The Puerto Princesa Experience – Pension House Hopping

Fine. The title was a lame attempt to sound sarcastic but less mocking. But we really did “hop” from one pension house on our first night to another one on our second night. Not that we were truly andventurous but yep, something did happen which prompt us to transfer.

I’m speaking based on what happened to us. Maybe others have different experience but I still want to share ours.

For the price of 3,500 Php, inclusive of tours and daily breakfast, we weren’t really expecting a grand pension house. Just a clean space with clean sheets and bathroom is fine with me. When we learned that there’s free wifi, we were ecstatic.

SOTERA MANSION (1, 2oo Php per night + daily breakfast + van service to/from airport)

Sotera Mansion

Sotera Mansion

So on the night of our arrival, our travel agent accompanied us to where we will be staying during our vacation in Puerto Princesa. The outside structure of Sotera Mansion is impressing, maybe because of its appealing colors. The ambiance is pretty neat, too. It gives the impression of just being at the next neighborhood. The staff who welcomed us were accommodating as well. Things we don’t like started to show up the moment we learned that our room was located in the third floor. It’s a turn off but I guess we’re good since everything else was occupied at that time. Then, being net junkies, we were disappointed that the wifi connection wasn’t accessible in our room. We have to go down in the lobby if we want to surf the internet, but we settled for it. After all, we weren’t there to surf the web but to have a vacation. The TV in our room works only for one channel and the signal wasn’t even clear. We were uncomfortable, too, because even though there was curtains in our windows, a small part of our room is visible from the outside. And there were guys in our floor who actually went drinking until who knows when. And we can hear them from our room.

Given the above scenario, my sleep wasn’t the best. Jen said she was “*namamahay”, that’s why she could hardly sleep. During the day, we both agreed that the aircon wasn’t as cool. We have to wake up early in the morning because the tour guide will be coming to fetch us by 7. So with very little amount of sleep, we went downstairs to have our breakfast courtesy of Sotera Mansion. I was thinking of having bacon and some pancakes, maybe some fresh fruits , too. And hot chocolate! We found out that we actually don’t have a choice and this was served to every guests that morning:



I know it’s still food and there are hungry kids out there so please excuse the brattiness but I am disappointed.

And then they hit the jackpot. There was this accident and we were on the losing end. It ruined our day and we wish we could just go home. But instead of an apology, we got resentful feedback and a cashier who talks back and shouts at the customer. Maybe if they were a little humble, my friend could’ve just forgiven them. Their lack of modesty pushed us to fight for our rights because as far as business is concerned, the customer is always right.

They said that this is the first time that they encountered such incident and maybe they have no control over their anger, and perhaps no one is to blame but it doesn’t change the fact that they’ve been disrespectful to their customer. And being surrounded with friends who likes to travel, Sotera Mansion won’t be on my list of recommendation.

JLai’s Balai Turista  (1, 2oo Php per night + daily breakfast + van service to/from airport)

JLai's Balai Turista

JLai’s Balai Turista

Since we were no longer comfortable in Sotera Mansion, we asked our travel agent to book us to a different pension house. So after our Underground River tour, we moved to our next temporary home – JLai’s Balai Turista. One look and I remember that familiar feeling – being at the comfort of your home. It totally looks like just a house. It has a fancy garden and their furnitures were made of wood. It makes the place cozier. The staff were accommodating and friendly, as well.

Our room is small but it’s because our bed is bigger. Aircon and TV works perfectly fine, except the remote’s batt was dead already. I can also surf the internet right on my bed. One thing though, the water flow in the shower needs improvement.

Gervic Narratives

We started our morning great because finally we’re going to the beach and JLai’s served us a scrumptious breakfast. We had our early meal in one of their garden tables. Fine day, indeed.

Obviously, I would choose JLai’s over Soters Mansion at any given day. Of course, other people’s experience could be different , too.  Or maybe it was just a bad morning for all of us in Sotera Mansion that day. But there are other pension houses in Puerto Princesa and I know they’re all worth a try.


