Archive for the ‘Camarines Sur’ Category

Bishop Rojas named as head of new diocese in Camarines Sur

March 28, 2009

The prelature of Libmanan, Camarines Sur which was canonically created by the late Pope John Paul II in March 19, 1990 had been designated a new diocese by Pope Benedict XVI and appointed Jose Rojas, Jr. as its bishop. This was announced by the pontiff’s envoy to the Philippines, Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams. —CBCP News (03/25/09, Lagarde, R)

Together with 51 priests, Bishop Rojas, 52, who is from Naga City serves the new diocese with about 500,000 Catholics in 27 parishes.

For this significant milestone, UP Ibalon Bicol and its members joyously congratulate Bishop Rojas and the entire Libmanan Diocese. (Photo Credit: Libmanantowards20decade)=0=

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Buhi’s tabios—world’s smallest edible fish still suffers excessive predation

February 8, 2009

Despite protective ordinances to help tabios thrive, the smallest edible fish in the world (Mistithys luzonensis) is still threatened by extinction in Camarines Sur. Also known as sinarapan, the fish is still under strain in its natural habitat in Lake Buhi because of over-grazing and changes in its fresh-water home.

“Ronilo H. Leal, lake management officer of Buhi town local government unit (LGU), pointed out to the rampant use of motorized post nets in the 1980s which he said totally banished the sinarapan from Lake Buhi in the 1980s.

Going by the 10 percent fish-cage occupation required by the zoning provision of RA 8550, the proliferation of fish cages here have exceeded what the law requires, occupying some 20 percent of the 1,800-ha area of Lake Buhi (located 300 ft. above sea level), according to Leal. —-Bicol Mail (02/05/09, Escandor J. Jr; Davila, J. R.)

Aside from excessive hunting by local fishermen in Buhi, Camarines Sur, the construction of fish cages to raise commercial tilapia altered fish habitat, decreasing and crowding the small tabios. The edible goby which measures about 10 mm. and inhabits the 18-hectare lake in Bicol is a delicacy in the area. It also thrives in adjacent fresh water sanctuaries like Lake Bato, Manapao and Katugday.

Sinarapan almost disappeared in the 1980s and the local government resorted to setting free tabios fries on the lake to augment its population. Though the program had been so far partially successful, excessive fish harvest persisted. Natural predation by other fish species continued to pose problems against the fish survival.

Collective effort to save the fish is on going, but unless measures to protect sinarapan are implemented, extinction (though conservation urgency is low at this time,) is still possible. (Photo Credit: Nindy2008; Lake Buhi, PD x2) =0=

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Para sa mga burak sa Heidelberg: An pagrumdom ki Rizal kan sarong taga-Baao

December 30, 2008

A Diciembre 30, amo a ka-aldowan ka pagka-badil ki Jose P. Rizal, kanatong heroe nacional na guinadan ka mga Kastila, 112 taon ng naka-agui. Sa pagrumdom ka guinibo ni Rizal para sa liberasyon ka Pilipinas, rumdumon ta an saiyang pamosong tula—Para sa mga burak ka Heidelberg—sinurat niya kan siya nasa Alemanya, Europa.

Galin sa Paris, Francia si Dr. Rizal— nag-anad mag-bulong ka mga helang sa mata. Siya tinukduan ni Prof. Otto Becker sa Alemanya. Amo’dto kan siya nagsurat para sa kagayonan ka mga burak sa Heidleberg—habang namatean niya a kalipungawan kan pamilyang harayo, banwaan na saiyang ‘di maling’wan. Dae nag-haloy, pakatapos ka nobela niyang Noli Me Tangere, si Rizal nagpuli sa Manila.

Sadi a magayon na paguiromdom ni P.B. Robosa (taga-Baao) ki Rizal. Sa color ka tataramon ka lugar sa Rinconada, Bicol, a amio ka burak ni Rizal magdanay man lugod kanato. Magka-igua man lugod kita ka pag-makulog sagkod pagkamoot na hanggang ngowan kaipuhan ka banwaan.

Para sa Mga Burak sa Heidelberg(To the Flowers of Heidelberg)
Ni Jose Rizal
Itinaga Baao ni P.B. Robosa

Pasadto kamo banwaan ko, dayuhan na burak
tagak sa raran kin mga nagbabaklay, iwinarak,
sa lomlom ka sirong kin azul na kalangitan,
sadto na an mga payaba ko pinag-iiningatan
iluyap ninyo, pagarang-arang kanakong rogan,
kining arayo pero di nalilingaw sa mga binayaan

Pasadto kamo, ag mabareta bago magliwanag,
kung kamo ka sirang ka aldow ibinubuklad,
sa pangpang ag agnow ka Neckar na ararom
sadto siya nakatindog, nang-guiguiromrom
pamumula sa tagsibol, darang kolor na magayon

Ipa-ngusip ninyo kun pag-abot ka saking ramrag,
ayaton kaninyo an hamot na kaninyong ambag,
habang luway na pina-iirongog “o ika, payaba ko”
siya man nagririmo-rimo, sa itaas ninyo tinotono,
kantang pagkaboot, sa sadiring bisara nya guinibo

Kun su silaw ka ramrag aboton na su kaitaasan,
tuktok Koenigsthul kalayuwan kin kaliwanagan,
namumulaag na silaw ka aldow mang-guisong na,
sa patag, kadlagan ag kakahoyan nanbubuway na,
ining lagalag, sabat man tulos an silaw na dara,
na sadto banwaan man nya, minabulos biyaya.

Isabi ninyo ku kamo luway na pinili ag pinutlan,
ku sya nag-agi-agi sa sadit ag matulid na a-agian,
sa rugbang torreng tuda ko panahon na nakaagi,
sa Neckar na may kadlagan, malimpoy na sabi.
Sabiyon su kanyang mga panambitan ag sinabi
pauno kamo luway-luway, tinulid, ingat na inani,
sadto kanyang libro isinuksuk ag pinagkahigo,
sa mga lumang pahina, kamo niyang itinatago.

Hatudan, hatudan, magayon na burak kin Rhine,
an biyong pagka-boot ko sa ngamin na nabootan,
katoninongan sa banwaan kong kinamondagan,
sa kababaihan-katangihan, kusog sa kalalakihan.
Ipagtaratara diaday, sa mga payaba kong marhay
sa ngamin, kabilugang banal, pauulian ka buway

Pag-abot sa baybayon kan pinayabang banwaan
matam-is na arok na pinamate di paglingawan,
ipatiprak sa pakpak kin angin na nakapalibot
tanganing su ngamin na inonra, ginalang, binoot,
mamate sa mga pisngi ninda–arok kong pina-abot.

Tibaad makaabot kamo sa banwaan kong tinubuan
dara pa gayon ag tinkad ninyong kolor na namasdan,
ta arayo kamo sa ragang kinabuklatan, nang-alisngaw,
namarong na amot, tibaad dagos nang naoda, nanlasaw.
An hamio ninyo, kalag ninyong tunay, di maisusuway,
di malilingangawan kan langit kun sari kamo nabuway.
baaohistoricalsociety.blogspot.com

December 30, 2008 marks the day our national hero Jose P. Rizal was executed by the Spanish colonizers some 112 years ago. In remembrance of his martyrdom for the liberation of our country, let’s remember one of his famous poems—To the Flowers of Heidleberg which he wrote when he was in Germany.

Under the tutorship of Prof. Otto Becker, Rizal continued his advanced studies as an eye doctor there. It was about that time when he wrote the beautiful poem about the flowers of Heidelberg and his nostalgia for his family and his native land. It did not take long, after he finished the final chapters of his novel Noli Me Tangere, that he went home and met his death.

From Baao, Camarines Sur, here’s P. B. Robosa’s beautiful translation of the poem. The words carry inexplicable emotions and images that only a wonderful Bicol dialect can express. May the scent of Rizal’s flowers suffuse us— his bravery and patriotism inspire us, as we celebrate his martyrdom.


To the Flowers of Heidelberg

by Jose P. Rizal

Go to my country, go foreign flowers!
Planted by the traveller on his way,
And there beneath that sky of blue
That over my beloved towers,
Speak for this traveller to say
What faith in his homeland he breathes to you.

Go and say… say that when the dawn
First drew your calyx open there
Beside the River Neckar chill,
you saw him standing by you, very still,
Reflecting on the primrose flush you wear.

Say that when the morning light
Her toll of perfume from you wrung,
While playfully she whispered, “How I love you!”
He too murmured here above you
Tender love songs in his native tongue.

That when the rising sun the height
Of Koenigstuhl in the early morn first spies;
Is pouring life in the valley, wood, and grove,
He greets the sun as it begins to rise,
Which in his native land is blazing straight above.

And tell them of that day he staid
And plucked you from the border of the path,
Amid the ruins of the feudal castle,
By the River Neckar, and in the silvan shade.
Tell them what he told you
As tenderly as he took
Your plants leaves and pressed them in a book,
Where now its well worn pages close enfold you.

Carry, carry, flowers of Rhine,
Love to every love of mine,
Peace to my country and her fertile land,
Virtue to her women, courage to her men,
Salute those darling once again,
Who formed the sacred circle of our home.

And when you reach the shore,
Each kiss I press upon you now,
Deposit on the pinions of the wind,
And those I love and honor above and adore
Will feel my kisses carried their brow.

Ah, flowers, you may fare through,
Conserving still, perhaps, your native hue;
Yet, far from fatherland, heroic loam
To which you owe your life,
The perfume will be gone from you;
For aroma is your soul; it cannot roam
Beyond the skies which saw it born, nor e’er forget.
“I embrace you”
Rizal’s letter to Friedrich Ullmer (the son of Pastor Ullmer, Wilhelmsfeld) from 1887 (Photo Credits: Bill Barber; Sinaglaya; Bill Barber; Donnamarijne; Bill Barber; Bill Barber)

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Camarines Sur farmer’s 444 kilometer march to Malacanang

December 2, 2008

There is sympathy elicited by the pictures of about 50 poor farmers from Banasi, Bula, Camarines Sur who embarked on a march to press their demand that Malacanang reverse the order of Executive Sec. Eduardo Ermita which kept them out of the land awarded to them 11 years ago under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

The basis of Ermita’s decision was that the 123 hectare property previously owned by the Fajardo family of Baao Camarines Sur didn’t qualify to be awarded to the farmers because it was used for grazing cattle, instead of agriculture.

This led to the revocation of the certificates of land ownership award (CLOA,) of 57 farmers who were beneficiaries of the land distribution. Ermita’s decision ignored the earlier Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) rulings in 1999 and 2007 which favored the planters.

Started on November 17, 2008, the 444 kilometer walk includes 82-year old Pobleo Clavero, the oldest of the group of farmers who wants to leave his 1.7 hectare land to his grandchildren when he dies. Their leader, Jess Bergantin, says they have to resort to what the agricultural workers from Sumilao, Bukidnon did a year ago to get Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo’s favorable decision. The group are still negotiating the dangerous winding highway towards Manila where they hope to get a solution to their land problem.

The case of the Fajardo Estate farmers shows the limitations of the CARP, which continues to pose problems to farmers 20 years since the program was started. Though there have been successes in the awarding of land to worthy beneficiaries, many however are blocked by landlords and the system of CARP implementation.

The bureaucracy of the DAR that impedes the acquisition of land, the reversals of award decisions like the Sumilao and Fajardo Estates, the controversial land use, conversions (i.e. subdivisions) and funding of the program are among the problems that stand on the way for the full CARP implementation. For lack of education and know-how, many farmers have no sufficient means to make their acquired land productive. About half of the beneficiaries end up not tilling the soil, decreasing productivity, and illegally selling the land.

