"Save Palawan, last rainforest in the Philippines!" Province of Palawan by joiwatani
Province of Palawan Travel Guide: 1,858 reviews and 6,332 photos
Palawan was the third leg of my trip in the Philippines. I have been travelling for almost three months- hopping from one island to another before I head to Palawan! Why did I do here? Besides exploring the whole island, I did some business work, too- did research on the indigeneous people of Palawan - the Bataks!
The trek to the jungle was hard and difficult. However, I learned to balance myself crossing a log bridge without looking the river below. I also learned to pack lightly because a 30 lbs backpack will turn into a 60 lbs backpack after few hours of climbing a mountain! (That was what I felt, then!)
The trek was about four days and four nights to get into the heart of the Palawan jungle. I was with a group of travellers, an Israeli guy - backpacking for eight months around the world and teaching me how to backpack cheaply and lightly; a German couple (Michael - pronounce as Mi-sha-el) and his girlfriend, Uta. Uta, later came visited me in Ilocos Sur but I missed her by an hour as I left heading back to Baguio City). There are other couples but we got separated somewhere in Naga City.
On our way to the jungle, I had seen slash-and-burn agriculture - probably done by the nomadic tribe. I had seen their sites and how they struggled to survive. Mostly, they lived close by the rivers. Just looking at the remnants of their villages, I had seen how these people, my own people, still survive this way. They still make their own fire! The keep their fire burning by using some sap of rubber trees!
Once, we reached our destination, our camp site, I felt relieved! We got to stop for the night at the Forest Ranger station in the heart of jungle!
The campsite was located on top of a hill surrounded by thick and lush forest. Down below is a flowing river- the water is so clear I can see the fishes swimming!
After dinner of fried fish and rice, Uta and I went down to the river and washed ourselves! Oh what a relief! We were muddy from our trek, sweaty and smelly!
At night, I got scared. I made sure that my mosquito net was tacked in carefully in my woven mat. I heard about the danger of the mosquitoes - sipping blood and giving people malaria!
Of course, I had my vaccines two weeks before I travelled to Palawan. But there was this forest ranger who had been in agony for a long time, I was told. He moaned with agony at night, making this painful-sounding noise. I heard he had malaria - the worst kind and it might had gotten into his brain!
Although I was scared that night, I knocked out right away. I slept like a log from exhaustion of the four days of walk. The sound of the very sick ranger didn't bothered me at all for the whole night. The 80 -kilometer walk and climb reaching the jungle exhausted me. The tiredness was a sleeping pill.
I visited an abadoned site of the Batak tribe. There were about seven little sheds, only the post were remaining. The tribe left. I was told that there were four children who died in a week before we got there. All the children belong to the same mother. The cause? Measles. These kids were all stricken by measles! A disease that is preventable!
It never happened before, I heard the ranger say. And, they speculated that when the tourists started getting into the area, the kids are getting exposed to diseases. Pardon me. I was repeating what they said. And, it is probably true! These indigeneous people don't have access to immunization because they live in the jungle and it is hard for the government to track them because of their nomadic nature!
Little did I know that there are flying squirrels in the Philippines! I was in awe to see squirrels when I was in Singapore in 1985. But, four years later, I found the same animals in my country- in Palawan! Yes, there were wild peacocks, skunks, monkeys and boars! And, the best part, I saw them on my way to the jungle! How cool is that?
There's this group of monkeys nibbling on top of a tree while I was bathing in the river! There was a commotion when I yelled! I yelled not from them but because the river was so cold in the morning! I am not sure if they were surprised to see me, or I surprised them!
- Pros:The forest is still thick. Lots of wild animals.
- Cons:Denudation of the forest is fast and alarming!
- In a nutshell:I want to live here when I retire. It is very beautiful!
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