by - 12:27 AM

The paradise is calling me. 

Too sweeping statement unmindful of what lies ahead along the road.  The journey towards the southern part of Palawan is not for the faint-hearted and the paranoids.  An adventurous individual undoubtedly can make it, but for me, not that adventurous type, but the yearning to travel and discover overpowers fears, made it to the best island destination I have been to as of writing.

The interesting culture, people, cuisine and the islands, sets the municipality of Balabac distinct with other Philippine destinations.

let the journey begin - with Onuk boy Benjie
The Local Government of the Municipality of Balabac, Palawan through Mayor Shuaib Astami and family, made this quest possible.  And we are forever grateful for the hospitality beyond compare.

Upon arrival at the mainland of Balabac, we were ushered to MLK Lodging were we had our overnight stay.  There were no other guests at the said hostel, it appeared like a home stay and with a minimal fee (400 pesos per room with double bed) - to experience a grand vacation on a tight budget is indeed doable.  All our meals were served at the residential house of the town mayor.

MLK Lodging's offer to us

the town mayor's humble abode
After we settled our things at MLK Lodging, we wasted no time and were lead to the parish church of Poblacion just before the sun sets.  Ma’am Fedelyn was there to assist us to pay a visit to the ruins of Fort Culina – a Spanish watch tower.  The trail commences in front of the old parish church.  It was a rather short yet “sweat-enhancing” activity for me.  But upon reaching the watch tower, it surely is rewarding.  The view of the sea and the islands of Balabac in an eagles-eye perspective is picture perfect.

the town of Balabac as viewed from the Fort Culina

the ruins of Fort Culina
Culina Tower is a dilapidated hexagonal port made of adobe stones and formerly complete with guns, parapets and towers which served as lookout against intruders.

Afterwards, we met Fr. Willie Escalante, the town’s parish priest and had a short conversation with him and Ma’am Fedelyn as we sip a cup of coffee and share stories of life and travel.  We were positioned with a view of the Balabac strait at the back of the parish church and they pointed that crocodiles are a common sight near the residential areas aside from the endemic Philippine mouse deer – only found in Balabac.

the simple facade of the parish church spells a simple living in the community

ang pagmumuni muni ni Ma'am Carla

Balabac, Palawan is situated about 50 kilometers north from Sabah, Malaysia across the Balabac Strait.  With the said proximity, most goods displayed at sari-sari ­stores are manufactured from Malaysia.  We even bought some instant noodles labeled as manufactured in Malaysia and it felt like we went abroad shopping.

A Muslim ethno-linguistic group, Molbogs, settles in the island of Balabac.  Their livelihood consists of farming, fishing and barter trading with the nearby Sulu, Bangsamoro and Sabah market centers.

Sea foods expectedly abundant in this part of Palawan, “tirik” (sea urchin) is a must try as well.  From the shell of the sea urchin, a rice dish is likewise created.  The cleaned sea urchin shell is stuffed with rice and other spices, which taste can stand even without viand.  It is similar to the puso we have in the Visayas region only that puso is wrapped in banana leaves and that tirik is tastier with a dominant garlic flavor.

dinner served!

rice dish stuffed in tirik
The second class municipality of Balabac consists of around 30 islands, thus, traversing the clear turquoise waters that surround in a form of island hopping is indeed a treat.  While the main purpose of this visit is to stay at Onuk Island and have a glimpse of the Punta Sebaring, a lot of other equally panoramic beaches awaits every visitor of Balabac.

the raw beauty of Onuk Island 
the wallpaper worthy landscape of Punta Sebaring

Time constraints left us with no choice but to leave Balabac Palawan on a shorter time as set, but this is an opportunity to declare that we shall be back for more discoveries and adventures.

Contact Person:  Lorna A. Gapilangco
Mobile:  +639175532845

sunset at Balabac, Palawan

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