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An occasionally belligerent mother of five and an autism parent / advocate who believes that traveling, good food and good company are vital to keep one sane. I've worked as a news writer/newscaster, a quality systems auditor, a ISO9001 consultant, an FM radio DJ, a Filipino tutor, TOEFL reviewer and have gone into the food industry both as an entrepreneur and as a mommy chef, giving a sponsored demo on healthy cooking in a mall and on local TV. My favorite job however, is being a mom and a wife.

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

An Afternoon in the Heart of Puerto Princesa

with our tour guide Divine. The structure behind us is the former senator Ramon Mitra's ranch home
Heading down near the Western Visayas area, some aren't still aware that Palawan is still a part of the Philippine's main island, Luzon. And why wouldn't they think it's not? After all, one of Palawan's many nicknames is the "Philippines' Last Frontier".

ZERO issues with the travel agency we hooked up with
Traveling with three of the four kids at home, plotting a DIY tour was out of the question, but staying within the budget was still a must do. We got ourselves some professional help in exploring the "Last Frontier". Hooking up with the fab agency that is Maple Travels Palawan, (click here to go to their website) we signed up for a Puerto Princesa city tour, a Honda Bay Island hopping excursion and an Underground River tour.

Say you have only 4 hours to kill and you wanted to see a good deal of the city proper, here's a good itinerary to follow:

1. Mitra's Ranch
What's there: Situated at the top of a hill in Santa Monica, Puerto Princesa, you get a fabulous 180 view of the Sulu Sea, including a glimpse of distant Honda Bay.

at 500 php/person, this zipline was so worth it
A 4 station zip line awaits the adventurous, as well as a giant trampoline and a pony ride. The kids had a field day riding the 360 meter long zipline, where the last station allowed them to zip line upside down.

climbing the last tower was an adventure in itself according to the kids

2. Binuatan Creations
What's there: Remember the factory filled with looms in Angelina Jolie's Wanted? Picture that, but instead of automated machines, you have one filled with manually operated ones.

Instead of assassins surrounding the place, you have out of school youth making a living and lastly, instead of the names of their next victim found in a code within the fabric, you find various colorful patterns that are meant to showcase their talent and make their craft, eye catching.

There's also a souvenir shop nearby that sells cold drinks and handicrafts made with the woven fabric and other knick-knacks.

3. Baker's Hill
What's there: a whimsical compound that houses a store of their famous baked goodies, a couple of foodie places (restaurant, food kiosk and snack house), a playground for kids of all ages, peacocks and life sized statues.

We stopped here for our afternoon snacks. Our tour guide provided us with hopia made in Baker's Hill. My sons looooved their ube hopia! Try the tamilok too (woodworm that live in mangrove). It really does taste like oysters :D

4. Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center
What's there: a snack house that serves Filipino dishes and exotic ones made with croc meat (we had crocodile sisig), a croc museum and animals endemic to Palawan, which includes crocodiles.

5. Pasalubong Centre
What's there: The ultimate shopping place for local products. Souvenir shorts, hats, shirts etc. all sold at wholesale prices. Cashew nuts are also good buys as they cost half the price in regular supermarkets. South Sea pearls and other trinkets abound in this place.

what's also great about the Pasalubong Center is that it's airconditioned :) Here's MAX cooling his feet
Suffice it to say, Puerto Princesa has got their tourism thing down to a science. There's a little bit of something for everybody. People are friendly, knowledgeable of their own city, prices are quite cheap compared to other tourist destinations and they have a lot, like A LOT of places that serve good eats!

FYI, the locals make it a point to emphasize that their city as no fault lines, crime is barely there and that they do not get hit by major typhoons. They actually went all out to say that they are one of the safest destinations in the country.

Looking forward to coming back here, but the next time will purely be for foodie reasons :D What say you family? ;-)

From TMW, may all your wandering be better than ours!!

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