Uncovering the charms

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orosaAs a last hoorah before the rainy season, we decided to fly to what is known as the country’s last frontier, Coron in Palawan. With really no great expectations about this trip, we packed for a weekend we thought would be just like any other beach getaway. I guess Coron is one of those places that people tell you about, but one you can never truly appreciate until you’ve seen it.

The moment you drive to the city from the airport though, you will be left in awe at the green tapestry of verdant grass laid like carpet across hectares of mountains and valleys.

The absence of concrete buildings and any other man-made structure to mar the landscape is such a rare sight. The scenery reminds you that even in the simplicity of nature, there is perfection.

The town of Coron is as rustic as it gets, and hopefully one that stays ultimately free of the modern mall syndrome that most of our cities are wont to have. The town is quite busy at daytime with most weekend tourists plying its narrow streets and docks in shorts and cotton shirts. Like most rural towns, the center of the city is its marketplace, where the freshest catch abounds. With everything in Coron town a 10-minute tricycle ride away, it is quite easy to get much needed supplies and whatever you need here.

Finding a good place to dine in Coron isn’t difficult to do either with various restaurants around town. The choices of fresh seafood in most restaurant menus more than make up for the lapses in service. But for us, the odd find of a delightful, rustic, unassuming French bistro called Bistro Coron made our weekend getaway even more delightful. Bistro Coron’s forte has to be their sumptuous steak dish topped with either herb and garlic butter or peppercorn sauce. The pastas and pizzas were also quite surprisingly delicious. For one to find a rare culinary delight in Coron was absolutely charming, that in fact we had to dine twice at this bistro in one day.

The other discovery that made our summer weekend in Coron most enjoyable was staying in an eight-room boutiqu-resort called Sophia’s Garden Resort. Sophia’s is the home most of us dream of —with its intricate wood accents and updated Filipino architecture, cabanas spread out across its half-hectare property, and well-manicured lawns that make early mornings simply divine. Still in its first few months, the resort certainly has the makings of a place-to-be on this island.

The minute our motorboat cruised along Coron Bay toward Siete Pecados, my family and I were all just overcome by the majestic mountains and limestone formations. Even more, every fear of the deep sea vanished the moment we saw the immaculately clear blue waters teeming with marine life. We all could not resist jumping off the boat to snorkel in.

Hiking up and down 300- steep and craggy steps was all worth it too when we reached Kayangan Lake. Here, my teen-aged kids could not refrain from diving into the lake’s tepid water basin naturally bordered by limestone. As we cruised further into Coron Bay, we all frolicked like young children in the pristine waters and basked in the pockets of white sand beaches hidden behind alcoves.

Perhaps, Coron does not have the vibe of Boracay as most young people look for. But once there, you will realize how much you miss hearing crickets chirping or seeing frogs jumping out of nowhere. While there, you will find yourself appreciating quietness and serenity yet again. Ultimately though, it is the picturesque landscape and unsullied natural wonders of Coron that make this island a must-see.

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