Filipinos asked to vote for river cave as one of world’s wonders

By Mariecar Jara-Puyod

AN underground river cave and national park located west of Central Philippines, shortlisted for the World’s Seven Wonders of Nature competitions is something to be proud of.

Overseas Filipinos (OFs) who may have seen other countries must support its online voting.

Thus was the reaction of three Filipinos in Dubai when The Gulf Today was able to get in touch with on Saturday, after the Manila-based The Philippine Star published an article about President Benigno Aquino III himself, asking his compatriots to cast their votes for the Palawan Underground River or the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park.

“It is about time for Filipinos to realise that there is something good back home and that we should be proud that God has blessed us with many natural wonders,” said United International Private School manager for community and development Jennifer Gonzales.

A Palawan visitor several times over and who described the Palawenos as a people “deeply connected with nature and the environment,” Gonzales also expressed hope that the negative impression of the international community on the Philippines “diminishes” with the entry of the 8.2-kilometre navigable underground river cave and the national park, part of the limestone St. Paul Mountain Range.

She and public relations specialist Angelo Tesorero believe the tourist destination which the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation listed in the World Heritage List on Dec. 4, 1999, provided a “twist” to the negative publicity their country has been getting internationally.

Tesorero who already cast his vote during the telephone interview, said that as OFs may have opportunities to travel, they must contribute to the online voting through, as a “patriotic duty.”

“Iba pa rin (It is different) when we make it. We should be proud that one of our tourism destinations were chosen,” he said.

“We have one country we can go home to anytime we want. We hope that when we make it to the list, our level of consciousness for a sustainable environment and clean living becomes much better,” said Gonzales.

It was in the early 1990s when Dubai-based journalist Jose Franco Jr. experienced the thrills of the underground river cave like its clear lagoon, the swooping down of parrots and hornbills as well as seeing up close its stalactites and stalagmites, apart from the monkeys, squirrels, large monitor lizards, sea cows, porcupines among others on the beach of the national park.

He said: “I am so happy with the inclusion. I hope that it will really make to the final list.”

He added that Palawan, known as the Last Frontier of the Philippines, is “such a beautiful place, rich in natural resources.” The Seven Wonders of Nature competitions is an offshoot of the New Seven Wonders of the World competitions of Swiss national Bernard Weber wherein the 2007 list include the Chicchen Itza (Mexico), Christ Redeemer (Brazil), Colosseum (Italy), Taj Mahal (India), Great Wall of China, Petra (Jordan), and Machu Picchu (Peru).

There are 28 contenders, the top seven of which will be known on Nov. 11, 2011 from the assessments of a panel of experts and after an estimated one billion have cast their votes, according to the Seven Wonders of Nature website.

From the website Weber said: “We are finding the new Seven Wonders of Nature campaign to be excitingly different from the first campaign. So many breathtakingly beautiful, natural places are still quite unknown to many.”

“From waterfalls to fjords, rainforests to mountain peaks, freshwater lakes to volcanoes. We are discovering together the incredible beauty and variety of our planet.”

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