After our little mini-vacation, we headed back to Puerto Princesa. We went and got our laundry and our toiletries, all our food. This time spent in Palawan on our own really showed us how we’ve become pretty accustomed to many of the nuances of the Filipino lifestyle/culture. We were always pretty good at figuring things out as we went but now we had experience that allowed an element of smoothness to working out transportation, accommodations and communication.
After we sorted out our errands we met up with Mom C and Ma’am Pia as they had just arrived from Manila that day. We were so excited to see Mom C since we hadn’t been able to really spend time with her since being in Ilocos, and her presence was much like that of a mothers, providing a sense of security and calmness.
The next day we began our barangay hopping. Instead of spending time with each team for a few days as did in Ilocos, we were moving quickly, going to at least 2-3 subteams a day. It was really special to able to meet so many great researchers and see different parts of the city, but it was also very sad that we would meet them, and then leave so abruptly. Taking measurements in the morning and then going house to house in another barangay later that day. The theme of kindess and hospitality continued at each and every barangay. We also got see how difficult living conditions can get for the researchers as many of the more urban barangays are nestled in between other buildings and do not contain enough space to properly house a whole team.
It was starting to come to my realization that this experience was nearing its end. We only had 6 days in PPC and it was slipping away so quickly. The goodbyes at each team were piling up and it hurt my heart every time we would be just getting to know a group and then leaving.
Tuesday we went biking along the Puerto Princesa Port Baywalk, which was so fun. The sunsets here are incomparable to anywhere else I have been in my life.
We continued with work till friday, when we decided to do a tour of the famous Underground River, one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. The area is heavily protected and it was so amazing just boating to the cave along the shore. To get to the cave entrance itself we walked through a portion of jungle, where we got to see monkeys!
The cave itself was breathtaking. The collosal caverns were filled with intricate rock formations and teaming with life, from bats to birds and massive groupers. The cave also allows your creativity to run wild, a lot like cloud watching. One person sees stalagtite as an angel, another person sees a dinsosaur.
On the boat ride back from the cave we zilplined over a small bay with a gorgeous view of the mountains and ocean.
The next day we went out for a bittersweet pizza lunch, the fact that we were leaving Mom C and our fieldwork for the last time looming over us. It was sort of the beginning of the end our trip, and it hurt. We got to the airport and shared a tearful goodbye. Heavy hearts weighed down the plane on our return to Manila.