Stakeholders at the PPUR doing their tree planting activity. (Photo courtesy of Beth Maclang)

Stewards of the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR), together with partners in the public and private sector, celebrated Thursday the fourth Subaraw Biodiversity Festival with tree planting and coastal cleanup activities in Sabang, Barangay Cabayugan.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the PPUR management decided to forego festivities yet again and celebrate the occasion quietly, according to PPUR park superintendent Beth Maclang.

The Subaraw Festival is celebrated every November 11th, which is also the day the PPUR became one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. It was first established in 2018 by the city government, with the aim of becoming the “go-to” festival. This year marks the 10th anniversary of PPUR’s inclusion on the Seven Wonders list after winning an international online voting competition held by the New 7 Wonders Foundation.

Members of the Philippine National Police help out during the coastal cleanup. (Photo courtesy of Beth Maclang)

Maclang said in an interview on Thursday through Facebook that activities began as early as 8 AM, starting with a mass with their partners and PPUR staff. Their partners included community members of the park, tourism establishment owners and staff, and members of the socio-civic organization the Grand Palawan Taraw Eagles Club.

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“Hopefully, next year ay puwede na tayong mag-celebrate talaga ng Subaraw in-person. Kasi pangalawang Subaraw na ito sa ilalim ng pandemic. Sana sa 2022, balik na ulit sa mga dating ganap dahil para naman ito sa ating tourism industry at sa awareness sa ating biodiversity,” Maclang said.

Last year’s Subaraw Festival was celebrated virtually by playing videos of previous Subaraw celebrations. Some celebrations include the grand float parade and the Miss Subaraw beauty pageant.

PPUR’s inclusion in the Seven Wonders also coincided with the Iguazu Falls’ inclusion back on November 11, 2011. Because of this, management of the Iguazu Falls in South America also planted a tree in Sabang dedicated to PPUR, Maclang said.

Other sites included in the New 7 Wonders are Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, the Amazon River, Jeju Island in South Korea, Table Mountain in South Africa, and Komodo Island in Indonesia. These sites made the Top 7 cut out of more than 400 sites of cultural, historical, or natural significance all over the world. During the polling period, an extensive campaign was held to vote for the PPUR as one of the New 7 Wonders.

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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.