[Puerto Princesa] ► A Perfect Example of a Community-Based Sustainable Tourism

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"They live with the glory of their natural heritage—sustainable tourism at its finest."

[PUERTO PRINCESA, PALAWAN, PHILIPPINES] ▬ Tourism is good, but problems arise when it's mismanaged. The concept of sustainable tourism with community participation is not new but in most places I've visited, I would say this is the missing ingredient.

[PUERTO PRINCESA] ▬ UNDERGROUND RIVER


#PUERTOPRINCESA


I felt the very soul of the concept of community-based sustainable tourism when I visited the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) for the first time. For a tourist-laden destination like Puerto Princesa, it's inspiring to personally witness firsthand how a certain natural wonder is preserved in spite of the tourist crowd that visit the place longing to experience the beauty of nature.

Tourism is a major industry in Puerto Princesa City and in Palawan province as a whole. The effect of this industry is very heartfelt. The moment you arrive to your destination, you'll see that the community is very dynamic and well-organized. Tour guides and employees of tourism-based enterprises are residents of the community themselves. You'll see them in their uniform to aid tourists identify whom they should ask for help or information. They are amazingly well-trained and witty. Most importantly, they are very tourist-friendly.


▬ The PPUR Tour ▬


From the bucolic Sabang beach in the northwest coast of the city, boats abound. But these boats are not all for fishing. Most of them are used for tourism purposes. Sabang beach is your gateway to the Puerto Princesa Underground River. 

The start of the PPUR experience is 15-30 minutes of smooth sailing in the summery waters off the coast of Sitio Sabang accentuated by lush verdant mountains with teeming biodiversity. A landscape underlain by limestones carved by nature for million years awaits the visitors in the docking area.

[PUERTO PRINCESA] ▬ BOATMAN FETCHING THE GUESTS

[PUERTO PRINCESA] ▬ ARRIVING AT THE BEACH NEAR PPUR

[PUERTO PRINCESA] ▬ LIMESTONE KARSTS NEAR THE UNDERGROUND RIVER

[PUERTO PRINCESA] ▬ A BEAUTIFUL BEACH

[PUERTO PRINCESA] ▬ THE FOREST TRAIL

[PUERTO PRINCESA] ▬ TOURISTS' OBLIGATORY SIGNAGE PHOTO

[PUERTO PRINCESA] ▬ LOVELY SETTING


A forest trail leads the way to the entrance of the underground river where jungle monkeys, monitor lizards, colorful birds and many other species of plants and animals dwell.

Well-trained boatmen serve as tour guides in the world famous subterranean river. The underground river is 8 kilometers long, the longest underground river in the world.

[PUERTO PRINCESA] ▬ UNDERGROUND RIVER

[PUERTO PRINCESA] ▬ UNDERGROUND RIVER

[PUERTO PRINCESA] ▬ UNDERGROUND RIVER


The witty boatman shows to the tourists the different rock formation formed inside the cave designed by nature for million years. The highlight of the underground river tour is a section they call as 'the cathedral' where a cave ceiling with a whooping 200 meters height is located. Bats, tarantulas and birds locally called balinsasayaw inhabit the cave.


▬ Ugong Rock Adventure ▬


The Ugong Rock is an outcrop in the middle of farming fields surrounded by the thickly-forested mountains of Brgy Tagabinet. Tour guides and employees for Ugong Rock tourist activities are all community-based. The vibrant tourism industry of Puerto Princesa has helped the community here find livelihood through tourism-related services and enterprises spearheaded by the LGU.

[PUERTO PRINCESA] ▬ UGONG ROCK ADVENTURE

[PUERTO PRINCESA] ▬ PRE-ADVENTURE BRIEFING

[PUERTO PRINCESA] ▬ ROCK CLIMBING AND SPELUNKING

[PUERTO PRINCESA] ▬ NARROW CAVE PASSAGEWAY

[PUERTO PRINCESA] ▬ JUST ANOTHER LOVELY SETTING

[PUERTO PRINCESA] ▬ THE FOREST TRAIL

[PUERTO PRINCESA] ▬ UGONG ROCK ADVENTURE

[PUERTO PRINCESA] ▬ UGONG ROCK ADVENTURE

[PUERTO PRINCESA] ▬ UGONG ROCK ADVENTURE

[PUERTO PRINCESA] ▬ UGONG ROCK ADVENTURE

[PUERTO PRINCESA] ▬ UGONG ROCK ADVENTURE

[PUERTO PRINCESA] ▬ UGONG ROCK ADVENTURE


In a gazebo, tourists were given an introduction on what to expect in Ugong Rock while the women of the community serve a locally-produced kakanin called biko to tourists. Ugong Rock is jam-packed with activities like spelunking, rock climbing and ziplining.


▬ A Sustainable Tourism ▬


The activities I experienced in Puerto Princesa I mentioned above made me fully-understood how a community-based sustainable tourism works. In this concept, the people living near or within the tourist destination have this awareness that sustaining and preserving their natural wonders is the name of the game. They are fully aware that the tourist destinations near them serve as their lifeblood. Losing those means losing their livelihood, hence, the motivation to take good care of their immediate environment and natural wonders.

Indeed, Puerto Princesa is a perfect model of a city which can mix development and conservation of nature. They live with the glory of their natural heritage—sustainable tourism at its finest. See it for yourself and be amazed like I did. ▬ end

[PUERTO PRINCESA] ▬ HELLO! GREETINGS FROM PUERTO PRINCESA!


► FOOTNOTES, DISCLAIMERS, ACKNOWLEDGMENT, ETC

[1] This post is filed under the category "Special Features." To see more posts from this category, scroll down and look for the "More Posts from this Category Special Features" section below.

[2] This is just a preview post of my Palawan trip from November 10-13. More posts are coming soon!

[3] This trip was made possible through the Puerto Princesa LGU through its City Tourism Office. This is part of the Puerto Princesa Underground River Day celebration. Special thanks to Heather Tejada, Rix Rafols and their team!

[4] All maps I used on this post are the works of Eugene Alvin Villar and Mike Gonzalez published on Wikipedia. Source: 1 | 2 |

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