First thing that usually comes to mind when ‘Quezon, Palawan’ is mentioned is the famous Tabon Cave where Dr. Fox and his team uncovered the historic Manunggul Jar. Every Filipino must have studied it back in their elementary days and as a Palawenya, it does gives me much pride even though I’m technically not from the municipality itself.
Few weeks ago, I read from a local news page story how one can reach Tabon Cave Complex in Quezon, Palawan. The news rekindled my almost forgotten desire to cross “see Quezon, Palawan” off my bucket list. Now that I had the chance to see the place, let me share some of the most compelling reasons why you should consider packing your bags and heading to this Southern Palawan municipality.
Mind you, Quezon has its own hidden gems yet to be discovered. Here are ten reasons why you need to see the municipality. Ready? Let’s go!
1. Chase Waterfalls. Quezon hosts a number of must-see waterfalls and we had the chance to see and plunge into the cold and refreshing water of Katuwayan Falls located in Bgy. Berong. It’s an hour drive from the town via jeepney for P100. If you have your own service like a motorbike, you can reach the falls in about 45 minutes, depending on your speed. Ask for Ms. Joevelie or Ms. Annabelle to patch you up with the local barangay so they can get you a guide. You can ask also about the fee. The drop-off point where you can commence hiking is a 15-20-minute distance from the barangay proper. The trek lasts for about 30 minutes.
Our guide said the upstream section of the falls is still uncharted. If you opt to hike, be extra cautious. I personally find the trek intense and you need to concentrate on finding your way, lest you unwittingly get yourself lost. DO NOT HIKE ALONE.
2. Explore Caves. Did you know there are other caves in Quezon, Palawan, aside from Tabon Cave? Yep, you read that right. Our guide, the local peacekeeper (tanod) from Barangay Aramaywan, told us there are thirteen caves in the area. We explored five of them.
Of the five caves, perhaps the most memorable was the knee-to-shoulder deep ‘Underground River’. It was fun and perfect for spelunkers looking for something out of the ordinary. It might not be ideal, however, if you’re claustrophobic.
3. Enjoy islands and beaches. We were able to visit three islands and one sandbar out of twelve islands (more or less) in the municipality. Every island we docked onto made us gasp and feel giddy that we immediately jumped into the clear waters.
Masirik Island. This island is just ‘wow’. I could not find a better way to describe the place. All I can think about is how God must have enjoyed creating it. Huge rocks shaped by waves surround the island. It has been fortified by time. You can be a rock climber for a day, conquering heights by yourself.
The name ‘masirik’ was coined from the local word for ‘fish fins’, which locals said are what the rock formation in the area looks like from afar. Masirik’s sand can be likened to sesame seeds (for those closer to the shore) and powder (those in the middle).
Tamlangon Island. Also known as Frederick Island, Tamlangon will likewise blow your mind away. The place is a perfect combination of peaceful and laid-back.
Double Islands. The peace and calm of Tamlangon is reflected in Double Island, which you can circumvent by foot. Double Island’s sand is powdery fine while Tamlangon’s is a mixture of fine and coarse, just like Masirik’s. The clear bluish-green waters of this island is very inviting, indulge yourself and swim!
Tataran Sandbar. Tataran is a stretch of fine, white sand—best for taking jump shots. And of course, a quick swim. It’s across the Tabon Cave Complex. Boat transfers (8-10 pax) is P1,300 for Tataran Sandbar and Tabon Cave Complex. You can add another P300 for Sidanao Island. For Masirik Island, Tamlangon Island and Double Island, boat fare usually reaches around P2,500.
Lamani Beach. On your way back to town from Katuwayan Falls, you might want to stop by Lamani Beach and have a quick swim. The turquoise water is very inviting; the powdery white sand will take your breath away. It has been declared as part of the ancestral lands of our Indigenous People kababayans and is protected by laws, so let us all be mindful of our activities in the place. You can also stop by Tambun-Saing aka Dangla, which is perfect for viewing the stretch of beach from afar.
