There are many reasons to book a tour package to Puerto Princesa. Palawan has many attractive offers that can attract all kinds of tourists. One of these is the Dugong, or sea cow. According to some, it is from this animal that the legend of the mermaid originated.
The legend of the mermaid
Mermaids have long sparked the imagination of humans. Artists used mermaids as subjects for paintings, songs, documentaries and films. According to stories, mermaids lure men into the water to their doom. Other stories say that they are kind, as they give gifts and help sailors in need. Mermaids continue as one of the most fascinating mythological creatures. Every culture has its mermaid stories. Most of the stories are from the Near East, Europe, Africa and Asia. In the Philippines, stories from the south speak of a “kataw.” It is what Cebuanos call a mermaid that lives in the ocean and the caves of the islands.
The mermaids of Palawan
A tour package to Puerto Princesa takes you to Palawan, a province in the Philippines with its own mermaid story to tell. Their version of a “kataw” is dugong or manatee. These are large creatures that feed on sea grass. Locals associated these creatures with mermaids. Many sailors talk about meeting manatees and mistaking them for mermaids. Interestingly, Christopher Columbus himself reported seeing mermen during his exploration of the Caribbean. Similar sightings have also been reported in Israel, Canada and Zimbabwe. To date, however, no one has found evidence to prove their existence.
When you book a Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour Package, your boatman can tell you a story about the fossil that was discovered inside the river cave. This is a dugong fossil, which experts believe is around twenty million years old. Some people call dugongs as Sirenia or Sirenians, an order of aquatic, herbivorous mammals. “Sirenia” is derived from the “Sirens”, Greek mythological beings who drew sailors to their ruin. This explains why the Tagalog term for mermaid is “sirena”. Dugongs live in coastal ocean waters, swamps and rivers. You can also see them in estuaries.
Sea Cow from the Miocene age
In 2011, a team of Italian researchers discovered a 20-million-year-old fossil of a dugong. It belongs to one of two extinct species of manatee. Experts believe that the Sirenian order evolved more than 50 million years ago. This is what makes the archaeological find so important. The specimen, found in the cave, is the first found from the Philippines. It is also the first fossil find of this type in the Southeast Asian region. The fossil is in the deeper part of the cave, which is not accessible with a regular Puerto Princesa underground river tour.
Want to visit the underground river? Apart from the fossil, you will find amazing stalactite and stalagmite formations in the cave. Contact a registered Philippine travel agency for more information on Puerto Princesa tour packages and the famous underground river.