Monday, September 30, 2013

Island Hopping Continues...

 Part II of Island Hopping in Honda Bay, Part I here.

I narrated on the previous post our escapades in the first island we landed on at Honda Bay, Palawan. After lunch we left that Starfish Island for our 2nd, that is Isla Pandan. Our 15 min boat ride was confronted with bigger water swells where our boat had a few roller coaster ride. Most of us got wet, I was sitting in front so I got the bulk of the water splashing on us. I confess i did some prayers, I called God to stop the waves. I told you i am scared of deep waters, but phobia never stop me from boat rides! Among us I got the biggest scare from those swells. We are so relieved in reaching the island.

 Pandan, Pandanus sp,  is a genus of palms that mostly thrive in saline soils. The welcome sign clearly informs tourists of its nature. The pandan palm luxuriously grows there and the island sign purposely placed near it. Look at the characteristics of the roots, they clearly resemble the mangrove root structure, posted in the previous post. Of course, coconuts are common plants in these islands.

In contrast with the previous Starfish Island, Pandan Island boasts of very soft smooth white sands, very ideal for family swimming. Small children can linger in the shallow waters very comfortably.

Kiosks like the above are prominently built near the beach for small groups. Larger ones are constructed farther from the shoreline, and more long tables are available for big groups. A life guard is also present near the swimming areas. 

I am fascinated with the fruits of this tree near the shore. They resemble the talisay (Terminalia catapa) nuts, but they are totally different. I still haven't learned of this tree species. 

 Rains and stronger winds accompanied us to this island. It suddenly got gloomy and rained intermittently. It is amusing how people converged in covered structures when it rains. I guess strong winds get you so cold when you're wet.  I even donned my rain jacket.  The bluish range at the background is the mainland where our base hotel is. That expanse of water scares me when there is wind, rain and swells. The above small boats accomodate up to eight people, while those below are considered bigger boats accomodating around 30 passengers.

 Which do you prefer to board through these waters, small or bigger boats?

 We saw some fishermen selling their catch like the rock lobsters above. Definitely, they are a lot cheaper here than when already in the city markets. There are enterprising folks who offer services to cook rice and broiled fish and crabs for interested visitors. It is a plus for the tourists because they can eat the very freshly cooked fresh catch, sometimes can be eaten on their shell. This island offers a marvelous feast, how i wish i can come back only to savor those marine catch.

 Above are spider shells and marine mussels. These are only eaten here in the island and not allowed to be brought to the mainland of Puerto Princesa. Maybe that goes with the dwindling availability of the spider shells, maybe approaching being endangered.

 That is the look of Pandan Island on our boat back for the city.  It is fully encircled with smooth, fine, white sands. No two islands have the same structure of beach and vegetation. For me, this is very prominent as well as that single tall tree at the island's center.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Day of Island Hopping!

We scheduled our 3rd day, actually our last day, in Palawan to island hopping in Honda Bay. We did not make a prior arrangement for the tour, we just hired a tricycle to the get-off point and hoped for some people to accomodate us in their boats. Six to eight people plus the two boatmen can be accomodated in small motor boats. We are fortunate that a family group of five willingly allowed us to join them. 

Honda Bay frames the expanse of Palawan's capital of Puerto Princesa.  The laid-back atmosphere, very clean waters of the bay with many islands scattered within it, make it one of the country's premiere destinations. It is best for snorkelling, swimming, scuba diving and even just plane picnics. I and my friend went there basically to see the place and some photo shoot. 

Above is a shot i took from the plane on our arrival. I am awed by the so many small islets scattered randomly in the bay. No two islands have the same characters, some are even just plane sandbars that might even be invisible during high tides. 

Some islands are thickly covered with mangroves, while the above has very sparsely growing mangroves and yet a nipa hut we locally call 'bahay kubo' is nicely braving all the storms passing these areas. It was installed in the highest portion because this island is partly covered by the sea during high tides and during typhoons. 

 We landed only in two islands, Starfish Island and Pandan Island. The photos here are all in Starfish Island, where we had our lunch. The beach is not of very fine sand but still lovely for snorkelling and swimming. Big areas at the back are covered with mature mangrove growths and the front is just newly planted with mangroves. These are very slow growing trees in sea water, but very useful in protecting the island from strong winds and waves. Moreover, they provide the best sanctuary for marine animals and fishes.

 This is the expanse of sandbar occupying the wider area in the island. Some people are in the islands, approved by the local tourism office to cater to some needs of tourists like cooking their food. They also sell some seafood for tourists to cook by themselves. There are also young coconuts as thirst quenchers, which nothing from any bottle can rival in taste and quality.

Some tourists, locals and foreigners alike come here to swim. 

Even just strolling along the expanse of the island is a wonderful activity.

We are extremely awed with the layers of colors of the waters which continue to the equivalent layers of colors of the mountain ranges. We even count the number of colors we can see. How many can you count?

