Provisional Results Name PPUR as New 7th Wonder!

A big thank you to everyone who voted for the Puerto Princesa Underground River!

On Friday, the provisional results for the New 7 Wonders of Nature were announced. The seven winners are:

  • The Amazon, South America
  • Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
  • Iguazú Falls, Brazil/Argentina
  • Jeju Island, South Korea
  • Komodo National Park, Indonesia
  • Table Mountain, South Africa and…
  • Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, Philippines!!!!!
This is an incredible achievement for the underground river as well as the Philippines as a nation. Final results will be announced early next year and we can only hope that the Philippines remains one of the seven lucky finalists. Each of these beautiful natural wonders deserve recognition and many countries are setting up travel opportunities in anticipation of increased tourism activity and global attention. Perhaps this honor will also encourage countries who were runners-up to preserve and maintain their natural wonders sustainably, which will benefit future generations for years to come.

To read about the winners and see pictures go to Yahoo! and CNN.

Thank you!


Vote for Puerto Princesa Underground River!

12 days 21 hours and 08 minutes

That is the amount of time left to vote for the Puerto Princesa Underground River, one of the many natural beauties in the Philippines. The competition for the New 7 Wonders of Nature has been steep and the final 28 finalists are vying for your vote. Who will represent these new hidden gems of the natural world? I can tell you where my vote is going. 

The New 7 Wonders of Nature competition is related to the New7Wonders movement to increase awareness, education, and tourism by recognizing seven unique places on earth. The founder, Bernard Weber, has written a charter and frequently updates his blog on the activity of the movement. Physical candidates from across the globe were studied by a team of experts and 28 finalists including the Bay of Fundy in Canada, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Dead Sea in Jordan are among the incredible locations chosen. Ultimately, only seven will be crowned New Wonders of Nature.

Vote here for the Puerto Princesa Underground River!

The city of Puerto Princesa was my last trip in the Philippines before returning back to the states. The mayor, Edward Hagedorn, has turned the city into a source of pride for the region of Palawan and the country at large. The city is considered carbon neutral and boasts almost 90% forest cover. Investments in ecotourism, elimination of mining projects, and annual tree-planting on Valentine’s Day makes Puerto Princesa lives up to the nickname City in the Forest. Clink Hagedorn, the son of the mayor, briefly greeted me at the airport before showing me to my tour guide for the duration of my three-day trip. Each day was packed with incredible snorkeling expeditions, zip lines, and of course, the Puerto Princesa Underground River.

In order to get to the river, tourists must take a small motorized boat to the park’s entrance. The owners of the boats are local fishermen who received economic profit from the visitor activity in this remote area. The mouth of the cave is surrounded by tropical forest cover and giant monitor lizards. Families from the Philippines and around the world flock to the neon orange life vests and line up for their turn through the underground river. When it was my turn, my guide gently pushed me to the front of the tour boat; I would be holding the lamp to direct the boat through the cave.


As the guide pushed us into the darkness, I flipped on the battery and illuminated thousands of bats flapping overhead. Water dripped down the sheer rock walls and off the ceilings into the river below. Our boat traveling along the 8 km vein of the earth, deep into the heart of biodiversity, giant caverns and stalagmites. I swung my lamp according to the guide’s directions, left toward a mushroom rock formation and up to the cavern edge 60m above our heads. The entire tour took about an hour and I reemerged from the cave blinking as much from from the sudden wash of sunlight as sheer disbelief.


The Puerto Princesa UR is a wonder of nature whether it wins the contest or not. The title as a New 7 Wonders of Nature, however, would generate more tourism and revenue to a country still labeled as economically developing. Increasing revenue and prosperity in the Palawan area will fund  sustainability efforts and showcase the incredible natural wonders of the Philippine archipelago.

The act of voting only takes a minute but the implications will last for decades. Vote for the Puerto Princesa Underground River!!

If you are what you eat, then I’m a…

I’m not a picky eater. There are foods I don’t particularly enjoy and I remember as a small girl, squishing the lima beans into my plate to avoid eating the mountain of light green mush. But I’ll always try something once. This quality was tested multiple times starting about a week ago with a favorite Filipino delicacy which also happened to reach Number 1 on The 6 Most Terrifying Foods in the World. I’ll give you a couple seconds to google it…

Balut (blog on how it’s cooked) is a fertilized duck egg that is hardboiled and eaten, usually with vinegar/chili sauce. It is sold at night by street vendors because no one wants to see the baby duck before it’s ingested. I don’t blame them. But I’d been in the country almost 8 weeks, looked more tan than some of my friends, and said Magandang umaga po to my driver every morning. There was only one food between me and my newly-hatched Filipina self. My friend ordered two eggs and, with more than a slight nudge, I cracked the egg on the table and began to peel away at the shell. I squeezed some vinegar into the opening and following my friend’s lead, I tilted my heads back and sipped the juice.

I peeled away more of the shell and took a big bite. I was lucky (lucky as someone can be) since my egg was only about 15 or 16 days old so the feathers and beak were not fully formed. The taste was strong but not terrible. It was concentrated taste of poultry and egg squished into one. Unfortunately, I took another bite and got the white part of the egg that is referred to as the “stone.” It’s hard, very hard, like eating plastic cartilage. That would be my second and last mouthful.

Fast forward to an overnight with Viv and her friends from high school. On our way to our destination near Antipolo we stopped in a restaurant known for beautiful artwork and exotic food. Since no one wanted to buy we painting, we ordered crickets. Not as gross as they sound. Small, friend and crispy, “just like eating popcorn.” Later in the day we returned to town to buy chicken intestines coiled on thin wooden sticks and BBQ’ed. Also not my favorite but people were buying them in sets of 10 or 20.

And finally Puerto Princesa, Palawan for the last dish. This delicacy snuck up on me after I had finished my buffet lunch and was basking in the beautiful ocean view. Nadine, my tour guide for the time, told me a woman was selling tamilok and I had to try some.  “What is it?” I asked. “Wood worms,” she replied and smiled. “They grow inside mangrove trees.”

Well once someone eats a duck fetus everything else is pretty much fair game. The worms were about 2 to 3 inches long and seemed to be boiled in their own juices. I dipped one in calamancie(like key limes) juice with chilis and popped it in my mouth. It was chewy and slimy but had very little flavor. Nadine said she thought they tasted like oysters but I don’t know if I agree. Anyway, I ate 3 or 4 before calling it quits.

And here is the surprising part, I feel great. Granted, none of these foods I would order off a menu or ask my mom to cook but everything was close enough to food that I could handle the look, smell and taste. For short periods of time.

“Over the teeth

Passed the gums

Look out stomach

Cause it’s about to get crazy”