Iwahig Penal Colony Souvenir Shop in Palawan - Philippines
The Iwahig Penal Colony Souvenir Shop is unique among the many souvenir stores in Palawan. While it sells handicrafts and the like, it is also a rehabilitation / livelihood program for the inmates that create the handicrafts.
How to Get There
The colony and the shop can be found in Barangay Iwahig in the capital city of Puerto Princesa. Just board a tricycle and kindly ask the driver to take you there. It is a well known tourist attraction so will have no problems asking for directions.
What You Can Buy
There are a variety of products and items for sale; these include key chains, hats, bags, necklaces, wallets, purses, belts and many others. Aside from these accessories the inmates also make decorations for tables like mats and mantles. The Iwahig Penal Colony Souvenir Shop gift items are all handmade by the prisoners and they use different materials, including wood.
The costs of the souvenir items for sale vary but if you compare the charges for each item with those sold in other shops, it is much lower. You can even engage them in a bit of haggling, but remember the prices here are already low.
If you visit the prison you will see that it looks nothing like any other holding facility in the Philippines. There are no steel bars and no heavily armed security men walking around. Instead what you will see are cottages housing the inmates and also workspaces where they make and sell their craft to tourists and other interested buyers.
The purpose of the Iwahig Penal Colony Souvenir Shop was to create an environment that would rehabilitate, not harden the inmates. Aside from providing them a clean place to live, allowing the prisoners to create and sell handicrafts means they would be able to support themselves and their families. This not only keeps them busy, but knowing that they are able to support their loved ones will encourage them to keep working and stay away from a life of crime.
Through the years, this system has done wonders for the prisoners in the colony. Tourists who go there can chat freely with the detainees, and when you do you will see how content they are in stark contrast with other prisoners.
There are plenty of shops in and around Palawan and Puerto Princesa. However, the Iwahig Penal Colony Souvenir Shop is just different from the others. Not only are the prices low but you get to help the inmates and their families too.