Not many can resist the call of these very clear waters for swimming. But I and my friend are contented enough with observation and pictures. The few hours we spent there is not enough to do our shoots.

 We were both delightful in searching for the unusual in these mangrove forest. The trees are each supported by complicated root structures that seem to propel them up and hold them fixed at the same spot. They seem to be tiptoeing on the sand or are perennially standing on stilts. Their root system is obviously very different than their terrestrial counterpart.

 Look at those complicated, intensive proliferation of roots and root system. They seem to be twining ang gripping whatever they can hold on. Maybe they help each other by entertwining their roots among themselves, that way they are more resistant to the elements.

At the left are propagules of the mangroves. They are structured that way for easy self planting in sand. The rooting tip is heavy to easily anchor itself. I gathered some scattered propagules and intentionally planted them through the crab holes on the sand. Maybe i planted around 20 of them, i wish they can withstand the tides and winds and that at least I was able to contribute some live mangroves in this island. 

Above right its the map of Honda Bay and its relationship with Palawan's capital, Puerto Princesa. After lunch we boarded our boat again for another island. Our experiences there and my photos go to the next post. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Weekend in Palawan

Thick virgin forests on the mountain ranges are typical views in Palawan. This can be seen while still on the plane and while boarding off at the Puerto Princesa City airport. Above is a very pleasant sight for Metro Manila dwellers, away from the madding crowd!

 Some hillsides are already used for agricultural purposes, either for livestock or crop production. Views of the horizon are still beautiful with the layers and degrees of blue of the mountain ranges. When there are some patches of brown, denoting some quarrying or construction, it always feel like an eyesore inside the verdant greens.

This is the driveway to the Mitra Ranch, the provincial home of the late Senator Ramon Mitra, now tended by his sons. The ancestral home is located on the promontory overlooking the hills and the plains below.

This is the main building at Baker's Hill, where restaurants and bakery stores are available. The area is well landscaped and a new product line addition are the ornamental plants for sale. Many families and groups come here to eat and rest on the grounds. The garlic vine near the gate is blooming profusely, while the dome of bromeliad makes a beautiful front accent. A hut inside the compound is attractive also with full bromeliads as its roof, and dischidias hanging on the eaves. 

 This is an old Adenium obesum or dessert rose plant when started from seeds. They are prized for the unusual forms of the caudex or base of the plant. Below are rows of newly trimmed adeniums.

This trellis covers the walkway to the ancestral home of the Mitra clan. It is grown with a few varieties of Thunbergia gigantea. One is violet flowered and one is white, one is green leaves and the other is variegated leaves as shown in the photo below.  I wonder if these leaves just mutated already here or are already variegated when planted.

Our World Tuesday Graphic

[Outdoor Wednesday logo[4].png]

signs of season logo

Death by a Moth

An afternoon in the office front door while waiting for the taxi for home, i saw this moth inside the canopy of the Podocarpus sp. This plant's canopy is thick and complicated. I wouldn't have seen the insect if it hadn't flown out and then back again. The color was so conspicuous against the green background, that i immediately thought why of all plants it chose to stay there. Maybe, i told myself, that it was so scared to look for a more subtle background to hide in. Or maybe because moths are nocturnal, it might have been blind during the day. So i thought. And i immediately got my camera to painstakingly take the picture. The flash made it stuck deeper inside the canopy, and gave me more difficulty. If it wasn't the front of the office door, i would have lain flat on my chest to get it more vividly. The moth is about an inch long, but with very nice longitudinal patterns, like an elegant gown.

That night at home at the 5th Floor, i saw a moth again on the top of the wall above the sink. My immediate reaction is to climb the sink and take the shot. Fortunately, the arm of a chair is just a few feet away from the sink. I quickly got the camera, change the settings with the flash on, left foot stepped on the chair's arm with the right foot alighting the table top of the sink. Everything went in a flash.

I stumbled down the floor, water all over me and on the floor, my stretched right hand still holding the camera and my mind grasping for reason! The sudden consciousness immediately thanked God that the camera did not bang the cement wall or the floor, or else it would have been broken. I also suddenly realized i didn't notice the basinful of water at the side of the sink, which i spilled over. Drying the floor was an immediate action, which didn't take long. Then i noticed and felt the left toe was hurt, maybe it bumped hard on the floor. But at least it is not too much for doctor's attention.

Now it's time to analyze what happened. Aside from the basin of water and the foot that slipped, i can't remember anything anymore. I was just so happy the camera is intact, i only got a sore left toe, and i didn't bump my head on the cement wall. OMG, accidents do happen without any reason.  Then there is still the moth. So I climbed the sink again, now very slowly, sure footage, aim precisely and shoot!

