Its been 10 years since I last set foot in Palawan for a 1-week training project with our El Nido Field Office. I thought that was it so I made sure I left my imprints in the limestone cliffs that made us gape and that trek to the Bulalakaw Falls which tore-off my ethnic pants and the traces of early civilization at the Ille Cave and the boat tours around Bacuit Bay and to the Snake Island, Cadlao, Miniloc, and Matinloc.
Its been 10 yeas but the slimy texture of tamilok is still fresh in my mouth while the welcome sight and aroma of huge steamed tahong, grilled baracuda, adobong pusit, and lechon freshly roasted and stuffed with tamarind leaves at the buffet table of the Elm Street Restaurant still cling to my skin.
It's been 10 years. Then I was back. Courtesy of a reference from Oxfam-GB. To the Philippine Board Members League of the Philippines.
Never mind that I was billeted in a hotel so controversial that Mayor Edward Hagedorn won't set foot in it. Never mind the rain that wanted to spoil my fun.
And so I went UG. It cost me P1,500.00 and almost 4 hours of travel to and from Sabang plus another couple of hours to get to a boat and 2 more to get our group number called so we can actually go UG. I have to miss my lunch. But I did smell the bat shit, saw Sharon Stone's ass, and had a 45-minute laugh at the ridiculously funny tales of our boatman guide.
A 4 pm lunch afterwards have never been so good as roasted tuna and pork, native chicken and kangkong adobo, and binakol never got the chance to be served at the table...
FOOTNOTE: The Puerto Prinsesa Subterranean River National Park is said to be the second longest underground river in the world and is considered as one of Asia's most important forest site with its full mountain-to-the-sea ecosystem. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is currently a finalist to be one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. There are 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Philippines: the colonial city of Vigan, the rice terraces of Ifugao (i.e. Nagacadan, Huangduan, Batad, Mayoyao), 4 baroque churches (i.e. San Agustin, Paoay, Sta. Maria, Miag-ao), and the Tubbataha Reef. I've been to all except the last.