so there we were inside the cave. or rather, there was me in the cave wrestling with my camera until i gave up and decided to just enjoy the moment.
i’m glad i did. because there really is so much to learn and to appreciate about the underground river.
i don’t know if everyone knows already but as of late, puerto princesa underground river was voted one of the seven wonders of the world, besting some of the most beautiful places scattered all over the earth. of course, each and every one of those places are wonders in their own right but the 7 wonders of the world is a contest, after all. and because it was a contest, of course i voted for the philippines’ very own!
so what makes puerto princesa underground river and its surrounding area unique? according to the unesco website,
Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park encompasses one of the world’s most impressive cave systems, featuring spectacular limestone karst landscapes, pristine natural beauty, and intact old-growth forests and distinctive wildlife. It is located in the south-western part of the Philippine Archipelago on the mid western coast of Palawan, approximately 76 km northwest of Puerto Princesa and 360 km southwest of Manila.
The property, comprising an area of approximately 5,753ha, contains an 8.2km long underground river. The highlight of this subterranean river system is that it flows directly into the sea, with its brackish lower half subjected to tidal influence, distinguishing it as a significant natural global phenomenon. The river’s cavern presents remarkable, eye catching rock formations. The property contains a full mountain-to-sea ecosystem which provides significant habitat for biodiversity conservation and protects the most intact and noteworthy forests within the Palawan biogeographic province. Holding the distinction of being the first national park devolved and successfully managed by a local government unit, the park’s effective management system is a symbol of commitment by the Filipino people to the protection and conservation of their natural heritage.
going back to the massive stalactites and stalagmites, our guide pointed out various formations resembling an onion, a mushroom, as well as some other patterns i can’t remember anymore. indeed, the power of suggestion goes a long way into making the cave interesting for ordinary folks like me. this one here is the blessed virgin. if you see nothing but a formless stalagmite, stretch out your imagination a bit. no, more.
there, you see her now?
all in all, it was a fun, educational boat ride. not so much at looking at the rocks, but because our guide was really funny! he was amazingly charming and he made the entire tour worthwhile! he was mostly speaking in tagalog though so while i was chuckling like a hyena at the back, aleth, who doesn’t understand the language, missed out on quite a lot. as for the rest of my family who remained, uh, stone-faced majority of the time, i can only wonder, “where’s your sense of humor, you guys?!”
ralph, the tour guide, was hilarious! so much so that i made it a point to remember his name, as i tend to forget people’s names when i know i won’t see them again. but ralph — when you go there, ask for him! (although i’m not really sure if you could do that, as they assign boats on a first-come, first-served basis. oh, well.)
at one point, somebody in the group asked ralph, “are there diamonds here?”
to which he replied, “kung meron man, mayaman na sana akong ngayon, sir. may sarili na sana akong boat.” and then, almost in a whisper, he added, “hindi sana ako boatman.”
seriously, he’ll crack you up! either that, or i have a very shallow sense of humor. which i proudly do! *boisterous laugh*
oh, and when you go there, as much as you’re awed and all, try keeping your mouth shut. because sometimes, the drippings that you think is water can actually be bat shit.
as ralph said, the cave is one huge “bat-room,” after all. (geddit?!)