i've been in the bicol area several times now but this is actually the only time when i'm quite getting addicted to this place. i just recently discovered bicol has indeed a lot to offer...this time i'm particularly crazy about this 15 meter creature which in spite of its gargantuan size has to be the gentlest most docile of all sea creatures...the whale shark or commonly known as butandings...these butandings are regularly seen in the waters of donsol, sorsogon, a full hour ride away from legazpi city in its seasonal months which is february to may. when i first went there last april, i managed to prod my host to take me to the tourism office for their whale interaction program. i was however both astounded and frustrated knowing that a trip costs P2500.00 per banca plus P100 registration fee. good thing though that mr. jun principe, a known butanding interaction officer took pity on me and agreed to just let me pay the fuel for the boat plus the P100 reg. fee...with that fee he offered me two butanding sightings then that's it..i was ecstatic off course so off we go...it is indeed a rare experince as we've only left the shores a few minutes when we spotted one already. they are indeed huge but they move quite slow. we actually saw 5 of them there till our trip was over. mang jun insisted that i'd come back and for me to make sure to dive when i do get back....
thus may 22, i made my promise and did come back. i woke up quite late as i had a work assignment the day before. i took with me a friend from bicol university where i stayed as companion. i was quite nervous we might not be able to see anything as i was told that sightings only happen in the mornings and we got in donsol past 1pm already. i was happy to see mang jun there as i was kinda sure my trip will push through. somehow we were able to make a local arrangement (again!) of P1000 for the trip including the registration fee. it was definitely good enough as i brought a companion with. so sorry though that he ddnt intend to swim...we were quite discouraged by the locals as they say it was quite late for us to make that trip. but i didn't have any other choice, i had to leave the following day so ill just have to gamble. i was kinda telling myself that in case we don't see anything then i might as well enjoy the ride and fresh sea breeze. of course, i was also fervently praying na "lord, kahit isa lang po ok na ako!"...true enough, after several minutes of waiting and straining our eyes we saw something moved at a distance. mang jun told me at once to prepare and don my snorkel. we sat at the edge of the boat and told me to hold on to the bouy and he will just pull me once we're in the water. believe me but i was actually scared. once we went into the water we swam to were we saw the whale. sadly though we didnt see a thing. the whale just went deeper into the waters. when we want back i just told myself "what the heck at least i got my swimsuit wet!" hehehe...a few more meters then we saw a whale again...we jumped and my oh my, i was just scared when i looked down and saw it gliding with its open mouth just beneath us. i almost panicked! but then it moved gently but swiftly then it was gone again. hmmm, these are indeed furtive creatures. i was thinking that maybe they are the younger ones who has to take a nap yet managed to escape and frolic in the waters thus they don't want anyone to see them otherwise they'd be reprimanded. so much for thoughts...well, to make my story short, we saw two more and i managed to touch a tail. i wanted so much to go down and touch them more but its just really scary they might take you with them deeper into the waters. mang jun told me that we were really luck we saw 4 of them. well, what can i say, i'm a lucky gurl! he said though that had we got there earlier we would have seen more and could possibly play with them and ride with them...that just means, i have to go back there again. sigh.
additional info on bicol:
legazpi city- about 55 mins. by plane from manila
12 hours by bus
donsol, sorsogon- 1 hour by bus or filcab/van from legazpi
donsol tourism ofc, brgy dancalan- tricycle (P10/head)
naga city- 3 hrs. by bus from legazpi
where to stay: legazpi tourist inn (052-480-6147)
places of interest:
cagsawa ruins: for a majestic view of Mt. Mayon- 30 mins by jeep from legazpi city proper
albay parks and wildlife- P50/ head entrance fee
misibis resort: www.misibis.com
bacman eco-park- rizal, sorsogon
penafrancia basilica/museum: home of the INA of Bicolandia
*trivia-mang jun says he is in a Smart billboard somewhere in makati, he said he's with a butanding, just dunno if he's underwater too...kindly tell me if you've seen this ad. tnx!