT. Only the use of unsubsidised renewable power can lower the cost of electricity to Palawan consumers as consumers do not pay VAT on renewable energy.

13.   The Palawan power system is fully privatizedFALSE.
Despite claims by DoE that the Palawan power system was fully privatized in 2004/5 it is still heavily dependent on NPC who provide and operate 13 MW or 20% of the province’s diesel power. In addition, NPC owns and operates the 69Kv backbone transmission line. This fundamental misunderstanding causes tensions between NPC and PALECO to the detriment of an efficient power delivery service to Palawan consumers.

14.   The power sales and purchase contract between DMCI and PALECO is fully effectiveFALSE.
The Power Supply Agreement is not yet fully effective as no subsidy agreement has been signed between PALECO/NPC and DMCI. Additionally DMCI have failed to meet the contract requirements for the commercial operations date of their diesel plants and have even failed to meet an extended date granted to them by PALECO.

15.   Hydro power developers were disqualified by PALECO from bidding in the2012 CSPFALSE.
PALECO’s bidding terms required bidders to offer 25MW of guaranteed dependable capacity (GDC) – no renewable energy contribution was allowed as part of the specified 25 MW (GDC) as renewable energy was deemed “intermittent and not reliable”. The hydro developer did, however submit an “alternative bid” but this was again ignored by PALECO.


Here are some links that talk about why coal is not the best choice for Palawan.

Coal, why it's dirty.

http://www.greenamerica.org/programs/climate/dirtyenergy/coal/whydirty.cfm

Quit Coal
http://quitcoal.org/coal


Unfortunately coal is not the only threat. Deforestation, mangrove enchroachment, protected bays turned in to Marina parks with captive dolphins and manta rays. Crocodiles introduced in an area which will ruin the wildlife if they escape. Read more here: http://www.mypuertoprincesa.net/2015/05/the-raping-of-palawan-tourist-be-aware.html





Friday, May 30, 2014

Iwahig Firefly watching

I have always loved going to the Iwahig firefly tour, this is my fourth time. But last night was just the perfect combination of good temperature, clear sky and firefly sightings! Last night was truly magical. The stars spread across, almost from horizon to horizon, the river water so still, you could see the stars reflected in it. There is just enough ambient light from the distant city that the mangrove treeline was silhouetted against the black sky, to give the whole scene depth and dimension.  The night we were there, there was bio-luminescent plankton in the water, so when you put your hand in, the water glowed! The water is brackish because the river runs into the sea and mixes with the fresh water. But it is cool and clean. I never get tired of this tour. We live only about 15 minutes away too!

Iwahig Firefly Watching is an ecotourism project between ABS-CBN Foundation and the city government of Puerto Princesa under Mayor Edward Hagedorn.

Check out reviews on TripAdvisor.
If you go there without a travel agency booking, you might not be able to go on the tour, it has become that popular. We didn't make one, as the number I had to book had changed, but fortunately some people did not show up for their allotted time and we were able to get on, but only after waiting for the last boats. Try to get their earlier than your time slot to give you time to pay and find a spot to sit in the waiting area. You will be given a laminated number which you will turn in when your number is called. There are only 3 people to a boat, so if you have an odd number, you can still hire a boat for the one or have the odd person out share a boat with the other tourists.
The hut in the middle is where you sign up and pay, the right hut is the new buffet "turo-turo" restaurant. The hut lit up far right, is where you buy the photo they take of you on the bancas before heading up the river to see the fireflies.
Try to go during the dark side of the moon. During full moon nights, it's difficult to see the fireflies in the moonlight. December is the best time to watch because that is when the mangroves bloom and it attracts more of the fireflies. But any evening that it isn't raining is still well worth it. It's so peaceful and still on the wide river and if there are no clouds seeing the stars seen from there is amazing.

The tour guides know the constellations in the dark night sky and use a strong laser light to point to them. It's very educational, as they guides tell of the importance of the mangroves and when docking, they tell the story of how two of the ancient acacia trees that are on the shoreline, have adapted to the brackish water and are over 70 years old, with one being over 100.

They are very organized there is no crunch to get on your boat. You are called, 3 at a time by number, you then don a life vest, and go down to a barge before the returning tourists are disembarking. They take a photo of you and you can buy, or not, a print as you leave.  You should make reservations and I have included the information below. The tour lasts 35 to 40 minutes.

They have 10 boats and only 3 people per boat. They have a nice waiting area with lots of benches to sit in. I was surprised how many visitors there are now.

To the waiting area. Amazing how many people go there. It really is a very enchanting and mild adventure. Even without the fireflies I would have enjoyed the river boat tour because the vast expanse of stars and their reflections on the river were magical enough.
Part of my group waiting to get on the Iwahig Firefly tour!
They take a photo of you before you board the banca to see the fireflys.  You can buy a print afterwards. We didn't get ours as we didn't want to wait.




Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Princesa Garden Island Resort and Spa



When I visited this resort, it had barely anything open and few guests. I think it wasn't really fully opened. But here are the shots of the areas I was shown by the friendly staff. I love the open lobby and the natural bamboo touches spread across the resort.

I also ate lunch there at Rice restaurant with a friend and the Greek salad was good, but a bit skimpy on the cucumbers and portion.  I went back a few weeks later to have lunch at the Rice restaurant, but due to lack of guests I suppose, the aircon wasn't on and it was too hot to eat in there. So we left and went elsewhere. Hopefully they won't repeat this.