*feeling of uneasiness that one gets when he finds himself in a new place or house

Related Posts:
Intro – The Puerto Princesa Experience
Day 1 – The Puerto Princesa Experience (Ugong Rock Adventures and Underground River)
Day 2 – Honday Bay! (coming soon)

The Puerto Princesa Experience – Day 1 (Ugong Cave and Underground River)

Part of the tour package we chose is a visit to the internationally famous Puerto Princesa Underground River. So for Day 1 of our quick vacation, we prepared ourselves in the morning for we are about to witness one of our country’s pride.

Another failed expectation from us, Jen and I thought that touring the PP Underground River would only take us half of the day at most. We were planning to bum on the beach for the next few hours of the day (if there’s any within our pension house’s vicinity) but we were wrong. The trip to the tourist site would actually take you one whole day. Because from the town proper of Puerto Princesa comes the 2-3 hour drive to Sabang. From there, we have to take a 20-minute ferry ride going to the beach area near the entrance of the cave.

Entrance to the Puerto Princesa Underground River

Entrance to the Puerto Princesa Underground River

The Ugong Rock Adventures

Tourists were given permits issued by the local government to gain access to the cave. Your tourist guide will take care of this. We were scheduled to enter the cave at 3:30PM and since we were two hours early, we decided, along with other members of our tour group, to try the Ugong Rock Adventures. Some of the members has an option to just stay in the van while killing time so since they have a kid and a grandpa, they opted for that. Ugong Rock Adventures is actually a side trip in your PP Underground River Tour Package.

Gervic Narratives

Caving in the Ugong Cave is a spectacular experience. It reminded me so much of hiking, though there were stairs built for the guests. Ugong Cave has different rock formations , too, and you may just enjoy the view and allow your imagination to heat up to appreciate the adventure more. We were given a very short briefing before they handed out our gloves and helmets for our safety. Spelunking and caving costs 200 Php / head while the zip line has a separate fee of 250 Php per person. Their zip line has two kinds –  the longest zip line (21 seconds) in the Philippines and the superman zip line. We were told that we can decide to try the zip line later on but then we found out that if we won’t go for the zip line, the only choice we have if we want to go back is to actually go back. That means caving and spelunking again in reverse order. Just for the experience, we did try the fastest zip line in the Philippines. It wasn’t my first time but it sure feels like it because when it was already my turn, I was nervous as hell. There’s someone at the other end who took our pictures and charged us 100 php a piece for it so taking a photo won’t be necessary. Also, you can ask your friends who went first to take a photo of you. But if I have brought my DLSR with me, I would have taken a photo of myself while I’m on the zip line and maybe shoot a short video.

Ugong Rock Adventures!

Ugong Rock Adventures!

The Puerto Princesa Underground River

After the Ugong Cave comes the lunch buffet which was also a part of our tour package. From there, we have a 20-minute ferry ride going to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park . I was amazed to see monitor lizards and monkeys roaming freely around. Fear not for they were very nice and wouldn’t attempt to be hurtful to anyone.

It's our turn to cruise!

It’s our turn to cruise! People in front were assigned to hold the lights.

While waiting for our boat, we were asked to wear helmets and life jackets. Our boatman is pretty much entertaining for he holds thousands of jokes up his sleeves. I guess that’s one thing why this trip is very fun. The people of Puerto Princesa were naturally happy people. Even our tour guides on Day 1 and Day 2 were fascinating and there was never a dull moment while they were in charged.

It is one of the safety precautions to never look up while your mouth is open when inside the cave. This is because of the water drippings caused by the bats who inhabits the general area. There were times when I heard a big splash behind our boat which seems like an actual human has dived into the waters, but our boatman said that those were just eels. I wish I could see one but the view in front of me is absolutely stunning that sometimes I forgot to laugh at our boatman’s once in a while comedic lines.

