Cebu Philipines - interacting with the whale shark

I have been to many beaches in my local region in Mindanao, they’re all amazing and beautiful.
 
Having a chance to travel in Cebu, I grabbed the opportunity to land my feet in Oslob, province
 
of Cebu, it is located in the Central Visayas region in the Philippines. It was on June 6, 2016 we
 
left my friend's house in Cebu around 6:30 in the morning while the sun was starting to rise, so
 
it was not yet hot. It was a 3 hour trip and we had to take a public bus to get there. Along the
 
way to Oslob before reaching to its point, I’ve seen many breathtaking views that made me
 
awe. It's common for me to see beaches with turquoise waters, but it’s a lot different from
 
what I’ve used to, it’s beautiful in an exotic way. When I and my two friends were just an hour
 
away from the destination, there was an enigmatic excitement inside in me that I couldn’t wait
 
to see the shark locally known as "Butanding”. Swimming, snorkeling and coral diving are just
 
one of the common things to do while at the beach. But seriously! To swim in with the shark is
 
something unique to this province.
 
Atlas! After the 3 hour trip we finally reached into our destination. The bus stopped for us in
 
front of Aaron’s Beach Resort’s entrance. Actually, there’s a lot of resorts to choose from there
 
and they will accommodate and send you to the whale watching venue just a walking distance
 
from the resort.  It’s the local tourism government who manage it. Before they’ll allow you to
 
interact with the shark, after we present our receipt to the officer, you have to wait a few
 
minutes for the briefing. We were clearly instructed to keep a distance from the shark atleast
 
4m. Friendly they maybe, but knowing the reputation of a shark and wild-life creatures, they
 
are sensitive to vibrations and they may react violently and that is enough reason to be careful.
 
Below are the other guidelines for the whale watchers:
 
 Do not use sunblock or lotion. If you have applied an hour ago or more, that would fine
 
for the chemicals of the sunscreen have already absorbed by the skin.
 
 Feeding of the whale shark is not allowed only authorized personnel.
 
 Do not touch the whale and don’t block their way nor chase them
 
 Turn on the flash if you’re going to take pictures with whale. They are sensitive to lights.
 
 Don’t make a splash upon entering the water. Whales are attractive to bubbles.
 
 Don’t wear jewelries
 
After the briefing session, we have to patiently wait for another minutes. Our guide assigned to
 
us our priority number. It was Sunday so it wasn’t a big surprise there were a lot of local and
 
foreign tourist like Koreans, Chinese, Americans and other white races I can’t recognize. It was
 
about 11 am, still were waiting, so we doubted if they could still cater us. We Were just anxious
 
because the show will end every 12 noon. As we were one of the last batch, finally it was our
 
turn. Luckily, we didn’t have to merge with the other group, the boat that was assigned to us
 
was just enough for small group other boats can ride 12-15 passengers I guess. So at the
 
picture, it was just me and my two friends and two Korean couples riding in the boat.
 
The Encounter
 
When we reach the area, I couldn’t contain the excitement I felt upon seeing the shark’s flat
 
head. I was a bit scared hoping it won’t eat me alive, hahaha that’s silly and I know my two
 
friends felt the same way too. I guess, I was the bravest among my friends so I was the first one
 
who dived in the water wearing the snorkeling gear. I saw the Butanding’s body, I was stunned
 
not because it scared me, but I was amazed. Its color is black with white spots and stripes and
 
its skin was beautifully glowing in the currents of water and some small fishes were following it
 
like it was his babies. Time to take picture! This adventure I know wouldn’t be complete
 
without souvenirs. We don’t have an underwater camera, but thanks to Aaron’s Beach Resorts,
 
we rented one. The watchers of the area were very accommodating, they’re the one who took
 
us pictures together with the Butanding”. It was so hard to pick the best selfie with the
 
Butanding though, as a matter of fact, we don’t have a decent one. The struggle is real” when
 
you tried to get the best angle or post with it but it was still an “epic failed”.
 
How silly it is when I couldn’t understand that we have to observe 4 meters away from the
 
shark when it was the shark who tried to go near us. Everytime we saw the the shark coming
 
near us we would always try to hold a grip into the boat and trying not to stretch our feet so
 
that it won’t hit any parts of their body, but it did. I guess I’ve hit the tail twice and it was a bit
 
rough, thankfully they didn’t react violently. Perhaps it is there way of interacting human, so I
 
find it sweet. I do apologize for the picture below, if you can see the two Butandings have their
 
intimate moment and we were just a “ photobomber”. It would be captured perfectly if not just
 
us who tried to hold a grip everytime they passby near us, or we could be underneath them in a
 
distance making a peace sign while they were kissing and that would be so cute. It was a 30
 
minute interaction with the “Butanding” and that was a very awesome experience and
 
adventure that I can treasure for the rest of my life. Afterall, they’re not harmless, they’re a
 
“gentle giants” trying to be friendly to human.
 
A few tips in going to Oslob
 
If you want to experience the kind of adventure we had, either you’re from the Philippines or
 
not, Whale Watching in Oslob is perfect to be added on your bucket list. I will give you some
 
tips you have to remember. If you’re planning to go to Oslob it is much better to spend an
 
overnight accommodation so that you will have some time to explore the province’s beauty. It
 
wont give you a hassle being anxious if you can still catch the show. The show starts at 5 am
 
and end every 12 noon. The province has a lot of things to offer, from whale-watching you can
 
also have an island hopping in Sumilon Island. You can also do canyoneering in Kawasan Falls,
 
sad to say we missed the chance.
 
I can’t contain the happiness I felt even when I got home. The smiles and laughters that we had
 
with my friends are priceless brought to us by whale shark “Butanding”.

 

I have been to many beaches in my local region in Mindanao, they’re all amazing and beautiful. Having a chance to travel in Cebu, I grabbed the opportunity to land my feet in Oslob, province of Cebu, it is located in the Central Visayas region in the Philippines. It was on June 6, 2016 we left my friend's house in Cebu around 6:30 in the morning while the sun was starting to rise, so it was not yet hot. It was a 3 hour trip and we had to take a public bus to get there. Along the way to Oslob before reaching to its point, I’ve seen many breathtaking views that made me awe. It's common for me to see beaches with turquoise waters, but it’s a lot different from what I’ve used to, it’s beautiful in an exotic way. When I and my two friends were just an hour away from the destination, there was an enigmatic excitement inside in me that I couldn’t wait to see the shark locally known as "Butanding”. Swimming, snorkeling and coral diving are just one of the common things to do while at the beach. But seriously! To swim in with the shark is something unique to this province.

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interacting with the whale shark

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