As I watched the photos of the Fajardo Estate farmers marching from Banasi, Bula Camarines Sur, I could only think whether their lives had improved since CARP was instituted. Braving the wind, sun and rain, some who walked barefoot were very tired, their calloused feet endured the searing heat of asphalt in the highway; others had their skin abraded by friction caused by cheap sandals they wore.

From their faces, I could guess most of the farmers had meager education preventing them from fully understanding their legal rights under the land reform program. Their looks made me suspect their financial position didn’t improve. They had been as poor as the days when CARP wasn’t part of their lives. Photo Credit Pakisamagallery)=0=

RELATED BLOG: “Nuns abducted in Kenya, farmers from Camarines Sur march to Malacanang & the US national debt of $10,664,871,159,771.01 bogs the nation”Posted by mesiamd at 11/28/2008

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Camarines Sur farmers’ 444 kilometer march to Malacanang

December 1, 2008

There is sympathy elicited by the pictures of about 50 poor farmers from Banasi, Bula, Camarines Sur who embarked on a march to press their demand that Malacanang reverse the order of Executive Sec. Eduardo Ermita which kept them out of the land awarded to them 11 years ago under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

The basis of Ermita’s decision was that the 123 hectare property previously owned by the Fajardo family of Baao Camarines Sur didn’t qualify to be awarded to the farmers because it was used for grazing cattle, instead of agriculture.

This led to the revocation of the certificates of land ownership award (CLOA,) of 57 farmers who were beneficiaries of the land distribution. Ermita’s decision ignored the earlier Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) rulings in 1999 and 2007 which favored the farmers.

Started on November 17, 2008, the 444 kilometer walk includes 82-year old Pobleo Clavero, the oldest of the group of farmers who wants to leave his 1.7 hectare land to his grandchildren when he dies. Their leader, Jess Bergantin, says they have to resort to what the farmers from Sumilao, Bukidnon did a year ago to get Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo’s favorable decision. The group are still negotiating the dangerous winding highway towards Manila where they hope to get a solution to their land problem.

The case of the Fajardo Estate farmers shows the limitations of the CARP, which continues to pose problems to farmers 20 years since the program was started. Though there have been successes in the awarding of land to worthy beneficiaries, many however are blocked by landlords and the system of CARP implementation.

The bureaucracy of the DAR that impedes the acquisition of land, the reversals of award decisions like the Sumilao and Fajardo Estates, the controversial land use, conversions and funding of the program are among the problems that stand on the way for the full CARP implementation. For lack of education and know-how, many farmers have no sufficient means to make their acquired land productive. About half of the beneficiaries end up not tilling, decreasing productivity, and illegally selling the land.

As I watched the photos of the Fajardo Estate farmers marching from Banasi, Bula Camarines Sur, I could only think whether their lives had improved since CARP was instituted. Some who walked barefoot were very tired, their calloused feet endured the searing heat of asphalt in the highway; others had their skin abraded by friction caused by cheap sandals they wore. From their faces, I could guess most of the farmers had meager education preventing them of fully understanding their rights under the land reform program. Their looks made me suspect their financial position didn’t improve. They had been as poor as the days when CARP wasn’t part of their lives. Photo Credit Pakisamagallery)=0=

RELATED BLOG: “Nuns abducted in Kenya, farmers from Camarines Sur march to Malacanang & the US national debt of $10,664,871,159,771.01 bogs the nation”Posted by mesiamd at 11/28/2008

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Nuns abducted in Kenya, farmers from Camarines Sur march to Malacanang & the US national debt of $10,664,871,159,771.01 bogs the nation

November 27, 2008

The message of Thanksgiving is as beautiful as the reason why we celebrate Christmas. Both holidays are times of reflection and joy for all peoples of the world. Yet today, November 27, 2008, in spite the celebration’s purity of purpose and its significance, dark forces break our peace and try to shatter our hope.