Monitor lizards and monkeys roam freely around the park

Monitor lizards and monkeys roam freely around the park (photo courtesy: Jen Nanquil)

The Puerto Princesa Underground River, previously known as the St. Paul Underground River,  is truly a sight to behold. The incredible rock formations tickle your imagination because it offers variety of object patterns that appeared naturally. There were images of a large candle, mushrooms, and different vegetables. My most favorite is the Holy Family rock formation. It does really looked like sculptures of Joseph, Mary and the infant Jesus. The lights we brought made it even more appealing. Too bad my iPhone’s camera was unable to capture the images.

This subterranean marvel is actually 8.2 kilometers long but tourists are only allowed a 1.5 kilometers cruise. The further part of the tunnel wasn’t open for the guests because of a possible oxygen dehydration. Geologists and researchers, though, were given special permits to explorer the deeper parts of the underground river.

Inside the subterranean river (photo courtesy: Jen Nanquil)

Inside the subterranean river (photo courtesy: Jen Nanquil)

Aside from being selected as one of the new seven wonders of the world, the Puerto Princesa Underground River is also the longer underground river ever recorded.

I hope the local government would continue to preserve this natural beauty. It would be great if the next generation could experience this. This is one of the many places that I will recommend for people, especially Filipinos, to visit because witnessing this famous spot made me love my country even more.

Related Post:
Intro – The Puerto Princesa Experience

The Puerto Princesa Experience

I just came back from the province of Palawan and my stories were overwhelming that I don’t know where to begin. But before I forget, I’d like to thank a good friend for accompanying me with this trip. I’ve been wanting to visit Palawan before but I don’t know anyone who would want to join me. So when Jen asked me if I wanted to go to a quick vacation, I gladly (maybe impulsively), said yes.

Day 1 - Ugong Cave Adventure and Underground River

Day 1 – Ugong Cave Adventure and Underground River

i was the one who booked our flight months before this trip and Jen volunteered to look for tour packages and pension house accommodations. In estimation, we paid 2, 500 Php for our roundtrip ticket courtesy of SEAIR and 3,500 Php for our 2D2N stay in a pension house plus package tour which includes city tour and a visit to the Puerto Princesa Underground River.

Truth be told, Jen and I were expecting a Boracay-like vacation. The real reason for this travel is to chill around and relax and sometimes we call it “soul searching.” We’ve been to Boracay a couple of times before so we thought something different and new would be excellent. Little did we know that tour packages follow strict schedules and most pension houses aren’t beach front. Locals said that beach front hotels costs more. It’s not like Boracay at all. But we did fine because we met people of all ages and the things we learn from them are precious gifts.

Day 2 - Snorkeling and the beach!

Day 2 – Snorkeling and the beach!

When we learned that the beach won’t be accesible anytime we want, we tweaked our tour package. For an additional 600 Php, we exchanged Honda Bay tour from city tour. And we didn’t regret that decision at all.

Boat ride to Pandan Island

Boat ride to Pandan Island

As I said, I have so many stories so a single post isn’t enough. I would be talking about our pension houses (yes, we had two!), the Ugong Cave adventure and Underground River visit, and the island hopping.

Puerto Princesa is truly a comely place. Slowly, I’m beginning to understand how seriously beautiful our country is. Hopefully, I’ll get to visit Coron and El Nido this year too.

Below is a short video I made about this vacation. See how exciting the place is and plan your own trip soon!

Related Post:
Day 1 – The Puerto Princesa Experience (Ugong Rock Adventures and Underground River)

A Close Up View of my Phone’s Apps

In this age of modern technology, smart phones are on top of the line. Being the one which is handy and convenient to use, I’m pretty sure they are here to stay for many more years to come. Smart phones also bring us closer to the internet which, by the way, sucks the life in each and everyone of us.

I’m geared with an iPhone 4s, 32GB. This was given to me by my mom as a birthday gift last year. I remember a year before that, i swear to myself that I’m not going to buy a smart phone because I wanted to dwell on things one at a time. In college, I remember bringing everyday an mp3 player (with charger), digital camera (with USB cords), and my Nokia phone. Now, I can do all those things with my phone and I sort of hate it because it makes itself a gadget counterpart of a know-it-all person. But it’s so convenient that I can just bury my eyes on it as I listen to music and sing along with the lyrics that I found through the internet while I receive a text message from a friend.

