Here are some facts and figures about the breathtaking city of Puerto Princesa:
Puerto Princesa, the capital city of Palawan, is a first class city in the Philippines. It is located 306 nautical miles southwest of Manila, 205 nautical miles from Panay and about 250 nautical miles from Zamboanga. Its western side faces the South China Sea while on its eastern coast lays Sulu Sea.
Puerto Princesa City has a total land mass of 253, 982 hectares that makes it the largest city in the Philippines. The biggest land area of the city is composed of rural barangays measuring a total of 239, 266 hectares.
The name “Puerto Princesa” is made up of two words that mean “port” and “princess”. According to legend, a princess-like maiden used to roam the place on certain nights of the year. Also, the city serves as the main seaport because of its geographic advantages: a good location and a deep coast that can accommodate any ship size.
According to historical accounts, Puerto Princesa City was previously named after a princess of Spain, Princess Eulalia. She was born in 1864 to Queen Isabel II and her concomitant, Dr. Francisco de Asis. When the princess met an untimely death, the Queen changed the name of the place to Puerto de la Princesa which, in time, became Puerto Princesa as it is known today.
Spanish colonizers used to explore the province. As they examined the Palawan shoreline for a capital site, they came upon a hill and discovered an extensive plateau which they decided as ideal for settlement. Soon after, buildings were constructed and royal decrees were issued to provide incentives to settlers. The place then flourished and became a town with 12 roads, a hospital and a well-built port. Puerto Princesa was recognized by government authorities as one of the most beautiful towns in the country because of the orderliness and cleanliness of the surroundings.
Since its foundation, Puerto Princesa has been the center of activities in Palawan. Aside from housing the seat of the local government, it serves as the heart of trade and industry in the province. With a responsive leadership and an inspired citizenry, the beautiful city that is Puerto Princesa will undoubtedly live on.
Nature has led Puerto Princesa toward the road to economic development. Ecotourism is Puerto Princesa City’s distinct advantage over other cities in the country. It garnered the reputation of being the “Last Frontier”, attracting lots of people from all over the world via trans-ocean and luxury vessels.
Culture and Language
Among Puerto Princesa’s original inhabitants are the Cuyunons who possess a rich legacy of folklore and traditions. However, waves of migrants from various Philippine provinces and even other countries have turned the city into a melting pot of various cultures. While the predominant local tongue is Cuyuno, Tagalog, Visayan and English are also widely spoken.
The city experiences two types of climate. The type that prevails in the west coast has two distinct seasons: six months of dry season that occurs from November to April, and another six months of wet season from May to October, with the heaviest rainfall usually recorded in September.
Puerto Princesa celebrates a lot of festivals. Every February 14, the locals of Puerto Princesa City express their love for Mother Nature by celebrating “Love Affair with Nature”, ayearly affair where they conduct mangrove planting activities in the coastal zones to restore degraded mangrove areas. The event heightens awareness on the ecological importance of mangroves and other coastal ecosystems to people’s lives. Environmental quiz bees, film showings and concerts spice up the festival.
Another festival is the Balayong Festival that occurs every March 4. It commemorates the founding anniversary of the City of Puerto Princesa and is highlighted by a colorful floral parade depicting the Palawan Cherry Blossoms from which the festival derives its name. An amusing mixture of socio-civic, cultural, historical and sports activities, including balayong tree-planting and street dancing, also form part of the events. At the Tabuan parade, farmers, fisher folk, market vendors, traders and buyers showcase the city’s best products and revel as a way of giving thanks for the blessings and bountiful harvest they receive.
Every first week of April, the City of Puerto Princesa celebrates Pangalipay sa Baybay, a summer extravaganza held at the beautiful Puerto Princesa Bay. It kicks off with a parade and an impressive display of fireworks.
