April 11, 2014

PUERTO PRINCESA TRAVEL DIARY: Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Plaza Cuartel, & Puerto Princesa Baywalk

Our goal during this trip was to enjoy Puerto Princesa “off the beaten path”. That’s why we ended up doing most of our tours DIY and go to some places that most tourists won’t consider going to. I just asked around from friends/colleagues who has been to Puerto Princesa on what they can suggest. I also scoured the net for  interesting things to do and places to see in the Puerto Princesa.

We never planned to take any city tour offered by any travel agency in Puerto Princesa because for one, I find the Php 600 per person fee a little expensive especially when you can rent a trike specifically used for touring the city for half a day for the exact same prize. Most drivers who uses the blue and white-painted trikes have had seminars at the Palawan Tourist Center, so they basically can also become your tour guides and can share interesting stories about some of the tourists spots around the city.

We hired Bryan as our trike driver/tour guide for the two days that we went around the city. He’s courteous and we are at ease with him, we just know that he’s someone of good heart especially when we started to get to know him during the two days that we availed of his service. He related to us some of his life stories, how his son loves watching UFC, how he is happy and contented in living a simple life in Puerto Princesa, how he dislikes how the local government corrupts the funds to develop roads to forward the tourism of Palawan, and how thankful he is for trusting him.

We are not tied with time and we didn’t have to follow the pace of other tour members. If we want to stay longer in one place, we could; if we want to skip a destination, we could. That’s the freedom you can get if you veer away from group tours especially if you’re not with your own set of friends. I’ve designed our 3days/4nights itinerary in Palawan to be the most relaxing vacation we both can experience. I divided our city tour in 2 days (first and last days) so we can enjoy each place until we tire ourselves.

On our first day of the city tour and after visiting the Palawan Special Battalion WWII Memorial Museum (read it about here), our next stop was the tourist spots in the city proper: Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral, Plaza Cuartel and Puerto Princesa Baywalk.

Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral and Plaza Cuartel is just beside each other. We were not able to see the inside of the cathedral and only took photos of its edifice and the Rizal Monument just outside the church. The Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral isn’t the original structure anymore since it was one of the buildings that was destroyed during the war. We didn’t go inside since there was a funeral service being held.

A few steps from the cathedral is the  Plaza Cuartel. It has been renovated and rehabilitated by the local government several times already. Plaza Cuartel is an old Spanish barracks during the Spanish Colonization and was turned into a garrison by the Japanese during WWII.

The only original structure of this place is the gate, the fortress and the tunnel – where in December 14, 1944, Japanese soldiers burned 143 American prisoners of war alive. Out of the 143, 11 escaped; and one of those is Don Schloat who returned to Palawan years after the war  and helped then Mayor Hagedorn erect a  monument with the names of the soldiers who died and survived during the massacre.

Our tour guide/trike driver Bryan told us that people can go down the tunnel before, but was later forbidden by the local government since the foundation is not that stable anymore. I wouldn't dare go down that tunnel if it is still accessible and safe, but for some tourists, the experience would have been more complete if people can explored it. But as for me, for sure it’ll give me the creeps. Aside from knowing the history of this place, nothing much is for anyone to do here; I asked Bryan if the fountains are pre-colonial ones and he said most of it are recently made.

After our short stop at Immaculate Conception Cathedral and Plaza Cuartel we headed towards the Puerto Princesa Baywalk. This place used to be an area where informal settlers used to live (a.k.a. squatters). They were relocated to pave way to the beautification and cleaning of this area. This place will remind you of the Roxas Boulevard in Manila. (A similar coastal walk is also being constructed in Coron’s Port the last time we went there.)

We were there at around 2:00-3:00 pm so the sun was in its brightest and hottest. We only took a couple of photos and listened to Bryan tell stories about the Puerto Princesa Baywalk and what it used to before. It would have been better if we went there very late in the afternoon so we can enjoy the restaurants and eateries that line the coastal walk.

I noticed the peacock structure and asked Bryan about it. He said that the peacock is the symbol of Puerto Princesa. I found it kinda weird because I know that peacocks are not really a local animal but when we visited the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, I saw there that there is really a Palawan Peacock, I’ll relate it in another blog post specifically for our visit at PWRCC.

Immaculate Conception Cathedral
-Rizal Ave, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines
-No Entrance Fee

Plaza Cuartel
- Taft St, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines
- No Entrance Fee

Puerto Princesa Baywalk
- Near Malvar St., Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines
- No Entrance Fee

Puerto Princesa Tour Assistance/Licensed Tour Guide:
Bryan Elivera -  09152788528

Read about my Puerto Princesa Travel Diary blog posts here:
Go & See:
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Kuyba Almoneca, Your Alternative to the Palawan Underground River
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Plaza Cuartel, & - Puerto Princesa Baywalk
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Palawan Special Battalion WWII Memorial Museum
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Emerald Playa Beach & Nature Park
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Dos Palmas Island Resort
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Where to Buy Souvenirs
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour Part 1
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour Part 2
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Irawan Eco Park and Zipline
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Crocodile Farm and A Peacock I've Never Seen Before
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Mitra's Ranch & Baker's Hill
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Binuatan Creations Handloom Weaving 

Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Badjao Seafront Restaurant
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: KaLui Restaurant
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Bona's Chaolong
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Kinabuchs Bar & Grill
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Rene Saigon Vietnamese Specialties
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: White Fence Country Cafe

What I wore:

Puerto Princesa Travel Diary:  The Legend Hotel Palawan
Puerto Princesa Travel Diary: Purple Fountain Courtyard Inn

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