After our lunch at the Sabang beachfront, we were whisked off to Ugong Rock, a 23 million year-old limestone formation offering a moderate hike up its jagged crevices (I wouldn’t call it easy) and, upon reaching the top, provides a stunning panoramic view of the surrounding rice fields and hillsides.
We’re also including a bonus video at the end of this post where you will have the privilege of watching Anthony zipline his way down from the rock. Rather gracefully, I must add.
Before the hike, Save Palawan Movement's Gina Lopez introduces the Tagabinet Community Association, which has successfully turned Ugong Rock into a profitable ecotourism venture in just three years. It is run mostly by women.
Our guide led the group in a prayer for safety before starting the hike up the rock.
Atty. Gerthy Anda points out the "singing rocks," after which Ugong Rock is named because of the sound they produce when struck gently.
Single file, please! We were required to wear hard hats (again, to my delight) and heavy duty gloves to protect us from the sharp, jagged edges of the limestone walls that lined the narrow path.
This is called Humble Rock, because, in order to pass through, one had to duck and bow, as if in reverence and humility.
Hats off to the women who devised and constructed this elaborate system of wooden bridges and ladders inside the rock.
ABS-CBN journalist Dominic Almelor was filming a report on Palawan ecotourism for his show, Patrol ng Pilipino, and took his crew along — cameras and all — for the hike.
Nothing makes me happier than to see you flashing that big smile at me.
Director Brillante Mendoza admires the lush foliage that greets hikers upon reaching the top of Ugong Rock.
Happy to present these soiled gloves — My badge of honor!
Anthony gets fitted for his harness for the zip line, and was insisting that he was a Medium, and not a Large. (He was a Large.)
The goal of the zip line is to get THERE.
All systems ready for take off! (Man, I REALLY look good in a hard hat.)
The actual ride down the zip line lasted for a good minute and, with hands still shaking with excitement, I managed to write this comment in the log book.
We brought lollipops for the local kids, who were happy to pose with Anthony for a photo with their sweet treats.
For our last dinner in Puerto Princesa, we were treated to a Palaweno feast at Kinabuch, popular among locals for its exotic meats. Here, our friend Benj samples the "croc adobado," or crocodile meat stewed in coconut milk.
After a good three bites, I came to the conclusion that crocodile meat is tough, chewy, and a little too exotic for me.
I whipped out my camera to document our friend Inanc's first encounter with a green mango. I also suggested that he take his first bite with a big dollop of bagoong (shrimp paste), which, I think, he may have found a little too pungent for his tastes.
"It's okay, mister. It's just shrimp paste."
Mayor Dindo Rios of Romblon joined our table after dinner to recount the romantic saga of how he won the heart of his lovely wife.
We were honored to have Mayor Hagedorn drop by Legend Hotel to personally bid us goodbye and wish us safe travels.
By this time, we had perfected our battlecry… "NO TO MINING IN PALAWAN!"
As promised, here’s bonus video footage of Anthony and his graceful descent via zip line. I’ve known the guy for ten years now, and this is the first time I’ve ever heard him scream out like this. Hysterical!
And with that, we concluded our week-long biodiversity caravan in Puerto Princesa and Brooke’s Pioint, full of insights and a renewed sense of commitment to continue working to protect Palawan and other key biodiversity areas from mining initiatives. We’re collecting ten million signatures, so please don’t forget to sign the petition and be counted through our website.