The rejoicing which accompanies the holiday is marred by negativities in the news all over the world. Blocking the way of prayers, reflections, family reunions, turkey dinners, sharing food with the needy, parades, and football games, are spoilers of today’s obervance. Here are some examples:

Mumbai India Massacre

1. Mumbai Terrorist Attack in India with rising numbers of casualties: 104 dead & 314 wounded. Undetermined number of hostages is being held by a militant group believed to be Islamic extremist radicals. An Australian and a Japanese tourist are among the dead.

Kidnapping in Kenya

2. Maria Teresa Olivero, 60, and Caterina Giraudo, 67, two Italian Catholic nuns on a mission to help alleviate hunger and maintain health programs in Kenya were abducted by gunmen on November 17, 2008 and were taken to undisclosed location in lawless Somalia. Their abduction shows the difficulty of helping the poor and underserved in troubled countries like those in Africa.

Thailand’s State of Emergency

3. Thailand has declared a state of emergency around two airports. Scores of protesters against the government have massed on terminals of both airports resulting to all flight cancellations.

UPDATE: As of Sunday November 30, 2008, more than 30 anti-government protesters have been wounded by gunfire and grenade blasts. The closure of the airport strands about 100,000 travellers in Thailand.

Fajardo Estate (Banasi Farm) March from Camarines Sur to Manila

4. Fajardo Estate land dispute escalates when 49 poor farmers from Banasi, Bula, Camarines Sur decided a 21 day march to Malacanang Palace to demand the return of their land which covers 123.349 hectares. Before the CARP, the disputed property is owned by Edilberto Fajardo, Corazon Fajardo, Angustia Imperial and heirs of Baao, Camarines Sur.

“Nagsikad na poon kan Noviembre 17, 2008 an 21 dias na paglakaw kan 45ng paraoma hali sa Banasi, Bula, Camarines Sur pasiring sa Malacañang nganing huroton ki Presidente Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo na ibalik sa sainda an 123.3490ng hectariang daga na parte kan Fajardo Estate na enot pig-award sa sainda susog sa Certificate of Land Ownership (CLO) No. 00495527 base sa Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL).”—Bicol Mail, (11/20/08)

Every American Owes $34,947.22/person

5. As of November 27, the outstanding public debt of USA is $10,664,871,159,771.01 (approximately $10.7 trillion dollars). According to the National Debt Clock’s tally, the national debt increases by about $3.89 billion/day since September 28, 2007. Amercan citizens share this debt at $34,947.22/person.

If Barack Obama expands the government spending with his promised programs and he increase taxes as the financial meltdown reels on, the economic strain and debt burden are likely to push the Americans to the limit. At this time the public is watching nervously to see the mettle of the incoming president. (Photo Credits: Reuters/PunitParanjpe; ____, Pakisamagallery/JuanEscandor; JsDart)=0=

RELATED BLOG: “At least 82 killed & hundreds injured in terror attacks in Mumbai, India” Posted by mesiamd at 11/27/2008.

UPDATE: November 28, 2008—The death toll and injured in Mumbai massacre rose to 125 and 327 respectively.

New Congressional Districts in Camarines Sur: Is The Great Joker Arroyo Losing Some Of His Faculties?

November 27, 2008


Is the great Joker Arroyo losing some of his faculties?

This question first cropped up when he questioned the impeachment moves against Madame Gloria. In the process he impugned the motives of the movers which included progressive elements to which he was formerly part of. But this was quickly forgotten and forgiven as an aberration to which someone of his stature is entitled to. In the great pantheon of civil libertarians, the great Joker Arroyo probably stood just a shade below the libertarian icons Jose Diokno and Lorenzo Tanada.

Then Senator Arroyo ran again under the banner of Gloria’s coalition in the 2007 elections. He neatly reasoned that under Gloria he won’t have to raise his campaign expenses. This drew chuckles and raised eyebrows given the unpopularity of Gloria’s regime. He was lucky to scrape in but just barely. His remaining admirers heaved sighs of relief. And they were hoping that the great Joker will flash again his old righteous self.

But lately, disappointments are creeping against Joker. An Edong Angara is able to maintain some distance from the hated couple but it seems Joker can’t when from all expectations he probably can. After all, he didn’t bow to Marcos. Nor did he kowtow to anybody before. But here he is, clearly identified with the first couple. And we all thought that unlike two incumbent senators who think highly of themselves, Joker was not the opportunist kind.

