CORON, PALAWAN, January 25, 2006 (BULLETIN) By Godís grace, Coron is anointed with vast tourist potentials, both land and underwater resources. It ranks among the best in the countryís potential tourism playgrounds that merit the support for full development from the government led by Her Excellency, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Coron can be transformed into a key player in largely improving the status of Philippine tourism. In a place, which potentials can surpass that of our neighbors, particularly Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam in attracting foreign visitors, Coron shall be in its rightful place in the global tourism map in the coming years.

Some of the rare places not found in other tourism-inspired regions are the fantastic and legendary lagoons which are wide, deep and with very clear water, interestingly nestled in one huge and rocky island popularly known as the Coron Islands. Encircled by giant walls of limestone cliffs, this jewel of a mountain, boarders the beautiful and wide Coron harbor, where more wonders of nature abide.

Yet unknown to many, this big Coron Island is decorated with numerous caves, which are home to a rare Philippine bird whose nest (balinsasayaw) is a rare expensive popular Chinese delicacy (nido soup).

The seven lagoons found in the area are, the Hall of Famer Cayangan, Barracuda, Tanigue, Twin lagoon, Abuyok and other inner bodies of water, which are only 15 minutes apart from each other. For more island hopping and fun, Coron offers the enchanting 219 islands and islets, with white sandy beaches, dreamy water fronts which will amaze visitors no end. A perfect place for island hopping, beach sports and swimming and a picnic galore for the entire family and guests.

So far, preference of island hoppers stay with the beautiful Sangat Islands CYC beach, Banul, Cabugao, Debatoc, Diwaran, Kalibunan, Lagat, Tara and the developed Maricaban, Dimakya, Malcapuya, Banana, and Maleroyroy, all with wide stretch of sandy beaches.

Meanwhile, for scuba diving enthusiasts, Coron offers the world-renowned dive sites, located at the narrow passages of Sangat, Gutob, and Black Islands. The main attractions are the 26 sunken Japanese Naval vessels. As recorded in history, during the last few months of World War II, 26 Japanese warships were crossing the Calamianes waters in their final retreat to Japan as the Japanese Imperial forces were already losing the war. They were spotted by US Naval bombers and made the Coron waters and its vicinity their final resting place. Today these sites has been attracting thousands of divers the whole year round. Florida in the US even tried to replicate this tourist attraction by intentionally sinking some old vessels for a dive site.

To the delight of the elderly, Coron is also offering the popular Makinit Hot Spring Resort located in the wide entrance of Coron harbor. It has wide pools with soothing hot salt water to treat some tired muscles and heal other diseases like arthritis which had affected a number of people.

Yet for the agile, an ideal spot for mountain climbing and hiking is the Mount Tapyas. A priceless gift of Palawan Governor Joel Reyes to Coron with more than 2,000 feet above sea level, some 719 concrete steps lead to the top. With ample stop-over areas while ascending, the majestic holy cross rests on top. Catch the full view of Coron town and harbor, one of the finest bays in the country.

Still included in the long list of Coronís rich natural resources is the Los Siete Pecados (Seven Rock Islands). When fully developed, its unique features shall contribute to the success of the Coron Tourism Program. Part of the master plan is the construction of hanging bridges to interconnect the seven rock islands, complete with diving boards, stairways, floating rest houses and slides. This is the only tourist development with this description in the whole Asia.

The tourism activities in Coron offer an array of business opportunities. From lodges to hotels. From seminar rooms to convention centers. In the proper time, be a witness to the unfolding of bigger events in the area which is now a priority site for tourism development by the government. Even the indigenous people of Coron (Tagbanuas) will benefit from the program.

Indeed rare and valuable natural resources seem to converge in the islands of Coron. Palawan Wonder Tours takes travelers there on a Friday evening and back on a Monday morning by Superferry or via Seair or Asian Spirit.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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