it was 2006 when i first set foot on el nido, palawan. arlie had just died and i had tagged along with a group of artist friends who were there for an arts festival because i needed to be somewhere new.
back then, el nido was a small, quiet town whose streets were filled with friendly locals. there were a smattering of resorts and restaurants in the town proper but tourists who found their way to el nido mostly stayed at the expensive resorts offshore. the few foreigners we ran into were either backpackers or those who were married to locals and actually lived there.
the place has always been special to me; it was there where i first grieved freely and deeply, where i realized that the future wasn’t as desolate as it seemed, where i had gotten my tattoo and with it the start of my recovery.
six years later, i was back, the circumstances of my life as different as it could be from my initial visit. i was excited to show alvin the streets i had walked on, the mountains i had stared at, the quiet i had reveled in. to my surprise, el nido town’s transformation rivaled my own: the once-lazy streets were now filled with people of various races, resorts, restaurants, kayak rentals, travel and tourist centers; anything to help and amuse your everyday visitor, basically.
i felt a bit sad to see the el nido town of old gone, but i guess in the name of progress this was a good thing. after all, all these tourist activities should contribute a lot to the town’s economic development. what bothered me though was that most of the ‘local’ businesses seemed to be owned by foreigners. some would argue that without these establishments, locals wouldn’t have jobs at all, but, naive as it sounds, it would be nice to actually have filipinos own businesses on philippine soil.
while the town changed, the islands surrounding it remained as gorgeous as i remembered. the waters as deep blue, the sands as powder fine, the mountains as majestic.
marina garden beachfront inn – brgy masagana, el nido, palawan. http://www.mgelnido.com/ +63917. 624.7722 or +63908.884.3711
fort wally shuttle service – puerto princesa, palawan. +63917.276.2875
marj salvador the tour guide – +63920.642.3744