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'Itís an awesome experience,' PGMA describes her underground river cruise in Palawan PDF Print E-mail
By Lyle B. Coruña

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, PALAWAN, Feb. 23, 2010 (PNA) –- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo made history as the first Philippine president to enter the world-famous underground river in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

“The feeling inside the cave is awesome. I have been entering many caves all my life but my experience in exploring the majestic and grand rock formations inside the underground river is unique. My imagination was tickled by those amazing and interesting centuries-old stalactites and stalagmites shapes”, President Arroyo told members of Palawan Press Club.
The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is the Philippine’s lone candidate in the final phase of the global search for the “New Seven Wonders of Nature."

“The President’s visit is a big boost to our campaign to be included in the final seven winners of the worldwide contest," City Mayor Edward Hagedorn said.

Mayor Hagedorn previously expressed dismay over the Department of Tourism’s seemingly cold support in the promotion of the underground river in the effort of gathering global support through online and SMS voting.

But Deputy Presidential Spokesman Ricardo Saludo said the national government has been supporting the local government initiatives in bringing more local and foreign tourists to Puerto Princesa’s main tourist attraction.

President Macapagal-Arroyo outlined her achievements on infrastructure projects to make travel to the underground river easy and comfortable.

“We should not inquire what more has to be provided but what projects have been done by our administration that contributed to make tourism arrival here tripled in number," the Chief Executive explained.

Felisa Torres, president of the City Tourism Council reported that around 1,000 tourists are entering the cave daily compared to 300 visitors before President Macapagal-Arroyo became president.

“My guide said that in the past, his family would travel all day before reaching their house near the area. But today, with all these roads and bridges projects, you can arrive in just an hour”, the President said.

DPWH Sec. Victor Domingo said the Arroyo administration has concreted 400 kilometers of road all over Palawan, an infrastructure feat larger than all road projects done since the Commonwealth government up to Estrada administration combined.

James Albert Mendoza, underground river park manager alerted members of the City Tourism Council and other tourism stakeholders to be ready for a greater and massive influx of visitors after the President's visit in the underground river.

“President Macapagal-Arroyo is our grand campaign manager today. It will definitely create allurement and a different effect and curiousness among the tourists”, Mendoza said.

At the start of the global search, two other Philippine tourist spots— the Tubbataha Reef also in Palawan and the Chocolate Hills in Bohol province—were initially nominated for the worldwide search.

The river is reputed to be the longest navigable underground river in the world and one of the most important biodiversity conservation areas of the country.

Located in the Midwest coast of Palawan, some 80 kilometers northwest of Puerto Princesa, it is a source of pride and key element in the identity of the people of Puerto Princesa in particular and of the Philippines as a whole. (PNA)
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