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Visiting Viet Ville Temple and Restaurant in Puerto Princesa, Palawan

One of the highlights of my second trip to Palawan is visiting Viet Ville in Puerto Princesa. This used to be a piece of land where Vietnamese refugees settled in 1970's. They came to the Philippines by boat during the Vietnam - American war seeking a place to live peacefully. Actually, I knew only one province in the country where Vietnamese refugees also lived - in Bataan. As a matter of fact, in Morong particularly, there are still a few carinderias (eateries) that offer really tasty and very much affordable  meals compared to restaurants in Metro Manila that serve Vietnamese food. Just that it was a deep regret because we didn't have time to eat here when we went to Las Casas De Acuzar in Bagac & Mount Samat in Pilar, Bataan last December.

We went to Viet Ville around 12 noon because we want to have our lunch in their restaurant. This is the one that will greet you first at the main entrance. To the right is a Catholic chapel and the Virgin Mary's grotto. These aren't your typical small version of church and a statue being Roman Catholic icons because once you get closer you'll surely see the difference. The architecture of both bear a resemblance of Vietnamese architecture. The grotto's roof for  instance is pagoda - inspired.

We took advantage of the ample time while our food is cooked. We wandered around the area of this abandoned Vietnamese village. Most houses are empty and that time there were no other tourists visiting the place.  This is an indication that Viet Ville in Puerto Princesa isn't  known yet to the majority of travelers to Palawan. The street signs are derived from Vietnamese words but I didn't took a photo coz it's already rustic and blurred.

The whole place is filled with trees and plants. Vacant pieces of lots are filled with unkempt grasses. After 5 minute - walk we saw a small Buddhist temple. How ironic, we just saw a Catholic place of worship now it's another piece representing a different religion. It is called Chu Van Phap Buddhist Temple. In the center is an image of Buddha with freshly offered fruits and flowers. You can light an incense stick or drop a bit of your money in the Donation box. There's also a religious Vietnamese song being played. I just couldn't believe that in the middle of this almost empty and creepy Vietnamese village, there's a serene place of worship like this. Though I can't understand the music, it soothes me and it's perfect match for an quiet place like this.

Another thing that really touched my heart is that this village wouldn't be possible without the help of the Catholic community in Puerto Princesa though Vietnamese are known to be Buddhists. See this inscription below built in 1997. It says:

"Let this monument mark the beginning of the Viet Village conceived by the Center for Assistance to Displaced Persons of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. A culmination of the intervention of the Catholic Church on behalf of the Vietnamese asylum seekers. It stands as reminder of the humanity of the Filipino people manifested in the policies of the national government, the ARLE leadership of the province and city, the guardianship of the Western command and kind acceptance by the local people."

 After more than 30 minutes we finally went inside to eat our lunch. I was really hungry at that time so I did not waste time to taste what are Vietnamese food served on the table:

Vietnamese food we had : 

Bo kho ( beef stef)  - Php 105
Lapu - lapu vietnamese style - Php 135
Chicken spring roll - Php 100
Vietnamese sapin - sapin
Vietnamese iced tea  

Yours truly is not a certified food blogger slash kick ass review. Pardon, I cannot do an in - depth explanation of the distinct tastes of each of these. I don't eat beef at all but the fact that I was able to eat bo kho, I conquered my fear of my own tastebud's nightmare. The spices are really strong that makes you feel the Vietnamese spirit but at the same time very much well - adjusted to the Filipino palate.

The sapin - sapin Vietnamese version was also a winner. Inside it is a layer of grated mung beans, love it so much! The spring roll is fine but what I really noticed from the food there, everything is served fresh. Of course, what is Vietnamese cuisine without banh mi (Vietnamese baguette)?  

They sell freshly - made French breads every day. The moment I stepped inside the restaurant, I can really smell that banh - mi's aroma from the oven. Here is a list of the pricing:

Plain French bread - Php 15
Garlic French bread - Php 40 
French bread with BBQ - Php 50
French bread with chicken - Php 50
French bread with tuna - Php 65
French bread with roasted pork - Php 65
Pinoy banh mi - Php 65

Do you wonder where are the Vietnamese refugees right now who once settled in Viet Ville of Puerto Princesa, Palawan? Most of them migrated to USA with the help of United Nations. I couldn't remember these Vietnamese refugess ever discussed during my student days or in any pages of the Philippine history. You'll only meet a handful of pure Viets who live there. We were lucky to have met two old Viet ladies who are cooking for the food there. 

Me wearing Ao dai, the traditional lady's dress and Non la, the iconic hat of Vietnam. You can rent this for Php 25 inside the Viet Ville Restaurant. 

A reminder to those who are going there. We were told that this is a sensitive topic to Vietnamese. Please refrain from too much mentioning the word 'refugee' out of respect when you talk to them. Most of the old Vietnamese who live there in Puerto Princesa can't be called refugees anymore, they are children who have married Filipinos that's why they chose to stay there.

Contact number for Viet Ville inquiry for inquiry and reservation : (0977)456-7599

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