Coron Island, located at the northern tip of Palawan in the Philippines and about 170 nautical miles southwest of Manila, is known for several Japanese shipwrecks World War II vintage. The area around the wrecks have pleasant rock formations which provide for excellent snorkeling opportunities, with underwater visibility extending up to 80 feet. The water is usually calm, with almost no current. Coron is one of the most visited destinations for wreck diving in the Philippines. Wreck dive sites are found in a depth as shallow as 10-30 feet and as deep as 120-140 feet. Most are in the range of about 60-80 feet, perfect for sports divers.
Divesites around Coron include also many different reef divesites and the famous "Günter´s Cave". Also known as Cathedral Cave as, during the right time of the day, the sun throws a beam of light through a hole in the cave-ceiling, illuminating the inside. It is possible to surface in the cave, as the hole in the cave-ceiling allows fresh air to enter. The cave is named after Günther Bernert. He was part of the first dive-group exploring the cave after hearing from local fishermen about the existence of the cave.
Wreck Diving Sites in Coron Bay include the Irako Wreck, Okikawa Maru Wreck, Akitsushima Wreck, Kogyo Maru Wreck, Olympia Maru Wreck, Kyokuzan Maru Wreck, East Tangat Gunboat Wreck (real name of the ship, Teru-Kaze Maru, was recently discovered by a group of Dutch divers, who spent a couple of days digging into bottom sand around the stern), Nanshin Maru Wreck, Lusong Gunboat Wreck and Skeleton Wreck.
Palawan became a part of the world map when Chinese traders and other migrants reached by shores of the Philippines using the land bridges that could be found between Borneo and Palawan. In fact there was a Chinese author who called these islands, Kla-ma-yan for Calamian, Palau-ye for Palawan and Pki-nung for Busuanga. This area was said to be filled with ridges and cliffs. The caves in these areas were also said to be laden with pottery and artifacts. Because of this, Palawan became a center for trade between the Malays and Chinese.
During the 12th century, Malay migrants began settling in Palawan. Their chieftains began to rule many of the settlements there. Because it was near Borneo, the south of Palawan became under the power of Borneo for over two centuries after the Spanish arrived in the Philippines.
Prior to the colonization, the settlers in the Philippines lived off the land. The people would plant their own food, such as palay, ginger, coconut and camote. They also planted sugar and bananas. Apart from these, they also kept pigs, goats and chicken for food. Aside from farming and raising livestock, they also went fishing and hunting to be able to feed their families. The language of that time was a dialect that consisted of only 18 syllables.
When the Spanish arrived, the Northern Calamianes Islands was the first area to be colonized. That island ceased to be a part of the mainland Palawan island. During the earlier part of the 17th century, the friars tried to reach out to people in Cuyo, Agutaya, Taytay and Cagayancillo. However the Moro groups were too strong there, so their attempts were futile. However during the 18th century, the Spanish started building churches with garrisons in the towns of Cuyo, Taytay, Linapacan and Balabac. These churches served as protection against the Moro raids. As the structures of these forts were very strong, these forts are still in existence even in the present time. In the year 1749, the Sultanate of Borneo gave the southern part of Palawan to Spain, making the entire vicinity of Palawan under the Spanish rule.
Initially, the area of Paragua, the former name of Palawan, was identified as one province called Calamianes and its capital was Taytay. Later on, it became three provinces namely, Castilla, Asturias and Balabac Island. Castilla was the northern part of the province and the capital was Taytay. Asturias covered the southern part of the Palawan and Puerto Princesa was the capital. Lastly Balabac Island had its capital in Principe Alfonso.
After the 1898 Revolution, the Spanish colonization ended. A new civil government was enacted on the 23rd of June in the year 1902. New provincial boundaries were made and old ones were revised during 1903. The name of the province was changed from Paragua to Palawan. Its capital became Puerto Princesa.
The American government took over what the Spanish government had left off. They created reforms and different programs that promoted the development of the province. Schools were constructed all over Palawan. The Americans promoted agriculture.
The People of Palawan
There are various ethnolinguistic groups that consider Palawan as home. These are the Tagbanua, Palaw’an, Tau’t bato and the Bataks. The mountains and coastal areas serve as their homes. These groups have built villages in those areas and have been staying there for quite some time already. It has been said that they have been occupying the province even before the Malay settlers from Indonesia set foot there during the 12th or 13th century. During 1962, there was a team of anthropologists who went to Lipuun Point or the Tabon Cave. Headed by Dr. Robert Fox, this team was able to get fossils that belonged to Homo Sapiens that were 22,000 to 24,000 years old. Because of this finding and many more that succeeded, this place was known as the Cradle of the Philippine Civilization.
