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Palawan Palawan Philippines Travel

Puerto Princesa: Lawiswis Organics, Mitra Ranch and Iwahig Firefly Watching

Mitra Ranch

Having been to other parts of Palawan like, Coron, El Nido and Taytay, I was looking forward to finally visiting Puerto Princesa because it’s one of the major cities in Palawan and probably the most urbanized among them all. This Hagedorn governed city is the 2nd largest city in the country and also known as one of the greenest and cleanest. Driving through from the airport and making a few stops before reaching the resort, I thought it’s one of those places I could actually live in for a while. Wide roads, well organized city layout and medium sized high rises. I actually like it.

Mitra's Ranch View
Still lots of green at Mitra's Ranch Puerto Princesa

Having been to other parts of Palawan like, Coron, El Nido and Taytay, I was looking forward to finally visiting Puerto Princesa because it’s one of the major cities in Palawan and probably the most urbanized among them all. This Hagedorn governed city is the 2nd largest city in the country and also known as one of the greenest and cleanest. Driving through from the airport and making a few stops before reaching the resort, I thought it’s one of those places I could actually live in for a while. Wide roads, well organized city layout and medium sized high rises. I actually like it.

Lawiswis Organics
Lawiswis Organics at Iratag, Irawan

Going Organic
Lawiswis Organics is where former Manila-man Jet Sales mixes his organic concoctions to create earth friendly and naturally healthy products. With a penchant for chimes and designing wooden furniture, this secret garden is surrounded by these in all shapes, styles and sizes, coupled with a cute bridge and a pond with lazy dogs lying around. When the rustling wind goes in (which the tagalog word Lawiswis means) a tingling soundtrack fills the air.

Jet Sales
Jet Sales holding a bottle of Lactobacilli

In between our random ogling of organic soaps from skin whiteners, germicidal to seaweed fat-burners and running our nose with varying scents from massage oils and citronella insect repellents, Jet would inject a few insights about going organic and how it changed his life. He raised a bottle half-filled with probably thousands of squirming lactobacilli and said how a small serving of yakult a day is not enough to restore the natural balance of the body. It was an educational stop and we left buying a few of his products. I also saw Lawiswis products in Manila’s Echo Store but of course priced significantly higher.

Enjoying the view at Mitra's Ranch
Enjoying the view at Mitra's Ranch

Farm View
Just near the famous delicacies at Baker’s Hill is a popular picnic spot both for locals and tourist called Mitra’s Ranch, owned by the late Philippine Senator Ramon Mitra. The place boasts views of the vast panorama overlooking portions of Honda Bay and Sulu Sea.

A dog enjoying his rest at one of the picnic tables
A dog enjoying his rest at one of the picnic tables

On the opposite side are the views of the mountains and the large farm areas were a few cows dotting the green field. That afternoon, the fog is starting to settle. I love the bucolic scene and a stop here in Mitra’s Ranch is breath of fresh air, literally.

Entrance Exit to Mitra's Ranch
Entrance Exit to Mitra's Ranch

A Natural Light Show
I’ve never seen a firefly light show before and I’ve heard only good things about the Firefly Watching at Iwahig River. So I booked a tour with Pasyar Palawan a few days before I went back here with the family. I chose Pasyar (which means “to travel leisurely”) because they are not just a tour agency but a community based NGO that creates out of the usual tours and helps on the livelihood of the local community.

The tour we got was P1350 per pax which is not really cheap (I heard you can get it for P600 but only the tour and tryke) but this includes an airconditioned Van for the 4 of us, a guide, a driver and also a delicious dinner buffet. I think it was totally worth it.

Boat Launch for the Firefly Tour
Boat Launch for the Firefly Tour

The drive took around at least 45 minutes from the city proper. Even at night it was a scenic drive with all the trees lined up on the side. We arrived at the Iwahig Firefly River Tour center just after a bridge. We didn’t wait that long for us to get to our own boats. Each small boat would only allow 3 persons including the boatman who doubles as a guide and we were launched at the foot of a 100 years old balete tree. Donning our required life-vest and optional conical hats, we lunged through the still brackish water in the seemingly pitch black environs.

Cruising along Iwahig River at Night
Cruising along Iwahig River at Night

It’s hard to take photos and videos of what happens here on this 3.4km boat ride (1.7km one way) with only the moon to serve as the only light. But I can say it was a worthwhile experience to coast along Iwahig River with a very good guide to educate us about the mangroves and environment. A plus along with the sight of a natural Christmas light among the mangroves. Here are a few points I learned from this tour.

  • Fireflies are not flies but bugs
  • Male Firefly bugs are bigger to attract females
  • The bioluminescence coming from fireflies are similar to the plankton
  • Fireflies choose mangroves with better aroma and bloom
  • The best time to do Firefly Watching is December and January
  • Fireflies live only on clean and unpolluted environments
Century old Balete Tree
Century old Balete Tree as Boat Station

Lawiswis Organics
http://thegardenssecret.multiply.com

Pasyar Palawan
http://pasyarpalawan.tripod.com

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Join our Backpack Photography Photo Tours and Workshops for early 2011. Banaue Photography 101 for beginners on February, Bewitching Siquijor Photo Tour on March 2011 and Batanes Island Hopping in April 2011

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