“Tara” which translates to “let’s go” is an invitation to venture into the iconik three-time “most beautiful island in the world”.
Tara, let us take you around our most beloved island!
Palawan, an island found at the Southwestern most part of the Philippines, has always been a must-visit island, not only for Filipinos but for tourists all over the world. It is most known for the Underground River, hailed as one of the Seven New Wonders of the World and one of the longest navigable river-traversed caves. But, this isn’t the only attraction to see. You can choose to stay atop a mountain, marveling at the cleanest lake in the country called Kayangan Lake in Coron, or go deep underwater to explore the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Tubattaha reefs.
Second to these world wonders, Palawan is likewise a haven of world-class beaches — from its long stretches of sand to the pristine view of the crystal-clear turquoise waters as you look into the horizon. You can choose to surf, island hop, dive, or simply spend a warm day under the sun, with some beaches only having a number of tourists alongside you. Definitely sounds like a dream!
When you’re not at shore enjoying the waters, you might as well be in the middle of the streets during Palawan’s long list of festivals. There’s practically a festival for everything – from bountiful harvests and planting endemic trees to showcasing the locals and their produce.
Like any other Philippine destination, Palawan does not sit out in the food competition with some dishes that are only found specifically in the island, like Nido Soup from bird nests of swiftlets, Tamilok or woodworms from mangroves, to a warm bowl of Chao Long, a Vietnamese noodle soup shared by refugees who once inhabited the island after the world war.
The island though is more than just a destination, but a home to many types of locals. In fact, because of its geography, many groups of Indigenous People (IP) reside here — rounding a total of 8 distinct groups: Batak, Kagayanen, Tau’t Bato, Palaw’an, Molbog, Tagbanua, and Agutaynen.
There is still a lot more to see and explore in the “Last Frontier of the Philippines” and we urge you to take this journey with us through Tara Palawan!.
It is the first regional deck of the country and a follow-up to the original Philippine version created by Tara Baraha. It takes you on a visual tour that allows you to learn and enjoy all at the same time. The travel is even made more meaningful as the adorable and eye-catching artwork on each card is a labor of love of three young and amazing creatives — Brian Yatco, Mia Almorfe, and Fritz Asuncion, bound by their love for their hometown and an even stronger passion to showcase the local talent of the islands.
Photo taken on the day the Tara Palawan artists first saw the printed deck
From left to right (L-R): Fritz Asuncion, Brian Yatco, and Mia Almorfe
Fritz Asuncion is a portrait, caricature, pixel, and digital artist. His love for art began as soon as he could pick up a pencil after watching hours and hours of cartoons and anime when he was still young. He dreams that art as a profession will not be looked down upon and that artists like him will never have to get discriminated for their passion and profession.
Brian Yatco creates art through a variety of methods and forms — tradigital, pen and ink, conceptual illustrations, and graphic designs. His art is his fingerprint and being part of this project cements his greater purpose as an artist to contribute to the local Palawan art scene in telling the island’s unique story.
Mia Almorfe is a calligrapher, portrait artist, watercolor illustrator, and a newbie digital artist. Mia continues to pursue, learn and refine her style in order to serve as an inspiration to other artists to keep in mind “progress, not perfection”. The work she has done in Tara Palawan! only adds a chapter to her continuous miamorphosis.
Aside from it being made by locals, it is also made for locals. Tara Palawan! is a yet another project of Iconik Travels and Events that aims to help and support local communities.
What are you waiting for? Tara Palawan!
Photos were taken by Rain Beltran, Mel Balmaceda, and Camille Conanan.
Over the past few days, the team has been out the door before sunrise, taking the first step of each day towards one of the reasons why Iconik exists in the first place. From 6:00am, to 5:30, to 4:45, we woke up half-asleep yet fully awakened by the purpose of why we do what we do.
For three days, together with our partners from Local Government Units (LGUs) and the City Tourism Office of Palawan, we ventured into different towns and sites to meet with local communities, be blown away by the views their areas had to offer, and discuss various ways on how we could work together.
You see, Iconik Travels and Events, is not a mere tour provider and operator, but more of a development partner — working hand-in-hand in identifying challenges among local community tourist sites, creating solutions to address them, and hustling to ensure that they come into fruition.
How can Iconik do this, you ask?
While “sustainable tourism” is a buzz word often thrown around the industry, there is still much room in clearly identifying what it is and how it should be done. UNESCO defines it as “tourism that respects both local people and the traveller, cultural heritage and the environment”, but Iconik Travels and Events wishes to commit to a much bigger purpose than what this definition offers. Inspired by the move of the city government of Puerto Princesa who pushed for the Community-based Sustainable Tourism (CBST) advocacy since 2012, Iconik hopes to not only respect local people, cultural heritage, and the environment, but to also help build them. We envision a tourism industry that local communities have the same – or even more influential – hand in directing the livelihood and economy of their people and areas. With the help of various partners and collaborations, Iconik believes that sustainable tourism in this regard will be possible in the near future.
After spending our mornings and afternoons hiking, trekking, and engaging in conversations with the locals, the Iconik team found an even more renewed spirit in supporting and advocating for CBST. Aside from getting to know the locals’ needs and understanding them more deeply, it allowed us to create meaningful shared experiences that we wish all of our guests and clients would have in their own respective trips.
We are so excited to be beginning our community partnerships soon and we can’t wait until we can share all these breathtaking new tourist sites for you to enjoy. Stay tuned for more updates!
Should you also wish to know more about our CBST efforts and to partner with us in this advocacy, please feel free to send us an email via firstname.lastname@example.org.