“You’re from Bohol and You’ve Never Been to Balicasag??? What the…”

Third of a series: Suggestions for Summer 2015

“You’re from Bohol and You’ve never been to Balicasag? What the…” My wife glares at me with contempt in her eyes, scoffing: “You should be ashamed of yourself!” Instinctively, I open my mouth to defend myself. But on second thought,  I opt to disengage in silence, knowing full well the consequence of risking a Word War 3. 

So I just give my flabbergasted wife my game-face sweet smile. And remain silent. Silence, at that moment, seemed the best defensive option.

What’s with Balicasag anyway? What could be so fascinating there that could cause me such great disfavor and distress?

So the next time I go back to Bohol, I dutifully march off to Panglao Island like the good soldier that I am, to catch a boat-ride to that mysterious island called Balicasag. Heck, just to humor her, I tell myself, and collect some trophy points to give me some valuable lead time before the next volcano eruption.

Balicasag is asmall flat island off the coast of Panglao, Bohol. (courtesy of vigattintourism.com)

Turns out that the-then Navy Chief, Adm Ernie De Leon – a good friend and mentor – was there to dive. And he asks me to join him. I try to wiggle out of the difficult situation, not having prepared to dive. He wouldn’t take no for an answer. And so I soon find myself suiting up, to the amusement of some Navy Seabees present. Who then proceed to give me a peptalk. Shades of a resigning plebe being given a sympathetic peptalk by his upperclass squadmates.

So after suiting up, I’m on the rubber boat on the way to our dive site. And I have this strange, uneasy feeling, considering it’s been quite a while since my last dive. I am bewitched, bothered, and bewildered. Just like the song. What have I gotten myself into?

But the moment I enter the crystal-clear waters, the gloom I had pictured so vividly in my mind instantly fade. Right at the surface, a school of tiny colorful fish come to welcome me. What’s truly amazing is that the fish don’t scamper away from you as you enter their domain. Instead, this bunch of little Nemos and their friends race towards you with their imaginary arms a-kimbo, demanding: “So where’s our food-fee, mister? You’re  supposed to feed us, remember?”

Balicasag: a snorkeling and scuba-diving paradise. (courtesy of scubadivingbohol.com)

We tread the water ever so slowly, trying to enjoy the sights unfolding before us. The water is alluringly calm and clear. Even the taste of the water is not as salty as I had imagined.

The colors of the corals are so vibrant. There is a broad variety of them nestled peacefully on the sea bed. And if you look closely at these brightly-colored corals and sponges, you discover different types and colors of tiny, shy fish peeking at you.

But most of the bigger fish will be playing around, so active and friendly. They know that by showing off their swimming prowess, the clumsy creatures from above will marvel at them and feed them generously. This is Balicasag’s Fish Sanctuary, where the fish reign as masters, and we their slaves.

Balicasag Fish Sanctuary, where the fish are kings. (courtesy of wanderingwanderer.com)

Different schools of fish parade around in the oddest formations. At one point, we make a turn off a cliff wall and encounter another huge dark wall. But as we come closer, we realize it is a wall of fish that magically opens up to let us pass through.

Looking up, I spot a young boy snorkeling aimlessly at the water’s surface. He has a fish entourage following him around. He is like Santa Claus with a bag of goodies.

I am so absorbed by the beauty around me that I don’t realize it is now time to come up. Indeed, if there is an underwater heaven, then surely this must be it!

The corals teem with tiny fish. (courtesy of vintourist.com)

Thus begun my romance with the waters of Balicasag. I have since returned, countless times over. I have gone back to diving, and convinced my wife and kids to dive with me. The kids actually didn’t need any convincing, but the wife did.

We have been able to dive all over, and have marveled at the unique and spectacular offerings of the different dive spots in the country. But my love affair with diving was only rekindled when I went to that tiny speck of an island off Bohol. Breathtaking Balicasag. Thanks for forcing me into this, Sir Ernie! Without you, I would have stayed retired from diving. You’re the man!

So now, it’s my turn to harrass you guys. You’re going to Bohol and you’re missing Balicasag? That’s treason to the nth degree! You should all be arrested, tried and sentenced to be fed to the fish! May your example be a moral lesson to all mortals. And may the tiny Nemos in Balicasag have mercy on your morsels!

(Pictures courtesy of pinoyboyjournals.com, scubadivingbohol.com, cheapestboholpackages.com, feel-free-travel.com, summersunscreen.wordpress.com, tripadvisor.com, cebucruising.com, chachic.wordpress.com, youtube.com, vigatintourism.com, vintourist.com)


    1. Karen Rae, you have just committed a most vile and detestable sin! For your acts of penitence, I hereby sentence you to 5 trips to Balicasag, 2 to snorkel, and 3 to dive. I pray that the gods of Balicasag have mercy on you. 🙂


  1. Reblogged this on Color My World and commented:

    A lot of friends have been asking me about Balicasag lately. Perhaps on account of my recent blog on Bohol and its beautiful sights. Hence, I am reblogging this piece on that marine paradise in the province of Bohol. You should all come and visit! You will definitely be charmed by the island of Balicasag.


    1. Yey! I have a lot of foreign diver friends who can attest that the dive here is really one of the best in the world. They have protected the corals here and have declared it a marine sanctuary. Hence the fish here are so tame. Do come. My son is now a divemaster in Panglao island. He can bring you around.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. Oooo!! Love WW2 shipwrecks. Do you have a more in-depth post on the site like the history of the ships and why they are there? My hubby is a historic nerd and I’m hoping this will entice him to take up diving.

            Liked by 1 person

                    1. Lots of things to do above water while you’re diving. Just lazing on the beach, enjoying the sand and sea, reading a good book perhaps. Or watching the sights nearby. I can assure you he won’t get bored. In balicasag, tell him to just go snorkeling and he’ll be amazed at what he sees.

                      Liked by 1 person

    2. yey! you can actually google it, read the reviews. there are a lot of great dive sites here, it’s just that they are not well advertised. but they really are great. and cheaper too. i kid you not. lots of dive-crazy foreigners have actually decided to camp out here precisely because of this.

      Liked by 1 person

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