Jewish Journal: Exploring Palawan, Philippines


Palawan on Jewish JournalPalawan has been touted as an up and coming destination on many elite travel lists. Ever since the Underground River was named a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the new seven natural world wonders, tourists began arriving in droves with thirty flights and nearly 1,500 people visiting daily. There are plans in the works for a new airport. All tricycle drivers are trained as English speaking guides and Palawan has implemented an aggressive anti-littering program; the first littering fine is 200pesos, then 500pesos, and a third offense leads to a punishing two months in jail. Keeping the island clean is a priority.

After visiting the famous underground river the first day, we went on a city tour with Amika Tours and Travel to view sights in an around Puerto Princessa. At Binuatan Creations, both George and I took turns on a loom and learned to change individual natural fibers into cloth at the weaving station. After drying fibers like acacia and grass, the fabric is dyed into every color of the rainbow. As with most of this city tour, each stop was also an opportunity for shopping. At Baker’s Hill, we learned about the famous Hopia bread made with ube or mongo, and saw several statue animals in this small “theme” park. We had a quick stop at Mitra Ranch to take in the great views and shoot photos.

The crocodile farm seemed more like a jail with large animals cooped up in small empty pens except for water. The largest crocodile, Senor Croc, is over sixty years old, weighs over six hundred kilos and measures seventeen feet long; he has been a resident for over twenty years. His abode is just past the hatching house. A violent crocodile, Valentino, was captured last year on Valentine’s Day in Southern Palawan and was locked up as he was a danger to society. I learned that saltwater crocs are even more dangerous.

WATCH: Hula Hooping with the Iwahig Dancing Inmates

After traveling through the city in the forest, we arrived at Iwahig Minimum Security Prison and penal farm. Many of the inmates work on the farm but a few prisoners work in the shop and are known as the Iwahig Dancing Inmates. The Philippines has a tradition of dancing convicts as in Cebu one Saturday a month, nearly one thousand inmates show off their style dancing in unison to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I hula hooped while Juris from Cebu, Sandy and Allan from Manila, Dennis from Laoag, Pallet Jr from Laguna and Abraham from Aparri danced around me in a circle to Psy’s song “Gangnam Style.”

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Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Ellen Niver, M.A. Education, is a television host, travel journalist as well as a passionate artist, educator and writer who has explored 101 countries, 6 continents and sailed on cruise ships for seven years on the high seas and backpacked for three years in Asia. She is the founder of We Said Go Travel which was read in 212 countries in 2018 and named #3 on the top 1000 Travel Blog and the top female travel blogger 3 times in 2019. Find her talking travel at KTLA TV and in her We Said Go Travel videos with over one million views on her YouTube channel. She has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best, is verified on both Twitter and Facebook, has over 150,000 followers across social media and ran fifteen travel competitions publishing over 2500 writers and photographers from 75 countries. She has been a finalist for six Southern California Journalism Awards in the past three years and won an award for her Jewish Journal article. Niver has written for AARP, American Airways, Delta Sky, En Route (Air Canada), Hemispheres (United Airlines), Jewish Journal, Luxury Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Myanmar Times, National Geographic, POPSUGAR, Robb Report, Saturday Evening Post, Scuba Diver Life, Sierra Club, Ski Utah, Smithsonian, Trivago, USA Today 10best, Wharton Magazine and Yahoo. She is writing a book, “Brave Rebel: 50 Scary Challenges Before 50,” about her most recent travels and challenges. Look for her underwater SCUBA diving, in her art studio making ceramics or helping people find their next dream trip.

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