Saturday, July 23, 2016

Donsol: Three Hours in the Sea

Donsol town in the province of Sorsogon, Philippines.
We spent three hours in the sea waiting for the whaleshark to drift by. Gone are the days when there were no tourists  as many as today. I saw butanding (whaleshark) effortlessly way back year 1999 when our college group researched about the existence of butanding in Donsol town. This year, I went back together with my family, what I saw are plenty of tourists and motorized boats. Only one butanding was seen and we were not able to come near due to the crowded area where the big fish surfaced.

BIO stands for Butanding Interaction Officer.
Every motorized boat is manned by a boat operator and a BIO.
I learned that there were about 20 boats released by the local government of Donsol during our visit. So far, Donsol has the most organized tourism activity in town. Bad weather was attributed as the cause why we find it hard to see whalesharks - current was strong and it was raining too. Nevertheless, I am sharing some photographs I took during our visit. What matters to me was the company I spent with my family during my short vacation.

A public utility van brought us to Donsol from Legazpi City. The van has to be full before leaving, however, you can pay the rest of the remaining passenger seats if you want to leave ahead without waiting for other passengers to come. The van dropped us at the local fire station upon my request. It is a must for me to drop by the local fire station whenever I happen to visit a faraway town of the country as I am a one of those officers of the fire department.  From the fire station is a Catholic Church, where we dropped by as well before heading to Barangay Dancalan.

St. Joseph  Parish Church is few meters away from Donsol Fire Station.
Dancalan is the barangay where Donsol Tourism Office is located. It is where the tourists come to register and pay before joining the whaleshark interaction activity. Upon arrival, a video about the ecosystem has to be shown as well the rules that must be followed. After watching the video, tourists have to be assigned to a designated Butanding Interaction Officer who will bring the tourists to their designated boat. 

There are available gears that can be rented within the complex to be used during the interaction. The boat operator provides only life jackets; you have to bring your own goggles, fins and the rest of the swimming gears. You can eat before leaving or bring food in the boat. Reminder: never throw waste in the sea; Donsol sea is a protected area.

Nostalgic Donsol.
Donsol is always beautiful especially if the environment is continuously protected by the community and the tourists alike.