Nothing beats authentic food. It feeds not only our body but our soul. Authentic food created, mixed and prepared by the hands of people who labored to develop something original is the most valuable kind of food.
In the mountains, hills, valleys, and plains, we discover authenticity. These are recipes developed by our brethren whose culture has become the pathway to the discovery of their kind of food for survival. These are the wealth that needs to be discovered so we could tell the world that we found our identity as a nation, as a community, and as individuals.
In the 22,203 hectares St. Paul Subterranean River National Park is a restaurant that showcases the culture of Palaweños and indigenous peoples (IP) of Palawan.
Cacaoyan Forest Park Restaurant is located a few kilometers away from the wharf of Sitio Sabang, Barangay Cabayugan- a jump-off point going to the Underground River.
This restaurant is nestled amid a pocket of the jungle where old-growth trees are thriving. The sound of crickets all through the day is music to anyone who wants to experience the authentic culture of Puerto Princesa City. The mossy forest remains intact, thanks to the love and care of Cacaoyan Forest Park Restaurant duo Sam Magbanua and Angie Mendoza.
“We never cut trees or change the environment. We only add some endemic plants,” said Mendoza.
All the structures on the premises including the restaurant itself are made from local light materials. A long pathway made of bamboo leading to the century-old Dau tree adds a thrill to visitors. Not only that, they have made some portions of the property instagrammable by putting big nests and view deck.
But aside from the amazing natural environment, their food in the restaurant is the center of everything. If you’ve been away for quite a while and you missed home, try their simple yet nutritious food like adobong sitaw with tufo, fried fresh fish, lato or seaweeds, and other local food.
“Any catch or harvest that is available in the community we serve it here in the restaurant,” said Mendoza.
When Angie and Sam first saw the place they easily got interested in it because of its unique environment and its accessibility. Just a few meters from the main road going to the center of Sabang you get to see the old-growth trees. They envisioned the place to be a showroom of arts and culture of Palawenos including authentic food.
Your visit to Cacaoyan Forest Park Restaurant wouldn’t be complete if you have not tried one of their specialties, the Banana Blossom Salad. The way it was made was very simple because you only need to mix all the ingredients which are: banana heart ( boiled and cut into the shape of squares or rectangles), ginger thinly cut, chopped bell pepper, salt, pepper, chili, sugar, coconut milk, vinegar, and chopped onion. The mix of sweetness, spiciness, and sourness is perfect.
Another exciting thing to do in Cacaoyan is to try their Tamilok Challenge. Tamilok is a woodworm. It was extracted from a rotten mangrove tree. It is clean and very nutritious. You dip the strand of tamilok in vinegar and put it in your mouth to taste its sour yet yummy taste. This completes your visit to Palawan! Wanna try?
“What we wanted is for people to appreciate not only the sea and the mountains of Puerto Princesa but for them to also appreciate the local culture of Palawenos,” Mendoza added.
Are you planning to visit Puerto Princesa City, soon? Visit Cacaoyan Forest Park Restaurant and make your stay full of learnings and fun.