Palawan will always be my happy place. Last year I was in El Nido and had a chance to experience the Santo Niño Festival. Known as Sinulog (Cebu) or Ati-atihan (Aklan), it is celebrated every third Sunday of January in the southern islands of the Philippines. The event honors the charred statue of the infant Jesus. The miraculous image survived a fire in 1521, devotees cover themselves in ashes and offer tribal dances.
The locals at the hostel invited us to celebrate in their “po-ok” or town. The place was called “Happy Valley”. Seriously!! Happy Valley in English! That really was the town’s name! 🙂 The municipal school had a dance contest. Costumes were made of indigenous material sourced from the environment. It was really amazing!
In a Philippine fiesta anyone can partake of the food from the neighboring houses. Everyone is welcome to a family’s home and is treated as a guest. This brand of hospitality still holds true in the provinces. I told my British friends that refusing to eat when invited would be considered an insult. We were served boiled pork in sour broth in a stranger’s house.
Close to the fiesta is Nacpan Beach located 17.5km north of El Nido. The travel is inland and best visited via motorbike. This area is known for the Nacpan Calitang Twin Beach. I had to go up the hill to get this shot. Absolutely breathtaking!!
How to get to El Nido town from Puerto Princessa:
I took the 9:00 pm Cherry bus from Puerto Princessa to El Nido. The trip took 5 hours but it was a pleasant one. The bus is more comfortable because there is more leg room.
Where to stay:
I like to stay at Egay’s Castrillo’s homestay (63915-3219162). His hostel has clean rooms with private toilets. It’s not beachfront but it is away from the shore’s evening party noise.
Where to eat in Puerto Princessa:
Try KaLui restaurant for the freshest seafood! I’d recommend this to foreigners because of the food quality and presentation. Make a reservation because the place might be full.
Must try: KaLui Special of the Day Set.