I am not a stranger to Palawan. I swam in Kayangan Lake, soaked in Maquinit Springs and visited the Subterranean River National Park. I had my fair share of lobster, shrimp, Vietnamese pho and cashew nuts. I’ve been to Coron and Puerto Princesa for work and vacations before, but I have never been to El Nido.
Ease of traveling makes El Nido more accessible. It only takes less than an hour from Manila via AirSwift. El Nido Airport is five to 10 minutes away from Lio Tourism Estate where we were billeted. No to plastic
Our hotel practices responsible tourism which meant that there were noticeable differences in amenities. There was no bottled water in our room so you have to go bring your own tumbler to be refilled at the water station. Body soap, shampoo and conditioner are available through refillable dispensers in the shower. Disposable toothbrushes need to be requested from the front desk. Restaurants, shops and bars face the beach but it’s a long walk to the water following the 40-meter easement law. The establishments are a welcome convenience for its variety of food choices or if you forgot sunblock or insect repellent. These structures also disappear if you are on the boat because they are hidden by lush trees. Bringing your own tumbler is also a must when you go island hopping. Helicopter Island is closest from Lio and we reach it in 15 minutes via speedboat. But we were in awe of the Secret Lagoon which we chanced upon without other tourists. The limestone rock formation hides a serene beach area within. It’s a place where you can take in the sound and beauty of Palawan.Our guide named Lover (not a joke) talked about the local ordinance of not bringing seashells with us home. He also told us how tourism improved the lives of the locals because they earn more by touring guests. Some restaurants like Happiness Beach Bar and Jungle Bar used locally made wooden plates and utensils to serve our food. Save Our Spots
Lio Beach makes the perfect setting for the launch of the Department of Tourism (DOT)-led bayanihan movement, Save Our Spots (SOS). Bayanihan is a term used when the community works together to help out.
“The SOS campaign reminds us all to respect our tourist destinations, wherever you are, and whatever your role in the community is,” says Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat. Puyat said that Palawan is the perfect place to launch the movement because the province practices sustainable tourism. SOS is not limited to Palawan. It covers every corner of the country. It does not target a specific group of people. It targets every Filipino and their guests to help preserve the country’s tourist destinations.
The YouTube video’s battlecry is “Make the fun last forever,” obviously taking off from DOT’s “It’s more fun in the Philippines.”The movement does not ask for extraordinary efforts from ordinary people. It urges everyone to be more conscious when they are traveling.
Some acts include bringing your own reusable bottle with you instead of buying plastic single-use ones and being careful not to touch the corals when snorkeling.
SOS also aims to make travelers respect the rules unique to the places they visit like not feeding the whale sharks.
“These are little things but it adds up. We always say that the Department of Tourism can’t do this alone. We need help from the local government and especially the private sector,” Puyat said.