Gervic Narratives

Boredom should be obliterated from the dictionary because smart phones are here to make sure that there won’t be any nano-second that we’ll feel bored. Literally, it has everything you could ever ask for! Except love, of course. But who needs love when you have a smart phone!

I don’t have a variety of apps. I only keep those that are useful to me.  I limit myself to 12 app games because I want them to be in one folder. And yes, I don’t want to create a new folder for games. It’s an OC thing. Once I grew tired of a game, it’s off to the trash. Photo apps doesn’t seem to differ from each other so I only hold a few, too. Of course, I have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (which I hardly use nowadays but I still like to be updated with my friends), Tumblr and other things. But I like to a share few which truly are a blessing because they made my life easier. All of these are for free.

The popular app helped me saved thousands of cellphone credits. I’m usually at home and it helped me stay connected with my friends 24/7 and I don’t have to worry about zero balance. My boyfriend and I could go days or weeks without cellphone loads because we use Viber.

It is the app for all the females who want to keep a record of their monthly period. It lets you document your period’s number of days and tells you which dates you are fertile or under ovulation. This app also predicts the first day of your period so you can prepare yourself. It has a password protect feature so no one but you can see your records. I turned off the alarm because there was this time when a colleague and I were playing games on my phone and the alarm went off telling me that the monthly visit will be happening in two days.

I join fun runs occasionally and I like to keep track of the progress that I’m making. This app also tells me how many calories I’ve burned making the experience more worthy. The statistics are all in details, making this perfect for all running enthusiasts out there.

Because I find Apple’s weather app lame and this one is very reliable. Ideal for people who travel a lot.

I don’t understand why Apple won’t put a radio app in their phones. Luckily, there’s TuneIn Radio that gives me the pleasure of listening to my favorite radio stations. The downside is its dependency on WiFi.

Remember when VLC player was free on the App Store? We don’t have to convert when we wanted to watch our favorite videos on our phone. They now charge us for this app but they gave us VLC Streamer. This basically gives you access to your computer’s hard drive via your phone so you can watch it on your small screen. This is ideal when you want to lay down while watching. Turn off? Ads. Ads everywhere.

I’m currently on a job hunting and important ID numbers are required. So instead of bringing all of my IDs, I stored it on this app so I can access it anytime, anywhere. I tend to forget my passwords too and this helped me overcome that problem. It has a master password like PTracker Lite and you can set it to self destruct after the third attempt of a wrong password.

This is seriously the best photo app that I’ve ever seen. It’s easy to use and offers a wide variety of editing styles. You can even slim down a body part, enlarge eyes, and add blush on your cheeks. You can also do collage or just stitch your photos together with the original size and resolution of the photos. Photo effects are kind of a mediocre but will do just fine.

One of the games I’m currently addicted to. This looks so simple and easy at first but as you reach further level, you’ll find yourself challenged. It has “sawa” factor but it feels like it knows when you’re getting bored already because once you give it a try again, you’ll magically pass the level where you’ve been stuck for days.

If you’re into mind games, this is definitely for you! Symbols for people, film and characters in the pop world are displayed on the screen and you have to guess it. The boyfriend and I enjoyed this game so much that we would literally search Google for the clues. It’s like the Brand Logo which also became a hit last year.

Do I even have to say something? People around me are getting an average of 50M-95M scores and I’m just like staring at it. Until one day I decided to play because I wanted to have at least a decent score and now I can’t stop until I’ve done all the objectives.

This is a fun word game, especially that you can play it with your Facebook friends. But I only have 4 or 5 Facebook friends who play this so I have to challenge random opponents. This is addicting too until you start to question yourself which kind of dictionary this game actually uses. It accepts words like ne, se, ka, ta, ree, oes and I don’t know what those are.

Just a fun game. It has objectives too but I’m not as hooked because I tend to play this when I’m super sawa na to my other games.

