Tag Archives: Busuanga Palawan

#322 Kayangan Lake

Kayangan Lake,  located at Coron Island, Northern Palawan, is one of the popular attractions in Coron and is considered to be the cleanest lake in the Philippines. 

Sometimes called the Blue Lagoon, this freshwater lagoon is set amid sheer limestone cliffs.  Visitors to the lake walk up a mountain trail to see this postcard-pretty lake with its underwater rock formations, clear turquoise waters and the cliffs that enclosed this natural gem. The native Tagbanuas are the original settlers in this region and park fees collected from visitors are supposedly to benefit the local Tagbanuas. The Tagbanuas were the first ethnic tribes in the Philippine to win ancestral claim in the late 1990s over the group of Coron Islands including the sea, considered a legal first in Philippine jurisprudence.

Despite their control, the Tagbanuas failed to stop the encroachment of mass tourism and the noise of motored boats and tourists are largely frowned upon by the Tagbanuas as they believe that the noise disturbs the balinsasayaw or swiftlet, the tiny bird that nests in the island’s caves.

The edible birds’ nests are the source of livelihood for Tagbanua fishermen who gather them starting December when the northeasterly (amihan) wind blows and keeps the inhabitants inland. The Tagbanua scale the jagged limestone cliffs toward cave entrances high above the sea. They would then make the stealthy and treacherous descent into the dark caves to gather the nests which they sell to Chinese traders in town.

Photographing the lake can be quite challenging as the best panoramic views of the lake are often taken from high angles, and with the steep mountain trails and vegetation one has to be ready to climb trees and rocky outcroppings to get the best shot. (From: Various Internet Sources)

Mabuhay ang Kayangan Lake!

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#167 Calauit Wildlife Sanctuary

For those who have not experienced an African safari, a Philippine version is the Calauit Wildlife Sanctuary in Calauit Island in Busuanga, northern Palawan, Philippines.

The island, located on the northeast coast of Palawan, is a 3,700-hectare game preserve and wildlife sanctuary. About 40% of the island is plain, 20% moderately undulating and 40% mountainous. Elevation of mountain ranges is from 500 to 900 feet. A major part of the island is less than 200 feet above sea level. To get to the island, adventurous travellers can fly from Manila to Busuanga by chartered plane. 

The Calauit Wildlife Sanctuary dates back to 1976, when fresh from a Third World Conference former President Ferdinand Marcos answered a call to save endangered African animals. By virtue of a presidential decree issued on August 31, 1976, Calauit Island was declared a forest preserve and wildlife sanctuary managed by the private, non-profit Conservation and Resource Management Foundation.

In 1977, eight species of African animals from Kenya were brought to Calauit via the ship MV Salvador. This veritable Noah’s Ark held giraffes, zebras, impalas, waterbucks, gazelles, eland, topi and bushbacks. From the original stock of giraffes, zebras, bushbucks, elands, topis, waterbucks, impalas and gazelles roaming free without natural predators, the animal population has quadrupled over a 10-year period to almost 500 heads.

To make room for the wildlife, some 250 families of islanders were relocated and compensated with land titles on another island, a move highly criticised by opponents of Marcos. Critics also accused the Marcos government of transforming the island into a private safari, frequented by his coterie of friends and selected foreign guests.

Today, the Calauit Wildlife Sanctuary, however anachronistic its roots maybe in a tropical setting, attracts its regular share of tourists and visitors.

Long live Philippine wildlife!

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