"Where in The Philippines is pearl farming practiced?" was the question on the tip of my tongue when I landed in The Philippines. I had this very handy map which lacks quite a bit of detail from the GIA. I think it was accurate as of 2009...
So, what resources did I have? One was I have actually been the The Philippines before and I have visited a pearl farm there (in Palawan) so I called them up. Well, it just so happen they are currently closed to visitors. So that option is out. Well, what about the other farms in Palawan? Well, Palawan is not just an island! it is an entire region of The Philippines. Palawan, the region, contains 1770 different islands. So, it is not as easy as, "I think I will travel to Palawan and see what I can find!"
Good news! There is a Philippine Association of Pearl Producers/Exporters (PAPPE) in an area of Manila. I looked them up and found there phone number! Bad news! I called them for three days straight once I got to Manila and they never answered. I think the number was officially disconnected.
Good news! I have a dear friend Ailene who used to work in the cultured pearl industry in The Philippines! Bad news, the pearl farm in Cebu, owned by friends of hers, had just closed down. Davao? Those pearl farms have closed down too!
We went to eat with this lovely woman, long-time jeweler and head of a jewelry association.
She couldn't help either! Where, oh where, are the pearl farm in The Philippines? Finally, I got an answer. There are 3 farms off the coast of Busuanga. I hopped a plane to Coron.
From Manila to Coron to a long van ride across Busuanga to a boat launch and a boat ride to those small little island off the left coast of Busuanga. hat, my friends is some prime pearl farming area. Calm, healthy protected waters. Love it! Here we found a man who was able to show me his hatchery (in complete secrecy, of course!) and then we found a farm that would let us come and see their operations. Bad news, though, this operation was on Bulalacao... far away from where we were staying! So another long boat ride, van ride, an overnight stay in Coron and then a 3 hour boat ride to Bulalacao and we were finally there...
So, where in The Philippines is pearl farming practiced? Here!