Here is a brief overview of the history of El Nido:
The Pre-Colonial Era: El Nido and its surrounding areas were originally inhabited by the Cuyonon and Tagbanua indigenous peoples. These indigenous communities lived off the land and sea, relying mainly on fishing, farming, and trade for their livelihood.
Spanish Colonization: In the late 16th century, the Spanish arrived in the Philippines and began colonizing the islands. El Nido was named after the edible nests of swiftlet birds found in the limestone cliffs, which were called “nido” in Spanish. The Spanish influence in El Nido was limited because the area was remote and lacked the significant natural resources that interested the Spanish.
American Occupation: In 1898, after the Spanish-American War, the Philippines came under American administration. During the American era, efforts were made to establish infrastructure and promote economic development in the region, known today as Palawan. However, El Nido remained relatively isolated due to its remote Northern location and limited access to transportation and communication networks.
World War II: El Nido played a significant role during World War II as a strategic location in the Pacific theater. The area was occupied by the Japanese forces and El Nido Bay served as a shelter for their fleet. The remnants of this occupation can still be seen in the underwater wrecks of Japanese warships in the surrounding waters scattered between Coron and El Nido.
Post-War Development and Tourism: After the war, El Nido experienced gradual development. In the 1970s, the area’s natural beauty and pristine beaches began to attract adventurous “off the beaten track” travelers. The local government recognized El Nido’s potential for tourism and started promoting El Nido as a tourist destination in the 80’s.
Protected Area Status: In 1983, El Nido and its surrounding islands were declared a marine reserve and later designated as a protected eco-reserve area known as the El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area (ENTMRPA). This designation aimed to conserve the biodiversity and fragile ecosystems of the region, including its coral reefs, limestone cliffs, and diverse land and marine wildlife.
Sustainable Tourism: Today, El Nido is renowned as a premier tourist destination, attracting visitors from around the world. Efforts have been made to promote sustainable tourism practices and protect the natural environment, even though some areas have been visibly damaged. Local communities actively participate in eco-tourism initiatives, ensuring that the beauty and biodiversity of El Nido are preserved for future generations.