Sunday, June 15, 2008


Subterranean River, also called the Underground River, in Palawan

Some months back, I heard from the news that two natural wonder sites of the country are competing for the title of New Seven Wonders of Nature, namely, the Tubbataha Reef and Subterranean River National Park, both from Palawan.

I have been to the Underground River myself, an experience I could only aptly describe as unforgettable. We boarded this small engine-propelled banca, strapped our necessary orange life-jackets on, entered the mouth of this cave (as seen above) and saw the most amazing of stalactite and stalagmite formations. Some of these formations were named after what the stones sort of resembled like, i.e., The Pieta for what seemed to be a monument of Virgin Mary holding his dead son, and others that already escape my memory. But another vivid memory though, and one which will never escape me, is of sea snakes happily swimming alongside the banca as the boatman carried a tune in his wooden flute. Our friendly guide/boatman was actually calling on the snakes to come to our sides. While others wanted to jump out of the boat at the sight of the slithering snakes on top of the water, I calmly reminded myself of the fact earlier stated by our very thoughtful boatman, the river is at least 10 feet deep and freezing at that.

Feeling compelled to do my patriotic duties, I then googled the site and voted for the two lone Philippine entries, coupled by other equally enthralling entries from the Asian continent, such as Mt. Fuji, Mt. Everest, the Ganges River and others. I would have voted for the Philippine entries alone but one internet vote cast actually called for seven different choices, and of course, being Asian, I stayed close to home and limited my choices to the other Asian wonders of nature. Not content, I linked the add of the website and sent it to my entire Yahoo mail network so they could also promptly do their share and vote for the Philippines' entries as well.

Having done this, I mentally crossed my fingers and hoped that at least one of our national entry will make it to the final judgment. At that time, only the Tubbataha Reef seemed to be in the running, playing consistently between spots 7 and 8. As I understood it before, only the top entries will get the chance to proceed to the next level of elimination which will be determined by the group's panel of experts by next year, Jan 2009.

That was a couple of months ago. Just today, I read in an article at a travel forum, Four RP Sites in Top Ten of Nature Wonder Search, that the country now has four entries. The Chocolate Hills in Bohol, and the perfect cone-shaped Mayon Volcano in Bicol have been included on the list. Not only that, the ranking of all the Philippine entries have skyrocketed to the top spots. All four of the national entries are included among the top ten, with Tubbataha coming in at number 2 after a famous beach in Vietnam. What can I say? Amazing. The power of Filipino internet voting/blogging is undeniable.

I know for a fact that Filipino accounts as one of the top, if not the top, Friendsters user in the world. We have also consistently voted our Ms. Philippines candidate as the Most Photogenic in the Miss Universe competition for several years in a row. (We can't exactly claim pride in this though.)

Now, if we could only harness this focus and power into changing the course of our national economy and government, that would be more than amazing. It would actually be life-changing.

No comments: