Tag Archives: Palawan Philippines

#265 Kalayaan Islands

Philippine navy boats dock on one of the island reefs in Spratly Islands

Spratly Islands (also known as Kalayaan Islands in the Philippines) is a group of about 100 low islands and coral reefs in the central South China Sea, which intersects busy shipping lanes. The whole group is claimed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, while parts are claimed by Malaysia and the Philippines. The Philippine claim in the Spratlys or Kalayaan Island group covers eight islands and reefs.

The islands, valued primarily for the petroleum and gas potential of the surrounding waters and to a lesser degree for their fishing grounds, are occupied by their claimants. In 1984 Brunei established an exclusive economic zone encompassing Louisa Reef, but it has not claimed the islet. There have been many disputes and some fighting, most notably between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels in 1988 and 1992. The Spratlys remain a source of tension among the claimants.

A 2002 agreement between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China called for all claimants to avoid activities that would heighten tensions over the islands. In 2004, China and the Philippines signed agreements to stop illegal fishing and to explore jointly for oil in the islands; the bilateral accord was criticized by Vietnam.

About 45 islands are occupied by relatively small numbers of military forces from China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Brunei has established a fishing zone that overlaps a southern reef but has not made any formal claim. (Source: Excerpted from www.answers.com and other web sources)

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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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#111 Coron

Coron Island is located at the northern tip of Palawan in the Philippines and is known for its superb diving sites. A Wikipedia entry says several Japanese shipwrecks World War II vintage have created pleasant rock formations around the wrecks which provide for excellent snorkelling with underwater visibility extending up to 80 feet.

Coron boasts of different reef dives sites including Günter´s Cave also known as Cathedral Cave which got it name since during the right time of the day, the sun throws a beam of light through a hole in the cave-ceiling, illuminating the inside. The cave is named after Günther Bernert, a member of the first dive-group the explored the cave.

Wreck diving Sites in Coron Bay include the Irako Wreck, Okikawa Maru Wreck, and Akitsushima Wreck, among many others. East Tangat Gunboat Wreck (real name of the ship, Teru-Kaze Maru) was recently discovered by a group of Dutch divers, who spent a couple of days digging into bottom sand around the stern.

The aquatic views from the sunken Japanese warships off Coron Island are listed in Forbes Traveler Magazine’s top 10 best scuba diving sites in the world.

Mabuhay ang Coron!

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