PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan – It’s official: the Puerto Princesa Underground River is one of the new wonders of nature.
Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn, the Department of Tourism and Malacanang made the disclosure after officials of the New 7 Wonders of Nature announced in Switzerland the inclusion of the Palawan river in the new wonders of nature.
Bernard Weber, president of the New 7 Wonders based in Zurich (Switzerland), made the announcement, saying that the Palawan Underground River has been validated, along with Jeju Island in South Korea, as two of the seven new wonders.
Still in the provisional list announced last November are the Amazon (South America), Halong Bay (Vietnam), Iguazu Falls (Argentina), Komodo (Indonesia), and Table Mountain (South Africa).
The Aquino government has issued Presidential Proclamation No. 182 in 2011 to initiate a promotional campaign for the PPUR, which has also been declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco).
Weber congratulated the Filipinos for supporting their national finalist in the global campaign. It was gathered that the Palawan Underground River gathered more than 20 million votes by email and text.
“When your very own President (Benigno) Aquino came out in support of the PPUR campaign, I knew that this country was taking the New7Wonders of Nature seriously,” Weber said.
“Fans of PPUR all over the world responded to his call for action by voting in record numbers and today’s confirmation is the well-earned reward for this extraordinary display of enthusiasm,” Weber added.
The search began in 2007, drawing 440 entries from more than 220 countries.
Millions voted for the top 77, which was further narrowed down to 28 finalists for the final phase including the 17-kilometer underground river.
Following the win, a Catholic bishop stressed the need for the government to conserve and protect the environment, especially with the inclusion of the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) in the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
Puerto Princesa Bishop Pedro Arigo said mining operations in Palawan should stop since it threatens to destroy water and soil.
“We don’t need mining because tourism alone, using the pristine beauty of nature of Palawan, creates livelihood for the people without destroying the environment,” Arigo said.
He said the Church and other organizations will continue its campaign against mining and other threats to the environment.
Aside from the famed underground river, also included as the New 7 Wonders of Nature is the Jeju Island in South Korea. The rest are still being tabulated and verified.
Arigo lauded the efforts of various organizations and people who campaigned and voted for the river to be one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.
“We are very happy with the dwell of hands. The truth is there was really a hard work and we in the Church also helped in the campaign locally and internationally,” he said.
Malacañang expressed elation over the official inclusion of the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) in the world’s New Seven Wonders of Nature.
“Confirmation that the Puerto Princesa Underground River is one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature is welcome news indeed. Throughout the competition, Filipinos from all walks of life have given time, energy, and resources to this campaign,” said Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.
Puerto Princesa Underground River is located some 50 kilometers north of the city of Puerto Princesa in Palawan Island in the Philippines.
It consists of a limestone karst mountain landscape, several large chambers containing significant formations of stalactites and stalagmites, and an 8.2-kilometer navigable underground river that winds through a cave before flowing directly into the West Philippine Sea. At the exit, a flawless lagoon is framed by ancient trees growing right to the water’s edge.