10 Things Not To Miss in the Islands of Honda Bay

When parents from Ateneo High School invited me to a wedding and to spend some days in Palawan, I said “Yes” without thinking twice! Palawan is one of the most beautiful provinces of the Philippines, and I have placed this western group of Philippine islands on my bucket list.

I visited our mission area of Culion Island in the past to help out at the Parish of the Immaculate Concepcion and its satellite chapels in various settlements scattered throughout the surrounding islands. I went island hopping in Coron during one test run of Hotel Maya, the new laboratory of Hotel and Restaurant Management students of Loyola College. But I have never been to Puerto Princesa City, the seat of the church in Palawan. In July 2016, we will surrender our parish to the diocese, while the Jesuits will concentrate on education at Loyola College.

Here are my experiences of being in Puerto Princesa. For the purposes of blogging, I will write in a separate post my experiences of chasing mangroves in the islands of Honda Bay as one of my ventures to help out in mangrove and reef conservation and rehabilitation. It is my way of responding to Laudato Si, Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment.

For my review of a local restaurant in Puerto Princesa, click on this link.

So what are the things that you can enjoy in the islands of Honda Bay, Puerto Princesa? Here’s my top 10.

  1. Vigilant Skin Diving

 

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

Off the islands of Palawan, giant clams are bleaching at an alarming rate. I took these photos on one of my skin dives. Because of global warming, sea temperatures rise and clam and coral bleaching occurs. Bleaching happens when corals and clams expel the colorful algae that live within them as a result of the stress of warmer temperatures. Most corals have symbiotic algae, called zooxanthellae, on which corals and giant clams rely for food (while the algae acquires a place to live). When coral polyps and clams lose their complement of zooxanthellae, they become pale in color and their white skeletons and shells become exposed. This is especially true to stony corals, tridacnids (giant clams) and sea anemones.

Puerto Princesa

 

Puerto Princesa

  1. Amazing Sunsets

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

 

“At the end of the day there’s another day dawning,

And the sun in the morning is waiting to rise.

And the waves crash on the sand,

Like a storm that’ll break any second…

There’s a hunger in the land,

There’s a reckoning still to be reckoned…

And there’s gonna be hell to pay,

At the end of the day!” — “At the End of the Day,” Les Miserables.

 

Some lyrics cut to the bone, especially when it is set in beautiful music. I go out to explore God’s creation for rewarding scenes like these, and with my music library at the palm of my hand, I let the orchestra play. For maximum appreciation: JUST. BE. AWED.

 

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

 

During the dry season, plants were scorched on the islands. As I returned to Arreceffi Island, a column of rain was at the horizon as a boat speeded away from it. As Eponine sang before she died in the musical: “And rain will make the flowers grow” (“A Little Fall of Rain,” Les Miserables). To flourish, let the rains fall.

 

Puerto Princesa

 

  1. Fire Dancers

The fire dancers were like, “Whoa!”

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

 

4. Swim in these clear waters

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

 

Puerto Princesa

The Islands of Honda Bay

5. Arreceffi Island

This is an island off Honda Bay. Its rich marine ecosystem has a long line of mangrove forests, sea grass beds, and coral reefs. The locals call Arreceffi, “Isla Mais” or Corn Island. In this island, as well as in other islands off Puerto Princesa, you can see migratory and non-migratory birds, marine turtles and the locals said (I have not seen one though) sea cows or “dugong” feeding here.

 

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

 

6. Isla Puting Buhangin

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

 

7. Barlas Island

Isla Barlas has long mangrove and coconut palm areas.

Puerto Princesa

 

8. Pandan Island

The island is named after the giant pandan plants in the island. It has a white sand bar perfect for summer frolickers.

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

  1. Cowrie Island

This is a popular destination for beach goers and combers. The island is named after a type of shell, the cowrie.

Puerto Princesa

  1. Bat Island

This is home to many giant fruit bats that fly to other islands at the cusp of evening to feed. Huge mangroves cover the island. It is closed to island adventurers because it is a protected area.

Puerto Princesa

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s