[Speaking of underground rivers, just a few hours ago the voting closed on who would be included in the New 7 Natural Wonders of the World... One of the winners was the Underground River in the Philippines we visited a few weeks ago! I had been saving up a series of posts about it, but had to write early to celebrate the good news. The river has lots of twists, as does its human story, so we'll read about it over a series of posts. Here's part 1 -- Tom]
We didn't have plans for the first night we arrived in Puerto Princesa, but somehow we ended up at the Mayor's birthday party. We had come to the Philippines to see the Puerto Princesa Underground River, a hydrologic oddity that stands out on many accounts. Unexpectedly, we also discovered a wildly popular politician who can list fixing geologists' mistakes among his many accomplishments. The science of the river also plays a subtle role in local and international geopolitical conflicts. And here we thought this would just be a vacation spot.
|Location of Puerto Princesa Underground River (modified from here)|
|Where the River goes into the ground at Daylight Hole. Only the dedicated few hike up to this spot (source).|
|Where the River pours out into the ocean.|
|20 million year old sea cow fossil bones in Underground River cave walls (source). This is just beyond the limits of where the tourist boats currently go.|
|Map of the Underground River from one of the kiosks|
|Facebook photos of features of the Underground River (source and source).|
|This is what my photos looked like. Using a flash in the giant caverns is pointless.|
Aside from being scientifically unique, the river also has a twisty political back story. Which brings us back to Mayor Ed Hagedorn, a driving force behind popularizing the river... Meanwhile, back at the Mayor's birthday party...