And now, a recall petition against Gov. Baham Mitra   Leave a comment

We’ve been hearing reports about a signature campaign to oust Gov. Abraham Mitra for several months now so this was wasn’t really news anymore. The only strange thing was that the lobby group Kilusan Love Malampaya filed the recall petition, which was widely known to be the handiwork of local officials allied with a losing politician.

We wonder, will this be as successful as the recall of former Puerto Princesa Mayor and now 2nd District Rep. Dennis Socrates in 2002? Back then, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mayor Edward Hagedorn, effectively stretching his successive terms to 20 years by 2013, disrupted only by the brief tenure of Socrates.

Socrates and Hagedorn are currently on the same side of the political fence. Strange bedfellows, surely.

As for KLM, it’s sad to see this advocacy group against corruption being rather selective when pointing out who allegedly gained from the natural wealth of Palawan. If these people had been more encompassing in their actions, then it would have been easier for them to win more support from the public.


So why was Palawan broadcaster’s daughter kidnapped?   Leave a comment

On the same day a recall protest against Palawan Gov. Abraham Mitra was filed, the daughter of radio commentator Louie Larosa was kidnapped in Puerto Princesa City. Strange coincidence? Or is it another one of those mysterious goings-on in the city that will never be fully explained?

According to media reports, Larosa’s 17-year old daughter was taken by still unidentified abductors from an eatery in front of the Palawan State University campus in Tiniguiban, where she is a Hotel and Restaurant Management student, at around 10 a.m. last Sept. 16.

The same evening, she was freed somewhere along Manalo street. Local sources say she was seen conferring with a government official soon after her release, and reportedly said the van was supposed to have taken her to a northern town.

We are looking forward to more clarity about this story in the days ahead.

Two views on the Ortega case   Leave a comment

Like many of the friends of Gerry Ortega, we are closely following the reports about the progress of the case. Two recent columns caught our attention.

Solita “Mareng Winnie” Monsod wrote about what she considered “a farcical probe” in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Basically, she is questioning the resolution of the first DOJ panel that investigated the case, and is inclined to believe the conventional wisdom about the alleged mastermind in the killing.

Meanwhile, Alfred “Krip” Yuson of the Philippine Star is convinced about the innocence of ex-Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes, apparently his long-time drinking buddy, whom the DOJ panel cleared with finality.

The story doesn’t end there though. DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima has ordered a reinvestigation and constituted a new panel that will admit additional evidence in the case. The legal implications are still confusing, but nonetheless, we are one with Gerry’s supporters in our desire to ferret out the truth about this cowardly killing of one of Palawan’s most sincere community leaders.

Vote for the underground river   Leave a comment

Have you voted for our very own underground river in the New 7 Wonders of the World contest? Cilck here to cast your vote:

Posted 09/10/2011 by bandillopalawan in Travel

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Puerto Princesa at a glance   Leave a comment

The capital city of Palawan, Puerto Princesa is a major tourist destination that hosts one of the country’s natural World Heritage Sites — the Subterranean River National Park. A 30-minute paddleboat ride takes visitors to the 8.2-kilometer underground river, inside an enchanting cave filled with bats and unique rock formations. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the Monkey Trail, while others prefer the more leisurely Mangrove Paddle Boat Tour.


Closer to the city proper, a day of island hopping around Honda Bay allows beach bums to savor the sea breeze while heading for the white sands of Pandan, Starfish, or Snake island. The whale shark, the world’s biggest fish, has been sighted in the bay occasionally. Remember to bring snorkeling gear for your close encounter with Nemo and other delightful creatures of the shallow coral reefs.

On the west coast facing the South China Sea, residents of Ulugan Bay have developed eco-tour packages that include snorkeling, bird-watching in the mangrove river, trekking to the waterfalls, paraw sailing, and even diving at Rita island.

Further south, adventurous travelers who don’t mind the bumpy rides can surf the waves in the beaches of Nagtabon, Tagkawayan, and Napsan.

Scuba diving and dolphin watching in Puerto Bay may also be arranged. Or why not a firefly watching tour of the Iwahig River just after sunset? You can also buy handicrafts at the Iwahig penal colony, have a picnic at Balsahan river, and soothe aching muscles at the Sta. Lourdes Hot Springs. Animal lovers would enjoy the colorful insects at the Palawan Butterfly Garden and the endemic species at the Palawan Wildlife and Rescue Center, formerly known as the Crocodile Farm.

Any traveler will tell you that you haven’t been to Palawan if you haven’t dined at Kalui, a seafood restaurant decorated with ethnic chic and exotic souvenirs from the owner’s travels abroad. After dinner, have a drink at or two in popular watering holes like Kinabuch and Gypsy’s Lair.

