““The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart.” I agree with Helen Keller.
Nothing prepared me for the the beauty of Palawan seascapes, its breathtaking sunsets, the beautiful people and the miracle of the Golden South Sea Pearl. The beauty captivated me so much I felt dazed. Now that I look back at it, I wished time slowed down for me to take it all in.
Photo by Jayvee Fernandez
This amazing adventure started with an invitation from Jewelmer through Yehey, their digital marketing. As I leafed through the invite I noted the ““passion for life” at the top and to join them in becoming a catalyst of change. That sounds like me. I am passionate about meaningful things in life. The invite to visit Palawan is heaven-sent. I have always wanted to visit the Philippines last frontier. The stories of travel bloggers inspired me to make Palawan a must-experience travel destination . I wanted to witness how the lustrous golden Philippine South Sea Pearl is cultivated. Lastly, I wanted to observe the livelihood projects of the ““Save Palawan Seas Foundation”, that are both sustainable as well as environmentally sound. I was terribly excited. Jayvee, Anna and I are the first set of bloggers to join this Pearl Farm tour, a first for bloggers in the history of Jewelmer.
There is so much to write about this trip that it needs to be shown in three parts: the travelogue, the beauty of the golden South Sea Pearl and the people of Palawan and the livelihood projects of their foundation.
The trip to Flower Island Resort, Palawan
It starts off in the ITI hangar that would bring us including Celine and Kankan to our destination. SEAIR cancelled our flight that morning. Oh well, it is an experience to ride a tiny plane that seats probably less than 20 of us. Despite its tiny size, I trusted the plane. After all , it is the same flight carrier that brings passengers to pricey beach resorts of Amanpulo and El Nido. The one hour and 10 minute flight to the El Nido airport felt comfortable. A preview of Palawan Islands , surrounded by clear turquoise-azure-indigo seas greeted me by the window as the plane landed.
The shift from noisy Manila to peaceful Palawan, seemed to slow time down. Next stop , a land trip to Taytay where a speed boat would bring us to the Flower Island Resort, an enchanted hideaway located off the coast of Taytay, Sandoval in Northeastern Palawan. Before this trip, I never heard of Taytay. It is barely mentioned in Travel Guide books and I have yet to read a blogger’s experience. The bumpy 45 minute drive to Taytay brought a wondrous mix topography of very mountainous, flat, rolling hills and small rivers.
And finally, we ended up at the pier. It was time to hurry up because dusk was setting in. Looking at the wooden foot bridge, I was horrified ““Whaaat…walk in that?” I backed off from a hanging bridge in a Kota Kinabalu tour leaving my husband at the other end to continue on. This time, I had no choice. What I didn’t expect was to traverse the foot bridge that seemed like a kilometer long.
Photo by Anna Oposa
A broken ankle six years ago caused me some balance problem. I can’t even wear heels. Walking on the planks was a challenge. Some planks were rotten and loosely nailed. I felt like puking from the height (yes, I also have a height problem) but what bothered me most was the unstable planks that would surely hurl me down to the mud below me.
“Why couldn’t I just walk through the mud, instead?” I was screaming in my head.
Jayvee the gentleman, assisted me up to a point where the planks seemed stable but not for long. I stopped and called out that I cannot proceed anymore. ““Help!”
Photo by Anna Oposa
Photo by Anna Oposa
Kankan said ““don’t kill me!” Of course not! It felt great to hurdle that balancing act and I lived to step on the speedboat.
The thirty minute ride brought us to rustic Flower Island Resort where our host, JB, Jewelmer managing director greeted us. ““Did we want to join the meditation?” or ““did we want to rest?” JB posed a question.
Flower Island Resort
Looking at the circle of meditation group and the breathtaking view of the sunset beaming from the horizon, I nodded but not after taking quick photos of the seascape.
This is an experience of a lifetime, I thought. Our meditation guru is an 83-year-old woman named Salliji (she goes by first name only), who taught meditation for 40 years in 25 countries. Lying there on the soft, powdery sand , with the waves crashing to the shore, I felt lucky to be in this serene paradise. My meditation iPhone app serves as my tool to relax and here I was, actually listening to sounds of real waves. Salliji’s soothing voice guided us to release our monkey mind. I guess we all suffer from monkey mind , in what psychology calls part of the conscious mind Ã¢â‚¬â€œ always aware, awake, controlling. I was right there by the big starry sky, sitting down in the middle of the sandy beach and letting go as the rushing waves soothed my monkey mind.
