PUERTO PRINCESA CITY -- Palawan, which was was recently included in CNN Travel's list of 10 of the world's most beautiful islands, boasts of pristine beaches, wonderful feats of nature, and great food.
“Palawan has been consecutively voted as the most beautiful island in the world… and Puerto Princesa is actually the gateway to many attractions in Palawan,” said Nam Keong Yeoh, cluster general manager of the Best Western Plus The Ivywall Hotel in Puerto Princesa, when asked about the draw of the city.
Indeed, Puerto Princesa has its own charms, including providing a great base to get to Palawan’s many attractions like the Puerto Princesa Underground River, the Ihawig firefly watching tour, or Honda Bay, among others.
But what if you’re all-natured out and just want to stay in the city? During our recent stay at the Best Western Ivywall, we discovered three off-the-beaten-path options for the city-bound Puerto Princesa traveler.
1. Kusina ni Tito Ernie
Located in Abanico Road, this restaurant hides many delicious secrets. Sip a cool glass of their sampalok iced tea and order any of their sandwiches or rice bowls.
Their sandwiches use homemade kamote bread (which they also use to make French toast) with filling options like their mind-blowing home-smoked pork belly bacon or their smoked fish spread, also using home-smoked fish.
You can have that bacon (that’s really more like a liempo) in a rice bowl as well, but I’d suggest you opt for Lola Glo’s Beef Adobo instead, which has twice-cooked adobo floss, served on rice with an egg and house pickles.
Pickles are a big thing in Kusina ni Tito Ernie, as they pickle everything that they produce from their farm to prevent wastage. During our visit, this included some bottled burong manga (pickled mangoes), and even mango kimchi, two unlikely but very delectable Palawan pasalubong options.
2. Rurungan sa Tubod
Beside Kusina ni Tito Ernie stands the Rurungan sa Tubod Foundation’s shop and weaving center. Created in 1999 to provide livelihood to women in the poverty-stricken areas of Palawan, the foundation creates and sells pina-woven items in their shop, as well as in some selected shops in Manila.
Call ahead and you can arrange for an enlightening tour to see how the process of pina-seda is created from pina threads that are harvested and dried to the actual weaving of these threads into silk on wooden looms. You can even try out weaving yourself if you’re so inclined.
Shop for one-of-a-kind souvenirs from eye-catching and colorful blouses, shawls, coin-purses, and bags.
3. Palaweño Brewery
As the first all-female beer brewers of the Philippines, Ayah Javier and Malu Lauengco’s craft brewery has made waves not only in the Philippine craft beer scene (as one of its pioneers) but also worldwide with two of their Ayahay craft beers being included in the Ultimate Guide to the World’s Best Craft Beers by American Express Essentials. These are: the Honey Nut Brown Ale that uses Palawan honey from the Batac tribe, tasting of molasses, spice, and caramel; and the Ayahay IPA that is unapologetically strong, dark, and hoppy.
"Innovate or die," brewmaster Javier said during our visit. It’s a principle that the brewery lives up to, coming up with limited runs of a new-style craft beer every month (it was Duhat beer or Purple Rain that month), as well as new alcoholic brews like their delicious Coconut Rum with some exciting items in the pipeline like mead.
There are two ways to visit this award-winning craft brewery. The first is the more relaxed option — you just drop by their Tap Room and sample their beers. The second is more involved — you schedule a microbrewery tour.
If you’re a craft beer aficionado or just someone that wants to know more about craft beer, the second option holds many surprises including a craft beer 101 class, a microbrewery tour, and of course, beer tastings. Either way, it’s always fun to drink these great craft beers proudly made in Palawan.
Palaweño Brewery is in 82 Manalo Street, Puerto Princesa City.