Saturday, November 28, 2009

Unforgettable Trip to Calauit Safari Park & more

Our Coron itinerary indicated that we're bound to go island hopping (again!) and visit Calauit Safari Park on our third day. With muscles not yet competely soothed, we woke up just before the crack of dawn. Mr. Banker told us the day before that our ETD at the Coron port is 5 a.m. Obedient kids (okay, to be precise, adults!) as we are, we were the perfect prompt tourists at the Coron Port. We even posed with the multi-colored tricycle. Staying and working in the urban zone for several months would certainly let you crave for the rural basics. One of which is the traysikel. Check out the difference between a trike in the the big city and a rural traysikel.

It was still quite dark when we arrived at the port. The wind was still chilly that it made me silently cursed myself for not bringing a jacket. Since we're bound to island-hop, I wore my swimsuit inside my knitted blouse. The cold breeze of dawn wafting through my tired muscles gave me goosebumps all over! All in the name of adventure! Little did I know that those are only initial goosebumps, and that the biting cold was just a "patikim" for the splashes of excitement we're about to experience for the day.

Sitting pretty in the banca (big grin)

Brave women standing

Sleepy yet excited

Mr. Banker told us that should the weather be fine, it will only be a 3-hour ride to Calauit. Mental note to myself during the boat trip: God, I hope so. Never been a fan of boat rides. In the first hour of the journey, we chanced upon the limestone cliffs and islets, and the same enthralled me. 

This is just one of the many islets  on our way to Calauit.  Here, the sea was quiet passenger-friendly.

The sea was perfectly calm as we watched the rays of sunlight creeping in the clouds. The blue-green waters, the limestone scenery, the low buzzing of the boat's engine were enought to occupy our thoughts. We were getting comfortable on such thought when, all of a sudden, the waves got big. Whoa! We were like babies being lulled to sleep by the duyan-like scenario. We all got dizzy, and I had to forego potential barfs (ew!) but our "brave" banca managed to avoid the big waves. Fear really managed to cripple any logic inside my head as I clung firmly to GG's hand. One companion finally had the voice to say that it would be safe if we'd wear our life jackets, so we did.

I remember I kept on chewing my parched lips, and that's a tell-tale sign that I'm dead scared. Really, the thought of applying lip balm never entered my mind at that point. The boat made a quick stop-over at Panlaitan Island to drop off a passenger. I didn't even notice that, aside from us and Mr. Banker's assistant, there was another passenger. All because of the big waves. But my fear of big waves never spoiled the excited camwhore in me. I'd better have a souvenir of this island community.

Korean pose

Leaving Panlaitan Island

Big waves continued to torture us until Calauit. Amidst the rough waves and potential barfs (again, ew!), silent prayers for safety kept us company. Looking back, the laughters we had on our first day of island-hopping were replaced by eery silence. I was then entertaining several outrageous consequences of our rough boat ride, but after sensible contemplation, I had to hold on to my faith (the magic word), or what's left of it. Geez. We will definitely make it to Calauit, and we did!

At this point, we claimed to be SURVIVORS.

Trying to conceal our biyahilo

It was amazing though that despite the big waves en route to Calauit, the island bore no traces of bad weather. It was perfectly sunny. How ironic.

Waiting for the safari truck

We paid an entrance fee of Php 300 in Calauit Safari Park. The caretaker gave us brief history about the island. Only then I felt a sudden rush of pity to the animal caretakers and employees of the safari park. Imagine them being assigned in this seemingly lonely island, away from their families, with no apparent comforts, and relying on the meager or, heck, whatever available funds alloted for them. Since its conception, the park underwent several managements already, and predictably, lack of sufficient funds and full support from the government are the issues. Tsk.


Thanks to Google for the info below.

"The island of Calauit was declared as a game preserve and wildlife sanctuary by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 1578 issued on 31 August 1976. This was in response of the Philippine Government to the global concern to save the declining African animal population in Kenya, Africa." 

While the safari guide continued briefing us with more animalandia info, we suddenly saw a giraffe... then two... finally, three giraffes! The first giraffe that we saw was kept in a cage since it was injured. Poor animal. For all the rough waves we encountered, we ought to have souvenirs of these giraffes, the tallest of all land-living animal species. We wasted no time for picture-taking.

Giraffe feeding

More nerdy info about Calauit Safari Park.

"After five years (ca. 1982), the animal population increased to 201 heads, of which 58 are the original stocks and 143 are island-born. It was then during the last 18 months in the said period that a significant increase in population was achieved.

Continuously being conducted are other previously initiated activities such as: conservation and monitoring of the island's marine resources, including the reforestation and maintenance of hills, rangelands, and mangroves.

On December 29, 1994, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) executed a Memorandum of Agreement, thus handing over the management of the sanctuary from the former to the latter, effective January 1995. The regular budget allocation of PhP 4M per annum was also transferred from the DENR to the PCSD."

Wow. This animalandia must be really worth our while and it was. No doubt about it.
PETA will definitely love us.

Can't get enough of the giraffes
Fantastic four

The injured giraffe

Giraffe: Thanks for your visit. (bow)


Zebras & a giraffe? Two thumbs up! 

Behind us is a specie of Pinoy policeman called buwaya. Yeah!

It was fun watching this sleepy croc from afar.

Cam-shy porc wants to play hide-and-seek?

We also went to see the other caged animals. It was my first time to see a porcupine up close. Only then did I know that its local name is durian. It must be the spines similar to the exotic fruit with the same name. These thorny little animals immediately went into hiding when we got inside the cage for the photo ops. Funny, don't ya think? With their built-in thorns and strong odor, what made them afraid of us humans? Well, good thing they are afraid or kept hidden. Otherwise, I won't be that brave to get inside their cage. Hahaha!

Chicharon potential

We also found a stinky cage nearby which serves as home sweet home for wild pigs (a.k.a baboy ramo).

Palawan bearcat instant fans

Palawan bearcat... Come down here, buddy!

Considered as endangered animal, the Palawan bearcat is so cute. True enough, it looks like a hybrid of a racoon and a tasmanian devil. 

Calamian deers and zebras on the loose

Doe, a deer, a calamian deer!

I remember I felt relieved when we left Calauit. It was an overwhelming feeling to finally see the giraffes and zebras. Never again. Never. I admit our boat ride to Calauit was pretty traumatic. And the group made a silly vow not to come back to the island again. An all-expense paid African safari tour would be the only thing that will make me change my mind. I mean it. Hahaha!

Galleon Park Island

We stopped by at Galleon Park Island for our late lunch. After the rough boat ride, we found the need to feed our resident worms in our tummies. The weather was not that cooperative. The semi-dark skies indicated that it would be another rough ride going back. Argh. We savored our last moments in the said island by swimming and more swimming... We didn't get too far since the waters seemed deeper than we expected. We wore life vests for chrissakes! Hahaha! Had it been sunshiny, the experience could have been truly magical! White beach, dude, it's white beach. Kinda rare, huh?

  Shipwreck survivors?

White beach

Goofin' around

Fresh lobsters for dinner


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