A sequel to the successful Streetfood Tycoon. This time, you’ve taken over the international market with more food to sell. I haven’t play much yet and I wonder if there are also secret characters to unlock. This is made by a Pinoy so support our own!

Being a movie buff, I like learning a few things about the movie that I’m about to watch. It’s so great that IMDB has finally an app so I can browse facts about movies and see what’s coming up next on the big screen. I look at profiles of actors and actresses too and it’s good that they provide that feature as well. My personal favorite is the history panel. Even though I’m not a registered member, I can still look back on movies and personalities I’ve looked up before.

I still have a few apps here but those are my favorites. I’m writing this down because my free time currently revolves around it since I don’t have my hard drive with me now so I couldn’t watch movies and series. That might give you a glimpse of my interest so maybe you could share a few too?

Maybe I’m a brat but I’m getting sick of my phone but I don’t think I’ll be getting a new one soon since 1) I don’t have the money and 2) this phone has a personal attachment with me. I guess I have a relationship with this phone now. I’m used to it and sometimes I’m sick of it but I don’t see myself without it. And sure other phones have what it has and maybe even better but I consider myself committed to it and I’m very much contented and happy with it.

Hooked With Mindy

I guess the reason why The Office is slowly losing it is because they no longer got Mindy. Mindy is Kelly Kapoor in the series, the chatterbox customer service rep who is also one of their brilliant writers and producers. Now that Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly no longer pull pranks to their officemates because they’re now mon and dad, I don’t find the series entertaining anymore. Dwight Schrute is still holding on, very strong – one of the reasons why I still watch the series. Anyway, Mindy’s contract was only until the eighth season and she is now very busy with her own TV sitcom, The Mindy Project which happens to be my new favorite.

Gervic Narratives

The Mindy Project is about a successful  30-something OB/Gyn and her life as an awkward but hilarious woman. Mindy is surrounded by her friends who bring color to her life through their different personalities. She is chubby yet quirky and she’s never scared to look funny. Her dialogues reveal all her wits and that’s what makes her even more lovable. I love how she is able to balance her life as a doctor and her journey to find romance. I bet career women could relate to her, and that’s weird because I currently don’t have a career. Haha!

Also in this show, I found a new crush. He’s why I finally understood the reason behind Western people’s adoration over British guys. Meet Ed Weeks, playing the role of Jeremy Reed who is the lady’s man of the series and who usually uses his charms to get his way. And I don’t care because he is so cute that I would create a playlist on my iTunes filled with tracks of his voices. Soon.

Gervic Narratives

I like the sitcom not only because it’s funny and entertaining but also for the reason that I’m a Mindy Kaling fan. Her jokes about dumb and shallow girls never fail to give me a good laugh and I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t comes naturally. I like her team-up with BJ Novak in The Office and was thrilled to know that they actually dated for some time. When I read in Twitter that BJ will be guesting in S01E13 of The Mindy Project, I became very excited to watch the latest episode. And there it was, Kelly Kapoor and Ryan Howard all over again. I really, really enjoy the show and I wish the show would stay for more seasons to come.

Movie Review: Flipped

Flipped is a coming-of-age romantic comedy about two highschoolers who began to developed feelings for each other despite their lack of similarities. It’s a very simple story of boy meets girl and then they liked each other – except the attraction didn’t happen at the same time, thus “flipped”. The story was nothing new or original but it’s definitely told with more charm. This is based on a novel of the same title written by Wendelin Van Draanan.

Gervic Narratives

Within the first few minutes of this film, I already knew that I would like it. Movies like this are best when set in an older time period. Maybe that’s one element that made the film believable because there’s no swag or YOLO among teens – just innocent love and pure happiness for the simple things. The way the story was told was interesting for me – same series of events but told by both characters based on their own perspective with the situation. It gave a refreshing feeling, something new. It didn’t held me hanging as to what the other one could be thinking and this has made the movie more fascinating to watch.

