I am on my fourth day here in Coron, Palawan. Most of my travel companions have left for their flights back to Manila, ready to carry on their normal lives. I decided to book an additional night here at the Coron Soleil Express so that I can spend a lazy day by the pool and, perhaps, sample more of the local cuisine in town. Right now, I am looking through my window enjoying the mid-morning view of the lush landscape from my second-floor room amidst the rural setting’s characteristic silence, punctuated only by the chirping of the birds and the occasional rumbling of scooters and tricycles that traverse the periphery of the hotel premises. Even the hotel’s pool area is now silent since most of the tourists, including the lively Chinese kids who their parents allowed to run and jump around the pool just the other day, have left. It seems that the Chinese—and other foreigners too—are so at home in the Philippines, and who can blame them? Our country has so much to offer, something that many of us Filipinos have yet to discover ourselves.

It is my first time in Coron, unlike most of my companions who have been here at least once before. So the past three days had literally been a journey of new discoveries for me. One thing that one cannot deny is how wonderfully photogenic Coron is. [Note: Among the different places that I have visited across the country, only Bohol and Camiguin come close, when it comes to physical beauty]. Much has been written, for example, about the Twin Lagoon particularly its spectacular limestone formations and crystal clear waters; or about Kayangan Lake, especially when seen from the viewing deck that one can reach after about a 10-minute hike uphill. One would think that the ‘superlative’ adjectives used to describe these places are simply the work of PR men or of overly excited b/vloggers. But I think that this is one of the few cases when reality lives up to raised expectations. Forgive me, therefore, if I choose to describe Coron’s famous destinations as truly “breathtaking.”

Another thing that struck me about Coron is how largely unspoilt it is. It reminds me of Puerto Princesa (Palawan’s capital) when my friend Mike—who’s one of my travel companions now—and I visited it more than two decades ago. We were barely out of college then, could only afford a budget hotel, and did not have the benefit of getting recommendations for accommodations that fit our budget and preferences, which we could now routinely get from Agoda or Booking.com. For travelers like us, especially those living in congested urban areas like Manila, having a vacation surrounded by nature’s expanse—largely unspoiled by commerce—is our way of “detoxifying” and rejuvenating ourselves. It also allows us to reflect, and to take stock of our lives.

It’s now raining outside. I’m ready to have lunch downstairs and then take my afternoon siesta. So let me end my ruminations by sharing how my colleague Cynthia (another one of my travel companions), Mike, and I, during one of our conversations over breakfast, talked about how to grow certain vegetables for household consumption. Mike now owns and manages a farm in San Pablo, Laguna, where he grows several fruit trees and vegetables. He promised to give me some seedlings of ampalaya (bitter gourd), talong (eggplant), and siling labuyo (chili), which I can grow in our backyard in Parañaque. I told them that over the past two years, two large trees have curiously grown right outside our front yard, even if we did not plant any; and how several plants that resemble taro leaves just recently grew in our backyard. A possible explanation is that birds, attracted by the growing bamboo I planted in our backyard a few years ago, have brought the seeds of these plants from elsewhere to our home. 

I was reminded of what our tour guide Anthony said yesterday when we were traversing the crystal clear waters of Twin Lagoon. He said that it was the birds that were responsible for the trees that grew out of the limestone formations that jutted out of the sea. Through nature, God continuously provides not only for our physical, but also our spiritual needs. For our own sake, it is our responsibility to preserve His “breathtaking” creation.

Raymund B. Habaradas is a Full Professor at the Management and Organization Department of the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University (DLSU), where he teaches Management of Organizations, and Management Action Research. He is also the holder of the Ramon V. del Rosario Professorial Chair in Entrepreneurship, the Director of the DLSU Center for Business Research and Development (CBRD), and Governor of the Philippine Academy of Management (PAoM). He welcomes comments at [email protected] The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.

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