4. Tabon Cave Complex. If you’re never been to Tabon Cave, it’s best to cross that out on your bucket list now. They say nothing can really be seen at the Cave because all artefacts were already transferred to the National Museum, but for me nothing beats having a close encounter with something I read and studied about when I was a kid. If you want some thrill while trekking, go to Tabon Caves because the steps will really test your endurance. We stopped near the area where the Manunggul Jar has been discovered then headed back down because it’s a little late and we still need to catch the last trip back to Puerto Princesa. I had to go back to finish the whole tour next time.
Fact: The security guard commissioned by National Museum stays at the complex for ten days to guard the place. They also have their rations for ten days and sleep in a hammock near the cave.
5. Sunsets. I do love sunsets. It gives me a breath of fresh air whenever I see one. And since I never had the chance to see sunset in Quezon because we had a murky day, it gave me something to look forward to upon returning. Which I pray is soon.
6. Seafood. Craving for seafood? Worry no more because the bounty of Quezon got you covered. On our way to the fish port where our hired boat will take us island hopping, we saw fishermen pulling fresh catch from the sea. One local told me that their catch in Quezon goes all the way to Puerto Princesa as supply in the city’s markets and commercial establishments.
8. Accommodation and Food. You can have your accommodation for two for as low as P600. If you have a friend who is willing to tag along, do grab them and split the cost. It’ll be more advisable if you’ll walk around the town to find places to order food.
9. Camping Site. You want to experience another thrill? Go pitch your tent. I’ve seen areas where one can pitch tent and enjoy solitude and take joy in simple things. Lasyap Beach will suit you. It’s approximately 15 to 20 minutes away from poblacion (downtown).
10. People. In a conversation on our way to Quezon, my friend, upon my insistence that she tell me her lessons from travelling, said that more often travelling is about the people and less the destination. Going to and leaving Quezon after the two-day exploration, I realized she’s right. People have the capacity to add beauty to experience. I had a great time of my life with the people I shared my explorations with, and also with whom I met along the way.
P.S Quezon celebrates Manunggul Festival every May. This could be the best time to experience the beauty and rich history of this southern municipality.
How to Get There
A two and half hour-drive south-west of Puerto Princesa, Quezon is accessible by van transport and bus. You can reserve your seat at Charing (09460852407) or Leonard (09504953807) or take the RoRo Bus which leaves at 12nn from the San Jose Terminal. We took the last trip of Leonard at 6 p.m. because we could not make it for Charing’s 5 p.m. trip. Fare is P200. You can ride a tricycle or walk to your accommodation if you prefer to.
Where to Stay/ Where to Eat
There are several choices for accommodation and places to eat (read: carenderia, bes!) around Quezon. You can ask Ms. Joevelie A. Medina (09182664796/ 09178964796) or Ms. Annabelle Campilan (09499514047) of the Municipal Tourism Office for more info. They’ll be more than willing to help.
What to Bring/ What to Wear
You know the drill: camera, powerbank, flashlight (if you will go spelunking), a sling bag to hold your things, and hike sandals or comfortable shoes. Also, bring spare clothes in case you need them. You might want to use rash guard and leggings to protect your skin during hike or swimming. Also bring a canister of water to keep yourself hydrated. If you’re planning to spend lunch in an area, bring a garbage bag so you can dispose of your trash properly.
The boatman, driver, the tourism officers, security, local barangay officials, guides, the family in Double Island where we bought dried dilis and all the countless and nameless faces that shared their smile, their patience while I ask them questions—these made my trip to Quezon an unforgettable experience.
Quezon’s potential as another tourism haven in Palawan is yet to be fully realized. I am deeply honored that I was able to experience the simplicity of its laid-back way of life, people, food, the view, to swim in its clear waters, trek its falls, go spelunking in its caves…all of which boils down to one thing: Quezon holds a key for greater appreciation of the World’s Best Island.
I must have left a piece of my heart in Quezon. Will you be so kind to search it for me?
About the Author: Bev is a contributing reflection writer for Didache Youth, a Catholic devotional for youth. She travels extensively throughout her college days as a youth leader in her lay community, allowing her to meet lots of people and discover new places. Her love for her province has been fortified when she became one of the 2014 Tubbataha Youth Ambassadors. This has awakened her interest in rediscovering Palawan’s beauty and protecting it. She writes her adventures and reflections on the road on her blog bevthepalawanderer.wordpress.com. You can also read her ruminations on her page, The Wandering Palawenya.