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Marie Grace Gaffud Antonio is an Open Source advocate working with Bluepoint Foundation as Executive Director and Director of Operations. Magie and Engels are proud parents of Psylocke & Phoenix.
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"Growth in wisdom may be exactly measured by decrease in bitterness" ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Butanding at Donsol
Friday, Apr 29, 2005, 10:00 PM
Donsol, Sorsogon is the "whale shark capital" of the Philippines, if not the world. We endured a four-hour drive from Magallanes to Donsol before we got to see the biggest fish in the world - the "butanding" (Rhincodon typus). I was able to swim with one of the 8 butandings that we interacted with. Each interaction lasted for just a minute or so since we forgot to bring fins - they sure swim fast.



It's more than three hours on the boat with our spotter (the one who keeps an eye out for the whale sharks), BIO (Butanding Interaction Officer - the diver who drags you so you can swim as fast as they do to catch up with the sharks), and the boat driver. Three hours of adventure and excitement and still we yearn to be back for more! The Butanding Festival runs from November until May so I hope to be back in summer again to celebrate Psylocke's graduation from elementary with Tito Boy and his family from Germany. Maybe this time, Psylocke won't be having her birthday on the roads of Southern Luzon anymore.



Now for my checklist. These are my must-haves before diving and swimming with the butandings:

  • P2,500 for the boat rental (each boat can accommodate a max of 7 guests), P100 pax entrance (waived if you work for the goverment or are a local resident of Donsol)
  • goggles, snorkel and fins (they already have life vests there since you must wear them for the BIO to allow you to do surface dives - this means you really can't go doing the Free Willy thingy with the giants )
  • camera (better if it can take shots underwater so you won't have to buy the 600 bucks disposable underwater cam at the site)
  • sunblock lotion (their boats have tarpaulins that serve as shade but still...)
  • cap and shades (for the sea breeze esp. on your way back to the shore)
  • toiletries (after the dive)
  • snacks for the 7AM-3PM non-stop butanding search
One last note, the government might want to try investing more on this rare God-given resource at Donsol. I also highly advise the Department of Tourism to check out the souvenirs sold at the merchandise stalls. Most of the guests are foreigners and they might equate the wrong grammar and incorrect spellings on these with the general literacy level of us Filipinos. Wala lang...
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