7 Interesting Facts that Every Tourist Should Know about Puerto Princesa

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I bet a million pesos that the first things that will pop up in your mind when you hear “Puerto Princesa” will be pristine beaches or picturesque dive spots or the much touted Underground River. These places, though very popular, are just portions of this beautiful city of Palawan. There are more interesting things to see and hear in the less known places and the lesser known history, and here are 7 of them:

1. Puerto Princesa is in Palawan Island but outside of Palawan Province

Map of Palawan showing the location of Puerto Princesa City
(Source: Google Maps)

Contrary to common notion, Puerto Princesa City is not under the jurisdiction of Palawan Province. This means that the Palawan governor cannot control (in theory) Puerto Princesa even though the city is the provincial capital of the province.

2. A Saint's Mission Ground

St. Ezekiel Moreno
(Source: Order of Augustinian Recollects)


Before becoming a bishop, St. Ezekiel Moreno did missionary works in the Philippines. The Catholic saint was sent by the bishop of Jaro (Iloilo City) to Puerto Princesa as its military chaplain. St. Ezekiel’s sojourn in Palawan was very short – merely 6 months (from March 4, 1872 to January 10, 1873). He was forced to leave Palawan after he contracted malaria. Some of his achievements in the 6-month stay are the founding of the Aborlan town and Barrio Inagawan. The saint also dug the Balon-Pari, which is a spring that is said to heal illnesses miraculously.

3. Refuge of Vietnamese Boat People

Vietnamese boat people off the coast of Malaysia
(Source: UNHCR)


Located in Barrio Sta. Lourdes is the unique settlement known as the Viet Ville. This village was formerly meant as a temporary refuge for the Vietnamese boat people, who escaped the repressive government of Communist Vietnam. At the time when other Asian countries were deporting the refugees back to Vietnam (due to United Nation’s decision to stop funding the boat people’s refugee camps), the officials of Puerto Princesa did the opposite by requesting President Ramos to give the refugees permanent settlement in their city. Ramos approved their request. Thus, the Vietnamese boat people were able to live freely in the country.

4. Philippines’ First Line of Defense

Philippine Navy ship in Oyster Bay
(Source: Phil. Daily Inquirer)


Puerto Princesa is the home of the military’s Western Command (WESCOM). Their base in Oyster Bay, which is still part of Puerto Princesa, is being improved to accommodate large warships. Naval ships, fighter aircrafts, and soldiers stationed in Puerto Princesa are tasked to defend Philippine territories in the West Philippine Sea and the Kalayaan Island Group.

5. Puerto Princesa Official Seal Features a Threatened Bird Species


Palawan Peacock Pheasant or Tandikan
(Source: Puerto Princesa City website)
 
The bird featured in the city’s official seal is none other than the Palawan peacock pheasant. This bird is indigenous to Palawan. However, due to destruction of habitat and illegal hunting, this bird is projected to be extinct in the next century.

6. Puerto Princesa was Named after a Controversial Princess

Princess Eulalia of Spain
(Source: Wikipedia)


There were conflicting stories on how Puerto Princesa City got its name. One version tells of a beautiful but mysterious lady who only appears at night. Another is that name attributes to the fact that Puerto Princesa Bay provides ships with natural protection against storms – thus a true princess of ports. The correct story, however, is that Puerto Princesa was named after Princess Eulalia of Spain.

Princess Eulalia was controversial during her time because of the books that she authored. She was very outspoken about royalty, politics, and social issues, which enraged the King of Spain at that time.

The statue of Princess Eulalia, located across the city’s Rizal Park, marks the spot where the decree of foundation of Puerto Princesa was “read by Governor Don Jose de Sostoa y Orduñez, head of the Spanish expedition, on March 4, 1872.”

7. A Gruesome Massacre Happened in Puerto Princesa

Monument commemorating the World War 2 massacre at Plaza Cuartel, Puerto Princesa
Monument commemorating the massacre of American POWs at Plaza Cuartel.


Puerto Princesa was not spared of Japanese soldier’s cruelty during the War. The most gruesome atrocity is their massacre of American POW on the evening of December 14, 1944 at Plaza Cuartel. The Japs burned to death their prisoners using gasoline and grenades. Those who tried to escape were mowed down by machine guns. Only 11 out of the 154 prisoners survived to tell the tale.

Read my post about Plaza Cuartel to know more about of the gruesome wartime massacre in Palawan.

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This list contains just few of the many unheard of stories about Puerto Princesa. I’m sure that there are more hidden gems out there and now it’s your turn to search for them. Go to Puerto Princesa and learn.

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This blog post was completed after hours of research in the Internet. The following are this post's information sources:

1. Biography of Infante Eulalia from Wikipedia
2. Conservation status of Palawan Peacock Pheasant from Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCPSD)
3. History of Puerto Princesa and information about the WESCOM, massacre at Plaza Cuartel, and Viet Ville from Puerto Princesa City website
4. Vietnamese Boat People from Wikipedia
5. Balon-Pari from watchamacallit and
6. Sojourn of St. Ezekiel Moreno in Palawan from Louie Nacorda's Flickr, HodgePodge, Wikipedia, and CBCP Online
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2 comments:

  1. Gee!!! This is so interesting. Sure is a place worth a visit!

    Have a blessed Sunday, you & your missus.

    ReplyDelete

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