Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) or Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park has received renewed global attention in recent years after having been chosen as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature in 2011. Home to about 800 plant and 233 animal species —including 15 kinds of endangered birds only found in the Philippines— PPUR was also protected under the internationally-recognized Ramsar Convention on “Wetlands of International Importance” in the same year. Paddle boats can explore PPUR up to eight kilometers deep from its seaside entrance, making it the longest navigable underground river in the world! In 2014, Presidential Proclamation No. 816 declared November 11 as Puerto Princesa Underground River Day (PPUR Day).
To say thank you for the overwhelming support and recognition that the PPUR has received, the Puerto Princesa City Tourism launched “Bonggang Bakasyon sa Puerto Princesa”, a nationwide SMS contest where 10 electronic raffle winners where awarded an all-expense 3D/2N trip to Puerto Princesa, inclusive of return airfare, hotel accommodation, tours and pocket money of PHP 10,000 each! Last November 9 to 11, in conjunction with the PPUR Day celebrations, I joined the contest winners together with three other bloggers, namely Edmar of Edmaration, Lilliane of Wanderlass and Kira of Kira-Ramirez.com to experience all the best that Puerto Princesa has to offer.
Our itinerary was packed over the course of three full days with all the sights, sounds and flavors of the “City in the Forest”. After all the participants arrived at Puerto Princesa and quickly checked-in at our respective hotels and resorts, we were shuttled straight away to Sabang for the Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour, followed by the exhilarating Sabang X Zipline, where we flew from the jungle to the sea. After lunch, we enjoyed another dose of outdoor adventure at Ugong Rock, a community-based ecotourism site, where we went spelunking up a large limestone outcrop then from the top of the rocky pinnacle zip lined back down. Finally, we capped off our first night with sumptuous dinner buffet and firefly watching tour along the Iwahig River.
Our second day was focused on the city tour where we visited the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm, Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, Mitra Ranch, Baker’s Hill, Plaza Cuartel and Immaculate Conception Cathedral. By mid-afternoon, we proceeded to the Provincial Capitol to witness the PPUR Day Grand Parade where government employees and students danced down the main avenue, dressed as native wildlife found in the national park. The parade ended at the City Baywalk by nightfall, where a program and fireworks display was held. We enjoyed our dinner on a floating restaurant in the middle of Puerto Bay, followed by another mesmerizing firefly and plankton watching tour down the Sicsican River, a relatively new ecotourism attraction.
Our more relaxing third day was dedicated to exploring the most popular reefs and islands of Honda Bay, namely Pambato Reef, Luli Island and Cowrie Island. From start to finish, our three day extravaganza was blessed with sunny weather. At Honda Day, we made the most of the beautiful weather, snorkeling over coral reefs, swimming and kayaking. Without a doubt, our three-day tour extragranza definitely lived up to its name. Now, was that bongga (extravagant) or what?