Philippine Island Times Adventures of an American expat in the Philippines

September 23, 2008

People of Palawan

Filed under: General — Donald @ 9:16 am

At Aniceto’s Pension

The gracious gentleman who runs Aniceto’s Pension, named after his mother, belongs to one of the oldest families in Puerto Princesa. At the end of my second week here, his little nephew calls me “kapatid” (brother). I am invited to spend Christmas and New Years with his family.

Friends for an afternoon of music

Puerto is growing quickly and many residents are from neighboring regions of the country. This guy, originally from Manila, settled here after riding his guitar around the world. He has a great voice, as does his daughter who recently won a national competition. They run a sari-sari (convenience store) from the front of their house and their side yard is open to guests who buy beer and rum and snacks and sit around talking and singing along with the owner. The place is informal and without a name at the moment. Tell the tricycle driver to take you to Citra Mina, across the street.

Palawan pearl

This young lady sells native items including the famous Palawan pearls. She strung these small ones into some nice jewelry and was kind enough to model for me. Her ready smile despite working 12 hours per day with one day off per month says a lot. Originally from Cebu. I could not resist buying the necklace, bracelet, and earrings set for $6.


Had a nice conversation with the owner of a furniture business one afternoon. Her assistant was busy sanding.

Saint Matthews Episcopal Church Puerto Princesa

I was surprised to find an Episcopal church here. According to the rector, the famous “commandment” of their bishop was, “Thou shalt not set altar against altar,” so Episcopal parishes were only established in regions not fully served by the Catholic church. The result is that the more remote the region, the more likely one is to find Episcopalians. Palawan is remote enough in itself, but this congregation is composed entirely of immigrants from the mountains of northern Luzon. They were very welcoming to me and in fact I spent my last evening in Puerto Princesa with one of the families, but generally speaking, highlanders are more reserved and “hard” than the happy-go-lucky residents of the coast. Millenia in the cold, wet, typhoon-battered northern mountains, warring with neighboring tribes over scarce land and livestock, may help to explain that. The day I first visited St. Matthew’s was very rainy and when the time came to start the service, the rector was a bit embarrassed to note that, besides his own family, I was the only person there. He takes “Wherever two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am also” to mean that a service cannot begin until at least two laypeople show up, so we waited for a while and talked. When another parishioner did arrive, they decided that since half of the lay congregants were American they would hold the service in English. Families who came even later may have been a bit confused, but I suppose the white guy up front explained the situation well enough.

My time in Palawan is up. Off to Cebu.


  1. Enjoying your updates! Love Kelly

    Comment by kelly — September 23, 2008 @ 9:28 am

  2. Don,
    Remember who you are engaged too – I hope you don’t plan on giving another girl jewlery:) I hope everything is going
    well…it sounds like it! We miss you at the lake. We’ll drink to you this weekend – starting tonight with tacos and beer at Ray’s. Can you do me a favor. I love looking at all of your pictures and reading your stories but could you
    maybe post a few of you? Take Care – Karen

    Comment by Karen Smietana — September 26, 2008 @ 4:26 am

  3. Thanks, Kelly Kay.

    Comment by Donald — September 26, 2008 @ 5:42 pm

  4. Karen: It is virtually impossible for me to convince Filipinos that I’ve never been married and have no girlfriend. You’re not making it easier. I rarely ask people to take pictures of me because I bore myself, but I’ll try to think of it. You must be knee deep in leaves by now up there at the lake. Sitting here in front of the fan on a 90 degree day, it’s a little hard to imagine. Tell Rich to have fun.

    Comment by Donald — September 26, 2008 @ 5:46 pm

  5. Point of information: Karen seems to think we’re engaged because I sold her a ring as I was going out the door. Hope if I have a real fiancee someday she gives me the same deal. Sweet!

    Comment by Donald — October 1, 2008 @ 12:43 pm

  6. Okay…you win! I admit – I bought the ring from you and we are not engaged. Can I have cherrios with milk now?

    FYI…the leaves are just beginning to fall. We may have had our last warm weekend. Until yesterday it was sunny and near or above eighty every day. Now I think if we hit seventy with just alittle bit of sun we’ll be lucky.

    Rich is looking forward to blowing leaves and (especially) burning them:) And the “Don mobile” as it is now called by
    “all” is running fine. Oh yeah…I had the ring appraised and they said it was a CZ – can I have a refund?

    Take care – Karen

    Comment by Karen Smietana — October 2, 2008 @ 3:51 am

  7. In response to email:

    The cross in this church has no corpus because, though Episcopalians are not exactly Protestant, they are not Catholic either. The corpus hangs from Filipino Catholic crosses as usual.

    Comment by Donald — October 4, 2008 @ 9:34 am

  8. Hi, am Tess, the wife of the man in the picture with his nephew taken at Aniceto’s Pension. Thanks so much for your nice comments about our place. You’re always welcome to stay here. Hope to see you soon.

    Comment by Tess Lacao — June 9, 2009 @ 8:52 pm

  9. Wow, the photos are amniazg! You look stunning Shannon, and you both look so happy congratualtions! The Photos of Mila are beautiful, can’t wait to see you guys again and hear all about your special day, from us all xx

    Comment by Felix — December 17, 2015 @ 3:06 am

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