Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mitra Ranch and Commodore N. Hernandez Mansion - Palawan Chronicles Part 2

After waiting for our tricycle driver for 20 minutes, we left Crocodile Farm, headed right – going northwards. From the main highway, we turned left (west) somewhere. It was a backroad. In this area, we were to see Baker’s Hill, Mitra Ranch and Commodore N. Hernandez Mansion. The terrain was hilly, and shrubs grew on unattended lands. It is obvious that a lot of Puerto Princesa, and Palawan in general, has ignored the heed of commercialization as wasn’t the case in Boracay.


The first we saw, to the left side of the road, was Commodore N. Hernandez’s Mansion. We were told that this particular structure was a site of controversy owing to the grandiosity of the structure. There were hearsays that broadcast journalist Korina Sanchez featured it in one of her shows but if she did, I must have missed it! There were no hints of maintaining a low profile. As it was, the modern behemoth that rose among vegetations and shanties stood proud. Indeed, this private residence is a commercial beauty! There was an on-going construction of an annex building at the side, and a swimming pool spread across the lawn. 

Owing to its alleged “popularity”, this mansion is rumored to be open to public once finished. In fact, a huge signage is already in place just outside the gate. What private residence would even bother to advertise if this wasn’t meant to lure public attention? Of course, this structure is nothing spectacular compared to the other gargantuan buildings in some of the posh villages in Manila, but in rural Puerto Princesa, it sticks out like a sore thumb of an eye candy!

Commodore N. Hernandez Mansion (above and below)


Further afield, to the right of the road was Baker’s Hill, a compound of establishments that is famous for their hopia and kakanin (foodies) that were perfect pasalubongs (gifts). To be honest, I’ve never heard of the place until now – so despite having no plans of buying hopia and bread, I wanted to check out the place. And boy, oh boy – this turned out to be such a treat! This would be among my most favorite visits during this whole Palawan jaunt!


We proceeded to the Mitra Ranch first! The ranch is crowned by a solitary mansion – the current residence of congressman Baham Mitra, son and heir of former political honcho Ramon Mitra. Surrounding this mansion is a ranch that spreads neatly into rolling greens atop a highland! There are benches where you can rest and enjoy the view of the western seas! The park grounds is open to public from 6AM to 6PM daily. My first visit here a few years back was even more eventful. 

I was part of a volunteer group in an NGO and we were toured inside the rustic elegance of its hybrid twin-pyramidal mansion. The good congressman received the group (see the photo of that meeting a few years back in this post) and allowed us to sneak a peek inside the wood-planked structures. Mitra Ranch is officially labelled Rancho Santa Monica which is what is painted at a sign just before entering the premises. However, most people just call it Mitra Ranch.

Mitra Ranch

This time around though, the youthful congressman was entertaining guests so we opted to steer clear from the veranda. I didn’t have intentions of shaking his hands again. LOL. Around the park grounds, concrete statues of roosters were on display, albeit with chipped paint and falling beaks. Indeed, the idyllic park grounds has been open to the public – for free! This is something that’s typical of Palaweno politicians. They don't bristle with security threats. Moreover, they don’t hide their possessions from the people. Instead, we find them sharing their bounties to their constituents. This is something that politicians elsewhere should learn to emulate (except that if their so-called bounties have been acquired through deceit, then there’s logic behind such modesty).

The flat area at the mountains in the middle of this photo is where Ramfield will be, Puerto Princesa's swanky named garbage dump.

We didn’t take long. The horses were in their stables. The sky was gray and downcast; skylight was beaming its fluorescent sheen. Would have been perfect with blue skies, but at least it wasn’t too hot! After enjoying the spectacular view of the western seas – the South China Seas, we left.

Next stop: Baker’s Hill!

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Congressman Abraham "Baham" Mitra (extreme right) shares photo ops with Filvets bigwig Colonel Divinagracia (extreme left) and company. This was taken inside the Mitra Mansion.

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