One of the pleasures of our travels is stumbling across new places and meeting new people.  At least as satisfying is finding old friends and learning how their lives have changed since our last time together.

Perhaps it was the stunning hedge of bougainvillea that attracted our attention to a small building along a side street in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, in January, 2009.


Walking closer we saw a beautiful mural showing the indigenous peoples of Palawan: the Tagbanua, Pala’wan and Batak.

Natripal mural

The building houses Natripal (United Tribes of Palawan), a federation of tribal peoples who advocate for justice and their traditional rights, as well as sustainable livelihood for their members.  One project focuses on traditional methods of extracting forest honey, preserving the forest and the traditional way of life as well as providing income.  Their struggles are similar to those of tribal peoples all over the world.  You can read more about Natripal here:

Lina and I struck up a friendship with Jinky and Ronald, young staff members of Natripal.  They traveled together on a large bangka to the Tabon Caves, where the skull of Tabon Man (22,000 – 24,000 years old) was found, along with over 1,500 burial jars.  Other human remains date back to perhaps 47,000 years ago.

Lina and Jinky

On the way across the water to the Tabon Caves:  January, 2009

We visited Natripal again and found Jinky, still active and involved in the work of Natripal.  Our visit was too short to learn much more, but the re-connection was important.

Jinky at Natripal

Lina and Jinky:  April, 2017

Two new discoveries in Puerto Princesa:   Binuatan Creations and a small museum devoted to World War II, very close to the former first asylum camp for Vietnamese.

Binuatan Grasses

Binuatan Weaver

Binuatan weaves 17 different plant fibers (field grasses and tree fibers) into brightly colored textiles which are then made into a wide variety of finished products.  The weavers are men and women, many of high school and college age earning extra income.   The weaving itself is simple – no intricate patterns here.  Nor are the fibers ikat dyed, as is the case with the tinalak fiber of Mindanao.   What sets these goods apart are the bright colors, interesting designs and careful finishing.

Binuatan Gift Shop

The Binuatan gift shop

I have written about weaving and fibers in the Philippines before.  You can see these posts at:

The Palawan Special Battalion World War II Museum is new since our last visit to Palawan in 2009. This private museum is owned by Higino “Buddy” Mendoza.  He established the museum in memory of his late father, local hero and guerilla Dr. Higinio Mendoza Sr., who was slain by Japanese troops at Canigaran Beach during World War II.  It is clearly a labor of love, one man’s vision supported by a most idiosyncratic collection!  Artifacts and photos tell the story of the occupation of Palawan by the Japanese, a massacre of American prisoners here, the resistance led by Philippine fighters, the Bataan Death March.  In addition, we see uniforms from all the armies involved in World War II, on the European front as well as the Pacific.  I read profiles of WWII flying “aces” and saw a cap such as a Soviet pilot might have worn – on a female mannequin.  This may not be so strange, as the Soviet Union was the first nation to allow women to fly combat missions.

Russian pilot!

Hdden radio

A “canteen” that hid a radio!

Here are links to Binuatan and the WWII Museum: