Day 7- April 17, 2011. We booked at Wild Rock Travel and Tours for Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour (P1,500/pax inclusive of free buffet lunch, entrance fees, boat transfers, aircon van shuttle) with a 10% discount. I've been here four years ago on foot since back then, the travel agencies and tourists need no reservation for entrance at the most famous qualified 7 wonders of the world (please vote for Puerto Princesa Underground River at www.new7wonders.com). The aircon van fetched us at 8:30am and picked up a Filipino-Australian family checked in at Hillside Resort. The route to Sabang took 1 and a half hour and since our schedule to the river was at 3:30pm, we were invited to visit the Ugong Rock (one of the Bayan ni Juan places, ABS-CBN's rehabilitation projects of "Tourism with a Cause"). This was one of the projects of Dr. Jerry Ortega, environmentalist who was shot dead last January, 2011.
The entrance fee of P200/per person spelunking to the Ugong Rock may be pricey to some having to go through the difficult wall and rock climbing inside the cave but the fee was priced to benefit the community who used to be illegal loggers/scalawags in the area trained by ABS-CBN Foundation for livelihood projects.
Upon entrance to the bridge that'll lead to the visitor's information booth, the receptionists were so friendly and courteous helping me and another Australian mom who found it difficult to walk on rocks. My son with the other members of the tour decided to go and I stayed in the restaurant to try one of the grannie's halo-halo (P25) with gulaman, sago, banana, ground peanuts and beans.
It took more than an hour climbing through steep rocks and walls but my son was able to bring the camera. The big mamas in the group took longer to go through small holes to climb the top but they all went down with a ZIPLINE (charged P250/pax for the community's projects and ABS-CBN foundation). It was my son's first time to do Zipline and we all heard him screamed with joy going down.
We were all happy and laughing after they have all gone down because some didn't expect to do the zipline but left with no choice instead of going down the steep rocks of Ugong Rock.
We were famished after the spelunking, "tourism with a cause" at Ugong Rock so we were brought to Sabang Beach for the buffet lunch. Served dishes were Grilled Pork, Chicken Barbecue, Adobong Kangkong (Water Spinach Adobo), Grilled Tuna Fish, Tomato and Cucumber Salad, Tinolang Manok with Buko Strips, Rice and Fruits. We also had softdrinks that came with the free buffet lunch.
I really enjoyed the Adobong Kangkong and the Grilled Pork and we all agreed that the pork and chicken were well-marinated and cooked. After two trips to the buffet table, I was too sleepy until one of the ladies invited to eat Palawan's most famous exotic food- the Tamilok (mangrove worm).
Served with vinegar and calamansi, a plastic pack of Tamilok will cost P100 and we all tried a bit of the taste. It was as expected gamey, salty, soft and gelatin type comparable to seaweed without the woody taste of the mangrove that feeds it. The faint of heart did not budge to get a piece but you wouldn't enjoy Palawan not having a taste of it. After two worms, I could not muster to get another so I've shared the left to others.
We left the wharf of Sabang at 3:00pm aboard another boat and I was excited to enter the Puerto Princesa Underground River Park once again. Unlike before, very few monkeys surrounded the area, fewer types of birds and animals walked around but the bulk of tourists that visited were just enormous, they really needed to organize schedules.
It was almost 4pm when we entered the cave and the exhausted hilarious boatman was still cracking jokes of how crazy people go to simply look at rocks. My last memory of the place and like others who experienced going inside the Underground River was unforgettable because all boatmen were really trained to joke and greet in several international languages. It was difficult to laugh out loud because opening your mouth may make you swallow the bats' droppings. We were laughing the whole time while he kept joking at every corner of the tour. It was really entertaining and the ride home peeking at the most beautiful light after going inside the cave was just breath-taking. It's really worth the trip and it's one of my most favorite spots in Palawan. I would still prefer going to El Nido instead of contenting to visit the Underground River but hey, I did both at a cheap cost.
The ride home was really tiring and I couldn't wait for another adventure. It was a wonderful experience knowing I've visited Ugong Rock to help fellow Filipinos resort to livelihood, save lives by visiting another Bayan ni Juan project and supporting my country by visiting Puerto Princesa Underground River. I take it with pride that I've chosen Palawan instead of going to cheap Asian tours to help Philippine tourism and better inform foreigners I've come across to appreciate Philippine tourist spots. More adventures await the next post!
Book at Wild Rock Travel and Tours, for more information, please email at firstname.lastname@example.org . or call at +6348-4341290
Go for "Tourism for a Cause" and visit Bayan ni Juan projects of ABS-CBN in Palawan, visit, Ugong Rock, Pambato Reef, Honday Bay Islands and other tourism with a cause spots to help the Palawan communities save the environment.