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Watch the weather change… May 13, 2006

Posted by benj in Travel.

The trip to Donsol didn’t exactly go according to plan. Apparently there was a typhoon that was ‘mis-forecasted’ by the weather bureau. Caloy (the storm’s name once it entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility) was initially forecasted as a weak to moderately strong typhoon, but once it made landfall, it was apparent that it would be packing strong winds. But then again, despite me posting my trip to Donsol on my blog, forums, telling news about my out-of-town trip to my other friends, nobody told me there was a storm headed our destination. We only found about it when we reached Donsol.

May 10

1230 HRS – My Mom and I went to Batangas City to get clothes for the trip. Most of my clothes are still in our house near the oil refinery. We also passed by SM City Batangas to get new contact lenses.

1630 HRS – We already back to our starting point after packing a few days’ worth of clothes. All that was left to do was wait for my Dad to arrive.

1900 HRS – Waiting…

2100 HRS – More waiting – with a little of losing patience on the side.

2310 HRS – After waiting all night for my Dad to arrive from his Lions’ Club meeting in Manila, my Dad finally arrives. We are way behind schedule and almost everyone is cranky. Some people who were supposed to go with us actually pulled out because the long wait sapped them of any enthusiasm they had in the afternoon.

May 11

0015 HRS – After a long discussion on which car was better suited for the long drive, waiting for the designated driver and with one pull-out opting to go with to Donsol again, our group finally made some work towards heading to Donsol – work being the displacement of mass over a given distance. πŸ™‚ We took my uncle’s Ford E150 (easily the bulkiest vehicle in the garage). There were seven of us on board – my Mom, my Dad, my fourteen year-old cousin Kat, our driver Kuya Iking, my uncle and his eleven year-old body guard Jet and myself. I was awake for most of the trip, I was tasked to “navigate”, but of course, it was only a nominal position – my Dad knows the roads and shortcuts like the back of his hand.

0215 HRS – We were deep in the heart of Quezon province when I decided to listen to mp3s on my phone. I listened to Tool’s latest release 10,000 Days and Taylor Hicks’ original material. I started to appreciate the tracks in 10,000 Days that I didnt used to like before. I guess this isn’t that bad of an album after all. *cartwheels inside the car*

0700 HRS – After traveling for more than 7 hours with only a few minutes restroom stops in a couple of gas stations, we decided to it breakfast at a Robert’s Food Express in Naga. The food was served hot and fast and we were out the door as soon as we finished. Looking at the map, we were just about a couple of hours away from Donsol. Donsol is the first town after the boundary between the provinces of Albay and Sorsoson.

0800(?) HRS – I fall asleep. Zzzzzzzz…
0900 HRS – I am awakened by my companions’ shouts when they see the first of the “To Donsol” signs with Congressman Chiz Escudero featured prominently. The road to Donsol doesn’t look like one that leads to a beach or to the sea at all. You won’t see a glimpse of the sea until you’re really really near the resorts. The roads leading to the beach are flanked by rice, nipa, coconut and pineapple plantation. It took a while before we got to the municipality of Donsol (a third-class municipality – I wonder what a fourth and fifth-class joint looks like hehe). Upon reaching Donsol, we still had to pass through half-finished narrow roads and one-lane bridges before reaching the resorts.

0945 HRS – Donsol at last! πŸ™‚ After being on the verge of excitement for 45 minutes, we finally reached the Butanding Interaction Center. Everyone who wants to swim with the whalesharks must register here first. The boat rental set us back 3500php, but that entails the use of the boat for the entire day already. A one-time 100php registration fee was also tagged to each adult. After paying up, we were made to watch a short 10-minute film on the whale shark interaction guidelines. Nothing out of the ordinary really – just simple, common sense things to remember to ensure the safety of the divers and the whale sharks.

1030 HRS – After renting out a pair of size 10 fins, I decided to check out the souvenir shirts. They looked great – and they were a nice buy at just 190-200php a piece. I’ll buy ’em after we go looking for whale sharks – I said to myself.

We boarded our motorized outrigger boat with our guide Jun, spotter Jun and steersman Sherwin. Unlike the other boat rides that I’ve taken – specifically the one’s I’ve taken to get too off shore scuba diving spots — the outrigger boat just cut through the water with minimal rocking and rolling. The waters were calm even when the shore was already out of sight.

1050 HRS – Our Butanding Interaction Officer, Jun, alerted us about the presence of whales from the distance. He pointed at a remote location about a kilometer away. I was having second thoughts whether he was just pulling our legs, but all of the sudden, the figures on the water jumped out of the water! Boy, they were fast. By the moment I had my camera out, they were already gone. 😦 I told my Donsol aficionado friend Dino about this and he was green with envy. I’m pretty sure they were whales. What other large aquatic creature would jump that high in the open sea? Dolphins? I’ll take that. We saw a pod of some creatures moving away from us behaving in their natural environment! Priceless. πŸ™‚ I’ll go home happy even if that were the only thing we saw.

