No matter how small the world is, there are still places in existence seen only by few human eyes.
“What dark secrets do you keep hidden from the world? Where would you go if no one could find you? What would you do if no one could see you?” – P.C.Cast
Places which still manage to surprise and awe us, challenging our notion that we have seen everything in this modern media age.
As proof, such a place can be found in the Philippines, cut off from roads by the Sierra Madre Mountain Range, accessible only by a 14 hour boat ride or a private chartered flight.
The place is Palanan, Isabela.
(First glimpse of Palanan, Isabela)
(The morning after the all night boat ride going to Palanan, Isabela)
Palanan only allows a short period of time for visitors during a year, usually summer (March-May). When monsoon season starts there is no boat or plane available in the area that can break through the weather barrier, cutting Palanan off from the rest of the world.
These natural barriers are the very reason why Palanan has been able to preserve its beauty.
Today, Palanan still can boasts about its pristine white sand beaches surrounded by the lush green environment.
Palanan has preserved its marine resources which make fresh seafood plentiful and available on the cheap.
If luck is on your side, Palanan might even allow a rare wave to be surfed during summer time.
(Palanan Beach, raw and natural)
(Fresh seafood. Forgot to take pictures of the lobsters and monster shrimps)
(In search for rare waves during summertime)
But Palanan’s most valuable treasure is the abundance of silence which sadly is the rarest commodity in our modern world.
Sitting in Palanan, with all the things mentioned would make for a much needed retreat to release anyone from life’s burdens.
Ironically, Palanan is able to offer what most of us don’t have, experiencing just the basics of life.
(Basics of life, just tents for accommodation)
(Basics of life, candlelit dinner as there was no electricity)
Sadly the natural barriers that protect Palanan are the same barriers that protect those who threaten to destroy it.
Away from the eyes of most men are clear signs that covert mining operations are going on.
It is anyone’s guess whether the mining operations are legal and if adequate environmental safeguards are in place, but few people are around to raise the critical question.
(Covert mining operations happening in Palanan Isabela. Legal or not?)
It is important to remember that if an operation is covert in the Philippines, it is highly probable that it is illegal.
The mere fact that these companies mine on very inaccessible mountain sides at the very edge of the sea raises doubt.
Tractors work day and night digging soil that would be loaded in a small transport boat. These transport boats then carry the mined soil to deep waters where a big cargo ship waits.
Palanan locals speculate that these are foreign mining companies. None of the locals who spoke knew if these mining companies went through proper licensing procedures.
Eyes that have seen these operations are uncommon given that the passenger transport boat to Palanan is the only way to see these mining operations. Unfortunately it is only given a quick glance as it runs a maximum of three trips per week during the rare times the weather allows it to pass by.
(Mining operations in Palanan, Isabela. Boat transporting mined soil and a tractor)
For these mining companies, it is perfect for them to operate in Palanan. As far as the rest of world is concerned, the beauty of Palanan doesn’t exist.
When Palanan becomes more accessible in the future people would only see a horrible Palanan and it would be hard to believe how beautiful Palanan once was.
Don’t let this happen.
Travel to Palanan, no matter how difficult,
It would be worth experiencing Palanan for yourself and telling the world about its wonders.
If you can’t, telling the world about the on-going covert mining operations will greatly help in preserving Palanan.
Such action would encourage people to raise the question regarding the legality of the mining operations in Palanan.
Travel and Save Palanan.
(Let’s make sure that Palanan will survive for tomorrow)
(Nicco Lampa visited Palanan Bay, Isabela, Philippines on May 23, 2013 until May 26, 2013)