TEXT & PHOTO: Kaycie Gayle
Mitra’s Ranch or Rancho ni Mitra as the locals call it is owned and named after Ramon Mitra, Jr., who was famous for having a career as a politician. It is also known as Rancho Sta. Monica since it is located on a hilly and terrain landscape of Sta. Monica Heights. An upscale village that they say houses the homes of retired foreigners and public officials.
Upon entering the gate I have seen right away the original pyramid-shaped house of the former senator which is strategically placed on top of the ranch. Since I have seen its picture elsewhere I have been aiming to see the house for myself in reality when I go to Palawan. Hence, upon alighting from the van, and was instantly mesmerized on the serenity of the place that offers you a view of the vast scenery of the city and the islands scattered across the waters of Honda Bay for being it is built on top of a hill, I resist the temptation to stay outdoors and stare at its enticing view. I am determined to see it from the viewdeck and see the interior of the house.
They say you’ll have a better background of the house and its dwellers by knowing it’s inside, and you’ll get to appreciate it’s beauty by knowing the deeper story behind it.e Before entering the house, I take off my sandals and leave them on the front stairs. Footwear is not allowed inside to prevent dirt marks inside. I have then voluntarily approached a woman to pay for a minimal amount of entrance fee which is used for its maintenance expenses.
Entryway and door to the house
Inside is an airy ambiance that reminds me of a cozy resthouse. Without needing any air-condition or fan, the cool and refreshing breeze from the outside just enter the house as the doors are opened. The house is mostly made of hardwood, with many sash windows that allow natural light. On its living room are the hanged pictures of the family including Mr. Mitra Jr. There are also other memorabilia of the late senator like his house ‘work’ table and swivel chair.
Senator Mitra Jr. work table
After touring inside the house I went out and looked at the back part of the house and saw a small cafeteria that sells snacks should visitors want to eat while in the ranch. A couple of people do as they have been seated on the benches placed on the viewdeck. This place is a perfect spot for sipping coffee while overlooking at the view, however, knowing that I am pressed for time to sit and grab a cup of drink, I opted to proceed to the viewdeck’s baluster and stay there for some time just to marvel at the place. Since the ranch is nestled on top of the hill, it commands a view of the ocean from a good distance. And it is on the deck that serves as the best viewing spot for the magnificent scenery. For a moment, I have contained myself quietly staring at the horizon and feeling the fresh, clean air while it sweeps my hair on my face. The place has this serene atmosphere that would make me want to stay when I feel like having my alone time.
From my vantage point, I can see the nice landscaped ranch with several horses and ponies grazing on the grassy field. The greenery around exudes a bucolic scene that somehow reminds me of postcard pictures of New Zealand. The Rancho Zipline facility where visitors glide down the hill for adventure can also be seen. Moreover, benches and tables are peppered around the ranch for picnic or just simply relaxation while looking around.
Side scenery from the view deck
With the magnificence of this ranch, I wondered about the story behind it. The basic information about who owns the ranch is common knowledge among the locals. As the name implies Mitra Ranch is a family property of the late Philippine Senator Ramon “Monching” Villarosa Mitra Jr., He was born inside the Iwahig Penal Colony and has a story about poor life. He confessed that he was a “love child” born out of wedlock, reared barefoot and hungry who caught crocodiles as a youth and was shunned by his affluent father. From those humble roots, he rose to be a lawyer, diplomat, statesman, renowned pro-democracy activist, martial law prisoner, millionaire rancher and eventually speaker of the House of Representatives and a one-time senator. He found solace within the fences of his ranch when he conceded defeat in the 1992 presidential election and just continued to live his life as a farmer.
Senator Mitra Jr.’s photo in the living room
For a moment I have thought, he must have lived a challenging yet interesting life. He has started to live an inconvenient life for living poor when he was young, then has lived in a stressful environment while fighting for democracy and having a career in politics. He is a man who knows when to pursue and rise up but he also knows when to stop, when is enough, when to surrender and concede defeat. On his retirement stage, he has lived on this serene and comfortable ranch that is far from the chaotic way of life he had been through. A tranquil place that detaches a person from the stressful life outside and instead allows a person to commune with nature while meditating and reflecting.
Today, it is still owned by the family, particularly his sons. It used to be private property but has opened to the public for several years now that it has even become a popular tourist destination in Palawan. Since the ranch is ideal for gatherings of all sorts it has been said that the ranch is also being rented out to families or groups of local and foreign tourists. Hence, this place is now enjoyed by more people.
Photos and other memorabilia of the family
Mitra’s Ranch is silently tucked at Mitra Road, Brgy. Sta. Monica Puerto Princesa City, Palawan and can enjoy the calmness in this place from 6am to 6pm every day.