Friday, March 9, 2012

Calamian Isles… Heaven on Earth (Coron and Busuanga, Palawan) Part 7 of 7

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Banol Beach

There are two Banol beaches in Coron island, “Banol nga mabael” (Big Banol) and “Banol ng maite” (Small Banol). The slice of paradise I was referring to was the small Banol strip. 

Banol is home to Tita Herminia a native Tagbanua who takes care of the beach.  She keeps it pristine, sifting the sand, picking up dried kalachuchi flowers, loves having company and doesn’t mind some picture taking. I love the place so much and missed Tita Herminia’s kind heart and stories that I went there everyday during my stay renting an outrigger just to be there. A gracious host and a darling, she wanted a copy of my picture with her to remind her of me and my accidental funnies that she adored, I told her that I will return with her picture as “pasalubong” gift and she acknowledged with the sweetest smile. It was genuine and rare nowadays that I feel blessed sharing a moment of my life with my kindred.
I could use all the positive adjectives to describe this place and yet it wouldn’t be enough.  

Palawan has a lot to offer yet if I were to choose just one, Banol would be my place under the sun. 

Other Significant Sites

Siete Pecados (Seven sins)
Legends have it that seven sisters went out to swim against their mother’s wishes and consequently drowned and from them arose seven islets from the sea.  I just know my mom would not stop referring to this legend once she learns of it. I understand that she worries about me and my strong inclination for misadventures, that when she does she will have a field day of it.

Siete Pecados is my 7th heaven.  It is definitely the site for ultimate snorkeling/skin diving. It is a garden of corals and fabulous marine life just bursting with unimaginable color. 

I have gone Scuba and skin diving in many parts of the world but I can say Siete Pecados has the most spectacular array of marine life I have ever seen.  Cautioned by the story and how I will not hear the end of it from my mother, I’m a bit hesitant to tell of my up close and personal encounter with a walo-walo a snake-like fish with a zebra pattern that slivered its way toward me underwater.  Scared out of my wits I swam like there was panic at the disco, amazingly like a flying fish I flew in the boat and gave the boatmen something to remember me by.  It’s funny now when I recall it enduring more scrapes and bruises from the struggle to get on the boat than an actual bite. 

Caluit Game Preserve and Wildlife Sanctuary
Established in 1976 by then President Ferdinand Marcos after attending the 3rd World Conference in Kenya that addressed nature conservation, this ground serves as new home for exotic animal species from Africa like giraffes and zebras and refuge to indigenous animals such as the Palawan Bearcat and Calamian Mouse deer (the smallest deer in the world).  Four hours by boat from Coron town or take an alternative route a two and a half hour land trip including a few minutes banca ride across Biniktikan River from Busuanga to Calauit preserve.  Quite a steep spend either way so I suggest you look for a group to share the cost and to experience island safari with.

Maquinit Hot Springs
Day’s end, there’s nothing like a hot bath. Feeling the cold from my wet clothes and tired muscles from all the action, Maquinit Hot Springs offered a therapeutic 38-41 degrees Celsius of relaxing waters.  The first toe dip made my skin crawl up but as my body tempered its way through I indulged on being stewed. It gradually took my cares away and found myself rejuvenated soon after.

Manila life can somehow numb and suck you out to dry and I can say that Calamian Isles especially Busuanga and Coron were responsible for letting me feel again. Other worthy sites to explore are Dimakya Island, CYC Beach at Cagbatan Island, Kalambuyan Island, Kalachuchi Island, Banana Island, and Coral Garden for a chance to gather one’s self. Go back in time when you visit 12 principal dive sites of Japanese ships that were bombed on September 24,1944 in a US Navy action by Admiral William Halsey’s fleet taking with them their war stories as they sunk 40-50 meters from the surface. YKR (Yulo King Ranch) reputed as Asia’s biggest Cattle Ranch, Uson island for trekking or Mt. Darala for a test of will, Culion Island for the museum and Church built atop an old Spanish fort. A former Spanish colony turned leper colony once the largest concentration in the world now transformed as an emerging city in the south.

Calamian Isles is just icing on the cake and I’m not even done with it. Palawan consists of tiers of ooohs and aaahs just waiting for the time to be explored.  It leaves a taste to be craved for and indulge in. Jacques Cousteau the father of modern underwater exploration and premiere nature lover had a piece and he loved it and so have I.  I don’t mind having another slice and another after that.  Grab a piece! Enjoy your slice of Heaven on Earth!

Side Bar:
Domestic Airlines with flights to Busuanga
Tickets and reservations: (632)855-3333

Tickets and reservations: (632)702-0888

Tickets and reservations: (632)849-0100

Tours and Accommodations
Dive Link Resort:
Telephone numbers: (632) 376-2048; (632) 387-2019
Mobile: 0918-9072577; 0918-9261545; 0918-9261547
Coron office: 0918-9261546; 0917-858-1799
Seadive Resort:          
Telephone numbers: (63)048-7230293                                                
Mobile numbers: 0918-400-0448; 0920-945-8714
Coral Bay Beach Resort:   
Telephone number: (63)048-7230301
Sangat Island Reserve:                                                                       
Coron Office: (63)918-4051557 
Sangat Island Office: (63)919-2050198
Club Paradise:       
Telephone Number: (632)838-4956-60

1. First aid kit, vitamins, medicines, insect repellants, ointments (pharmacies rare)
2. Dive Gear/Snorkeling Gear if your finicky using your very own gear though rentals are readily available
3. Sunblock with high SPF a must
4. Rash guard, cap and a windbreaker
5. Cash – ATMs are not regularly on-line and are not easily accessible specially when you’re billeted on another island
6. Ready your dslr's or point and shoots, batteries and extras
7. Power bars and bottled water
8. Trash bag- bring your own be responsible with your trash to show discipline and respect
9. Cell phones (coverage is good) and a flashlight
10. An open itinerary, a positive approach to adventure and bring legs of steel!

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