Doing good & getting dirty
FULLY LOADED - Mikael Daez (Pilipino Star Ngayon) - November 23, 2014 - 12:00am

I have always been and, most probably, will always be infatuated with the beaches of the Philippines. I grew up taking regular summer trips with the family all over the country. I even remember my parents saving up to take all of us (we were seven siblings at that time) to a virgin Boracay back in 1999 — there were no commercial establishments yet and Stations 2 to 3 were non-existent. My appreciation and love for sand and surf has only grown as I’ve gotten older.

Recently, I joined an advocacy campaign called Do Good Get Dirty and my obligations with them took me to Sabang beach in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. It’s a two-hour drive from the local airport and right beside the jump-off point to the popular Underground River. However, the biggest impression Sabang left with me was its beauty! In a nutshell, the beach was absolutely gorgeous! But really, it’s so difficult trying to describe its beauty in words so I hope my photos help you visualize my experience.

Sabang beach has an expansive shoreline which I prefer; it just feels right for beaches to have vast amounts of space, especially since city life always feels so cramped (referencing the horrible traffic). At the same time, the view has to be awesome. I don’t mind if the sand isn’t purely white but it’s a big plus if it’s clean and fine. I’m not a fan of rocky beaches that need me to bring footwear just to walk around. And of course, the water — crystal-clear water and wading levels that stretch out forever are what I like. It’s no fun walking two feet into the sea and finding myself in 10 feet deep waters. It rarely happens but Sabang beach ticked every box in my beach checklist.

As for activities in the area, there are quite a few very interesting ones. First and most notable is the “Tamiluk challenge.” It’s a woodworm that you find inside the bark of mangroves and this Puerto Princesa is known for challenging tourists to overcome their fears and try it. It doesn’t look very appetizing but for the sake of adventure, I think it’s worth a shot. It makes for great video bloopers at least. I ate Tamiluk twice — the first one soaked in vinegar (it wasn’t so bad) and the second one fresh from the mangrove bark (that was quite bad!). I do not think I’ll be looking for Tamiluk dishes in the near future. For the curious out there, I’d say it’s like eating a six-inch-long oyster that is extremely malansa.

On a better note, I found my favorite zipline in the world. I’ve been on a lot of ziplines but the view from the one in Sabang was unforgettable. The view could easily pass as a shot from the movie The Beach. Ziplining over trees is cool but ziplining over a beautiful island takes the cake and the whole table!

Aside from its beauty, there’s a lot to learn from the community. There are conservation efforts to protect the natural resources in the area and that’s an advocacy I am willing to fully support. I want to be able to preserve the beauty of our country and I’m aware that it takes a conscious effort to do that. In Palawan, one of their main efforts goes to protecting their mangrove habitats.

During my time in Sabang, I was taken on a mangrove-planting crash course. I learned the basic biology of mangroves and their importance in our ecosystem. Apparently, they protect coastal cities from storm surges — those huge tsunami-like waves that come in during super typhoons. Given the damage that these natural calamities have done to our provinces, it makes sense to make the most of the defenses available to us.



In line with supporting mangrove rehabilitation, we went into the heart of one of the mangrove habitats in Puerto Princesa and planted away! We would plunge baby mangroves into the water to make sure they were firmly rooted to the mud and voila! — as simple as that, we ensured that there was one more mangrove bound to grow in that habitat. Mangrove planting did have its fair share of challenges though. Wading into the mangrove area meant sinking our feet into a foot of water and another foot of mud. Also, there’s a sense of adventure given that mangroves are the favorite habitats of crocodiles. Either way, we came out intact as we successfully planted a good amount of baby mangroves and did our part in trying to rehabilitate them.

Overall, it was such a great and well-rounded experience. I got to travel, appreciate the beauty of our country, and take part in the conservation efforts to ensure that things stay that way. Not a bad trip to one of the most gorgeous places I’ve seen in our country.

(For comments and suggestions, please e-mail me at

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