April 7, 2014

PUERTO PRINCESA TRAVEL DIARY: Palawan Special Battalion WWII Memorial Museum

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 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.

After our lunch at Badjao Seafront Restaurant (see related blog post here: LINK), we started our city tour and our first stop was the Palawan Special Battalion WWII Memorial Museum. At first I thought we were going to a real museum which is house in a huge building somewhere in the city proper, but I was surprised when we made a turn into a garage of a home somewhere in the city outskirts.

Later, we found out that the memorabilia and artifacts here are a personal collection of the Mendoza Family, a well-known and affluent family whose roots are really from Puerto Princesa since the Spanish era. Some are donations from soldiers who after a few years after the war went back to Palawan for a visit. Some of the men of the Mendoza family of Puerto Princesa also served the Philippine Military, notable ones are Vice Admiral Mendoza (Ret.) and Dr. Higinio Mendoza Sr. who was killed by the Japanese in 1944.

I’m a history lover and I am very very fond and interested of anything related to WWII since I was in 5th grade. I have read a lot of books and watched a lot of movies and documentaries about the WWII both in Europe and in the Pacific. So you might probably guessed it right that I went kinda crazy (like a kid being allowed to eat ice cream by his parents) when we went area by area checking all the stuff inside the museum.

Not many of us know how rich the history of Palawan is, but its war history is very colorful starting from the time when Raja’s and Sultan’s rule the islands of the Philippines. The Palawan Special Battalion WWII Memorial Museum even houses some ancient weapons like the kris. I was so fascinated of the craftsmanship and the intricate details on these swords, to think there were no machines to create them during those days.

We really loved this place, like me, he loves anything WWII too, but relies on me about some of the details because he don’t usually read history books and easily forgets the names of the characters. I was pretty amazed to see authentic and vintage relics here like the guns, pistols, machine guns, canteens, mess kits, helmets, gas masks, vintage bombs, Japanese money, vintage typewriter, vintage telephone, etc  that were really used during the war. It was pretty cool to see them in person, I only get to see them as props in movies. Didn’t get to see a real Luger pistol in person though…

I gasp in excitement and when I saw this hat. Why? Because it is the symbol of a paratrooper, if you have seen Band of Brothers you may recognize this logo. I suddenly remembered that some of the US Airborne Battalion was also sent out to the Pacific and not only in Europe during the WWII.  I am a big big fan of the Band of Brothers book and the HBO mini-series. I always cry when I read the book and see the series. I suddenly remember Capt. Winters, Capt. Nixon, Capt Sobel, Malarkey, Guarnere, Shifty, Sgt. Martin, Bull, Buck and the rest of the Easy Company…

The tour guide was very knowledgeable of the things found in this place, so is the history of Palawan during the war. She explained almost every photo and memento. She was also helpful in taking our photos on this restored army jeep. The tour guide told us though that the National Museum has not given them any funds to help in the preservation of the items in this museum. They were only told to put the items in glass cases. I asked “won’t the humidity destroy some of the memorabilia here?” (especially that the museum doesn’t have a properly insulated roofing), she said she hope not. I told her that I hope the museum gets funded so they can put an aircondition or a temperature regulator in the rooms so that the life of the things here gets prolonged and many generations will still have the chance to see them.

Philippine Constabulary Uniform-1936
original Japanese Imperial Army flag with written notes
to the Japanese Soldier's families

I like anything about WWII, not because I have a violent mind or I love wars. I despise war; I curse the cruelties and sufferings that wars bring. But I like to know what happened during these times, so I’m always reminded of the heroism and nationalism of the soldiers especially those who died in battle and somehow make sure that they will never be forgotten. And most specially to continuously bear high respects for the men who fought for the freedom that we are enjoying in the present.

If you happen to plan a trip to Puerto Princesa anytime soon, Palawan Special Battalion WWII Memorial Museum is well worth the visit, even if you’re not a history buff.

Palawan Special Battalion WWII Memorial Museum
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/pages/Palawan-Special-Battalion-WW-II-Memorial-Museum/246665682055327
Address: Rizal Avenue Extension, Barangay Bancao-Bancao, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines
Entrance Fee: PHP 30 per person (as of April 2014)

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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