Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the establishments and attractions featured in this article might have adjusted operating hours and a set of health protocols and requirements for visitors. Please coordinate with the management before visiting.
Brooke’s Point is a must-visit eco-cultural tourist spot in southern Palawan.
Image Brooke’s Point Tourism, Culture and Arts Office
A municipality brimming with ecological and cultural attractions, Brooke’s Point, Palawan
in the southern part of the island is waiting to be included in your travel bucket list. Located 190 kilometers away from Puerto Princesa City, this first-class farm town can be reached in four hours through a van ride.
Whether you want to immerse yourself in its indigenous cultural communities at the mountains’ foothills or explore its waterfalls deep in the forests, you’ll surely have a good time here. Excited to have an authentic travel experience at Brooke’s Point, Palawan
? We’ve listed below the things to see, things to do
, and things to buy when you visit this emerging eco-cultural destination. Read on!
1. Chase the refreshing Mainit waterfalls.
Bakbakan is the last and grandest in the series of waterfalls in Barangay Mainit.
Image: Municipal Tourism, Culture and Arts Office
There are lots of waterfalls to chase in Brooke’s Point, but the most famous one is the series of seven falls in Barangay Mainit. Of the seven falls of Barangay Mainit, the must-see is the last one, named as Bakbakan Falls.
Getting to this waterfall involves a little over an hour of hiking through the steep forested trail punctuated by streams and minor cascades. But the arduous adventure is well worth it once you see the breathtaking Bakbakan Falls that stands some 200 feet!
Bakbakan’s rushing water drops down into an emerald basin perfect for dipping after the strenuous hike. What makes this place extra-special is it hosts the exquisite Trogonoptera trojana, a Palawan-native butterfly species with a wingspan of about 18 to 19 centimeters.
If you’re not a fan of trekking, you can visit the Sabsaban Falls in Barangay Aribungos instead. Although it is tucked away in the ancestral land of the indigenous Pala’wans, accessing this falls is made easy through a paved road that can accommodate even cars and vans.
Perfect for a refreshing dip, this 6-meter high cascade drops down into an emerald pool that never loses its allure year-round. You can also bring your own inflatable tube and float around and down the river all day while listening to the relaxing gush of water.
2. Commune with nature at the Eco-park.
Brooke’s Point Eco-park offers unparalleled solitude amidst towering trees.
Image: Brooke’s Point Tourism, Culture and Arts Office
Commune with nature as you bask in the raw beauty of Brooke’s Point Ecological Park. Tucked away in the Maruyog foothill, the 145-hectare green park in Barangay Tubtub offers outdoor enthusiasts front row seats to the town’s forest.
Forming part of the biodiverse Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape, the eco-park also serves as home to unique animals and plants. Besides being an ideal picnic place, it is also a good location for overnight camping.
If you have more time to spare, you can then follow the park’s concrete stairs that lead to the view deck that gives sweeping views of the ever-productive agriculture Brooke’s Point town facing the Sulu Sea.
Another park you can check out is the Welcome Park that displays the “I Love Brooke’s Point” marker and the replica of the town’s iconic Pearl of Lao Tzu, said to be the world’s largest. Just across the national highway sits the People’s Park that features a flower garden that could soothe your tired eyes.
3. Hike up Maruyog and Mantalingahan.
Mt. Maruyog (also known as Addison Peak) is ideal for day hikers.
Image: Krist Joseph Jagmis Cadlaon’s Facebook page
Nothing beats the rewarding feeling of taking in Brooke’s Point’s panoramic view when you’re at the summit of 1,024-meter high Mt. Maruyog, the town’s highest peak.
The adventure starts at the jump-off in Barangay Pangobilian’s Sitio Mate. Along the trail, you’ll see shrubs and trees of different sizes that would definitely make the nemophile in you happy.
Mt. Maruyog can be scaled in just a day, perfect even for newbie hikers who seek the thrill of being on top of a mountain that offers panoramic views.
For the experienced hikers, you can choose Mt. Mantalingahan which is considered as Palawan’s highest peak as an alternative. Standing at 2,086 meters above sea level, it can be reached in three to four days of hiking that starts at the jump-off in Barangay Malis.
As a protected landscape hosting rich biodiversity, the journey through Mt. Mantalingahan’s lush forest promises an encounter with unique plants and animals, so don’t forget to bring your camera to get photos of them.
Due to the pandemic, hiking in these mountains might be temporarily prohibited, so it is recommended to contact the local government first before making any plans.
4. Watch Tarok and other cultural performances.
Pala’wan women perform Tarok at their kelang banua in Barangay Malis.
Photo by Keith Anthony S. Fabro
A visit to kelang banuas (gathering places) in Barangay Amas and Malis will give you an opportunity to interact with the Pala’wan natives as you witness how they live in harmony with the forest.
If you’re lucky, you’ll see them showcasing the Tarok, a ritual dance being performed by women through the stamping of feet while the men play percussion instruments like handmade wooden drums covered with dried animal skin.
Tarok is especially performed as part of their annual thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest every October, as well as during the conduct of weddings and fiestas.
To see more cultural performances, you can schedule your Brooke’s Point trip on the third week of March when the town is abuzz with colorful activities, such as the extravagant street dancing competition, in line with the annual Kaniyog’n (Coconut) Festival.
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5. Buy baskets and pandan mats for souvenirs.
(L-R) A Pala’wan girl in Barangay Amas showing the process of making Tingkep; and a Muslim woman dedicated in weaving her colorful pandan mat.
Images from L to R: Keith Anthony S. Fabro and Brooke’s Point Tourism, Culture and Arts Office
Another interesting thing to see when visiting the Pala’wan indigenous communities is their process of making Tingkep baskets, which are made of rattan gathered by Pala’wan men.
Tingkep is a native word which means “to cover,” and natives themselves traditionally use it as a container for their rice, salt, food and personal belongings.
Woven to perfection by Pala’wan women, Pala’wan tribes’ Tingkep serve not only as storage containers but also as works of art, with designs reflecting the natives’ rich culture strongly linked to the forest.
For pandan mats, you can count on the creative hands of Muslim weavers in Barangay Oring-Oring. Witness how they dye pandan leaf strips and painstakingly turn them into intricately designed works of art that exquisitely reflect their vibrant culture.
When you buy these handicrafts as souvenirs or gifts for your loved ones, you’re also giving these cultural communities additional sources of income. It’s also a way of helping them to continue these traditions and keep them alive as they pass down their skills to their children.
If you can’t personally visit yet, you can also support them by buying their handicrafts at CustomMade Crafts Center through its Facebook Page.
Schedule your trip now and head over to Brooke’s Point soon for an eco-cultural tourism experience!
Stay safe as you travel! Make sure to follow social distancing protocols and observe health precautions wherever you go. Have a great trip!
This article was originally published in Yoorekka on October 16, 2019.