Posts Tagged ‘palawan times’


Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in Coron with Governor Joel T. Reyes during the inauguration of the Busuanga Airport. Tourism business is pouring in the Calamianes Group of Islands.

SO MANY things are happening in Puerto Princesa and Palawan these days. I don’t exactly call Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s visit to Coron “a good thing,” considering so many broken promises made to us in the past, but she was there to inaugurate a SONA commitment made in 2006 — the improvement and rehabilitation of Busuanga Airport.

Governor Joel T. Reyes was happy, and so were other local government officials who went there to join the Calamianes Group of Islands’ recent feat in tourism. That picture above shows our governor showing Arroyo something on the map. Behind was 1st Palawan District Rep. Antonio C. Alvarez.

Alex of PNA, who has been covering Coron lately, said the President’s visit was seen as “something good” for the group of island municipalities that’s currently experiencing really bombastic booms. William Gatchalian, the plastics magnate, is reportedly eying an investment on an exotic property there called “Dinaran Island.”

There’s also a large islands tour vessel that has placed the Calamianes in its cruise map — 7,100 Islands Cruise Ship — and it’s ready to bring in visitors to see the beauty of the place. New in the sky Zestair is set to fly the route soon, after it opens here this month.

I miss Coron. I miss Darayonan, where I would stay whenever I’m there. And when there’s nothing to do at night, since I don’t like staying in ex-pat bars (coz they’re the only ones open late at night), I’d coop myself in the lodging place and just read magazines. It’s a fashion and home living magazines paradise. Although the issues were several months late, they’re still informative to read.

There’s also no forgetting that first time I went to Kayangan Lake. Our boat cruised on the bluest sea and the sky was amazingly lighter in the same shade, it was definitely the day to enjoy the outdoors. Though it was a steep climb before one can see the inland lake, it was all worth it. The view was just fantastic, and water was clear with little shrimps (I don’t know how they got there) promenading under, on the sand.


Photo borrowed from http://malvado.net/coron2.htm

There’s a hot spring in Coron that’s just so lovely on a moonlit night, and its near the sea that cradles Coron Bay. Makinit Hot Spring is warm as it’s heated geothermally, and many say it can bring good therapeutic results to someone who’s tired and will take a dip. I did that. In fact, a friend who was with me then, took a picture, but I forgot where I’ve stashed it all these years.

Makinit can be better enjoyed at nightfall. With the melodic warbling of crickets and the stars for company, it’s definitely the place for a tired mind and body. Entrance fee is very affordable, and it only takes a tricycle to get there — trip is only a few minutes.


Photo borrowed from http://www.panoramio.com/photo/9621688

If you’re up for a little Safari adventure, not too far in Busuanga is the Calauit Wildlife Game Preserve and Wildlife Sanctuary.

The Calauit Game Preserve and Wildlife Sanctuary (CGPWS) is located within Calauit Island in the northwestern part of Busuanga, the main island of the Calamianes, Northern Palawan. It is separated from Busuanga by extensive mangroves and the Ditapic Channel, where the waters of Illultuk Bay and the Ditapic River of Busuanga flow eastward. The CGPWS has a land cover area of approximately 3,760 hectares, wherein about 40% is open rangeland, 20% moderately undulating, and 40% hill areas. Average elevation is 50 meters above sea level (50 masl) with the highest point in Namultan Range with 237 masl. It has four major creeks that have sections that are usually dry during summer, except the Abanaban Creek that retains water even during the driest month due to an intact watershed. It has a pronounced wet season from May to November and a dry season from December to April. Average monthly rainfall is 39.4 inches, while annual precipitation is at 139.4 inches. Mean temperature is recorded at 27.6 centigrade. The marine zone area is approximated at 252 square kilometers, which is delineated seven kilometers from the mean sea level.

You won’t think a place like it exists in Palawan. Tales said it used to be Marcos’ hunting ground. He would bring his son Bong-Bong there to hunt animals, and also with his friends. Am not sure if this is true. Today, Calauit is already a tourist spot in the Calamianes with giraffes, Calamian deer, zebras and other animals, endemic or otherwise to Palawan.


Photo borrowed from www.pcsd.ph/protected_areas/calauit.htm

These days, I dream a lot about going back to Coron. About that wonderful sunset I witnessed on my way to Culion. Calamianes’ personal contribution to me was it set me up to appreciate and love sunrises and sunsets.

Sunrise offered a very beautiful spectacle; the water was quite unruffled, but the motion communicated by the tides was so great that, although there was not a breath of air stirring, the sea heaved slowly with a grand and majestic motion. — George Grey

And I ride with the wind… on a color-filled sky, with the sweetest sunset’s warm kiss.

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“SILK has been revered as the Queen of Fibers for millennia. Monks and princesses have smuggled its secrets from country to country; bandits have stolen it from camel-back caravans. It is light, soft, shiny, and strong: a cabled silk yarn has more strength, per weight, than a cable of steel, but silk can be made so light that it will float on a breeze. Silk is more available now for Western spinners than at any time before in history; it can be purchased in any form from raw cocoons and carded top all the way to finished yarns, plus special forms that are specific to silk, like hankies and bricks.” http://www.knitty.com/issuespring06/FEATbombyx.html

The other day in the office, I had the privilege to meet a Japanese couple who are here in Puerto Princesa for a few days to train women on how to loom and weave silk threads from Eri-silk worms (Philosamia ricini) with Tagbalay Foundation, a non-profit environmental organization.

