Philippines – Puerto Princesa, Slum Cats

Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines, May 2016. On the look out for a view point and a good place might be from the pier in downtown, according to Google maps. So a 50 minute stomp towards the port and no view. The view should have been a panorama of the mountains but that’s been scuppered by a huge cruise ship, with Australians and Chinese passengers obviously on a jolly holiday. Yes, the entire skyline, obliterated with the biggest ship I’ve ever seen!

Maybe a view further along the bay front. Another stomp then towards the water front away from the port area. This part of town is kind of rough, actually looks like a slum. Yes, its a slum all-right – tin and tarpaulin held up with bamboos and various other materials. And something inside me just says go and explore the place. Cautiously at first sticking to the main street but its quite evident that the folk around here are very friendly indeed. All smiles and I doubt they’ve seen a tourist wandering around here for a while. No sign of those cruise ship passengers, no sign of any other tourists – its just me and them! Gangplanks over marsh and garbage leading to shacks they call home built on stilts.

This is real life, real people and I don’t feel any aggressive threat whatsoever – no, infact its quite a nice experience wandering around being the center of attention! I’d say a very positive experience without getting philosophical about a countries politics. I’ve seen amenities like a pool hall, a baseball court and a health center, all busy.

Its a small slum, nothing like those I’ve seen in Mumbai, but its an insight into the lives of Filipino’s and their families who have very little life choices. Its a trap that modern Western societies can only imagine. Not being any kind of philosophical expert here, but I’d say the positiveness I’m getting is coming from the resilience of the people around me!

Eating here though should be approached with caution – its a slum where folk don’t have the access to practice even a basic level of hygiene. With that in mind, I’m bravely going to eat something, but not before I make them heat it through thoroughly, not meat and definitely not fish. Its a kind of squash stew and they have it absolutely steaming, too hot to eat even. That’s fine as I pick out the pits of shrimp – yes, even steaming shrimp gets the disposal treatment.

On the whole though the place isn’t all that bad once one gets used to scene and smells! I figured on staying maybe an hour, I ended up staying pretty much all day. Google Map of slum.


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