|The majestic peaks of Mantalingajan mountain range, en route to Mainit and Bakbakan Falls|
Mt. Maruyog Farm and Garden Resort in Brgy. Tubtub – located eight kilometers inland from the town center of Brooke’s Point, Palawan – was an oasis of countryside calm, after the dusty bus ride from Quezon where I visited the Tabon Caves Complex. My bamboo bungalow was tucked beneath some cashew trees – that occasionally sent apple-sized cashew fruits crashing down onto the grassy lawn. The sharp pinnacle of the eponymous Mt. Maruyog served as the backdrop for lovely resort that sported a swimming pool and restaurant that served delicious Filipino fare.
|Take a jungle hike to Bakbakan Falls in Brgy. Mainit|
I spent the next morning wandering the indigenous Pala’wan villages behind the farm resort. The Pala’wan are the indigenous peoples of southern Palawan’s interior who were originally nomadic. Many now practice subsistence farming of rice and sweet potatoes, supplemented by hunting and food gathering in nearby rainforests. I listened to a villager play kusyapi (a two-stringed guitar) and watched children play tugadi (kites) that they have made.
|Pala’wan boy playing with his kite|
|A traditional Pala’wan house near Mt. Maruyog Farm & Garden Resort|
The municipality was named after Sir James Brooke, a 19th-century British adventurer whose exploits in the Malay Archipelago led to him becoming the first White Rajah of Sarawak in Borneo. Some believe that his adventures included a brief sojourn to southern Palawan, where he reputedly supervised the construction of the settlement’s lighthouse. The town has also earned the distinction of being the original home of the biggest pearl in the world, known as the Pearl of Lao Tzu or the Pearl of Allah, found in its waters on May 7, 1934.
|Hundreds of sulphur butterflies flock the riverbanks near Mainit Falls|
The town of Brooke’s Point has become famous for its promotion of ecotourism. Brooke’s Point has a few waterfalls to explore. A tricycle ride to Brgy. Mainit took me past golden rice fields, contrasted by the indigo-hued sawtooth peaks of the Mantalingajan mountain range. On our 45-minute hike to Bakbakan Falls from the smaller Mainit Falls, my guide and I were rewarded with the most wondrous sight. We were escorted by hundreds upon hundreds of sulphur butterflies. Most of them clustered around mineral-rich spring water trickling onto a stream. I’ve never seen this many butterflies in the wild before!
|Unwind amidst the quiet countryside of Mt. Maruyog Farm and Garden Resort|
HOW TO GET THERE: I went to Brooke’s Point after visiting the Tabon Caves Complex in Quezon by boarding a van to Abo-Abo junction (PHP 40, 20 minutes), then transferring to a bus that proceeded southwards to Brooke’s Point (PHP 100, 1.5 hours). Coming from the San Jose Terminal in Puerto Princesa, take a southbound (eg. Rio Tuba-bound) bus or van to Brooke’s Point. Travel time is three to four hours.
WHERE TO STAY: Mt. Maruyog Farm and Garden Resort at Brgy. Tubtub is an excellent place to unwind, offering fan bungalows, good for two, for only PHP 500. Mobile: +63 9053900944 and +63 9158272010. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The resort is located 8 km from the town center. Take a tricycle for PHP 100.
Closer to the town center (and walking distance from the bus terminal) is the fresh and modern Maruyog’s Ridge Convention Center where great-value rooms start at PHP 1,350 for a deluxe A/C room with queen bed, cable TV, hot shower, and free wifi.