It took more than a decade but I finally found my way back to the northwestern tip of Cagayan Valley. So much has happened the last decade or so in Palaui island. Admittedly, it’s the biggest tourist draw in Santa Ana, Cagayan. It has hosted 2 seasons of America’s Survivor series back in 2013. There are other Survivors from other countries that followed. But the most significant development for me is the designation of the island as a “National Park” due to the Expanded National Integrated Protected Area System (ENIPAS) act signed by President Duterte in June 22, 2018.
Often times the more challenging path yields to richer rewards. In Sta Ana, Cagayan, we ventured to the foothills of Sierra Madre mountains to explore one of the recently developed and opened tourism site in the municipality – the Buwacag Falls. This multi-tiered falls have a fun and challenging trail amidst lush forest leading to several wonderful cascades.
If you plan to visit the recently inaugurated and redeveloped Arroceros Urban Forest Park by bike, I would advise to defer for a later time. The park doesn’t allow bikes in the area, let alone, on the pavement going to the park. Since it is still in development (despite being inaugurated already) there are no bike racks in the area. I asked the guards where I can leave my bike securely and they can’t give a definite answer. I was excited to check out the re-opened “last lung of Manila” and do a little birding so I decided to ride all the way from Pasig.
Culion is a fascinating destination for those who enjoy off-beat natural tourist attractions and rich heritage. This former leper colony in Calamianes island is usually explored by those who go for an extended stay in Coron. But it doesn’t have to be another option. Sunlight Ecotourism island Resort offers a luxury nature getaway in the region while still keeping close to the heritage now in the running as an internationally recognized documentary heritage for UNESCO.
This posts serves to document the birds I encountered in Culion, Palawan. Culion is part of the 200+ islands in the Calamianes group of islands. This includes the other three major islands Coron, Busuanga and Linapacan. Birding in this area shares similar sets of species and endemics. A nice companion to this post Birds of Culion, is the Birds of Coron and Busuanga which I did early part of the year.
The island of Basilan interestingly has two major cities. There’s Isabela de Basilan, now the center of commerce and trade. Then there’s, Lamitan, the government seat of Basilan province. In 2017, the provincial capital was transferred from Isabela de Basilan to Lamitan City as it is formally part of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). In terms of tourism, one of the main highlight for a visit in this city is to learn more about the Yakan tribe, one of the first original inhabitants of the island of Basilan.
Go places where you least expect yourself to be. Basilan isn’t really on everybody’s bucket-list of travel destinations especially with the stigma attached to the province. But the pandemic has changed the way we travel. Why not go to places where you’ll see less tourist yet still enjoy equally wonderful attractions? Isabela de Basilan’s just got the right mix of natural wonders, variety of culture and plenty of halal goodness.