The two young leads did a very good job and I couldn’t think of anyone else that might do better for the role. Their acting was blunt and they sure let it all out. It’s also nice to see new faces on the screen. They did a wonderful job in taking the audience to their wonderful lives by being lovable right from the start. The two were very practical and down to earth, I guess that’s one thing why this romcom isn’t irritating in my eyes. I’d say that they woke up the inner child in me. The supporting adult actors did good, as well.

Gervic Narratives

The film didn’t put to fail me in a good mood and I’m sure this will make everyone of us hope for a love story exactly like this. It’s a teen’s love story made for adults. Juli is such a sweet girl but displays strength and independence. One look and you’ll know that she won’t be taking crap from anyone. Bryce, on the other hand, is just discovering himself – just like all the other boys his age. What I like best is the absence of a victim in their love story. Sure, Juli likes Bryce but when he did things that crossed the line of offending her family, she didn’t cry on her bed. Instead, she did something to raise the pride of her family once again and prove that what Bryce thinks about them is wrong. And when it’s time for Bryce to apologize to Juli, we wouldn’t see him crying in the rain or posting notes to her locker. When all his visits and calls failed to get Juli’s attention, he did the one thing that would truly make Juli happy just to let her know that he cares. Maybe the story was too good to be true for some but that’s just how love works, no matter how old you are.

Flipped was released two years ago. I hate that it took me this long to watch it, but still this will be one of my favorites. In the end, the movie has taught us that no matter what happened, you go get the love of your life – without compromising yourself.

Movie Review: One More Try

As if it’s a yearly tradition, I was once again given the opportunity to watch one entry from the Metro Manila Film Festival. I’ve read beforehand some reviews and One More Try, El Presidente and Thy Womb seem like to occupy the top seats when it comes to sensibility. I anticipated that Thy Womb would not be my type, though I believe it’s one great film considering all the international awards it received and let’s not even go to the historical El Presidente, so I chose this year’s Best Picture – Star Cinema’s One More Try.

We entered the cinema almost half an hour passed the screening time. You could just imagine how frustrated I was to know why the hell would Edward and Grace need to intercourse just so they could save a dying child. This is actually my fault because it was mentioned on the earlier part of the movie and during that time I was still out sipping my chocolate float. First, I would like to note the remarkable, as ever, performance of Angelica Panganiban. I’m not the type of fan who follows her twitter or pressures her to make fan signs for me but after seeing a couple of her movies, I would say that I’m a fan. To mention one, Here Comes The Bride shows how versatile of an actress she is. I wouldn’t question Dingdong Dantes’ award. Not that I trust the film festival, but he did justice to his role. Or maybe he was just so hot, I could only focus on his muscles alone. On the other hand, can someone please explain to me, in a logical reasoning, why Zanjoe Marudo is still being considered as a leading man? Nice abs, check. Charming facial structures, no. Acting, hell no. That’s one out of three so why? Angel Locsin is just ok, she fits the role of a single mom and she’s good and… gawd, she’s so mediocre, I’m running out of adjectives!

Gervic Narratives

As what others would normally think, it is not just another adultery film that is very popular in the local theaters nowadays. Here’s a story with a very promising plot and I must admit that I expected a lot but the ending failed me. A Pinoy drama-love story movie is almost cool to me until they all became friends, got what they’ve always wanted and lived happily ever after. Maybe I’m too resentful but I just couldn’t accept that after all that has happened, they would still attend to each other’s family gatherings with smiles all over their faces. I don’t think I could be at the same place on the same time with the woman who had  a sexual relationship with my husband, let  alone that they have a child. I don’t think I could even stare at the… thing.

Well, maybe that’s just me and it’s just a movie. But then if it was just a movie, why don’t they just magically put a fairy in between (maybe Vice Ganda) and have her personally deliver Edward’s sperm to Grace’s eggs for fertilization? Just saying.

But really, this is one good film. Some part of me told me that I was just amazed of the scientific dilemma presented to me, some parts say it’s one, fresh story we don’t always see on the cinemas these days. Ruel Bayani’s One More Try, 7.5 stars out of 10.