A walk past memory lane: a heritage tour of Palawan

More popularly known for its natural tourist spots and features, Palawan is also home to several of our country’s heritage sites. Artifacts and archeological sites dating from the pre-Hispanic time up to World War II ruins also dot this wonderful island. Here are few of these heritage sites in Palawan that you should definitely visit:


Batac Dance (Photo by Canonite2009 via Flickr)

1. Batac Tribal Visit and Jungle Trek: Experience local indigenous culture with the remote village of the Batak Tribe – a mountain-dwelling tribe with a dwindling number of less than 500. Before you reach the village, you have to trek tropical forests relatively untouched for centuries. This isolation from most of Palawan’s towns led to the intact preservation of the Batac Tribe’s culture. Overnight stays in tent in the vicinity of the village are possible.tabon-cave-palawan-1

Photo from SpurTravelPalawan

2. Tabon Caves – This 138-hectare complex of rugged cliffs and deep slops is where the said fossil remains of a 22,000-year-old Tabon man was found. Of the two hundred (200) caves, seven are open for tours, including the main Tabon Cave, which was inhabited and possibly used as a burial site by ancient humans. Thus, Palawan earned the reputation as “The Cradle of Philippine Civilization”. It is also in this archeological site that the famous Manunggul Jar was found.

Manunggul Jar (Photo from Asia-Europe Museum Network)

Manunggul Jar  (Asia-Europe Museum Network)

Flickr (Fria1979)

Flickr (Fria1979)

3. Vietnamese Village: This village was established to house the “Vietnamese boat people” displaced by the Vietnam War who sought asylum to Palawan in the 1970s. Today, the residents are members of the local community and are now integrated into the cultural fabric of Puerto Princesa. The village offers authentic and superb Vietnamese cuisine.


Coron Shipwrecks (Photo from Two Seasons Island Resort)

4. Coron Shipwrecks: During World War II, Coron Bay served as a secure anchorage for the Japanese fleet. But during the battle for liberation on September 1944, a US Navy strike force of fighters and dive-bombers attacked 24 ships of a Japanese supply fleet. The sank ships now form the most condensed spectacular shipwreck diving site in the world.


Map of Coron Shipwrecks (AlferTravel)


Culion Island (Photo Courtesy of Isla Culion Mission Website)

5. Culion Island: A leper colony in the early 20th century, Culion is now a first rate town possessing the best medical facility in the island chain of Calamianes. The Historical Walk of Culion commences to the Leprosy Museum and The Culion Sanitarium. The incredible story from a feared reputation of the island to the now thriving town of Culion is worth noting.


Church of  Immaculate Concepcion (Photo from Jenna’s Cup)


Fuerza de Sta Isabel (Panoramio)

6. Fuerza de Sta Isabel: Built in 1667 by the Augustinian Recollect Fathers, the historic Tatay Fort was used as a military barracks during the Spanish era. Preserved to this day and maintained by the National Museum of the Philippines, the fort’s small chapel and cannons are still intact.


Photo Courtesy of Macy Anonuevo (theislandergirl.com)


Cuyo Fort (Photo from SV Nova Vida Blog)

7. Cuyo Fort: Completed in 1680, Cuyo Fort served as a historical naval structure to protect the own from frequent Moro raids during the Spanish colonial era. Within its walls are the church, a convent, and a chapel dedicated to the Perpetual Adoration. Incidentally, Cuyo once served as a capital of the province from 1873 to 1903.


Cagayancillo Fort (Photo from Off the Beaten Track in the Philippines)

8. Cagayancillo Fort: Built on top of a small mountain overlooking the coast, the Cagayancillo Fort served as a church, ground force, and a refuge for the residents during the attacks by pirates and marauders. Cagayancillo was once part of the Antique Province in Panay Island in the 1800s before it was integrated to Palawan. Cagayancillo is the nearest settlement from the Tubbataha National Marine Park.

9. Lighthouses in Melville and in Port Miller


Photo from Skyscrapercity and Photobucket (Dodong Diamond)

Still operation for more than a century, the Melville Lighthouse serves international vessels passing through Balabac Straight.

Port Miller (Photo by crimson722 at Photobucket)

Port Miller (crimson722 at Photobucket)

Another landmark is the Port Miller and Lighthouse tower in Brooke’s Point. The original lighthouse was built by Sir James Brooke until replaced by a modern tower nearby.


Photo from boykembara

10. Plaza Cuartel: A few meters away from Puerto Princesa’s Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral, Plaza Cuartel was converted as a Japanese garrison during World War II. 143 American soldiers were burned inside the tunnel during World War II when the liberators are nearing the prison. Only 11 survived the massacre. Glenn Mcdole, one of the few survivors, was able to witness the blessing and inauguration of the memorial.


Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral (Photo by Rundstedt on Flickr)

11. Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral in Puerto Princesa: Located along RIzal Avenue, the site of today’s present cathedral was said to be a landmark where the first Mass was celebrated in the city in 1872. The present blue-colored cathedral is inspired by Gothic design and built in 1961 as an improvement of the old small church constructed in late 19th century by Father Antonio Muro.


Palawan Provincial Capitol (Panoramio)

12. Palawan Provincial Capitol: The 3-storey circular-shape edifice is one of its kind in the country. Inside, the main hallway is lighted by an oculus or a sun hole. The walls are adorned by local stones naturally found in the island.

Palawan Wonders does not take credit to the photos presented in this article. Care has been exercised to properly attribute the owners of the above photos. This is for general information purposes only. 

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