“We can’t find our boat!” paddling master, Buzzy Budlong, tells me after several attempts of trying to spot our convoy outrigger boat through the maze-like passageways of Banacon Island, north of Bohol. Buzzy was at the back of our double kayak as I was the one in charge to shoot. We wait for the others south of the largest man-made mangrove island in Asia. He switched places with my assigned-writer friend, Oggie, back to his favorite yellow stand-up paddle (SUP) board, Mango Float. His sight looked far to the mainland. “Let’s head to that lighthouse!” he pointed. “Is he kidding?!” I thought. That’s almost 10km away by sea and we’re passing through two sea channels and an island. But he paddled on. He’s crazy like that which also partly makes him great.
A vast field of mangroves filled more than half my vision as I start my way down a two story rocky stairway. Somewhere beyond this 1,400 hectares of mangrove at Cogtong Bay, Anda, Bohol is Lamanoc Island, a small limestone island enveloped in an eerie veil of tales of a banished witch and a place where shamans congregate. Why would I visit such a spooky island? Because within its shallow caverns and lush tangled vegetation are remnants of a fascinating culture dating far beyond the pre-colonial era.
Sometimes it takes someone else’s eyes to see the beauty that surrounds us. Familiarity can be numbing at times and comfort can make us overlook what’s in front of us. That can be said the same to some people living along the area of Tañon Strait, the largest protected seascape in the country sandwiched between two major islands, Cebu and Negros. Ask where the strait is to a few, they would show a blank face, not knowing that the sea in front of them is part of it. Oceana Philippines, organized a photo safari to explore the length of Tañon Strait and I was fortunate to be part of this 6-day expedition. It was an exciting project as everything was new to me. Our objective was to capture and showcase the beauty and bounty of Tañon Strait. Maybe, just maybe, through our photographer eyes we could share and let more people appreciate this natural wonder.
Taking this opportunity to wish everyone Happy Holidays for this 2015! Ironwulf En Route will also be on a holiday until early next year, 2016. May you use this long holiday as an opportunity to enjoy time with your friends or family. Get out! Enjoy nature! Travel! With this, greeting everyone a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year ahead!
A cup of coffee taste so great while at sea. Our breakfast of bread with peanut butter, saba bananas and a unique concoction of crushed cereal with honey made by Harold himself of Harold’s Dive Center was enough to energize our morning. It’s the last full day of our Oceana Philippines Photo Safari and time simply flew by fast here while at Tañon Strait. From Mantalip Reef in Bindoy we were headed to our last stop in Dumaguete but not before we do some Bais Dolphin Watching and a visit to the largest remaining mangrove forest in Negros Oriental, the Talabong Mangrove Park and Bird Sanctuary.