Ceiling light made of bamboo in the main lobby.











Reception desk at the Princesa Garden Island Resort





























The bamboo Teepee is now a gift shot and populated with native gifts. 
This is the lobby bar and restaurant. Very open feeling. I have to say I had the best chocolate cake there baked by their own in house baker. They have a chiller with lots of other deserts now I am told.
Lobby café and bar. The chocolate cake is really exquisite. At least it was the day I went there when they first had a soft opening.
This is the breezeway to their Rice restaurant.

What you see when you enter Rice restaurant at the resort. It features Filipino and International cuisines. There is a huge buffet section but it was not yet open when I visited.
Inside Rice restaurant at Princesa Garden Island resort.
This is one of the garden suites. I has a huge jacuzzi tub and a rainfall shower. Access to one of the 6 swimming pools is just a few steps away from the glass sliding door.  Their featured rooms house lanais, and are furnished with all the essentials, plus more. All rooms feature their own 40-inch LED TVs, 8-inch rainfall showers, vanity area with 8 inch magnified mirror, lush pocket gardens and sun loungers.
Luxurious bathroom of one of the garden suites.
I haven't stayed there, but they do give local rates to Palawan residents. Not sure if it's worth the stay. I will have to try it out one of these days.


Princesa Garden Island Resort and Spa

Brgy. Bancao-Bancao Canuigaran St. Puerto Princesa Palawan, Philippines
Reservation Tel: +63 2 744 7979
Email: reservation@princesagardenisland.com
Website: http://www.princesagardenisland.com/

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Otters- Only in Palawan

In the entire Philippines, otters exist only in Palawan.

They are an environmental indicator species.

Asian small clawed otters mate for life. The female has 2 litters per year. Each subsequent liter is raised by the older siblings and taught the calls and rituals. The offspring do not find their own mates or disperse as a clan until one of the parents dies. They are always with the parents until that happens. They have about 14 different calls to each other for communication.

They have a common toilet the family will use. They use their excrement called spraint to mark their territories. The otters never spraint when we take them to new places. They will wait until we get back home and they will spraint by their enclosure and if to mark it again as theirs. They need a lot of attention from each other and are constantly touching, rubbing rolling and sleeping all bundled up together, unless it's hot...then they lie on their backs arms and legs all akimbo!


Asian small clawed otters are considered an indicator species for the environment. They are vulnerable to illegal wildlife trade as other Asian countries allow them as pets, for their soft pelts, for bush meat as well.

We have raised these otters since they were just approximately 2 1/2 weeks old in October of 2013. Their eyes and ears still closed and just a little bigger than an iPhone. They are totally defenseless; born with eyes and ears closed. We have successfully raised them now to 5 1/2 months old and acclimating them to the mangroves and rivers they came from.


This is the first night we were given 3 orphaned otter
pups to save. How could I turn them away?


I had to feed them every 2 hours for over 2 hours. Sleep was elusive then. I did get help after I mastered the feeding process and could pass on the info to our handy, dandy assistant and jack of all trades, Jhun.

I think after about a month they got their first little teeth. But they did nothing but sleep until their eyes began to open at around 2 months.
They were always touching each other or stacking up on top of one another. Actually at 5 1/2 months old when they sleep, they still cuddle and huddle together.
These are the otter pups today March 16, 2014 out on a foraging trip to a mangrove to find fresh live crabs in the many holes in the sand and corals rocks.
It is illegal to keep otters as a pet, as with all wild life here. Please do not encourage people you meet to keep them as pets. Their proper diets get expensive and they often die in captivity from improper food after only a year from kidney failure. Their systems are meant for the crabs, frogs and other such things and not any sort of cooked human food.

When the otters were under 2 1/2 months old, the low lactose puppy milk from the local pet doctor cost 3,000PHP per month! Plus the cream and the probiotic pills, about 100.00 USD per month to feed them!  At 5 1/2 months old they now, consume almost 2 kilos of fish per day! We take them to mangroves to hunt for crabs to supplement the fish.





Thursday, January 16, 2014

White Fence Country Cafe

Click here to get directions and location of
White Fence Country Cafe.
96 Manalo Extension,
Bgy. Bancao-Bancao
Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Philippines
www.facebook.com/whitefencecafe

A cozy, colorful cafe with good food, ambiance and good service.

It's not on the main Rizal Ave, but just in back and very near the airport.
Location is here.

It's one of the few cafes with an air conditioned sitting area. I felt comfy on the bench and on cushions while I had a nice conversation with a friend while waiting for our meal. Click here for the full menu with prices. It's quickly become a local hangout and I often see photo posts from friends who live in town lately. It's going to be one of my new favorite places to eat from now on too. It's very close to the school where our daughter attends. It will be a nice place to sit and wait for her to get out.

If you are just breezing through town and are craving a homey atmosphere you should have a meal there.

One of the sitting areas in the air conditioned part of the restaurant White Fence Country Cafe. It's a cheerful ambiance as well as comfortable and cozy. The food being good of course is what makes it for me. No matter how pretty a place is, if the food is bad, well forget that!
At the back of the non air conditioned seating is a lovely Inn that runs the cafe, called the Purple Fountain Country Inn. It's as cheerful and whimsical as the restaurant with all the rooms being individually decorated.
My friend had the Fish and Chips and loved the crunchy but lite breading and the tartar sauce was good too, not just some mayonaise with ketchup as in most restaurants in town.