"Sir, kanina pa po ako naghintay sa inyo" (Sir, I've been waiting for you). A still smiling guy holding a placard for Puerto Pension was outside Puerto Princesa's airport waiting for me. The plane wasn't even delayed. There was just a bit of miscommunication involved.
When I made plans to travel to El Nido, logistics dictated I stay for the night in the capital city of Palawan. No problem. I had a pleasant stay the first time in 2004 so I made arrangements to stay again in Puerto Pension. It's now even oozing with Tripadvisor compliments. The problem was, booking with them isn't as direct as simply giving one's credit card number online.
|"Deluxe Single" room|
I was e-mailed back with instructions, either paying through a bank or sending via fax or e-mail my credit card details (along with photocopies of my card and passport). I simply didn't have the luxury of time so I resigned myself to the idea of merely showing up and hoping I could still get their cheapest room - P946 all-in for a "Deluxe Single".
It was while transiting in Manila (from Davao) that I found out they wanted my flight details. It turns out they still do offer complimentary airport transfers and even if I haven't paid up yet, they seem eager to get my business. So I e-mailed them that I'm on the afternoon flight. Unknown to me, they've already sent the poor driver to wait for me on the morning arrivals!
It turns out I was the only guest he was picking up the entire day from the airport. In the old days, they used tricycles; now there was this pimped-up airconditioned jeepney with forward-facing seats. So there I was, feeling like an important guest with nothing but a backpack. Being back in Puerto Princesa again is really good. Being back in Puerto Pension again felt like coming home!
More smiling faces greeted me as I walked into the reception and a welcome drink was handed to me. The staff's friendliness is still infectious. After 8 years, Puerto Pension has seemingly shown no age. It looks like a beachfront property made from wood and woven materials, exuding a more rustic appeal than wowing you with anything grandiose. Besides the obviously reasonable price, it's this homey ambiance that got me hooked.
|Breakfast at Tribu Restaurant|
For P946 I got myself a small room with TV, airconditioning, small ref, bathroom/toilet and a continental breakfast (which I've upgraded to a full Pinoy brekkie for P88 more). Meals are served on their top floor "Tribu Restaurant" with its views of the bay. Receptionists take your meal orders the night before, noting what time you take the breakfast and interestingly, restaurant crew will ring you up to remind you "breakfast is ready Sir".
I once again enjoyed my stay at Puerto Pension. Back in 2004, I remember they were still reeling from the effects of the Dos Palmas hostage incident. Maribel, who still works at the front desk, said most tourist-oriented businesses closed then and Puerto Pension was just at the brink. Things are way better now. It's heartening to see Puerto Pension today still serving the needs of those who want to see Palawan on a budget.
Even if I have a million, I'd say I'd still stay again at Puerto Pension.