MOUNT CALVARY, STATIONS OF THE CROSS---11-14
Devotees flock to Mount Calvary on Easter Friday to climb the hill and pray at each Station of the Cross. Mount Calvary is located 18 kms south of Puerto Princesa. Each Cross represents a different stage of Jesus' final moments on earth and on each Cross you will see a prayer which the devotees will repeat. There is also a painting of Jesus at the top of each Cross with a subtitle of the event.
Station of the Cross -- 11 Jesus entrusts Mary and John to each other
Station of the Cross -- 12 Jesus dies on the Cross
Station of the Cross -- 13 Jesus is placed in the tomb
Station of the Cross -- 14 Jesus is reserected
MOUNT CALVARY, STATIONS of the CROSS 6-10
Devotees will reach the top of the hill at Mount Calvary where there is a small chapel during this time and the Stations of the Cross continue down the hill. It is rather confusing as the Stations of the Cross seem to be in a different order from other places and literature i have read. This practice is carried out on Easter Friday as tens of thousands flock to the site 18 kms south of Puerto Princesa.
Station of the Cross 6 -- Jesus falls under the Cross
Station of the Cross 7 -- Jesus is helped by Simon to carry the Cross
Station of the Cross 8 -- Jesus meets the pious woman of Jerusalem
Station of the Cross 9 -- Jesus is nailed to the Cross
Station of the Cross 10 -- Jesus promises heaven for the repentant.
MOUNT CALVARY---STATIONS OF THE CROSS 1-5
Normally Mount Calvary is crowded with tens of thousands of pilgrims on Easter Friday as they ascend the hill, just 18 kms south of Puerto Princesa. There are 13 Stations of the Cross where devotees will say a prayer that is posted on the cross, along with a picture describing certain events. Although some sites have 14 stations the one here has 13.
Station of the Cross 1 --
Station of the Cross 2-- Jesus in the Garden of Hethsamane
Station of the Cross 3 -- Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin (council)
Station of the Cross 4 -- Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns
Station of the Cross 5 -- Jesus carrying the Cross
MAKE A WISH
Should you visit Mount Calvary, about 18 kms south of Puerto Princesa don't forget to throw some money in the well at the start of the climb and make a wish. Cannot guarantee that your wish will come true but at least your money goes to a good cause.
THE PASSION OF CHRIST
If you happen to be in Puerto Princesa on Easter Friday try and catch a few of the locals performing PENITENCIA. Penitent sinners walk around the town flagellating themselves bamboo slats (or chains and sticks) in an act of penitence, also wearing a crown of thorns and black masks over their faces. I had a good look at the backs of the sinners and it did not appear to be blood to me but paint or some type of coloring. Throughout the town are the Stations of the Cross and they will prostrate themselves on the ground while devotees say a short prayer. I am not sure exactly where their march of penitence starts but each of the last two years they pass the Capitol Building in Rizal Avenue around 7 am on the way to the Cathedral.
The Catholic Church does not approve of such religious rites.
EASTER PILGRIMAGE AT MOUNT CALVARY
Mount Calvary is located around 18 kms from Puerto Princesa and the locals will flock to here on Easter Friday to climb the hill to the small chapel at the top. You will have to walk the last kilometer to the beginning of the climb as the road is closed for vehicles as tens of thousands of locals will come for this religious pilgrimage. Jeepneys, multicabs and private vehicles are filled to capacity for this yearly event. The climb itself takes not much more than 10 minutes unless you stop to pray at each Station of the Cross, but once at the top you will have a beautiful view of the surrounding area. The road leading to Mt Calvary is lined with stalls selling refreshments, along side first aid tents, police and medical staff., and i am sure that the medical staff will be called upon as older people try to make the climb in almost 40 C heat.
We climbed Mt Calvary on Easter Thusday when it is not quite as busy but there was one old lady with her walking stick endeavoring to reach the top, but she was completely exhausted half way up, so i hope she made it.
Underground river has been listed as 7th wonder of the world. You should visit this place when you go to Palawan. From puerto princesa, it would take you 1- 1.5 hours going to the port. From the port, you have to wait for your turn to ride the boat (there are only limited people who can enter the cave so be there as early as possible). Depending on the season, you can wait up to 2 hours just to ride the boat. The 30 minutes ride would take you to the island where you can find the entrance to the river. Wait until it is your turn to ride the boat going inside the underground river.
Wait, wait, wait, looks like neverending waiting but everything is all worth it! The one hour tour inside the cave plus the jokes of the boatman will make you aahhhhhh and ooooohhh. This is a great experience and everyone should see this place. Tour is 1500 pesos per person and it includes van transfers, boat, water and lunch.
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WHILE WAITING FOR YOUR PLANE
Puerto Princesa Airport is quite small and often the waiting area is full if there are a few flights leaving around the same time, but you can enjoy a massage, buy a few souvenirs (more expensive than the market of course), have a snack or possibly watch the band play as some dignitaries or special guests arrive.
The airport is due to be completely revamped soon to be able to cope with the increased number of tourists arriving. The runway will be expanded and the new terminal is rumoured to be constructed on the opposite side of the runway.
Swim at Nagtabon Beach
This is a picturesque beach, lined with coconut trees located 35 kms north west of Puerto Princesa on the west coast. Rent a motorbike and turn off the road at Bacungan (just after km 22) then cross to the other side of the island on a dirt road, which will lead you uphill on a rocky track, then you will descend to the beach stopping to admire the spectacular views. You will probably find a few other day-trippers there, but there won't be many, due to the lack of transport and the bad state of the road. Unfortunately there is no longer any accommodation there and nowhere to eat, so bring your own food. Picnic tables under native huts can be rented for around 200 pesos a day. Fish for bbqing may be purchased from the fishermen who live at the small settlement at the southern end of the beach. Beware of the current.
The road across the island has now been concreted, enabling to get there much quicker. Only the last few hundred meters down the hill to the beach is a rough track and has to be driven with care.
Out and about
Getting around in the town is easy, and there are loads of interesting shops and things to see. Away from the mall's and upmarket shops, which there are plenty, the streets in and around those shops are busy with ordinary local life.
And everyone seemed friendly too. Not just like somebody wanting something from you, the people make you feel welcome, letting on and smiling, and not hounding you to buy something from them.
Sure, you get the taxi's and tour operators asking if you need to to go somewhere, but when you say no thank you, that's it, it's done, and they part with a smile and not a frown.
We loved that about it.
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Take me to the best beach you know!
I was excited about this, a nice afternoon on a lovely beach. I knew there was lovely beaches here, because I had seen one on Davidjo's Nagtabon Beach page , but not to be for us sadly.
We asked our driver to take us to the best beach he knew, and he said Pristine Beach was the best, and so off we went at a charge of 200 peso. The drive to beach took us about 15 mins, and finished with a drive down a long bumpy narrow track. Coming back out I had to push the taxi out of a muddy hole, no problem though, I'm not the lightest guy in the world.
When we got to the end of the track, there was just mangrove and then water to the edge of the mangrove, with huts on stilts. The beach must have been there somewhere, but the tide must have been in, I think.
It wasn't the beach we had hoped for, but it was still a lovely spot to take a picture. The driver then wanted to charge us 500 peso to get back!! Now we were captive at the end of the track, we said no way and we started to walk, he said OK 200. Shows you, but that's human nature and nothing I wouldn't expect from most places, by some people.
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JOSE RIZAL STATUE
Outside the Cathedral there is the customary statue of the country's hero, Jose Rizal (every town usually has a statue of the great man). He was executed on trumped up charges by the Spanish at the young age of 35. I have written about him in my Manila tips so rather than repeating myself, if you want to know more about him you may look at the website posted below
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GO FOR A JOG or a WALK
There are a few routes that are quite nice to enjoy an early morning jog or a late afternoon stroll.
1) I normally jog the black route that i have marked on the map (sorry that my line is not quit straight but i an unfamiliar with using paint). You can actually start on the road perpendicular to the airport and the road is in good condition. As you turn into the tree lined Gabinete Road there are a few houses each side and after 1.3 kms you will pass by Camilla Homes Subdivision, then there are houses each side of the road until you reach the intersection and turn right. Abueg Road is quite wide and you will also see many trees. To return to your starting point turn right at the first surfaced road that you came to. On this route there will be very little traffic. 3.6 kms
2) You can start the blue route at the same point, but continue along Manalo Extension and the road will eventually curve to the right. This part of the road has recently been concreted and i excellent for jogging, but after you turn right you will see the brand new hotel with 500 rooms and 3 swimming pools (not quite open as i write) . The road then becomes very rough, albeit still surfaced but has been destroyed by many trucks that used to deliver building materials to the various construction sites, but you will be able to catch glimpses of the sea. You will eventually reach the intersection which you will pass straight through and follow the directions of the red route until you reach your starting point. Again, very little traffic. Estimated 5-5.5 kms
3 ) The red route takes you through some back streets and you will encounter some traffic. You could start the circuit at any point, depending on the location of your hotel/GH, But it is easy to start from Mendoza Park area, just walk up Valencia Street until you reach Abad Santos which will be the third street you come to. Turn left and start your jog. The area will have houses each side so be careful of vehicles if you are jogging at rush hour time when children and workers are either leaving or coming home. Basically you will jog as far as you can, then you will come to "T" junction by the Italian restaurant where you will turn left. Another 300m, another "T: junction where you will again turn right. Jog as far as you can then after 20 minutes or so the road will take you to the right. Then take the second road on the right and that will be Abad Santos, where you can jog back to your starting point. Estimeaed 5.5-6kms
EVEN THE DEAD PAY RENT
There are four cemeteries in town, two private and two government owned and there are rather sme strange customs. The two city cemeteries are bursting at the seams while the m newer private cemetery is located on a prime piece of real estate overlooking the sea with the mountains in the background. Both are located in an area of town called Parola but are vastly different. The city cemetery is where the poorer people are laid to rest, normally in tombs above ground but in the newer cemetery the dead are buried underground. Whereas the city cemetery is overgrown and not looked after well, the new cemetery is exceptionally well maintained.
The cost of burying someone in the private cemetery can be as expensive as in Europe and there are many hidden charges such as taxes on the plot of land. There are payments that must be made annually, and if not, the remains of the dead may be removed. I believe that in the city cemetery rent must be paid after 5 years. In some parts of the country i have seen evidence of this, with a skeleton lying in open view on top of a tomb.
What a strange coincidence. After writing this review today, my wife returned home from the cemetery today to see her father's grave and saw some bones scattered around, including the skull!
SHOOT and PLAY POOL with the COASTGUARD
The Coast guard have a cosy little compound at the end of Gabinete Road in Jacana. Inside the compound they have a firing range, a pool table, some animals in cages, and several alsations belonging to their K9 unit. The firing range is still under construction but i believe you have to get permission from the commander to use it, but not sure if the guns are provided. You can have a friendly game of pool with the members there.
The coastguard will help any seafaring vehicle that is in trouble or arrest illegal fishermen and tow their boat back to Puerto Princesa, as well as protect the marine sanctuaries.
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