The jump-off point to island hopping in Honda Bay is Sta. Lourdes Wharf just north of Puerto Princesa City proper. I have seen this wharf evolve into the modern (compared to other Philippine wharves or ports) facility that it is now. I guess this is possible if both national and local government really put the necessary resources to improve such infrastructure that obviously benefits everyone and not just the tourists who happen to flock to this port for island-hopping trips.
The local tourism office and amenities like toilets are housed in this building. What it used to be was a building made out of bamboo with nipa and a few iron sheets for roofing. Boats were moored just behind the building in what looked like a chaotic set-up for tourists and islanders. There was no concrete road 5 years ago and the dirt road was a muddy mess during the wet season.
Philippine Coast Guard station at the wharf
Outriggers carrying passengers; mostly tourists on the Honda Bay island hopping package
This larger boat is not necessarily for tourists but for ferrying passengers between the mainland and the smaller islands off Palawan. It is obviously of sturdier design and has a bigger passenger capacity.
Our outrigger waiting for us to board. The crew consisted of two boatmen – one handling the motor and driving the boat while another was in-charge of handling the line, anchor and maneuvering the boat from the port and towards the sea (with just a bamboo pole as a tool).
A snapshot of other boats docked along the wharf shows mostly outriggers. In the background at about right is a glimpse of a Philippine National Police fast craft. The PNP has a maritime unit complementing the Philippine Coast Guard and those stationed in Palawan have modern fast craft capable of giving chase to pouchers and pirates in their speedy boats.
A Chinese boat moored at the PNP dock. This fishing boat was intercepted by Philippine authorities illegally fishing in Philippine waters. This was the subject of well-circulated news reports showing the Chinese were catching endangered species like sea turtles and were carrying live and dead pangolins and other wildlife they were smuggling out of Palawan (with the help of shady Filipinos, of course).
I think the Sta. Lourdes Wharf is a good example of adequate port facilities serving both passengers (including tourists) and goods. It provides for the basic needs of users though there is usually some congestion at the port due to increasing tourism activities. The wharf practically becomes a parking lot to tourist vehicles during certain times of the day and this becomes serious during the peak tourism months. This, however, is a minor concern for now. Access to the wharf is also excellent with good quality concrete roads from the city centre to the wharf; a combination of national and local roads being developed to a standard that makes them “all-weather” and comfortable for use by travellers using all types of vehicles. This is something that can and should be replicated for similar ports around the country not just for tourism areas but basically to address the needs of travellers and goods.
A few articles came out of Sun Star Cebu recently regarding an activity over the weekend that was supposed to promote road sharing. I read four articles by different opinion writers. These may be found in the following links:
- A crazy exercise [Bobby Nalzaro, September 28, 2014]
- Sharing narrow roads [Opinion, September 29, 2014]
- Road sharing, road rage [Eddie Barrita, September 30, 2014]
- Green Loop’s faulty premises [Bong Wenceslao, September 30, 2014]
The first three articles seem to be more like reactions of motorists to activities that seek to promote road sharing and cycling in particular. The writers missed the point in so far as road sharing is concerned and are definitely biased towards the status quo in terms of road usage. However, some of their observations need to be qualified as certain roads seem to have been closed with little advise to the general public, many of whom take public transport. The last article is the more grounded one and explains the perspective of non-bikers who are public transport users. This is the calmer opinion among the four and expresses his points in a more objective manner.
I was not there and I haven’t read yet any articles from the organizers or participants to the activity. I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt in so far as their advocacy is concerned. But then one also has to consider the valid points raised by other road users whenever road sharing is equated to cycling rather than a more balanced mix that is focused towards maximising the number of people or amount of goods transported. It is not only a question of space but of efficiency of movement. Bicycles might be efficient in energy but unfortunately it is not the most efficient in terms of the number of people carried between origins and destinations. And we can never decongest our streets in order to make more space for cyclists and pedestrians if we cannot come up with efficient public transport systems that will encourage people to leave their cars or not to buy one in the first place. It can be argued that people are actually opting for motorcycles than bicycles for commuting – another trend that needs to be understood from the perspective of people making these choices for their transport needs.
The multi-level parking facility of NAIA Terminal 3 is open. I have not been to T3 in a while and saw that the multi-level parking was operational only upon returning from a trip to Palawan last week. Last night, as I maneuvered to the open parking lot prior to fetching a friend at the airport, I was directed by airport security to the multi-level facility upon being informed that the open parking lot was already full. Following are a few photos of the multi-level parking at NAIA Terminal 3.
The entrance and exit to the multi-level parking facility is at the end of the arrival level driveway.
Motorists should keep to the right heading towards the parking building. There are two lanes clearly marked for the entrance.
There are two booths but there is currently a desk where staff issue parking tickets to users.
Driving inside the facility, one realises that it is spacious and could handle the vehicles generated by the additional flights begin served by T3.
Not many people seem to be aware that the parking building is now operational based on the many spaces still available around the multi-level facility. Most people still use the open lot across from the terminal unless its closed off (full) and security staff direct them to the parking building.
Most driveways are 2-way and so provides good traffic circulation inside the facility.
While it took some time for authorities to finally open the multi-level parking at T3, it is a most welcome development considering many international airlines have been transferring operations to T3. These include Cathay Pacific, Delta, Emirates, Japan Airlines and Singapore Airlines among others that will be using T3 as T1 is being rehabilitated. The rates are the same as the open lot (I paid PHP 40.oo for almost 3 hours parking.) and because your vehicle will be basically indoors, it is a good option for trips where you opt to leave your car at the airport (park & fly). NAIA charges PHP 200 per night but I think this is a very reasonable rate assuming that this is a more secure facility compared to the open lot.