I looked at the image in the camera. There the moth is, very clear, the same moth that i painstakingly shot this afternoon in front of the office door! I can almost hear it laughing at me! Oh my God, is it a witch? I can almost imagine the awe and intrigue that would have been created by this incident if it materialized. Everybody saying "death by a moth"! LOL.

P.S...i posted this in the butterfly group and learned it is Azota caricae of the Noctuidae family! 


nature notes logo

Thursday, September 12, 2013

My 5th Floor Window Views

I am so lucky for being at the 5th Floor, fully exposed to all the sunsents! For those who have followed my posts from my window, i know you like also my views. You will also agree that sunsets are like finger prints, they change by the minute, no two sunsets are the same.

These views are also very informative for me, just like an actual weather forecasting scene. The view above is just immediately after a shower.

Rainy season sunsets are even more dramatic than the dry season, because the clouds provide the more dramatic scenes. A few minutes after sunset, the sky is even more intense, just like above. Building and street lights are already ON, although the sky still provides the bright light.

The sun is still up in the horizon, and at this point i can still have a lot more minutes to shoot the scenes.

Other times, the colors are kinder, more purple than reds, and the clouds are the actors and actresses in my dramatic canvass!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Newly Found Critters

 This cricket is a familiar sight in many flowering plants in our garden. It is slow and doesn't get really scared with my presence. But when really agitated it just jump or fly away. It seldom do that, most times it allows me to take its many angles. This time it is caught in the act. I watched it when it was still alighting on the flower, waited till it ate the flower petal.
 Stingless bees also love the nectar of the Turnera subulata. Actually, many insects love it, although the rest of them are so quick to leave without letting me document them.

 This cotton bug, Dysdercus cingulatus, can also be seen in many flowering plants and weeds. I don't often see them in this flower but now it stayed there for a very long time.  Its long proboscis never retracted and for a long time just inserted deep down the flower throat where the nectar is.

A nocturnal hawksmoth, but its voracious larvae sometimes never leave a leaf for the plant to continue life, in other words the larva normally never leaves until the plant is completely bald.

This is an exoskeleton of a spider, but i didn't see the owner within the vicinity of its discarded clothing. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

One of the New 7 Wonders of Nature

Part II.
The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, commonly referred to as the Underground River contains globally important habitat for biodiversity conservation, which includes a full mountain-to-sea ecosystem. A more thorough description and video of the cave and its faunal species dwellers are presented in this official site: as well as this UNESCO site:

This marker visibly welcomes everyone on the receiving area after the boats docking shore. Tourism officers and park's staff are all around the area helping guests and replying to their queries, even if each group has also their own tourist guides.

 These wooden planks go direct to the lake in front of the Underground River entrance. Biodiversity of endemic and native plant species populate this area of the National Park. Some trees are also labeled with the common and Scientific names for the enthusiasts.

 An old tree with reclining side branches almost cover a big portion of the lake that in a few meters meets  the sea. This lake is brackish and is mixed with seawater backflow during high tide.

 The main facade of the entrance to the Underground River. It is adorned with naturally growing epiphytes, orchids, vines, trees and many other plants and organisms.

 The main and only entrance to the UR and cave, showing a boat full of tourists already on their way out.

 Tourists are obliged to wear the orange life vests and hard hats, while boatmen are dressed in blue. One boatman manually paddles the boat and maneuvers it through the labyrinthine passageways inside the cave.

 These are the group of tourists waiting for their turn to ride the boats to the cave. There is also a systematic queue for the boats to beautifully implement traffic and safety measures.

 Different forms of the rock structures can be deciphered from the formations inside the cave walls and ceilings. The stalactites are the most spectacular, but there are no prominent stalagmites as drippings fall mostly on water.
These structures are very prominent and beautiful, made specifically by the minerals left when water flows on them. These are still actively growing because water still continue to drip along those lines carrying the cations to be deposited here that will eventually lengthen and enlarge them.

 Boats going in at the right and go out at the left and the traffic continues in a few minute intervals making a queue like an organized parade.

 There is a fluted roof pattern in some cave roofs. The presence of 20 million year old Serenia fossil embedded in the walls of the cave justifies its declaration as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Above figures are bats making these cave their home. One side branch dome of the cave is called Bat cave because a lot of bats converge in that area. The smell of guano (a very good fertilizer) or bat excretions is very prominent near the Bat Cave. Several chambers are seen in the expanse of the UR tour.

 Can you see the big bird resting on the wall? What about the dog that seems to be communicating with the bird. The focused light is from the flashlight provided to each boat and held by one of the passengers in front of the boatman. He points to the side directed by the boatman.

 The entrance viewed from inside on our way out. It takes at least 45 minutes to navigate the entire cave.

Those rock nodules at the foot of the rock are caused by water decomposing minerals found in the rocks.

Those horizontal lines at the foot of the rocks are caused by levels of water because of the changing tides.

This is already the close-up of the UR facade showing the wall with criss-crossing boulders.

Related Posts with Thumbnails