May 31, 2004  (STAR) RENDEZVOUS By Christine S. Dayrit  -  Thick blankets of dust spiraled in mid-air as our Asian Spirit flight to Taytay, Palawan landed after an hour and a half from Manila. Within the vicinity, no community – except of course for the seemingly makeshift arrival and departure area and the three stalls with toothy vendors selling dried squid and roasted cashew nuts – seemed to exist. The airport, what with its red soil surrounded by rocky mountains and thickets, reminded my best friend Büm Tenorio and myself about our unforgettable trip to Mpumalanga, South Africa. We closed our eyes and imagined the wild welcome the Rainbow Country accorded us. Of course, no cheetahs, leopards, and lions welcomed us at the landing field. After a brief jeepney ride, our speedboat glided on the crystal clear waters enroute to our island paradise.

The wildlife we did not see at the airport was the wildlife that greeted us when we reached Club Noah Isabelle on Apulit Island of Northeastern Palawan. Rabbits, black and white and some orange hued ones, seemed to usher us to our well-appointed cabanas. Anteaters crawled their way to the hilly portion of the island resort as if too shy to make their presence felt. Hornbills and egrets flew endlessly above the azure waters in search of their perfect meal. Geese with their ducklings quacked their way under the cabanas as if happily celebrating our arrival. We were told there were crocodiles in the swamp dotted with bakawan (mangrove) but luckily, we did not spot them.

Upon dislodging all our bags in our rooms, we wasted no time checking the waters of Club Noah Isabelle. Palawan, being the last frontier, is famous for its rich marine life. We donned our colorful fins, goggles and life vests and headed for the pier, one of the best spots in the resort where guests could snorkel. Truth was, one need not go to the waters to see the fish. Just dip your feet in the waters while seated on the pier and jack hammers would come running to entertain you.

"But you have to see our resident Napoleon Wrasse that swims around. I bet you will be entertained by it," said Ito Tuason, Club Noah’s PR and corporate affairs manager, while pointing to a spot just three meters away from the pier.

We swam to the direction Ito pointed to us. True enough, a giant Napoleon Wrasse as big as a beetle wagon was swimming and playing with other big fish under the water. Peppered rabbitfish and pufferfish , merrily dancing before our very eyes was truly a sight to behold.

We further explored the underworld. Just 20 meters under the sea and we were all awed to see more creatures of the deep-reef needlefish, starry grouper, snappers, long fin emperor, orange-banded coralfish, ringtail and finelined surgeonfish, scribbled filefish, blue devil damsel, giant trevally, copper-banded butterflyfish, among others. It was also very refreshing to go after clown fish that play endlessly with sea anemones. Like watching a scene from the Walt Disney movie Finding Nemo, the underwater world in Palawan is comparable to the untouched and preserved marine resources of Palau.

When the sun started to kiss the azure waters good bye that day, we proceeded to our cabanas to prepare for dinner. Club Noah amenities are excellent. Each of its 30 single detached water cabanas and 20 family water cabanas form part of nature’s landscape where one can enjoy a majestic view of sun-kissed seashores and pristine blue waters while savoring the crisp sea breeze from the verandah. All cabanas, aside from being air-conditioned, have ceiling fans, private showers and toilets and semi-double beds.

Dinner at the resort is always in style. The staff of Club Noah painstakingly assemble tables and chairs by the shore where diners eat in between the sound of waves lapping the shore. With the horizon peppered with stars and pierced only with the comb-like moon, dining becomes romantic. Torches abound for guests to see each other’s delighted faces in the middle of a sumptuous meal. I dare say, aside from the natural beauty of Club Noah, its food is one of its strengths. Intercontinental cuisine has never been served this exquisitely!

At night, one feels like royalty while lounging on a soft bed with clean ultra linens. Just outside the verandah a big, illuminated, white cross on top of a hill oversees the whole resort. Before going to bed, one is inspired to say a prayer or two for such beauty and bountiful blessings from the Creator.

The cross remains lighted until six in the morning, a perfect time that found my friends and I kayaking in the waters slowly being drenched in the glorious rays of the morning sun. Some of us, after eating a superb breakfast dared to dive the deep blue sea. Others went canoeing, fishing, wind surfing, among other sports and leisure activities the resort offers.

Lunch is spent going on an island tour. Isla Blanca and Noa-Noa Island all the more proved to us that indeed Palawan’s bounty is untouched. White-sanded coves and islands abound in the province, proving that Palawan is also a force to reckon with when it comes to pristine, pure, and perfect place for recreation.

When it is low tide, guests of Club Noah visit caves around the area. One of the more popular caves is the Cave of St. Joseph aptly named because it resembles a statue of the saint. Another cave that is worth visiting is the Pabellon. In the middle of this cave is a deep body of water so refreshingly clean and clear but to reach this cave, one needs to pass crevices and crannies. Club Noah’s tour guides who are experts in training guests will ensure your safety. Their mantra in life is to preciously guard and guide their guests.

Special cocktails or dinners are also set dramatically and romantically in caves. Ours was set inside the North Cave. From the pier, just when the sun was setting, we took the speedboat that brought us to the cave in about seven minutes. Here, we were very surprised to be pampered by manager Ito Tuason who, with his super innovative staff, prepared wine and cheese for us. The cave was illuminated by many candles perched on the cave walls that resembled an image of a heart. While we clinked and clanked our wine glasses, a Club staff serenaded us with kundiman and other enchanting songs. The voice of the singer was very good and very raw that made us cry. Had Büm not taken the floor and privy us to his talent in stand up comedy, we could have been carried away by the solemnity of the place and caused a flood of tears in the cave. We left the cave just in time when high tide set in. On our way back to the resort, pitch darkness greeted us. Only the stars in their most scintillating glory guided us back to our piece of paradise.

On our last day in Club Noah, a speedboat coursed us through a bigger motorized outrigger that would bring us back to Taytay. Just when the boat was about to leave, eight kayaks surrounded us with the beautiful staff of the resort on board dressed in luau attire, serenaded us with a Palawan song. The ditty had a hint of saying adieu. It also hinted of luring guests to come back to their island paradise. We all waved good bye to them but not without promising that indeed, we shall be back to a paradise called Club Noah Isabelle.

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For more information about Club Noah Isabelle, call 844-6688, 844-6166, 844-7786 or log on to

Asian Spirit flies to Taytay, Palawan every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7a.m. For more info, call 851-8888.

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Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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