1145 HRS After waiting for what felt like an eternity, we finally spotted a butanding! Our party was already dejected and some were already prepared for the prospect of leaving the sea empty handed, but we spotted a relatively small 8-foot whale shark (12 feet by my Dad’s account). It actually went next to our boat – really close it was inside our outriggers. We then made a jump for it. We took pictures using the disposable underwater camera they were selling at the shore. My Dad didn’t like the idea of jumping into the open sea when we were still in the car but he realized it was safe so he even joined in.

In the succeeding hours before lunchtime, the winds and rains just became real bad. Even if there were whale sharks around, it will be very hard to see them because their hue from above could only be seen when the sun is out. When we figured the weather wasn’t going to improve, we head on back to the shore to grab some lunch.

1330 HRS – We ate lunch. We agreed that since butandings are rarely seen on afternoons and rainy/overcast days that we would just look for the whale sharks for a little bit and if we don’t find any, we’ll just opt to snorkel in a nearby reef.

1430 HRS – The weather cooperated, but the butandings were nowhere to be seen. We just made the decision to go snorkeling for the rest of the afternoon. The reef is still within plainview of the resort’s shore so should anything happen, it wouldve been easy to go back *paranoid* haha

It’s no Anilao, but the corals are nice enough to look at. The water is very turbid though – and combined with overcast conditions, the colors are not as vibrant as you would like them to be. We barely saw fish in the reef. We saw a couple of clownfish, a lot of fingerlings and a seasnake (the kid who was with us as well as the guide allegedly saw it – the kid described it well so he must’ve been telling the truth (?) ). The sea snake of course is among the most venomous snakes in the world, but it doesn’t bite as long as it’s not provoked. The seastars were also nice (note that “starfish” is actually a misnomer since seastars are under the taxonimic classification Echinodermata). We picked up one bright blue seastar and took pictures of it. Don’t worry, we returned it where we got it. πŸ™‚

1700 HRS – The weather was starting to get nasty, so we decided to head back to the shore. The souvenir shops were already closed when we got there. Dang.

1800 HRS – We took a shower. And I slept like a log. I didn’t even wake up for dinner! I woke up 4 am the next day. πŸ™‚

*this is a picture of a tree felled by the typhoon that blocked the road leading out of Donsol. It might be used by a TV network. Pictures were hard to come by yesterday. Had I known there was monetary incentives in this, I would’ve taken videos! haha. There was a larger tree that blocked our path a few kilometers from this spot, but the Philippine Army readily helped the motorists with their heavy machinery! Salamat mga bossing. *thumbs up*

The butanding pictures have not been developed.Β 

Watch the weather change… is a line from the song Disposition from the album Lateralus



1. Rob - May 13, 2006

damn caloy!

aw ang cute ng keychain!

me want that! πŸ™‚

2. lateralus - May 13, 2006

dude, hindi yun keychain, choker yun – tapos butanding yung pendant. punta kang sorsogon. bilis! patapos na butanding season. hehehe

3. thea - May 13, 2006

wow nakaka-inggit naman yan benj. At least you got to leave manila and see wonderful creatures. As for me my first trip to boracay was cancelled due to “caloy” (i shall never name any of my kids or pets caloy). After sitting in a plane for 30min, the pilot says we should leave the plane cuz the plane can’t land in Kalibo. There goes my advance graduation gift.

4. Jhed - May 13, 2006

bad timing si caloy noh?

we are planning din sana to go to bora, pero dahil dumating na si caloy, next year na lang. haha.

di man lang ako nakapag-outing ngayong summer. inggit tuloy ako kay benj.

can’t wait for the butanding pictures to be developed. post mo agad dito ha. πŸ˜›

5. Rob - May 13, 2006

ah choker pala… ang cute ng mga butanding kapag ganung kaliliit lang. parang mga janitor fish na may mga spots. *LMAO*

6. lateralus - May 13, 2006

Hehe. It’s a really nice keepsake. Sayang, sarado yung tshirt stalls eh. 200 pesos lang isa. SAYANG!!!! Balik kami next year. πŸ™‚

7. lateralus - May 14, 2006

Im sorry to hear that ate Thea. Sana may time pa.

8. Coach Pop - May 15, 2006

I wanna go diving again.. its been so long since I dived.. Kasama ko pa yata sina Bong and Aius.. hehe

9. helga - May 15, 2006

SHIT YOU GOT LUCKY AND SAW A BUTANDING! We went to Bicol in highschool hoping to see one, and my family and I went home disappointed. =/ Well, kinda. Not-so-disappointed, it was a fun vacay.

10. lateralus - May 15, 2006

popo: wow, tagal na nga nun. that would be way back in the last millennium – nung wala ka pang rayuma.

helga: wow, you knew about donsol back in high school? astig. balik ka uli! pero wag na this year, off-season na ata. wala ka narin makikita.

11. arvin - May 15, 2006

haha… pano ba ‘yan wala na si caloy, nambwiset lang.. hehe πŸ˜€ buti nalang natext ko kagad ang caloy off sa 2366 sayang nde ako nanalo ng payong! hehe πŸ˜€

12. Thea - May 18, 2006

hay naku wala na ngang time eh. I’m doing my thesis now. Why the fuck does ateneo have to have thesis pa while the other law schools don’t?! Feeling talaga ng ateneo. grrr.

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