The Butterfly Garden plays a role in supporting the Palaw’an tribes, who often stay at the tribal village when they visit the city. (PN File Photo)

The Puerto Princesa City Tourism Office reported a total of P23.85-million worth of damage to tourism sites, most of which are managed as community-based sustainable tourism sites (CBSTs), due to Typhoon “Odette.”

The amount was taken after several ocular inspections were done to 35 sites all over the city. Most of the sites that sustained the worst damage were CBSTs located in the north and northeast barangays such as the Maoyon River Cruise, San Carlos River Cruise, Sabang Mangrove, and Taraw Cave, and the Buenavista View Deck.

City tourism officer Demetrio Alvior, Jr. said that they are still working on a recovery plan for the sites, especially since many of the sites are unable to rebuild due to a lack of income from being closed for nearly two years.

A view of the Butterfly Garden from above. Due to the typhoon, the garden’s net was damaged. (PN File Photo)

“’Yan ang kailangan pa naming pag-usapan, kasi sa budget nandiyan ang allocation, anong agency pagkukuhanan ng budget. At saka kailangan din ng coordination sa City Planning Office, kasi sila ang main na in charge sa Odette recovery plan,” Alvior said in an interview on Friday.

Out of the 35 sites, only 11 were seen to be capable of still accepting tourists despite damage from the storm, according to data gathered by the tourism office. These sites include Tagkuriring Falls, Nagtabon Beach, the Underground River, three sites in Honda Bay (Starfish Island, Luli Island, and Pambato Reef), Balayong Park, Mitra’s Ranch, Bakers’ Hill, the Crocodile Farm, Sabang Sea Ferry Boats (but only three boats are left), and the Honda Bay waiting area.

Sites that were badly damaged include the Yamang Bukid Farm in Barangay Bacungan, Ugong Rock, Hundred Caves, and Cowrie Island’s cottages and boats. Even Plaza Cuartel in the city center was rendered inoperable because of uprooted trees that damaged one of their roofs.

Aside from CBSTs, private resorts along the eastern coastline of Puerto Princesa were also badly hit, but the City Tourism Office has yet to account for their damage. According to Alvior, Dos Palmas Resort has already filed for closure and will undergo repairs for a year. Astoria Resort will also reportedly close down for renovations in the meantime, Alvior added.

Butterfly Garden destroyed by Odette
Management of the Palawan Butterfly Eco-Garden and Tribal Village, commonly known as the Butterfly Garden, is one of the CBSTs seeking help from the Puerto Princesa City government to help rebuild the facility that was badly damaged by Typhoon “Odette.”

According to owner Roy Rodriguez, he is unsure if his family will be able to rebuild the facility by their own means. Despite having run the facility on its own since it opened to tourists in 1996, it will be hard to begin again for them especially since they have had no income since the start of the pandemic.

“Sarado kami, hindi ko alam kung magbubukas pa [ba] kami , dahil kung kami lang, hindi na namin kaya. Hindi ko alam kung papaano ako magsisimula muli, although hindi lang naman kami ang naapektuhan, halos lahat din tayo,” he said in an interview with Palawan News on Tuesday.

“Naniniwala kami na kung tutulungan kami ng city government sa reconstruction, malaking tulong ito sa tourism industry ng Puerto Princesa,” he added.

Rodriguez added that aside from being a popular attraction to nature enthusiasts, the Butterfly Garden also plays a role in supporting the Palaw’an tribes, who often stay at the tribal village when they visit the city. Their close relations to the garden began when Rodriguez’s father worked closely with them during his years as a teacher. The tribe members also earn a portion of the Butterfly Garden’s tourism income.

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is a senior reporter for Palawan News who covers politics, education, environment, tourism, and human interest stories. She loves watching Netflix, reading literary fiction, and listens to serial fiction podcasts. Her favorite color is blue.