Friday, October 31, 2014

Iwahig Penal Colony and Farm : 2nd stop of Puerto Princesa Tour '2014

Posted by Free-Spirited Vixen (Juliefe Cuenca) at 2:28 PM
       We paid only Php1,500 (for the van with driver) for a half day tour of Puerto Princesa. Since our group had around 10 members, it only cost Php150 per person. The tour was already inclusive of the ffg places:
1. Palawan Butterfly Ecological Garden and Tribal Village
2. Iwahig Penal Colony and Farm
3. Crocodile  Farm & Nature Park
4. Mitra's Ranch
5. Baker's Hill
6. Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral
7. Plaza Cuartel

     After visiting the  Palawan Butterfly Ecological Garden and Tribal Village, our second stop was the Iwahig Penal Colony and Farm. According to the Bureau of Corrections, this facility was established during the American occupation.  It was however, during the Spanish regime that Puerto Princesa was designated as a place where offenders sentenced to banishment were exiled.  A specific area of Puerto Princesa was selected as the site for a correctional facility.  The American military carved out a prison facility in the rain forest of Puerto Princesa.

      A merit system was devised for the prisoners and vocational activities were offered.  These included farming, fishing, forestry, carpentry, and hospital paramedical work. Prisoners could choose the vocational activities they wanted.

      As per Reportage by Getty Images, Iwahig Prison And Penal Farm lies within over 45,000-hectares of land on the island of Palawan in the Philippines. The remarkable thing about this prison is that there are no walls to contain the prisoners and barely a fence to mark its boundary. Given its low security, escape attempts are relatively rare. This may be due to the fact that the inmates are allowed to govern and police themselves to a large extent, but also because many of the inmate’s family’s choose to live at the prison too; giving up jobs and houses and moving the entire family to be near their loved one.

    This is the facade of the inmates recreation hall which also currently serves as their souvenir shopwhere they offer their goods for sale to visitors. It may look passable on the outside but actually it's already quite dilapidated from lack of building maintenance. On the brighter side, at least the surroundings are clean.

     Upon going inside this worn out hall, the prisoners welcomed us with a dance number and ushered us to join in. They were really friendly and accommodating, and even offered to become our photographers. They also sold souvenirs and other articles, many of which were personally crafted by them. The goods were affordable and tourists are greatly encouraged to  buy some as this constitutes as their livelihood. At least they're not begging.
      Donations are welcome too. There's a box for it, or you can also give in kind. For those who can afford, I think it would greatly be appreciated if you can rehabilitate a portion of the ceiling, roof or, walls, as this would leave a more lasting and tangible contribution to the institution.
Some of their merchandise
     Since we only hired a van, and didn't book with a travel agency for our Puerto Princesa tour, there was no one to guide us to the place and to explain to us several things. We just toured around the place, without anymore stopping to check on some sites inside the penal colony. Here are some pictures we took during our trip.
After Iwahig, we then proceeded to our 3rd destination, the Crocodile  Farm & Nature Park.


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