The two hour meditation left me a huge appetite to enjoy the simple Filipino-themed dinner at the Club House. I wondered if the foreign guests liked our food. Aside from the resort guests, a team from the USA was around to document Pearl Farms around the world.
I spent the rest of the evening chatting away and having a fun time with our host and the rest of the guests. Salliji taught us a neat trick when one is angry just by using a wine cork to relax jaw muscles. I look funny, I know.
It is dark as we walked through Cottage 17 that a flashlight is needed to light the way. The serene quietness is soothing that the darkness did not creep me out . It is too dark to take photos of our beautiful cottage.
I took a peek out of the window the moment I woke up at 7:00 AM. Such a lovely view despite the lack of morning sunshine.
There is so much to see after breakfast and before heading off to our trip to the Pearl Farm. At the top of the island is a lighthouse which takes 15 minutes to trek. No sweat, or so I thought. The trek was a winding steep climb that caused me to huff and puff all the way to the Light House. There are not much flowers in the island except for the kalachuchi and bouganvilla. Flower Island was just named as such because the previous owner named their children with flower names.
While everyone else headed off to the Light House, I stayed by the veranda (?) with our resort guide . Just lying there on the hammock enjoying the wind breeze and the spectacular view of islands dotting the horizon. I could stay here forever.
To give you an idea of the view, Jayvee took this photo from the top of the Light House. Photos don’t do justice to the beauty of Palawan.
Going down the slope felt a lot easier and more relaxing as I noted the chirping of birds along the way. It was time to head off to the livelihood projects of ““Save Palawan Seas Foundation” in another island. This speedboat is our mode of transportation to all the island hopping. A small wooden step ladder makes it easy to get in and out of the boat.
Just before boarding, JB showed a ““fossilized” clam that is as heavy as a rock. I wonder how many years that clam shell is.
Anna takes the wheel as JB guides the navigation but when he spots the boat of the documentary team, he takes over the wheel and tries to overtake them. The boat sped so fast that water splashed into our faces, into the boat, drenching us all. Such a fun almost roller-coaster ride.
Our boat did get to catch up and we arrive at Baras Island, where the Baras Marine and Agriculture Research Center (BMARC) is located.
Baras Marine and Agriculture Research Center
I will write a separate blog entry on BMARC where we got introduced to organic vegetable farming using compost that we got to mix. The project beneficiaries are the residents of Sitio Calabugtong of Taytay , Palawan who were eager to augment their income.
The Pearl Farm
The Pearl farm is just amazing. There is so much to write about the miracle of our national gem. I wrote a separate blog entry about the beautiful Golden South Sea Pearls, the creation of this pearl that takes 323 precise steps and up to five years of dedicated care.
A newly harvested golden pearl rests on my palm. My camera does not do justice to the luster of this golden south sea pearl.
A treat awaited us because the documentary team were getting aerial shots from the helicopter. It was so amazing to see all the islands from above. To my delight, my iPhone had a signal which made me tweet and share a photo of the islands.
Salliji is seated beside me on our way back to the Flower Island Resort. There is no better way to relax by propping up one’s feet on the seat. It just felt perfect out there, seated in silence, staring far away , reflecting and breathing in the fresh salty breeze.
I take a quick swim on the beach but not too long as I didn’t want to get sunburned.
I check my emails in the cottage. The signal in my Globe is only EDGE but it manages to download my emails. My SMART and SUN mobile internet does not work at all. Anyway, I am not there to get stuck online so it is just fine.
The bar is the place to relax and meet up with the other guests before heading off again to a cultural show prepared by the employees of the Pearl Farm. Everyone is sipping mixed drinks but I only take in juice. The rest of then night was spent lying down by the beach front, and stargazing. Two days is not enough to bask in this island paradise.
I need to come back here with my husband , away from the hustle and bustle of city life and stay for two weeks.
When I say “Wow, Palawan is so beautiful!” , I realize there is something more to an exclamation of wonder.
Brahma Kumaris says it all on the essence of beauty. “But where is the beauty, where is the appreciation of beauty, where is the ability to discern beauty? It is within our own consciousness. For the essence of who and what we are is beauty itself. The essence of beauty is not found in the body, a face or a mountain – they only stir the essence of beauty within our own spirit. And that beauty is not only something we taste within ourselves, but it emerges in our character as virtue, and in our life as care.”
The beauty is a light in my heart.
Read more: The beauty of the Golden South Sea Pearl, The Save Palawan Seas Foundation (to follow)