Puerto Princesa commemorates the city’s Foundation Day on March 4 with a historical parade and street dancing. In the summer, artists flock to the city for the Kamarikutan Pagdiwata Arts festival. The city also celebrates the tree-planting festival Pista Y ang Kagueban (Feast of the Forests) on the 3rd week of June.

On the first day of December, the city government ushers in the holiday season with the much-awaited lighting of the giant Christmas tree. The festival calendar ends with the fiesta honoring the city’s patron saint on Dec. 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, which features performances from local artists and various groups.

Posted 09/06/2011 by bandillopalawan in Travel

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Welcome to paradise   Leave a comment

For nature lovers, Palawan is a dream come true. Its scenic landscape features forested highlands, distinct rock formations, and rolling terrain teeming with wildlife. White sand beaches and breathtaking limestone cliffs create a unique seascape that visitors still remember with fondness long after their vacation. 

Mountain ranges carpeted with thick forests run the length of the island. The verdant canopy and leaf-strewn forest floor harbor an amazing variety of tropical fauna and flora — 98 bird species, 34 reptiles, 28 mammals, 12 amphibians, and 110 plant species. Endangered species such as the Philippine crocodile, peacock pheasant, blue-naped parrot, peregrine falcon, leopard Cat, and the Palawan flying fox have found a safe haven in the province.

In its turquoise waters, tourists may chance upon the peaceful dugong or gentle marine turtles. Sightings of large manta rays, sperm whales, the finless porpoise and whale shark offer a rare treat to lucky visitors. Along the coast, 28 species of mangrove trees protect inshore areas. Palawan’s waters also hold oil and gas reserves including the Camago-Malampaya natural gas project, the country’s single biggest foreign investment.

The southern half of Palawan has more terrestrial attractions such as mountains and waterfalls. In the town of Narra, bird-watching tours may be arranged in Rasa island, where the elusive cockatoo roosts at dusk. The highest peak in the province, Mt. Mantalingahan, straddles five towns and soars to a height of 2,086 meters above sea level. An endangered species, the Palawan mousedeer, is found only in the southernmost island of Balabac.

Towards the north, white sand beaches and towering limestone cliffs are the main tourist attractions. From El Nido all the way to the Calamianes islands, picturesque rock formations and lagoons draw thousands of visitors every year. In Coron, most scuba divers go for the shipwrecks strewn in the bay. Northern Palawan holds the highest concentration of islands in the province, and draws water sports enthusiasts as well as sun worshippers longing for a secluded beach. Fringing and offshore coral reefs appeal to scuba divers and snorkelers, while spelunkers can have fun exploring the depths of Palawan’s countless caves.

Palawan is remarkable in many ways. The discovery of archaeological relics in the Tabon caves, in the municipality of Quezon, proved that the province has had over 50,000 years of human occupation, the oldest recorded in the country. Pottery, china, and other artifacts recovered from the waters off the mainland attest to the flourishing trade between Chinese and Malays in Palawan many centuries ago.

The influence of Spanish colonizers can still be seen in the ruins of fortresses and churches found in Taytay, Cuyo and Cagayancillo. Meanwhile, the legacy of the more recent American occupation lives on in the architecture of Iwahig Penal Colony in Puerto Princesa city, the former Culion Leper Colony in northern Palawan, and Cape Melville in Balabac island.

Palawan is home to three major indigenous communities — the Tagbanua, Pala’wan, and Batak  — and subgroups such as the Tau’t Bato and Molbog. Their ancestors are believed to have occupied the province long before Malay settlers arrived in the islands. Other native-born Palaweños are the Cuyunon, Agutaynon, and Cagayanon islanders that have distinct languages and traditions.

All year round, festivals are sure to catch the eye of the cultural tourist. The lambay or honey-gathering ritual of the Batak signals the start of the hunting and gathering season in the early part of the year. The pagdiwata thanksgiving ceremony of  the Tagbanua people follows in the summer, while the Baragatan festival is a welcome treat when June ushers in the rainy season. In the far-off island of Cuyo, the Ati-Ati festival during the Feast of St. Augustine on Aug. 29 is a must for music and dance revelers. Capping it all is the solemn runsay ritual of the Pala’wan just after the last full moon of the year shows up in the clear island skies.

Posted 09/05/2011 by bandillopalawan in Travel

As we were saying …   1 comment

Okay, this is for those who have been bugging us to resurrect the iconic magazine and newspaper that once brought fun into the staid world of Palawan journalism and fear into many a crooked politician’s heart (at least, for those who still have one left).

Magba-bandillo na uli kami, at maba-bandillo na uli kayo. Well, maybe with a twist. You’ll see what we mean in the coming days.

See you in a bit.

Posted 09/04/2011 by bandillopalawan in Editor's note