Recently, he had a run-in with Sen. Aquino who was chairing a committee discussing the addition of more congressional seats to Camarines Norte and Cavite. When Joker insisted on including in the calendar the reapportionment of the 1st and 2nd districts of Camarines Sur, Sen. Aquino called off the committee hearing and asked Joker why he was rushing it when it was not on the agenda. He also said that the reapportionment of Camarines Norte and Cavite districts had already undergone thorough discussions.

In the Philippines, a minimum population of 250,000 is needed to form a legislative district. When a certain district’s population exceeds 500,000 a bill can be submitted to Congress for its division. It is not normal practice to create a new congressional district from two or more old districts. To do this is almost tantamount to gerrymandering.

There is no district in Camarines Sur where the population has already exceeded 500,000. New districts can only be created in this province through gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is the redistribution of electoral district boundaries for political advantage.

In the cases of Camarines Norte and Cavite gerrymandering cannot be easily charged since it will simply divide districts that has already exceeded the double of the minimum population required for a congressional district. In Camarines Norte it will probably involve separating it into the east and west districts with the west composed of Labo and all the towns west of it.

In Camarines Sur, no legislative district population exceeds 500,000 as of the 2007 Census. The 1st district has only 417,304 inhabitants; the 2nd, 474,899; the 3rd, 372,548; and, the 4th, 429,070. With a population growth rate of only 1.86% it is only in 2010, the next censal year, when the 2nd district will probably exceed the 500,000 mark.

The talk in Camarines Sur is that reapportionment is being pushed so that Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. and incumbent Congressman Dato Arroyo can both run in 2010. Currently, Madame Gloria’s son is occupying the seat used to be held by Nonoy Andaya and his late father. But on this Joker Arroyo has this to say:”That is malicious, tell them that is bullshit”. But I think one can hardly find an adult in Camarines Sur who will not believe such talk.

I remember Joker Arroyo called Sen. Antonio Trillanes as “the poster boy of rebellion”. But I didn’t hear him call Gen. Angelo Reyes as the “poster boy of mutiny”. I bet he would rather pin that monicker on Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim and Col. Ariel Querubin.

I am beginning to suspect now that Joker Arroyo is beginning to lose some of his faculty of sight.

Jose S. Losa of Nabua, Camarines Sur

October 28, 2008


Joceline Losa-Masauding, president of the Bicolandia Association of Charleston, South Carolina announces the demise of her beloved father, Jose Sumayo-Losa on Octorber 26, 2008 at the age of 93 in Nabua, Camarines Sur.

Mr. Losa, a magnanimous, fun-loving, and affectionate man, served as a brave US Army sergeant of engineering during the World War II. A well-respected school mentor, he is esteemed and popularly remembered by his students in Nabua High School where he taught before he immigrated to the United States and later settled in San Roque, Nabua after loving Basilisa (Grandma Bisay) Hallare, his wife died.

Grandpa Joe who passed away peacefully in his sleep has seven (7) accomplished living children namely: Lourdes L. Baylon (San Diego, CA,) Joceline L. Masauding, R. N. (Charleston, SC,) Jose Losa, Jr, D.V.M.(Legazpi, Albay,) Lillian L. Navarro, R.N. (San Diego, CA,) Vivian L. Abagat (Nabua, Camarines Sur,) Jane L. Coralde, M.D. (AFP Medical Center, QC,) and Mamerto Losa, M.D. (Malacanang, Manila.) Two of his children, Clarita L. Melagro, M.D. and Dolores L. Manzano predeceased him. He is survived by 35 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren.

