The name Palawan is believed to come from Chinese word “pa-lao-yu” meaning “The land of beautiful safe harbour” and a Spanish word “paragua”, which likens the shape of the island to a closed umbrella.
Palawan is paradise, sanctuary to an amazing variety of fauna and flora found nowhere else in the world. It is blessed with incredibly awesome landscapes that astound even the most indifferent of visitors. Palawan is the country’s biggest province and is composed of 1,768 islands and islets surrounded by a coral shelf with an exceptionally rich marine life. Its steeply sloped mountains are canopied by broad virgin forests. An anchor tourist destination, Palawan is one of the 7,000 times more islands that make up the Philippine archipelago. It is the perfect playground for the adventurous.
The island province of Palawan has been declared as a nature sanctuary of the world, and for good reason. It is wrapped in a mantel of rainforests, outstanding dive sites, majestic mountains, primeval caves, and pristine beaches. It is surrounded by a coral shelf that abounds with varied and colorful marine life. It boasts of exotic flora and fauna, like the mousedeer and the scaly anteater, that are found nowhere else.
Palawan waters are among the best in the world, not only for diving but also for fishing. A diver’s paradise, it has miles of sub-surface coral and rainbow reef walls which surround the coasts and coves teeming with rich marine life.
The El Nido Marine Reserve in Miniloc, El Nido, occupying an area of 96,000 hectares, is a popular nature spot in the province. It boasts of diverse ecosystems, such as rainforests, mangroves, white sand beaches, coral reefs, and limestone reefs as well as a variety of fishes, like manta ray and the sea cow or “”dugong,”” known as the world’s rarest marine mammal. It is now one of the country’s premier destinations, blessed with amazing natural scenery, and considered as a sanctuary for various forms of wildlife.
Sta. Lourdes Tagbanua, Puerto Princesa City is where the Honda Bay can be seen. The bay consists of several islets with shallow reefs, bordering fabulous beaches and small resorts which have become the favorite water sports destination of local and foreign tourists alike.
The province boasts of extraordinary scenic wonders. African animals from Kenya in Africa – giraffes and elands, zebras and gazelles – co-exist with endemic Philippine animals, like the Palawan bearcat, mousedeer and peacock (pheasant), in the Calauit Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Busuanga, considered one of the province’s most amazing sites. Another sanctuary found in Rio Tuba Village, Bataraza is the Ursula Island Game Refuge and Bird Sanctuary. This island is a haven for birds that rest and converge two hours before sunset, after a day’s flight.
Geography of Palawan
Palawan is approximately 586 kilometers southwest of Manila, between Mindoro Island on the north, Borneo on the south, China Sea on the west, and Sulu Sea on the east. Its total land area of 1,489,655 hectares spreads across the peripheral islands of Busuanga, Culion, Linacapan, Cuyo, Dumaran, Cagayanes, and Balabac. Its main island measures 425 kilometers long, and 40 kilometers wide. Puerto Princesa, the capital city, is the chief seaport and the center of trade and commerce.
A chain of mountain ranges cut down the length of the main island. The mountain heights average 3,500 feet in altitude, with the highest peak rising to 6,800 feet at Mount Matalingahan. The vast mountain areas are the source of valuable timber. The terrain is a mix of coastal plain, craggy foothills, valley deltas, and heavy forest interspersed with riverine arteries that serve as irrigation.
Political Subdivision of Palawan
The province is subdivided into one city, Puerto Princesa, and 23 municipalities: Aborlan, Agutaya, Araceli, Balabac, Bataraza, Brooke’s Point, Busuanga, Cagayancillo, Coron, Cuyo, Culion, Dumaran, El Nido, Española, Kalayaan, Linapacan, Magsaysay, Narra, Quezon, Rizal, Roxas, San Vicente, and Taytay.
Climate of Palawan
The province has two types of climate. The first, which occurs in the northern and southern extremities and the entire western coast, has two distinct seasons – six months dry and six months wet. The other, which prevails in the eastern coast, has a short dry season of one to three months and no pronounced rainy period during the rest of the year. The southern part of the province is virtually free from tropical depressions but northern Palawan experiences torrential rains during the months of July and August. Summer months serve as peak season for Palawan. Sea voyage is most favorable from March to early June when the seas are calm.
Population of Palawan
Palawan has a population of 849,469 people in the 2015 census. When Puerto Princesa City is included for geographical purposes, the population is 1,104,585 people.
The province is a melting pot of 87 different cultural groups and races. Basically, its culture bears a strong influence from China, India and the Middle East. The influx of migrants from other parts of the Philippines, particularly from Muslim Mindanao, accounts for the high population growth rate of 3.98% annually. The native-born Palaweños still predominate the populace. Eighteen per cent is composed of cultural minority groups such as the Tagbanwa, Palawano, Batak, and Molbog.
Palawan’s Language / Dialect
There are 52 dialects in the province, with Tagalog being spoken by 28 percent of the people. Other major dialects are Cuyunin (26.27 percent), Pinalwan (11.08 percent), and Ilongo (9.6 percent).of cultural minority groups.
How to Get There
Palawan can be reached within an hour and five minutes’ flight from Manila to the capital city of Puerto Princesa or a 20-hour trip by sea. A choice of regular Philippine Airlines (PAL), Air Philippines or direct-chartered flights can be made, depending on the desired destination. PAL and Air Philippines flights will take one directly to the heart of the province, where connecting trips to nearby premier sites can be made. Charter flights via Soriano Air, Pacific Air, Asian Spirit, and Sea Air will take one to his desired island, be this Cuyo, Curon, Busuanga, or El Nido. WG&A Shipping Company plies the Manila-Palawan route regularly.