When I lived in El Nido in 2005-2006, I made it a point to take photos around town right before I left, using my point-and-shoot Pentax Optio WP. Just in case I didn’t get to come back ever again, I thought to myself. The photos around town that I managed to compile were not taken on the same days, so the quality of light was not the same all the time. I really did not have a system for that.

Though I was in and out of El Nido every year since then, I only stayed for a few days, a week or two at most. So when I came back to El Nido in 2012 to stay for a relatively longer period of time, I decided I was going to do the “Before and After” El Nido Photo-documentation Project.

This time I had a Nikon D90, with a wider lens that takes better photos through and through than my old camera.

It was some work. I transferred all my old snapshots onto my cellphone and went around town, taking photos, using the snapshots on my phone as a guide. The “After” photos should be taken at the same angle as the “Before” photos. I had about 75 photos in my phone. 75 photos that were NOT all replicated by the time I left again for Manila.

I had my daughter along so it was not a good idea to take her on photo walks with me. Even though El Nido town is very small, taking a three-year old with me to walk in the streets under the hot sun, was just not something that could be done. So I decided to take photos by areas, coming back to shoot on other days.

But September is not a month for consistent weather either. Some days, it rained all day. I spent a considerable amount of wasted time, just waiting for the rain to stop, or the sun to come out, or the perfect timing, or my daughter’s good mood. Sometimes I took photos from the wrong angle. And a number of times, I took the wrong photo altogether. Funny project I must say. But interesting. Interesting enough for me to do it regardless of varying circumstances.

Since I have been back in Manila, I have been going through all the photos I accumulated while I was in El Nido for 2 1/2 months. And there really were a lot.

Here are the first batch of photos. And hopefully, I can add a little story behind each every now and then. And hopefully, those little stories are near the truth, and not something I just made up.

For portrait shots, “Before (2006)” is on the left, and “After (2012)” is on the right. For landscape shots, “Before (2006)” is on top, and “After (2012)” is at the bottom.

El Nido Elementary School (A public school)

Public School Fence

We lived on a house located in Osmena St, at the back of, or can also be said as right next to the El Nido Resorts/Ten Knots office, depending on which street you are at; but in front of the El Nido Resorts office, across the street, is the El Nido public elementary school. Aside from the fact that the trees are, of course, bigger, they also have a new fence. I remember that afternoon when a helicopter landed right in the middle of that expansive grounds.


Ten Knots/El Nido Resorts office gate

White House Gate

Though the photo on the left (2006) was taken from inside the yard while the photo on the right (2012) was taken from the street, I just really liked how the gate has changed.


Ten Knots/El Nido Resorts office (also called the White House)

The White House

The White House

It used to be a two-storey white-washed building that we all called the “White House” simply because it was all white. Every time I think about the White House, I still think of the wrap-around porch, and how we used to hang out a lot there. The before and after photo is the left side the building. It is located at the corner of Calle Real and Osmena St. so I can take photos of its front and left sides.

The Intersection of Calle Real and Abdulla St.

Municipal Hall Corner

I remember standing at that corner, where Inggo store is, and taking that shot in 2006. It was March 2006 and the Palawan Cherry trees were in bloom. I loved those Palawan cherry blossoms.

Palawan Cherry

Palawan Cherry Blossoms

I took this photo of street sign of Calle Real in 2006.

Calle Real, El Nido (2006)

And I took this photo of what I believed to be the same street, thus the same street sign.

DSC_3783 Calle Real

Only to realize that I had the wrong street. The 2006 photo was taken at the corner of Abdulla St., a sign that stood right next to ISST store, because I could recognize the building at the end of the street to be the old “Bom Disco”; whereas the 2012 photo was taken at the corner of Magsaysay St.

I did not really notice that it was the wrong street because the 2006 photo had empty lots on one side of the street, and now that’s filled with stores (ukay-ukay stores to be exact), and some carenderias. It’s really different now.

Abdulla St.

Municipal Hall Road

The El Nido Elementary School Main Gate

Elementary School Gate

Elem School Front


El Nido Municipal Hall

El Nido Municipal Hall


The Health Center

Health Center

El Nido Foundation


El Nido Foundation, El Nido, Palawan (2012)


At the corner of Del Pilar St. and Calle Real

Across Inggo Store


Here are some of the photos from 2006 that I was not able to replicate in 2012.

Inggo Store

ISST Store is now Inggo Store, and is bigger. We do most of our grocery shopping at Inggo Store because they have a POS system and shopping is fast and efficient.

2006 Palawan Cherry Trees

Coming from this intersection, where you can find the Municipal Hall, public elementary school, Inggo store; is the El Nido Tourism Office, still along Calle Real, a few steps away.

2006 El Nido Tourism Office

2006 El Nido Tourism Office 2

It pretty much looked the same to me two months ago, except maybe a little shabbier and in need of a few repairs and a paint job.

I was pretty much walking down the length of Calle Real.


St. Francis of Assisi Parish Church

St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church

The 2012 photo was taken with my Samsung phone’s camera, so it has the 4:3 aspect ratio. It was one of the first photos I took when I arrived, simply because I was checking in on Foursquare.

Across the street from the church is Comprendio’s Drug Store. It used to be just a simple drug store and some groceries. Now it’s a really big store with ice cream, and a grocery nearly as big as Inggo Store. My daughter and I go here because they have items that cannot be found in the other stores in town.

Comprendios, 2006

Next to Comprendio’s Drugstore is Bhing’s Bizz Shop. It used to be a salon (a.k.a. parlor) but now it’s a souvenir shop and curry store.

Bhings Bizz, 2006

Next to the Catholic church is Comprendio’s Restaurant. We used to eat a lot here. Now the restaurants (or carenderia might be more apt) are gone, and there are stores selling all kinds of things from pirated DVDs to school as well as home supplies. There are also little booking offices for tours and boats.

Comprendio's Restaurant, 2006

The Intersection of Rizal St. and Calle Real

Going to Tubay

The angle is a little wrong, but in this shot, if you go straight, that will lead you to Balay Tubay Bistru and Galeri as well as the port; and if you go take a right in that intersection, you will find yourself going to the beach; and if you take a left, you will find yourself going to Corong-Corong.

I remember taking an afternoon off one day in March 2006 just to shoot the exterior and interior of Balay Tubay, as well as all the art works there that Arvin Acosta had on display, but the files were in one of those discs that literally “burned” inside my old laptop and so the files are also gone. I might have put an album of it in Friendster, back when Friendster had blogs and galleries, but Friendster as we knew it disappeared one day, along with all of my photos and blogs.

I have only been to Balay Tubay thrice in the entire 2 and a half months I was there this year, and I didn’t take a lot of photos too. Anyway, here is how it looks like during the day.


Balay Tubay Bistru and Galeri, El Nido, Palawan

Balay Tubay Bistru and Galeri, El Nido, Palawan

Balay Tubay Bistru and Galeri, El Nido, Palawan


Walking past Balay Tubay, I took a photo of this pretty house at the turn of the street. It’s still there when I passed it by a few months ago, in need of a paint job.

2006 House near the port, El Nido, Palawan


If you turn this corner, this will be the end of Calle Real and you will find yourself at the port.

Going to the Port, Calle Real, El Nido, Palawan


2006 The Port, El Nido, Palawan

2006 The Port, El Nido, Palawan

2006 The Port, El Nido, Palawan

2006 The Port, El Nido, Palawan

2006 The Port, El Nido, Palawan


Port of El Nido, Palawan
The El Nido port is also where Sirena Street ends.

Sirena St., El Nido, Palawan

Sirena St., El Nido, Palawan


This is a series: