Coron Palawan: We Said We’d Be Back
We knew the drill. NAIA Terminal 3. Boarding gates downstairs in the overly crowded and hot waiting area. Useless Internet. Smoking room by the coffee shop selling Illy. A delayed flight came as no surprise. In fact we expected it. It didn’t make it easier though. We could hardly contain our excitement. We were only one hour away from our paradise if only our plane would get here. Flying in and out of Coron depends on the weather as the tiny airport has no radar or lights so pilots have to rely on their eyes to land. If there is fog in the morning the first flight could be delayed creating a domino effect with later flights.
When we flew past the island of Mindoro we knew we were getting closer to Busuanga. Small picturesque islands popped up surrounded by turquoise waters. A quarter of the Philippines 7,107 islands can be found in the province of Palawan. I looked at ‘the Chef.’ He was looking outside the window. He looked happy. I don’t think you could have taken away that smile of his. It went too deep.
We landed to an abrupt stop on a crazy short runway. As soon a we gathered our luggage we looked for our ride. Our van sped out of the rain soaked airport and we breathed a sigh of contentment. It felt like home. This was the island of Busuanga.
We passed rolling hills and savanna like topography dotted with skinny cows before reaching the main highway and rice fields. We found out the cows were an experiment by the late dictator president Marcos who had a vision for the Philippines to become the beef capital of Asia. His idea was to cross-breed a native cow with an Australian cow. When he was ousted all his projects came to an abrupt end and now only a small fraction of cows remained in the fields.
In about 30 minutes we reached the town. Finding affordable accommodations for our needs was a challenge. Our ‘Pink House’ was rented out till October so it was not available. After talking to some of our contacts and scouring the web we were able to secure a two bedroom suite at the Diamond Lodge.
We had a small kitchen, dining area, living room and Filipino style washroom. I’m not too keen on a toilet and shower all-in-one where the floor is perpetually wet or walking up four flights of stairs but we had the whole floor to ourselves complete with roof top walk out and view of the town and Coron Island.
‘The Fisherman’s Son’ was waiting for us at Winnie’s. He is always on time and shot us a text. It’s the Chef’ who was now running on Filipino time. I was anxious and nervously excited. I didn’t know what to expect. He gave us the brightest smile, the biggest hug, the most sincere welcome without reservation and from the depth of his heart. Later we would find out this passion could also explode in a completely negative way. Coron may seem like paradise but it’s not perfect and like all places you need to take the good with the bad.