Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

Archive for April 12th, 2018

The Lio experience 0

Posted on April 12, 2018 by jimparedes

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HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE – Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) – April 1, 2018 – 12:00am

I remember asking for a plastic bag since we were going on an island tour. I was pleasantly shocked when they said they do not have plastic bags on the island.

From out of the blue, I got an invitation to go to Lio Resorts in El Nido to write about the Lio festival and a list of other activities. I made plans to go to the town of El Nido in Palawan before but it fell through. But here it was, suddenly being presented to me. I readily said yes.

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Up Dharma Down performs at Lio to the delight of the crowd

I flew in on a 48-seater plane together with some writers and bloggers. from Manila. In one hour, we were in Lio, a place that is everything Manila is not. It took a five-minute ride from the airport to take us to our hotel. We were greeted by a gorgeous beach, breathtaking scenery, fresh air, total absence of traffic, big wide open spaces, lots of trees, sand on our feet and hotel staff who were more than friendly. I actually felt their eagerness to make our stay a comfortable and an enjoyable one.

Lio is a tourism estate amid very tall coconut trees. It’s on an island along Baquit Bay in El Nido. It has four hotels, three of them a stone’s throw from each other. Each also caters to slightly different markets. Hotel room rates range from P5,000 a night to P9,000.

Lio has different restaurants and bars that serve a variety of dishes and drinks. It is a well designed complex. It was built by Ayala Land. Very few trees have been taken down. Those that were taken down are in a nursery and will be planted somewhere else. The area’s topography was not altered to fit into development plans. Instead the opposite happened.You will see no artificial hills. There are no structures above a second floor. And the forests in the 300-plus hectares remain lush and green.

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Everything is within walking distance. The beach is quite an attractive one. The smooth white sand extends more than a kilometer and a half. The waves are big enough for both swimming and surfing. And you get a magnificent view of Kalaw island, home of the highest mountain in El Nido.There is a beautiful jetty that extends a few hundred steps to Baquit Bay, which is the perfect spot to appreciate the mountain. Just staring at it especially in the late afternoon towards sunset is quite a visual thrill, as clouds cover parts of it and the sun rays paint the horizon in different hues of grey, pink, orange, and red.

The whole estate has been designed to be sustainable and kind to Mother Nature. I remember asking for a plastic bag to put my dry clothes in since we were going on an island tour. I was pleasantly shocked when the front desk said they do not have plastic bags on the island.
There is also a small artists’ haven where locals and people from nearby sell their crafts and arts. The merchandise is wonderful and, best of all, inexpensive. I bought myself a bunch of drinking straws made of bamboo for use at home. I promise to buy more on my next visit.

The festival itself was held last March 23. It was open to guests of the hotels and the general public free of charge.

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Shopping at a small artists’ haven where locals and people from nearby sell their crafts and arts.

From 4 p.m. up, there were games along the beach, murals being painted by artists.The public was encouraged to join. There was story-telling to kids emphasizing the care of the environment by women from the Haribon Foundation. By 6 p.m., there was DJ Cam playing music along the beach as people enjoyed the sunset.

At around 8 p.m., we gathered around a big tent for the concert. It featured four acts, three of them local. It started with Mike and Lyka, an acoustic duo from El Nido, followed by Woopis, band from Puerto Princesa that not only rocked but regaled the crowd with their hits and funny songs. It was followed by a drum ensemble called Kawangis Tribu, also from Puerto Princesa that got the crowd dancing. The closing act was done by one of the country’s best OPM bands, Up Dharma Down. The crowd was enthusiastic. They applauded, sang along and had a great time.

What a night!

We also toured a few islands in El Nido. Most impressive were the Big Lagoon, and the Seven Commandos islands. We wanted to see more but there was hardly enough time.

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Author Jim Paredes at the Lio Beach in El Nido Palawan

I am quite a traveler and have been to many islands and resorts. This is one of those places I will remember not just for its spectacular beauty, its wonderful staff but also for its respect and kindness towards Mother nature.

I will be back there soon!

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/lifestyle/travel-and-tourism/2018/04/01/1801543/lio-experience#b0r8TmYWcHVpDdj5.99

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