On the recommendation of my good friend, Pons Alvarez, we went to Oslob in southern Cebu to see the huge, gentle whale sharks up close.
We had to leave Cebu City early, as we were informed that the whale sharks would show up only from 6am to 12 noon. Hmmm…. after that, they were off for their afternoon beauty nap, I surmised. Probably took time like some Hollywood stars to do some shopping and have their make-up done after siesta too.
And so off we went, after a quick shower and an early breakfast. After a 3-hour plus drive going south, we reached Oslob. Long ride, but it really wasn’t bad at all as the view was good and the ride comfortable. Later, it would turn out to be all worth it.
We got a short brief from the Oslob Tourism guys. We were told not to use any sunblock lotion so as not to contaminate their waters. We were told not to use any camera flash so as not to startle them or perhaps strain their eyes. We were also instructed not to go within 4 meters of the gentle creatures, not to touch them, and not to feed them anything, lest we cause undue injury on them. It was truly commendable that the local people were imposing stringent measures in order to protect the whale shark.
Indeed, even as conservationists have been expressing concern over the welfare of the whale sharks, I could see the locals doing precisely that, knowing full well that the whale sharks were their source of income as well. In fact, I’d say that eco-tourism is one of the driving forces in the preservation of nature, and I’d say it has helped surface the plight of the whale sharks and promote their well-being.
After the brief, off we went to the bancas. What amazed me was that the motorless bancas were just teeming around 50 to 100 meters away from the shore, unlike in Donsol where we had to take a motor-driven banca over miles and miles of sea. (And we didn’t get to see any ‘butanding’ at all then.)
Lo and behold! The big gentle giants were right there, and the locals even had names for them. The big fella coming close to us was… Bubbles! Wooweee! Big, bad… Bubbles!??!!!
Bubbles was eager to make friends. We tried to keep the 4-meter distance they imposed: but no, Bubbles would have none of that. Bubbles wanted to be up close and personal, probably wanted to know who our presidential candidate was, why there were only crocodiles and clowns, but no sharks among the candidates. Hey, she probably wanted to make sure someone out there was gonna take care of her interests as well.
It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Another item scratched from my bucket list of must-tries. So if you guys have a chance to come down to Cebu, here’s another must-do in your list. My friend, Rose Sabangan, who came all the way from New York, was thrilled and entertained by Bubbles and the gang.
Enjoy Bruno Mars’ song while watching more pics on Oslob. After pressing the song, just press on the pics and sing along.
(Video courtesy of Bruno Mars under Moonshine Jungle Tour; Photos courtesy of Oslob Whale Watching FB Page, triptheislands.com, gocebu.travel, greenpeace.org, youtube.com, cebutravelnow.com, trover.com, bikecebu.com, bestofcebu.sunstar.com, misterumbz.com, byaherngbarat.com, krzuy.com, lostintravelblog.com, tutuontherun.com, pinterest.com, positivelypinoy.com, fargazer.wordpress.com, msindependentmitch.blogspot.com, fueledbycaffeine.com, islandtrektours.com, backpackerbanter.com)