The Republic of the Philippines is one of the largest archipelagos in the world, comprised of more than 7,100 islands. It is made up of diverse ethnicities, from the native Negritos to a mixture of Polynesian, Asian and Spanish cultures.
In modern history, the country was claimed for Spain by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. It was later ceded to the United States in the 1889 Treaty of Paris, briefly occupied by the Japanese during World War II and, finally, gained independence July 4, 1946.
In December, 2011/January, 2012, I made my first excursion to this island nation, focusing on Palawan province in the southwest part of the country. My exploration, by sea kayak, included paddling in the northwest part of Palawan Island as well as Busuanga, Coron and the Calamanian group.
Most of Palawan province remains virgin jungle, having been protected for decades. Its biodiversity is renowned and there continues a strong conservationist movement, fighting illegal logging and fishing. There are more than 1,700 islands in the province offering endless potential for the adventurous explorer. From Tubbataha reef in the Sulu Sea to the WW II wrecks in the Calamanian group, Palawan has become famous among scuba divers from around the world.
The physical geography of this region is dramatic, with karst limestone formations dominating the landscape.
And best of all, the people are friendly and welcoming.