How I Got My name: Palawan

Posted by Clare Izaguirre on

Palawan is the Philippines' largest island. It is an archipelago (a group of scattered islands) in the region of Mimropa. Sat between Mindoro island (another Phillippine’s island) and Borneo, Palawan measures 264 miles in length and 25 miles in width.

The island is famed for its unparalleled natural beauty and diverse geological landscapes which often finds it voted high among the world’s most idyllic islands to visit.

Palawan is essentially divided in two, geologically. One half is desert and the other is filled with ecological features like dense forests with tropical flowers, fauna and waterfalls. There are also pristine beaches (the inspiration for Alex Garland’s The Beach nonetheless) with towering limestone cliffs and many types of fish, coral, birds and even endangered turtles.

It is the intrepid explorer’s paradise and the inspiration for The Palawan Collection.

A short history

How the name ‘Palawan’ came about is much debated. One theory is that it may come from ‘Paragua’ (Spanish for umbrella), as the island is shaped as such. Another could be the Indian word for territory ‘Palawans’.

Early settlers on Palawan were indigenous people such as the Tabganuas and Palaw’ans ethnic groups; descendants of which inhabit the island today.

In the 1960s a team of researchers led by anthropologist and historian Robert B. Fox found evidence of humans dating back more than 50,000 years in the Tabon Caves, putting Palawan at the very inception of the Philippines itself.

Unfortunately, Palawan’s recent history has been tumultuous, filled with war, colonisation and different reigning eras that have evolved the architecture, culture and even names of locations over the years. But today’s Palawan is a liberated and an island of peace, awash with friendly locals and enamoured visitors.

What to buy

Head to the island’s capital Puerto Princesa for the best shopping on the island.

With everything from native crafts and arts to local delicacies, shopping in Palawan is a popular pastime and therefore highly catered for. Cue large shopping malls, local markets and shops providing everything you could want.

Head down to ASIANO Arts and Crafts in Puerto Princesa and find beautiful handmade masks, bowls, wall hangings, abaca baskets, sculptures and unique jewellery pieces. 

Many of the items in this shop are made by the indigenous people of Palawan ask Jojo the shop owner for the full stories.

For boho jewellery with a local twist, go to Palawan Authenticity South Sea Pearl Shop in Puerto Princesa which sells all kinds of pearl adjourned jewellery in a range of colours and sizes fresh off the boats.

Coated cashew nuts are a delicious snack in Palawan that are offered in many shops and markets. You can enjoy lots of different coatings including sweet honey and caramelized brown sugar, a local speciality.

What to visit

There is so much to do in Palawan, it’s hard to fit it all in. But let’s just say your trip is covered for nature enthusiasts, beach dwellers and adrenaline junkies.

Jungle Exploration

Head up to Estrella Falls in southern Palawan, a unique rainforest area with scattered waterfalls. Trekkers can scale the peaks and those who want a cleansing swim can take a dip in the emerald-green waters. BBQ area and tables are around the site.

Chill Out Time

Even though the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park or ‘Underground River’ is always popular with tourists, it never takes away from its incredible, unmatched beauty.

Listed as the UNESCO WORLD Heritage Site and one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, this area includes intricate cave systems, an underground river (which you can have tours of) and ecosystems that span from cliff top to sea bed.

Located on the western side of Palawan it also boasts a flawless beach experience where photos don’t do it justice. 

Adventure Time

On Palwan’s northernmost tip is El Nido and its 45 islands and islets. Those that go to El Nido often island hop with each island offering its own experience; like surfing, snorkelling, kitesurfing and scuba diving or lounging on the unspoilt beaches of Nacban Beach and Las Cabanas Beach.

It's also an area with steep cliffs so rock climbing is a popular pursuit and some like to cliff jump. There are plenty of easily accessible organised tours help you discover the local wildlife and nature via boat or on foot.

Aquila Memories

Palawan inspired the Palawan Collection, a mixed metal jewellery collection part of the wider Aquila Jewellery range made with 925 sterling silver and 14ct gold vermeil by our Indonesian artisans.


Each piece of this handmade jewellery collection has been made using handheld tools and encapsulates the contrast of desert and jungle on the Island of Palawan with its contrast of metals.

Have you visited Palawan or would you like to? Let us know in the comments below.

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