Finding Qi in Palawan

Cover of Wild by Troye Sivan | Lead Vocals - Talia Olfindo | Backup Vocals - Erin Olfindo

Extroverted Introverts

We gravitate towards remote and secluded places. We love conversations with just a handful of people and being able to freely roam around without worrying about going through a crowd. And that’s exactly what my husband Miguel gave us when he booked Qi Palawan for his 40th, and my daughter Talia’s 12th birthday celebration. A beach front family hut (it’s huge!), a beach that we had all to ourselves, and a chance to reset our minds and bodies before going back to the daily city grind.

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It was an adventure full of firsts....it was our first time in Palawan, it was our first time to fly then drive a loooong way to our destination, and our first time (or at least for me and the husband) to suffer through sand fly bites months after the trip. 

In fact, I’m still going to my allergologist regularly because my sand fly bites are still bothering me. And take note, I’m writing this article nine months after our trip. I make a horrible travel blogger. Thank goodness I have a day job!


Manila to Puerto Princesa - 5:00 am to around 6:00 am (590 km). We really tried to book the earliest possible flight to maximize our day.

Manila to Puerto Princesa - 5:00 am to around 6:00 am (590 km). We really tried to book the earliest possible flight to maximize our day.

Puerto Princesa to El Nido — approximately five hours to traverse long and winding roads (270 km) but this is dependent on who’s driving.

Puerto Princesa to El Nido — approximately five hours to traverse long and winding roads (270 km) but this is dependent on who’s driving.

Just one of the many creatures we got to “meet” on the way to El Nido.

Just one of the many creatures we got to “meet” on the way to El Nido.

Thanks to the Mabuhay Miles seat sale, I was able to book this trip for almost close to nothing. I paid for just the taxes which don’t really cost so much if you’re flying domestic. People are always surprised when I say that my flights to various destinations are almost always close to free because of the miles that I earn by using my Citibank credit card.

Driving was a breeze as there were barely any cars on the way to El Nido. Pedestrians were mostly low flying birds, chickens, cows, and goats crossing the roads without looking. Miguel actually hit one bird with our very slow Ertiga. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find an Opus Macchina-worthy car to rent.


rough roads to paradise

Being in a very remote spot in Palawan with slow and intermittent signal forced workaholic me to unplug and recharge . . . and here’s proof of how far we were from the city. 

On our way to the resort, we had to pass through a stretch of an unpaved road in the middle of a forest, and this monitor lizard literally stopped us in our tracks. What a treat (although we freaked out in the car a bit) for us city folks! 

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We were all “ooh’s” and “aah’s” as soon as we parked the car at the resort. The pathway leading to the rooms and the beach was a much needed treat from our long ride.

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Discovering the undiscovered

Seven cottages in a virgin forest is already a sure fire guarantee that you ‘ll have the beach almost to yourself. And that’s what we had, even if there were other visitors at Qi Palawan.

Even if it was raining on some days, we still had the most pleasant time during our stay at this part of north eastern Palawan. With almost non-existent cell signal, we were forced to slow down and take a break from our crazy city lives.

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The place really is paradise. And the hut that we got was big enough to have a small party in it! The kids found the sunken beds so appealing (although some adults would say it looks like coffins hahaha), the place was clean, there were two toilets, and the outdoor bath area was so beautiful!

Master’s bedroom at the loft

Master’s bedroom at the loft

Sunken beds at the lower floor

Sunken beds at the lower floor

Outdoor bath area

Outdoor bath area

View from the sunken beds

View from the sunken beds

The best part for us though was the company. Of course, we all had a wonderful time bonding as a family. But to put icing on the cake, we were also able to spend time with what I call the resort’s Happiness Officers, which were the two dogs freely roaming around the area.

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Gordie, the yellow lab, stuck with us pretty much most of the time. He absolutely loved Erin and he kept on following her everywhere. He waited for her to finish taking a bath, laid down outside our villa blocking our door, and when Erin came out he wanted to swim and play again with her. 

