Archive for Dos Palmas

Dos Palmas

Posted in Travel with tags , , , , , , on April 3, 2010 by hangingbridge

More than a week ago, a visit to the 14th island of Puerto Princesa Philippines was a visit to one of the pristine places in the country.  Dos Palmas has had its bad days which tags the resort for a couple of years already. One of these is the terror of the Abu Sayaff kidnappings of a foreign couple.  Another one is the questionable death of a Filipino matinee idol during his vacation with other celebrities.

Days before our flight to the islands of Puerto Princesa, I was kind of anxious that my company wouldn’t enjoy the 4-day vacation because it was going to be quiet in the place since it wasn’t a favorite summer spot after those ill-fated events of the past years.  I was half-expecting that we will be the only one visiting during that weekend.  Thankfully, I was wrong because there was a number of people who was staying in the resort during the weekend.  I guess the tarnished reputation of the island was now beginning to clear up.

Upon arrival, there was a band of the traditional local percussion and strings that made a welcoming noise to the incoming visitors who arrived by a ferry boat.

This was a pic when we were leaving for Manila but looks the same when we got to the Island almost 4 days before this pic was taken 🙂

There were only three groups of people in the ferry boat and was not at all cramped which made the one hour travel through Honda Bay more comfortable as we passed by the first 13 islands of Puerto Princesa.

During the one-hour boat ride to Dos Palmas resort, staff in the ferry boat bring with them palms and they create origami-like animals or figures to give to passengers.  They do the same during the boat ride back to Manila, or rather to the airport.

I get the grasshopper 🙂 on the way to the island.

The one who made the origami-like palm leaf art on our way back to the airport.

I get the lovebirds on our way back to Manila.

And then there was the usual welcome drink.  We were in time for lunch so we also get to enjoy the lunch buffet.  The outdoor restaurant was almost empty of guests.  I thought we were doomed in an almost empty resort until the waiter explained that the rest of the guest was having a picnic lunch in a nearby island.  Whew!  I thought, there was still hope for this vacation.

I'm on my 2nd plate so it was a little less than my first. The white cheese-filled cherry tomatoes were superb.

I was with my cousin and my parents during those days in the resort.  But basically, my cousin and I spent every hour on the island and left my parents by themselves for their vacation.

During our first night, my cousin and I spent a couple of hours on the bridgeway that connected the entrance/bay villas with the reception lobby/island.  I’m sure I have seen those many stars before but that night, it was like I haven’t.  The sky was filled with stars – inch by inch of the dark sky.  It was awesome to be able to lean back on the bench and look up and see nothing but stars.  So many of them.

It wasn’t all that quiet during our stay on that bridgeway that night because a couple of guests were going up and around like we are and a couple of gunned security guards were also roaming that night.  There were also a group of men who, we presume, were navy men who were wearing their basketball jerseys.  We saw their boat “parked” nearby and the resort staff said some of the navy men made use of the resort of the facilities and had their dinner or lunch in the resort while they were there.  This made me feel good.  At least, the islands of Honda Bay were definitely guarded.  After which, I wasn’t at all worried for the rest of our stay.

My cousin and I went to bed before it was midnight.  I had to pull my cousin from the bridgeway and head to our own beach villa which was less than 500 meters from the bridge way benches.

I chose the bed by the veranda.

I was physically and emotionally tired.  The phone calls I was getting wasn’t at all reassuring.  It would be nice to leave your cellphone alone after leaving the city with the thought that you left when it was all good to leave and it will remain the same when you get back.  But it wasn’t the case.  My caller was dumping me with problems and wanted me to go back as soon as possible.  The problem was we already paid for a four-day stay and it wasn’t cheap.  I don’t want to let it go to waste even though, it wasn’t out of my own pocket.  Secondly, my flight back to Manila wasn’t until four days.  So the call I couldn’t do anything to help the caller which absolutely made me feel so uneasy.  I was kind of irritated but what can I do about it.

So back to my vacation.  I was able to sleep despite the problematic calls.  We started our first morning in the island reviewing the schedule the travel planner gave our company.  From the short list she gave us, we decided to go ahead with the scuba diving lessons.

We need to learn inside the pool before we take us to the open waters.

post to be continued

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My Anxiety Attacks These Days

Posted in random, Travel with tags , , , , , , on March 4, 2010 by hangingbridge

The year 2010 has been topped of by the Haiti earthquake in January with a magnitude of 7.0 that toppled infrastructures killing hundreds of people.  This month of February, the 8.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Chile also killing hundreds of people but less than that of Haiti.  The day after Chile’s earthquake, we had one up north Luzon at a magnitude of 5 and the next day, another earthquake hit Cagayan of a magnitude of 6.

After Chile’s 8.8 earthquake, authorities warned people of incoming tsunamis that are to hit nearby countries.  Every one was asked to evacuate.  After the tsunamis hitting Phuket Thailand years ago, they were taking this warning very seriously.  I for one, asked my father if we should go to higher ground for awhile since, if you look in the map, our country is very small (in relation to other countries) and a wave could easily wipe us out or so it seems. But there was no tsunami that hit this part of the globe.  Praise God.

Every time I get ready for work and every time I enter our office building, I ask myself if this could be that day that I, myself will experience these earthquakes.  Somehow, in this country, infrastructures cannot be relied on to be built with utmost safety. We have been known for graft and corruption in the government.  And so, people with money could get a building permit even without the qualifications.  They could get occupancy permits they want without their buildings inspected and approved to have the basic standards.  So I don’t trust any buildings here in city.

I’ve been seeing images of a building situated in China that I probably saw in the news which toppled like a domino.  It didn’t crumbled down but the whole thing fell on its side.  I was wondering if the building was just glued to the ground.

I was washing dishes in the pantry a few days back and I felt a slight tremor on the ground.  My heart palpitated and I was ready to run for cover.  We are at the fourth floor and there are 28 floors above us.  I don’t think there’s anywhere to run to unless out of the window.

I’m always hoping that my parents don’t stay too long in the office.  I want them to go somewhere else or stay home.  I’ve been having thoughts that they’d be in the office when the earthquake strikes.  I don’t want that to happen. But I couldn’t push them out of the office doors because of a fear I have.  Sometimes, I forget to pray even though I call out the Lord’s name in my mind during sudden call for help.  And there are times, when I become fatalistic and don’t ask for safety from Him anymore.  But mostly, I do call Him for help in everything – especially the ones that I could not control.

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We’re off to Dos Palmas in Puerto Princesa this month.  I’ve never been to Palawan and after seeing the pictures in the internet about the resort, I encouraged my parents that we take our vacation there.  It was very provincial and seemed quiet.  I was excited a few days ago about our upcoming out-of-town get away.  But recently, I started getting anxious about the place. (I do have a mental problem, don’t I?)

This is where the terrorist group kidnapped vacationers a few years back who kept the victims for more than a year, I think.  And this is where a young actor died of allegedly drug overdose.  The place, I realized, was a source of bad memories for a lot of people already.  And I don’t want that to happen to me or my family.

As I see the pictures in the net, not on their websites but those photos taken by the guests themselves, I’m slightly having second thought.  But it’s too late now because we already paid our reservation of 4 days and 3 nights.

Maybe I could bring a Bible to read for comfort – to start the Holy Week early.