This discovery led way to research that shows that the Tagbanua and Palaw’an could be the descendants of the Tabon Cave men. They have many similarities in terms of their language, alphabet, beliefs and even in their way of farming as they use kaingin.
The tribes of the Tagbanua can be found in the central and northern part of Palawan. They are known to practice the shifting cultivation of upland rice and are known for a rice wine ritual called Pagdiwata. The Tagbanua tribes also believe in a lot of deities that they believe can be found in their surroundings.
The tribes of the Palaw’an are said to belong to the linguistic groups that are Manobo based. They are said to originally come from the areas of South Apuruan and Abo Abo.
The Batak or “mountain people” are said to live in the northeastern part of Palawn. They are generally shy and peaceful people as they are known to live with nature. They believe in spirits and commune with a babaylan or a religious person.
Another group of people found in Palawan would be the tau’t bato. They are a sub-group of the Palaw’an tribe that live in the Singnapan Valley found in the southern part of Palawan. They live in the caves during rainy seasons and farm using the kaingin system during dry seasons. As compared to the other tribes, they are familiar with business or trading concepts like wages, labor and money.
The Palaweños would include the Agutaynons, Molbogs and Cuyunons. The Cuyunons are said to be an elite class of people. They come from the town of Cuyo in the northern part of Palawan and are religious and disciplined. They are very community oriented. The Agutaynons, on the other hand, are a more simple group. They fish and farm in order to derive income. Lastly the Molbogs are said to be the first people to actually stay on Balabac. Their name comes from the word, malubog or turbid water. Among the other groups, this group’s culture is the one closest to that of the Islamic race.
Coron Youth Club (CYC) Beach
CYC Beach is the only public beach that is free within the Coron Island Loop. It has pure white sands, clear and shallow water which is very much ideal for swimming. There are also some old picnic huts within the island where tourists may stay and eat. Natural mangroves are also abundant within the area – another nice subject for photo enthusiast.
This is a tiny little wreck located on the northwest corner of Coron Island which is ideal for diving and snorkeling. You can see here a sunken ship that sits on a pretty reef. The wreck got its name from the fact that the keel, ribs and stringers of the boat are the only thing that’s left, giving a skeletal appearance. The water around it is so clear that you can actually see the beautiful corals and reef at the bottom. Beware: There are lots of sea urchins within the area so it is recommended to wear aqua shoes while snorkeling. Like CYC Beach, this also makes a good spot to have lunch.
Twin Lagoon is called as such since these lagoons are separated by limestone cliffs that have an opening where tourists can pass to get to the other lagoon. This narrow opening has jagged edges of the limestone cliffs and is visible only during low tide. During high tide, one should take a deep swim underneath in order to get into the other lagoon as this passageway is covered with water. These lagoons are surrounded by towering rocks with crystal clear and emerald green water.
Dubbed as “the craziest dive site in the Philippines,” Barracuda Lake is located at the north end of Coron Island. It has been named Barracuda Lake because a skeleton of a big barracuda was found in this lake. Before reaching the lake, one must do a 10 to 15-minute climb up and down the sharp lime stone cliffs. The scenery around this lake is also spectacular.
Kayangan Lake is said to be the clearest and cleanest lake in the Philippines. Before approaching the lake itself, one must climb up and down a mountain trail. Halfway up the mountain trail, there is a cave and just in front of it is this certain spot where you can see the most photographed scene in Coron. The turquoise water in this lake is a bit cold and the view here is simply stunning and amazing.
Siete Pecados has been named after the seven (7) islets surrounding this abundant coral reef and is located to the east beyond the lighthouse in Coron town. This has been considered to be one of the greatest snorkeling spots in Coron. Here you can see amazing coral reefs and great variety of colourful fishes underneath. This area has been protected from fishermen and there is a caretaker around the area.
Maquinit Hot Springs
Our last and final stop for the day was theMaquinit Hot Springs. This is the only known hot spring in the Philippines that produces a 40-degree Celsius salt water instead of fresh water. The therapeutic water in these hot springs will surely relax and soothe your tired body after a long, strenuous day.