Before the year ends, my goal is to make me a nice silk shawl with the help of Adelfa (I’m not sure if I got her name’s spelling right) of Tagbalay who has been training with them for a long time.

Kit Kitatani represents WIN International or Women in Need International, Inc. and his wife, Akiko, is the director of NPO 2050, another non-government organization based in Japan whose goal is to empower women in different countries in Asia to be independent. They’ve been coming back to Puerto Princesa since 2000, when IRREN Foundation, also an NGO, introduced the farming of Eri-silk worms in Palawan.

Eri silk worms being reared in a farm here in Puerto Princesa.

Akiko untangles a silk thread ready for weaving.

Kit and Akiko speak very, very good English that’s why it wasn’t so difficult for me to talk to them and ask a lot of questions about Eri-silk worms. When I complemented Akiko on her fluency in the English language, she said it was because they were also based in the U.S. for quite sometime. Now, they try to visit there three times a year.

Also known as endi or errandi, Eri silk is produced by the Eri-silk worms that love to feed on castor and kesseru leaves. In tropical Philippines, the worms can feed on cassava leaves.


Kit said it is easy to grow this type of silk worm in any tropical country as long as there’s enough food to feed them. The cultivation of silk worms is known as “sericulture” — the small eggs (about 300-500) of silkworm moths are nurtured until they hatch into worms. They are placed under a fine layer of covering ensconced by chopped cassava or caster leaves.

Kit (left) in an Eri-silk worm farm.

Once the worms mature, they change their skins four times and this is called “molting,” before they start to make 4.5 cm to 5 cm cocoons for four days. Female Eri worms make the largest cocoons, while the male, the small kinds. Eri-silk worms are voracious leaf eaters in this part of their life cycle. After 7 days, the moths inside the cocoons go out and then “mate” to start a new cycle.

The cocoons are then harvested and boiled with perla soap (Pinoy laundry soap) to soften, hanged and then dried before they are spun into threads that can be weaved or loomed into silk shawls, wraps or scarfs.


Here in the City, there’s an organization of women called Puerto Princesa Eri-Silk Association. Its president is 58 years old Helen M. Quijana, a retired radiology technologist of the Ospital ng Palawan (Provincial Hospital). The association has 11 members, all women, some of them unemployed housewives.

“I love to crochet and to knit that’s why silk weaving intrigued me when they came here to train more women. I was part of the second batch that they trained,” Helen narrated, adding Kit and Akiko would bring silk yarns for them to buy and weave. Later on, the two brought a sericulture expert who trained them to farm Eri-silk worms.

Helen and another member of the association help each other learn how to weave silk using the big weaving loom tool given to them by Ken and Akiko.

“They convinced us that it would be better for us to raise the worms ourselves because they’re easy to rear as long as we have cassava leaves to feed them,” she said.

The Japanese couple soon brought other trainers to teach them on how to improve their weaving and looming skills; gave them free tools to use in training their co-members and were bringing their produce back to Japan to be sold in a “fair trade” event. A good shawl made of Eri-silk fetches more than a PhP1,000.00, she said.

Helen said that since she started seven months ago, she has already sold about 13 pieces of good lengths of shawl through Ken and Akiko. “It’s additional income for us women who have no jobs or who have stopped working regular jobs,” she said. She has earned more than PhP25,000.00 selling her silk shawls.

Kit said the ability to earn additional income is equal to having “independence” for the women in Puerto Princesa who now know how to rear Eri-silk worms and weave them into beautiful shawls.

“When they’re given the opportunity to earn additional income for their families, then they’re also provided the opportunity to be independent economically, socially and politically. Women have got to have some skills in order for them to be able to function alone and not dependent on somebody,” Ken said.


In Japan, Akiko said, Eri-silk worm farming and weaving them into fine silk shawls is a “completely dead industry” because China is beating them at it. But Japanese people love silks, especially during the cold season.

Only a small population of Japan has taken the interest to continue it, and its produce is not enough to cover the market, according to her. “We thought that providing the women in Puerto Princesa and Palawan the skills and the knowledge about Eri-silk worms can start a viable industry for them here, at the same time encourage them to be self-governed and be confident about themselves,” she said.

As part of their commitment to make women self-sufficient in the City, NPO 2050 has provided the association an amount that it can loan to members who are interested to rear the worms, make silk yarns and weave. It may also be used to provide more trainings they need in partnership with Tagbalay Foundation.

Other than my interest to make me a shawl I can use this Christmas when it turns a bit colder here, I’m really into helping women become independent and self-governing. I know there are still problems before the silk industry flourishes here: majority of the members of the association have no lands where they can start their worm farms, more funding is still needed to train other women (11 women are not enough); etcetera. But if there are organizations that are willing to help, then there is hope.

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