Puerto Princesa Diaries Ep. 02: Shining, Shimmering, Splendid

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By Regina May Cajucom

Serendipity Couch

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


AS SOON as we finally decided on Puerto Princesa being the destination of our November getaway, we knew that firefly watching should be one of the items in our itinerary. I have read accounts and reviews on how “enchanting” and “romantic” the Iwahig River night tour and firefly watching is, but never in a million years did I actually expect it to be such an unforgettable experience – in my memory and in my heart it is seemingly indescribable: it seems that no words are enough to adequately describe that surreal experience but I will try my best through this couch chat of ours.

After a sumptuous dinner at Ka Inato, a quaint restaurant adorned with fine artwork and anito (pagan gods) statuettes, we headed for Iwahig River for our firefly watching experience. On the way there, our very friendly and entertaining tour guide Marie gave us a short fun prologue to the river tour, including background info on Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm (prison without bars), which we passed along the way.

We reached Iwahig River, the site of the firefly tour, at around 8 o’clock in the evening. There is a big nipa shed which stands as reception area, where the facilitators give tourists their life vests and orient them on what to do and what not to do during the river cruise. Looking out into the river it seemed pitch dark although we can see stars light the night sky. Even before we rode the boats the starry sky was already a sight to behold; little did we know we were in for a more breathtaking experience when the cruise starts.

We are nine in the group tour, which was perfect because each boat seats 4, including the boatman. So off we went in three boats, and I was assigned with my eldest daughter Kayla and BFF Sharon (with this boat/seating arrangement, the boatman had no idea what craziness he was in for, with me and Sha constantly laughing, giving out side comments and such, which is our “normal” mode). As soon as the boat started to cruise, we saw many trees glittering with hundreds of fireflies. It was very mesmerizing indeed, and without exaggeration, I tell you: it almost brought tears to my eyes. It felt so magical and surreal, and I got goosebumps with this extraordinary experience I will never forget for the rest of my life. Despite our “normal” talkative mode, we were unusually quiet at first…well, for just a few minutes before we finally “recovered” and started off with our “awws…” and our side remarks. Truth is, though, I still haven’t fully recovered from that enchantment. As a person who grew up and lived in the city practically all my life, my eyes and my heart was filled with delight at the sight of these glittery lot. I haven’t seen anything that grand from nature, and I was in pure awe.

The boatman who also served as tour guide is very knowledgeable on facts and trivia about the fireflies and even the constellation of stars visible to us. We learned about many interesting facts about the fireflies and gave out dozens of sighs, oohs and ahhhs, and awwws… as we traversed the enchanting river of our dreams. If you are planning on travelling to Puerto Princesa city, never miss this firefly river cruise experience. Even if it were the only item on our itinerary (would we still call that an itinerary?), it would have been worth it, believe me.

I think I left a piece of my heart in Iwahig River, amidst them charming luminous creatures.

Oh wait, Happy V-day, everyone. (serendipity.couch@gmail.com/ www.serendipitycouch.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 13, 2014.

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