The first thing that strikes everybody about Puerto Princessa is the
cleanliness. Streets are clean, yards are clean, everywhere is clean. It's
eerie - something is wrong here. An hour ago I was in Manila. Now I'm
antiseptic - and still in Asia.
first visit was in 1995 on the invitation of a rare Asian animal - another
environmentalist. I am a skeptical journalist, a political animal who's seen
all sorts of politicians, yet I found Mayor Ed Hagedorn to be an authentic
charismatic - primarily because he's such a Down To Earth character. He
walks with a swagger and a twinkle in the eye, always with a slight smile
that says everything OK and under control - and isn't this "feeling" a fun
experience. Despite a non-stop chain of VIPs, at official functions Hagedorn
finds a way to leave a Senator or Government Minister in good hands so the
Mayor can mingle with his people.
Mayor Ed had a right to be happy. He was, and is, leader of Utopia. There
must blemishes in Princessa, but over the past eleven years, my skeptical
and curious eye hasn't found them. I gave it ten years to follow Puerto
Princessa before I endorsed the place - it just had to be too good to be
true, and Asia is always full of surprises.
There were some setbacks, but the legend of Puerto Princessa grew with
each new environmental achievement. Now I've put together this website - pro
bono - to spread the word that "Pepperland", the mythical Utopia of the
Beatles Movie Yellow Submarine, does exist, and you find it in the
Asia and our entire Planet need more Princessa's - and fast. Hopefully,
my small effort encourages journalists, academics, planners,
environmentalists, government officials, and families to visit, observe,
enjoy and communicate this remarkable civic phenomenon, then plant similar
seeds back home.
Bring your children so they see with their own eyes that it is possible
to recover and preserve the environment, and it is their duty to continue
the cause. Our kids will inherit tough environmental challenges requiring
creative solutions, and the foundations of those solutions already exist in
When folks do think of Puerto Princessa, the
legendary Mayor Ed Hagedorn is their first thought.
However, the humble
mayor is first to admit the Princessa success story is a grassroots
effort inspired by several truly creative people including Jane Timbancaya-Urbanek, author of "Pista Y Ang Kageban, the Festival of the
Forest, an inspiring Children's' book for kids up to 100 years.
I'm proud to say this is the one and only on-line version, and my first
attempt at an online large format picture book. Jane Timbancaya-
The tree planting is held the last Saturday of every June, so come then
and plant some trees - and bring your kids. If you want to contact Jane
Timbancaya-Urbanek, her email is firstname.lastname@example.org Support her
inspirations by buying some books for your kids.
"Pepperland", a generic opener, chronicles my two week inspection in
February, 2006. It started and ended with major festivals, and plenty of
functions in between. If you are into civic planning or environmental
activism you will find this show intriguing.
Then I tease you with shorter shows on funky restaurants, pension-style
lodging, sea kayaking, handicrafts and the Palawan Wildlife Center. There's
a list of direct emails for hotels, pensions, Princessa Tourism Office,
travel agents and those crazy sea kayakers. Use them to organize your own
Transiting Manila might put some folks off, so I selected Malate' as the
best neighborhood for an overnight Princessa transit and spent a day
inspecting lodging in that district to provide you with a variety of fair
deals. Go to their websites for the sales pitch, or use their direct emails
Makati also works but you have to fight the traffic each way and it
doesn't have the variety and style of Malate'. The Mayor's office is also in
That's it. Academics can research, planners can plan, writers can write,
and families can enjoy one of the most bountiful environments still around.
Princessa is a living laboratory, a roadmap for future generations. One
municipality won't save the Planet, but creating many more is a good start.