But unlike the Mangrove Forest which is near Sabang beach and one that you can easily access, the Iwahig River is around 45minutes away from city center so some find it inconvenient to go there. More so that you have to go here at night in order to see the fireflies glow in the dark. But this is one hell of an experience you should not miss when you decide to visit Puerto Prinsesa. For me, it became one of my most memorable part of the tour. Not only that it was my first time but because it's really educational.
We were taken here after our tour of Honda bay on the 1st day of our PPS familiarization tour courtsey of Airphil Express. Everybody was already exhausted. We showered and then went on with it after having dinner together in Marriane Home Inn.Despite the physical exhaustion and the lack of sleep.The bloggers and members of Airphil express were still full of energy. We came at around 9pm and the 1st thing that greeted us were small huts near the river which serves as the information center and waiting area where we stayed for a few minutes. The tour company already called them earlier for appointment. This is necessary because there are only a few boats and volunteers.
If you are planning to showcase your photographic skills here,forget about it. Flash from cameras are not allowed as fireflies are sensitive to bright lights and it is impossible to shoot under such conditions--very low light and moving boat. The only thing allowed are flashed of infrared light that the boatman brings with him. It's amazing because every time the boatman beams infrared into a tree, the fireflies respond instantly making the tree glow brightly as if its adorned with Christmas light. That's when you notice that there are so many of them huddled in a tree. They usually stay in big groups enough to really make the tree sparkle. To my delight. I have never seen fireflies that many in my life.
This reaction according to our guide is natural for them. As a defense mechanism and at the same time because when fireflies detect low frequency light, they deem it as another male trying to lure females so the males also respond by flashing their lights. We learned so many things from our guide. Info that I never heard of before which only shows the these volunteers are well knowledgeable of what they are doing. Yes, they are volunteers which means they only receive a minimal daily allowance for the thing they do.And they are family members who live in Iwahig Prison. They are not the jailed ones okay but are either immediate family or relatives.
The minimal allowance and the difficulty of paddling the boats (since motorized vehicles are not allowed in the river) means its hard to find volunteers. But there are signs that things are looking up according to our boatman as more and more tourists are coming and that means sustainable funds for this community based project. Those who stay he said only shows that they are dedicated in the project of sustaining the river and surrounding areas bio-diversity.I admire them for that. They are also thankful to ABS-CBN's Bayanijuan http://www.bayanijuan.org/ Foundation for helping them in the info-educational drive as well as promoting the tourist attraction.
And oh, each boatman also brings with him a laser light which he occasionally beams to the sky to show the constellations. Yes, the 45-minute boat ride is not just an educational journey about fireflies, mangroves and the river but of constellations as well. Our boatman literally marks the stars and draws the lines to connect the constellations just like drawing with a piece of paper, except this one is more realistic. And I admit, he knows more on the topic than I do.lols
I highly recommend this activity. It's a life changing experience. I am dead serious about that.
This was part of our tour of Puerto Prinsesa sponsored by AirPhil Express.
Full tour summary here : http://www.pusangkalye.net/2011/06/airphil-express-puerto-prinsesa-happy.html
AirPhil Express flies twice daily to Puerto Prinsesa Palawan.