April 14, 2014

PUERTO PRINCESA TRAVEL DIARY: Kuyba Almoneca, Your Alternative to the Palawan Underground River

Our goal during this trip was to enjoy Puerto Princesaoff 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 is  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. (You can contact him at: 09152788528)

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 4days/3nights 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.

Since we are not doing the usual city tour, we asked Bryan where can we go and spend the rest of the day after we have seen the tourist’s spots in the city proper. We have foregone the trip to Underground River, he suggested that we go to Kuyba Almoneca, which is in Barangay San Jose, just a few kilometers away from our hotel. We passed by our hotel first and change our footwear before heading to Kuyba Almoneca and then to Emerald Playa Beach.

Not many people know about Kuyba Almoneca, it is not usually included in the conventional Puerto Princesa City Tour and it is just recently gaining popularity; one reason may be due to the recent visit of the Ms. Earth candidates.

The term Kuyba is a Bicolano dialect term for cave and Almoneca is the combination of the names of the children of the owners. The 40-meter underground cave was accidentally discovered when the lot was being surveyed for the construction of the property.

When the cave was explored they saw a lot of interesting formations of stalagmites and stalactites, the most famous of them is the form that resembles the face of Jesus Christ. Thus, this place was considered sacred by the owners, the community and Catholic devotees.

They also put some statues of saints inside the cave, cemented the floor and put concrete benches so people can easily navigate the cave and can stay there to meditate. As for me I don’t know if I can stay here all by myself, I’ll find it really creepy to be alone in a cave and in the dark.

Aside from the rock formation that resembles the face of Jesus, there are a lot of other interesting stone formations here, one that resembles a baby lamb or “Bambi”, the ones that looks like teeth (there are a lot of this here) and the one that’s about to meet (which will take couple more years to happen).

The underground cave at Kuyba Almoneca greatly reminds me of the one in Bohol, but this one is just ¼ the size of and narrower than Hinagdanan Cave. There is also an opening on the ground which they labeled Bat's Cave because at dawn and dusk you will see bats entering and exiting from this hole

The tour guide and daughter of the caretaker of Kuyba Almoneca, Gie, said that the cave, including the stalagmites and stalactites hasn’t been visited or studied by any geologist. Speaking of Gie, we were impressed on how smart and confident this girl is. We adored how she presented herself; she had this audacious and undaunted spirit in her. We interviewed her a bit and she shared with us some of her aspirations.  We have a great feeling that this girl will go places.

There is also an open-air chapel at the center of the property. What I love about the chapel is the unique chandelier on the ceiling and pews (benches) made of drift wood in different shapes and sizes. It was one unusual but aesthetically pleasing shrine, don’t you think? A Catholic mass is done here every Sunday afternoon by the local parish priest.

Kuyba Almoneca was developed to become a tourist spot and is perfect for meditation, retreats and religious excursions. There are rooms where people can stay overnight or for a few days, if they are on retreats. Stations of the cross is present around the vicinity that people can visit on their pilgrimage during Holy Week. 

A restaurant is also  existent, but we didn’t get to try it. Kuyba Almoneca can also accommodate social gatherings like weddings, baptismal and other events at their function hall.

But the highlight of this place is Neil, the son of the owners of Kuyba Almoneca, who is a special child. He’s always at the reception area to greet and make friends with guests. He also has the habit of getting contact numbers of those who visit the place. Unfortunately when we were there, Neil was with his father in the city. We were about to leave when he arrived, so we didn’t get to know him more.

If you can’t squeeze in a visit to the Palawan Underground River in your itenirary or find it a little expensive, why not include Kuyba Almoneca Meditation Garden during your trip.

Kuyba Almoneca Meditation Garden
Sitio Masikap, Brgy. San Jose Puerto Princesa City, Palawan
Contact Nos: 048-433-2855 / 048-433-3177 / 048-723-0295

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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