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3 Life Lessons from Island Hopping in Palawan

About seventeen years ago, my youngest sister, Sade, decided to work as a medical technologist at the National Health Service (NHS), a government hospital in the United Kingdom. Later, she got married and raised two healthy boys abroad. Thus, it has always been a delight when they come home to the Philippines. She informed me last year that she and her family would like to stay with us while the kids are on a summer break. I told her not to worry and showed her a tentative itinerary for the island-hopping trip to Palawan for the whole family.


This is the first life lesson. It is a challenge to plan a trip for 10 people especially when some of them will have a different date of departure and arrival due to work or school. I also have to make sure that I can make the trip safe, convenient and hassle free especially for my mom, Mely, who is in her 80’s and my only brother, Kuya Vigil, who has Parkinson’s Disease (PD).

About 4 months prior to the scheduled trip to Palawan, I booked our one-way flights from Manila to Puerto Princesa, from El Nido to Busuanga and from Busuanga to Manila via different airlines and also booked our accommodations in the 3 different locations. One week from our trip, I had to make the arrangements for a private shuttle van service for the land travel from Puerto Princesa to El Nido which would take about 5-6 hours.

On the day of departure from Manila to Puerto Princesa, I had to hustle with a cab driver for our ride to the airport because no one can drive us there. Seven of us plus our luggage had to cram ourselves into a single taxi because it was difficult getting a grab van to fit us all. I decided to hail another cab and divided the group into two to make the travel light and easy. Despite the early preparations, we still encountered mishaps.

For you to succeed in any endeavor, you lay out your framework. You plan where you want to go, what to do to get there and how you will accomplish your goal. But no matter what happens, you have to be prepared to improvise because even the best laid plans can go haywire. You must have a back-up and that is lesson number 2.


It has been part of the family tradition to pray the Holy Rosary when we leave the house to go anywhere no matter how short the distance. But since our island-hopping trip will fall on a rainy season, I also offered masses and made prayer requests for a safe journey, good weather and wonderful family bonding time at the Sta. Clara de Montefalco Parish in P. Burgos Street, Pasay City complete with a hand-written letter tucked in a tray of fresh eggs.

A week before the planned family trip, it was raining hard. When we got on board the plane that Friday afternoon, there was a drizzle and it also rained when we reached our hotel in Puerto Princesa. But the next day, the sun was shining as we made our trip to the Underground River via a private shuttle. We even had a side trip to the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center to see the crocodile farm. This was followed by Firefly watching and dinner the same night. Our prayers have been granted.

When you pray, you open the gates of heaven. You become ready to receive God’s blessings. You pray unceasingly not because God is hard of hearing but because you have to believe that your prayers will be answered in the way that is best for you and if it is according to God’ will. Do your best and God will do the rest.


A trip to Palawan will not be complete without any island-hopping tours. Upon arrival at our next stop, i.e., EL Nido, we decided to play it by ear and as the weather permits. We hired a private van and went to Nacpan Beach to swim. We even played beach volleyball with my brother who has PD. He was able to serve the ball over the net, a fete I myself could hardly accomplish. The next day, our family enjoyed our island hopping in El Nido with our funny and able tour guide named, Jayson. In our last weekend in Palawan, we went on a Calauit Safari Tour to see wild animals up close and enjoyed feeding the giraffes.

It is really more fun in the Philippines, when you build a happy and loving family relationship that lasts not just a day or a month but a lifetime, especially when you PLAN, PRAY and PLAY.

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