Before we come to Puerto Princesa I just have to say a few words on the Philippines starting with: I love the Philippines!. If you have never been to this wonderful archipelago before, it is time now to do so.
Not only that the Philippines can boast some of the most beautiful tropical islands in the world. But in this country you also meet the most friendly and warm hearted people you have hardly ever met anywhere else in the world.
Thailand is nicknamed the “Land of Smiles”. The Cambodians are just as known for their famous “Cambodian Smile”. And I wonder why the Philippines have never been attributed with their smile and friendliness.
Wherever you go the people smile at you and greet you with a “Welcome to the Philippines, Sir!”. You will even hear it from the children chasing you on the street and asking for your name. Go to a restaurant or in a shop and the staff will always treat you like a king. “Can I help you, Sir?”, “What else can I do for you, Sir?” “Thank you, Sir!”, “You are welcome, Sir!”.
In contrast to many other countries with much less natural politeness (try Berlin for a change!) one never feels that this kind of friendliness is superficial. You rather think that it all comes from the bottom of their heart and is meant honestly. And having spent a few days here you will get infected, adopt your own behaviour and suddenly start to smile yourself much more than you usually do. And you feel good!
OK, now to Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan Island. Palawan is one of the poorest and least developed part of the Philippines and is located a one hour flight south west of Manila. The economy is mainly based on agriculture and fishing.
Puerto Princesa has a population of roughly 240.000. But when you leave the airport and just turn onto the main street of the city and finally reach the centre after maybe two kilometres you do not feel like being in such a big town. It all appears like a medium and quiet provincial city. The houses have no more than two storeys and the traffic is dominated by the tricycles.
After I checked in at my hotel, which actually is more like a simple guest house, I rented a motorbike and was driving down to the seaside. I first passed a nice church. When I entered I realised that a burial ceremony for a child was taking place and I did not want to disturb too much with the klick-klack of my camera.
After I left the church an old lady approached me asking where i come from. Like all Filipinos this old woman enjoyed that I took a picture of her. But naturally she was also a bit shy claiming that she was too ugly and old.
I went on to the ocean where I found i small community of fishermen who live under pretty poor circumstances together with their families. Some of the houses close to the water were build on stilts.
The roads were unpaved and a lot of chicken were running around but not all.
As always I was quickly approached by the children who could not wait to be photographed.
As one can see the dark clouds were hanging very low and i got a bit concerned about the rain to follow soon. I left the fishermen and had a drink in one of those typical small kiosks which you find every fifty meters along the roads. It was right at a crossing. And as it was 4 pm already the children were on their way back from school. An ideal place to keep your camera on your lap and just wait.
I must admit that one of my favourite subjects are children. But I similarly like to shoot images of the daily life in the streets.
This image was taken just around the corner from where I stay. It is very poor area.
In the evening I had dinner at a restaurant called Kanubuchs on the main road. It is like sitting in a huge beer garden and they serve excellent traditional Filipino food. I had a coleslaw salad, a half fried chicken and fried prawns. OK! OK! This sort of dishes you can by anywhere on the world but I needed it tonight.
And then the nightlife! Nightlife? No nightlife in Puerto Princesa! A few restaurants along the main road, a hand full of Karaoke bars, and that was it.
Click the slide show above the post to see more images.