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As I was writing this post, I learned that Gordie passed away a few months ago due to holes on his stomach lining. He was even sent to Spain for treatment but unfortunately didn’t make it.

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The news got us teary eyed but we remembered what Bettina, Gordie’s human and the resort’s previous owner, told us when we asked her if it’s safe to let the dogs roam freely in the jungle and sea.

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Bettina said that she thinks it’s better to let the dogs lead full and happy lives by letting them experience everything freely, instead of tying them up or keeping them cages. I think that makes perfect sense…..a short but happy life is better than a long and miserable one.

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finding my qi

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Qi, in Chinese philosophy, stands for the energy in everything. Prior to this trip, I was feeling out of sorts, and if I tie it up with Chinese medicine, it could be because of an unbalanced qi. In traditional Chinese medicine, the balance of negative and positive forms in the body is believed to be essential for good health and that’s something that’s hard for me to achieve regularly.

Having almost non-existent cell signal drove me nuts, I must admit. But it got me to finally read not one, but two books! I’m such a bookworm but I would always opt to get some work down and cross out stuff from my long to do list before spending quality time with a good book. And getting to just stare my surroundings, listening to nature’s whispers, and absorbing lots of vitamin D were good for my body and soul.

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Thanks to Boy, Dande, and Jonly, Qi Palawan’s very reliable and friendly boatmen, we were able to relax and unwind when we went island hopping on the east side of Palawan. They took care of everything — food, water, sunblock, etc.

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A fleeting moment on a fast speedboat. I feel lucky to have been able to capture it.

A fleeting moment on a fast speedboat. I feel lucky to have been able to capture it.

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Peace is me pretending to be a starfish, hearing the sand and small stones rubbing against each other, opening my eyes to see the sliver of the moon against the bright blue sky with a cloud formation in the shape of a heart.

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We were supposed to go to several islands that day but ended up going to just three, because when we reached Maosonon Island (or what we call “Private Property”), we didn’t want to leave.

Thank you so much to the island owner for letting us hang out the whole afternoon. No signal, no shade, no huts, no beach chairs…..it was just us, the white sand, and the crystal clear water.

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A haven for the weary

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One of the El Nido locals said that they go to Qi Palawan when they want to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of their own area. That sealed the deal for us!


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We spent three nights here and it was the best place to bond with my family, to detach myself from work, and to just enjoy the things that I would normally do if I didn’t have to think of adulting.

Read books. Take photos (lots of it). Play. Take naps. Stare at my surroundings. Talk without interruption. No calls, texts or emails. It was a trip with a big fat DO NOT DISTURB sign written all over it.

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We left the place sun-kissed, recharged, and ready to take on the long drive back to Puerto Princesa for our flight home. But before saying goodbye to Palawan, we had one last stop at El Nido.

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Frangipani el nido

We stayed at Frangipani El Nido for one night before driving back to Puerto Princesa. It was a good way to slowly transition back to the city life with its modern conveniences such as relatively good signal (hello, internet!) and its proximity to the town proper where all the tourists and locals hang out.

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Good thing we had beautiful accommodations in El Nido because the one day that we had there, it was raining. We were dreading the flight home the next day because it was already flooded in both El Nido and Manila. It ended up being a staycation at the resort, but no one complained because we absolutely loved their amenities and their staff.

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Will I go back to Palawan? If I wrote this article a few days or weeks after we got back home my answer would have been a big fat YES. But it’s been more than nine months after our trip and I’m still suffering from sand fly bites on my arms and shoulders. Yes, I put repellant regularly.  So maybe it’s a no for now as my skin can’t take all the steroids on a regular basis. But I’ll definitely miss out on the beauty of the place as we barely scratched the surface of this paradise during our trip. 

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Workaholic and multitasking momma who absolutely enjoys what she does as Executive Producer for OTT.  Has faulty memory so taking photos of almost everything is part of her everyday life.