UP Ibalon requests readers, relatives, and friends to pray for the eternal repose of Grandpa Joe. So long Grandpa Joe! We love you! Burial is tentatively scheduled in Nabua Cemetery on November 6, 2008. Contact: Jane 916-308 6524 (Marikina, Manila); Vivian: 54-478-0718 (Nabua) Photo Credit: bylinderrox. =0=

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More of Andy’s Whaleshark (Butanding)

September 15, 2008



About this time of the year till December to May, the Butandings (Rhicodon typus,) the huge whale sharks come around to their usual haunts in Bicol in the farthest tip of Luzon Island in the Philippines. Many sightings of these gentle creatures which can grow to about 15 to 40 feet are in Sorsogon Province particularly in towns of Donsol, Pilar, Castilla, Magallanes, but may occasionally be encountered in the neighboring seas like in Camarines Sur, Albay and as far as Bohol in the Visayas and parts of Mindanao.

Harmlessly docile and friendly, the butandings allow people to go near and swim with them. With characteristic white spots (reminiscent of leopards,) on their gray-blue bodies, they quietly feed on minute planktons and krill abundant in the area at certain times of the year.


Supervised tours to see this giant wonders of the sea are available in the area. For more information, check the PDOT web site at http://www.wowbicol.com, call (63) 52 435-0085 or e-mail dotr5@globalink.net.ph. The Donsol Tourism Office in Dancalan headed by Salvador Adrao Jr. can also be contacted (0927) 233-0364. Snorkeling gears can be rented from the resorts.=0=

Encounter With Whaleshark (Butanding) at Pasacao, Camarines Sur

September 14, 2008

As Featured On Ezine Articles Last weekend, I joined a medical mission in Tinalmud, Pasacao, Camarines Sur, a far barangay reachable only by boat travel through the Ragay Gulf, along the coast of the Bicol Peninsula. Aside from a welcome break from almost 24/7 Internet works, the occasion also gifted me with the rare chance to personally confirm that whalesharks (Butanding), considered “gift from God” by the people of Donsol Sorsogon, now also inhabit the coastal waters of Pasacao Camarines Sur.

Very few people in the world have had the chance to encounter these lovable, awe-inspiring giants. So I am proud to be just one point short of the career record of the great sea explorer, Jacques Cousteau, who had admitted having encountered a whaleshark only twice in his lifetime.

We left Pasacao port at 7:30 A.M. and reached Tinalmud at almost 10:00 AM. It was a sunny day but the waves were huge and we were traveling one kilometer away from the shore. Midway through the ride, the worried leader of our military escorts, Lt. Alcala, asked us to put on our life vests. At this point, I felt some regrets that I had to bring with me my video cam and laptop; I did not like to leave them in my car, which was parked at Pasacao port.

The waves were even more gigantic on our return trip by mid-afternoon, Few minutes on the way home, I asked an even more worried-looking Lt. Alcala if he was considering going back and wait for the morning the next day when the waves would be more tolerable. No, our navigator (a commissioned soldier from Catanduanes) is an expert, he assured me. He asked us however to sit very close to the floor of the banca.

So out we go, no turning back. I prepared my mind to losing my hand-carried favorite gadgets, in case we had to swim to shore if the boat capsized. For almost an hour, everyone simply watched the big waves in silence, feeling the motorized banca getting skillfully maneuvered through rushes of big waves after waves.

Then from the back of the boat came excited voices,”May butanding.” There it was indeed, a whaleshark, the size of a bantam car and looking every bit like the wonder I see only in photos and videos, traveling with us side by side. It was so close, just a couple of feet away from the right outrigger. If the whaleshark just touched the boat, it could tip, throwing us all into the open sea. I aimed my video camera in the direction of the whaleshark but it suddenly disappeared. Moments later it reappeared fleetingly 10 meters away still traveling with us. The soldier behind me said,”Ginagabayan tayo (It is guiding/protecting us).”

The whaleshark appeared for the last time around 100 meters ahead of us, playfully floating with the huge waves. For a fleeting moment it faced us and vanished as a splash.

This creature could be telling us, “This is my domain and you are welcome.”

It could as well be wishing us “Von Voyage.” We arrived at Pasacao port two rough hours later. And safe on shore, only then could I say thank you.

Tinalmud, Pasacao Google Map