In April, before or after the Holy week, the Pagdiwata Arts Festival is celebrated with a week-long workshop series on the different arts – painting on various media, sculpture, music, dance and film. The festival takes inspiration from the Tagbanua’s Pagdiwata ritual of thanksgiving for the bountiful harvest of creativity.
Seafood Festival occurs every 3rd week of April. A celebration of the abundance of the seas, this gastronomic festival offers a taste of the seafood specialties Palawan is known for.
Karagatan Festival is held every 1week of May. The festival celebrates the synergy of man with the vast ocean. This four-day event features activities such as kite flying, coastal clean-up, boat sailing, banca race, tug-o-war, beach volleyball and football, sand sculpture, mountain to sea trekking, mountain bike race, film showing, a grand beach party and concert capped by a Bikini Open.
Every 3rd week of June, citizens of Puerto Princesa City flock to celebrate the “Feast of the Forest”, a grand reforestation activity where people from all walks of life participate in the planting of thousands of altered tree species in the city’s denuded forest zones. Related activities are eco-camping, games and a concert by environmental artists. During the same week, a festival called Baragatan sa Palawan is held to commemorate the founding of the civil government in Palawan. The festival derives its name from a Cuyunon term that means “meeting” and true enough, Baragatan is a coming together of the people of Palawan to celebrate the province’s history and rich culture. The event would not be complete without the coronation of the Miss Palawan pageant winner.
Lastly, every December 8, locals celebrate the City Fiesta in commemoration of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Fiesta activities begin during the 1st week of December with a series of religious activities. The celebration extends toward the Christmas season with nightly cultural presentations, yuletide activities such as lighting of the giant Christmas tree, and a fireworks display making up the long list of activities.
Tourist spots and activities
Aside from the festivals, one can see a lot of parks and amusement areas in Puerto Princesa. Capitol Park Square, located at Capitol Complex in Rizal Avenue, features open air restaurants, food kiosks, gardens, fountains and playgrounds. There is also Mendoza Park found in Rizal Avenue that was named after Dr. Higinio Mendoza, a war hero of Palawan. This park is shaded by age-old acacia trees and adorned with ornamental plants. The Coliseum Park in San Pedro National Highway features dancing musical fountains and gardens. Lastly, one should not miss the Baker’s Hill in Sta. Monica Heights that sells specialized baked goodies and offers a children’s park and picnic area amid a cool and breezy environment.
Much has been written and said about the World Heritage site in Puerto Princesa. Yet no one can really enjoy its beauty and splendor without actually exploring this enchanting place. In Puerto Princesa, visitors can try a fun hike through the monkey trails, crossing bridges, rails and stairs while marveling at the environment.
They can also go on a Jungle Trek, also called cross-country hiking by the locals. It covers the northeastern edge of Puerto Princesa, at thecoastal village of San Rafael, up to the western side or Cabayugan. The area is composed of impressive terrains, ranging from gently rolling to hilly and mountainous landforms.
Scuba diving is one of the most exciting activities that can be done in Palawan. The province is a diver’s paradise with miles of sub-surface coral and rainbow reef walls. Aside from diving, one can enjoy a day of island hopping, swimming and snorkeling, or an afternoon picnic at a sandbar. Honda Bay is the perfect place to view and appreciate nature without having to plan a long trip. From the bay itself, visitors can see long-snouted spinner dolphins or lumba-lumba.
Cruising around the city allows tourists to see the various landmarks and attractions of Puerto Princesa City such as the Palawan Museum, the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm, and the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center. They can watch the sun descend on the horizon and watch fireflies dance on the mangroves. Then, they can cap the night off by going to any of Puerto Princesa’s dining and entertainment places.
Indeed, Puerto Princesa City is one of the best places to visit especially by people who love beaches, who want to explore nature and who long for adventure. Every activity that the place offers is a worthwhile experience for families, friends or even for couples on their honeymoon trip and also it can be use as an birthday gift it will surely be a romantic birthday gifts for her. A visit to Puerto Princesa City is definitely an experience of a lifetime.