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

[Puerto Pincesa, Palawan Province, Mimaropa Region, Luzon Group, Philippines]
PUERTO PRINCESA UNDERGROUND RIVER

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.

I felt the very soul of the concept of community-based sustainable and responsible 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 being preserved in spite of the tourist crowd that visits 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.

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This boatman fetched the guests.

SABANG BEACH, PUERTO PRINCESA, PALAWAN
Arriving at the beach near Puerto Princesa Underground River was an achievement unlocked for me. It's few minutes trek away to the underground river.

PUERTO PRINCESA UNDERGROUND RIVER
Incredible rock formations made the docking area extra exciting.

PUERTO PRINCESA UNDERGROUND RIVER
The Puerto Princesa Underground River forest trail was already a satisfying encounter for me.

PUERTO PRINCESA UNDERGROUND RIVER
I thought I'm a lovely person. But this one is lovelier. Shame on me.

PUERTO PRINCESA UNDERGROUND RIVER
These guests were about to enter the mouth of the underground river.

PUERTO PRINCESA UNDERGROUND RIVER
Tourists were dwarfed by the huge rock formation inside the underground river.

PUERTO PRINCESA UNDERGROUND RIVER
Tourists were awed by this great stalagmite.

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 at the docking area.
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.

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Tourists were set to explore the Ugong Rock Formation.

UGONG ROCK, PUERTO PRINCESA, PALAWAN
Pre-adventure briefing is required for all the tourists.

UGONG ROCK, PUERTO PRINCESA, PALAWAN
I also dared to explore this rock this way.

UGONG ROCK, PUERTO PRINCESA, PALAWAN
Tourists explored this narrow space sandwiched by two rock walls.

UGONG ROCK, PUERTO PRINCESA, PALAWAN
This was the trail to the Ugong Rock. Easy trek.

TAGABINET, PUERTO PRINCESA, PALAWAN
This was the view I saw from the top of the Ugong Rock.

UGONG ROCK, PUERTO PRINCESA, PALAWAN
I'm a survivor.

TAGABINET, PUERTO PRINCESA, PALAWAN

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

UGONG ROCK ADVENTURE, PALAWAN
HELLO FROM THE TOP OF UGONG ROCK!
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 |

Map Showing the Location of #PuertoPrincesa

MAP PUERTO PRINCESA
► FOOTNOTES, DISCLAIMERS, ACKNOWLEDGMENT, ETC

[1] This post was filed under the category "Special Features." See more posts related to this below.

[2] The maps I used on this post are from maps.google.com.ph.

[3] All photos are mine.

[4] The insights, condition and name of places or properties I mentioned here are based on the facts and situation on the day of my visit. Take note that you may have a different experience when you try or see the properties or places mentioned here. Names of places and properties may also change by time so it's not my responsibility to update all the information on this blog because once published, I already consider it an archive and I won't update my narratives because I want them to become my references of what have happened in the past. I'm very particular of the dates because I want my amazing readers to understand that I am writing stories based on my perspective and insights on the day of my visit. You can see dates almost everywhere on this blog. Exempted from this rule are my travel guide posts that need to be updated.

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EDMAR GUQUIB y DEL CASTILLO

Born and Raised in Vigan, Philippines. Hardcore Ilocano-Cordilleran. Professional Nurse on Weekdays. Coffee Addict. Travel Blogger in Between. For collaboration or partnership, email your business proposal at admin@edmaration.com.

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