ISLAND LIFE: immersion experience the Palaweña style in Balabac

This is the adventure that Ms. Wineth Malvar, Founder of Palaweña, travel and tours, wants you to experience while exploring the destinations in the island paradise of Palawan.

Our very own Last Frontier is a classic example of a tropical paradise island experience, thanks to natural pristine beaches, clear waters, rolling hills and mountainscapes, healthy forest-scapes, teeming wildlife (land, sea and sky), and adding up to charm, the hospitality of the locals. The island of Palawan is the biggest province of the Philippines, with the full length stretching from Mindoro island to down south Tawi Tawi. An exploration of all the island’s features would really cost seemingly a lifetime.

hammock lounging with the breathtaking sunset over Pandanan Island (Credit: Patricia Soronio)

Major tourism foot traffic and bottlenecks are usually happening in the common northern and central sections of Palawan: Coron, El Nido and the capital Puerto Princesa, which is also a highly urbanized city. This is one of the reasons why Palaweña Founder, Ms. Wineth, widens her vision to the south and to help eventually increase foot traffic, thereafter.


With the breathtaking landscape already in place, Ms. Malvar developed a wellness tourism experience for the tired city spirits or any travellers needing solace and escape from their concrete jungles or stressful lifestyles. By integrating natural wellness and authentic community immersion, you are bound to experience the real “island life” – curated and bespoke.

Veering away from the traditional model of travel and tour services, Ms. Wineth and her team will make a thorough understanding of your preferred experiences. Afterwhich, a tailor-fit itinerary will be presented to your approval and liking. Sooner or later, you will be wading in the turquoise waters of Balabac. You can always enjoy your customized travels with Palaweña’s real attention to value every step of the way.

Despite its distance to the entry point via Puerto Princesa to Balabac, Ms. Wineth will ensure your comfort and will help set your expectations. She would also be giving you practical tips and suggestions for packing and preparing before your island life escapade.

I am so grateful to have taken part to personally try such a premium experience.

Hippy welcome arch in front of the beach at Pandanan Island


The business of travel and tours usually comes in a common model which is evident in the supermajority of the travel providers. Visiting their offices and most often, they come with fixed itinerary or packages for you to avail. Usually, the same ladder of destinations allows bottlenecks in certain spots. This is where some of the travel issues arise, and Ms. Wineth does not want to add up to this type of growing problem.

This is the perfect island-style lounge to recover after island hopping

Having worked with a corporate marketing role for global brands, with sheer passion for travel, responsible business, and wellness – pursuing, eventually attaining her “ikigai” – she is wedded to the idea of putting up her travel business that would aim to disrupt the traditional model. After more than 7 years brewing in her mind, she is able to finally realize. From hiring her first staff during the lockdowns of July 2021 and growing them to 15 strong manpower, Ms. Wineth eventually placed Palaweña on the business map of Palawan’s travel business. She continually acquires various strategic real estate properties and partners with different key businesses, and educational institutions up to establishing contacts with the appropriate LGU’s, she is truly on her way to building that travel ecosystem that would certainly manifest the “people & planet before profit” principle. To put into perspective, her objective is to apply sustainability measures from the grassroots levels within the travel ecosystem and create an endless sustainability loop, thus, building viable linkages between the different elements and facets of Palaweña, without sacrificing diversity and inclusion.

After learning about her goal, I was truly astonished by the positive and long-lasting impact of her plans on the existing community where they are right now, and where they could be in the future.


It was a brief yet meaningful walking tour with Sir Nestor Gabinete Jr., the barangay captain himself. He brought us on a coastal tour where he discussed a bit of history and the mundane activities of the locals. He was particular to historical values and showed us ruins from a Japanese Garrison bombed by an American airstrike in the year of 1947.

Brgy. Capt. Gabinete Jr. also explained different sea transports, like the “kil-li“, a wooden canoe, used by local fishermen. We passed by a group of children playing on dry-docked motor banca, and I could sense ourselves registered strange and unfamiliar in their thoughts. The concept of tourism is still generally quite foreign in this spot in Balabac by seeing through their gazes.

sunset photograph credit to Orly Agawin

The shoreline continues to recede to a low tide when we continued the coastal walking tour and giving us an opportunity to marvel on the exposed rocky coral reefs and colourful sea anemones, crawling sea stars, sprouting mangrove seeds, sea creatures prisoned in shallow pools and petrified bivalves.

We also witnessed an elderly woman harvesting from the sandy shores to rock crevices, filling her mini pail with nothing but fresh seashell molluscs for another family’s hearty meal.

While lounging at the al fresco seaside benches, we witnessed a mother and daughter tandem wading on the ankle-deep waters searching for its bounties during the low tide window hours. An unforgettable encounter was when the oldest inhabitant joined us for a quick chat. It was momentous, talking to 98-year-old strong yet back bent grandfather, he can still walk by his own.

These conversations gave us a sneak peak into the quaint lifestyle on Pandanan Island.


Assisted by experts, Ms. Wineth designed and built a homey three-room beachfront house furnished with white linens, and beige floor mats, matched by ceiling and wall decors. With such distance from the urban zones of Palawan, she is able to put up such truly remarkable and relaxing accommodation in a truly serene island community and forest environment. This is another travel experience with nature as the new luxury.

The Beach House would be run with the help of the local community, which is approved by the Barangay Captain too, thus, spurring economic activity for the indigents. She strategically located one of her pioneering Palaweña accommodations which are near the potential bounties of the sea and land.

Upon docking at the shores of Pandanan Island, we are welcomed with fresh coconut juice in husk and sumptuous lunch along with a grilled fresh catch of the day. We dined just under the trees with the sea as our backdrop and the wind as our background music. It was one of the most well-spent lunches I had in my travel history.


We are amazed at how Ms. Wineth was hands-on with our experience. She made sure that we are comfortable and met the expectations set prior to our trip. Ms. Wineth also gave us updates from time to time on any possible changes, and what could be alternatives based on our choices. What I love about her is she is easy to snap between us asking her different inquiries and questions. I really felt the passion burning for her advocacies during our conversations and discussions. She has a lot of great sustainable plans, and I am sure she would be able to nail them.

A true hands-on leader, Ms. Wineth Malvar, happily served us our freshly brewed afternoon coffee over discussions about Balabac.

She made us feel well-accommodated all throughout and certainly, created our island home-away-from.

Choose Palaweña as your travel service provider elsewhere in Palawan and experience first-hand the authentic island life that is truly exquisite and memorable.

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