27 April 2010
N12 55.589 E123 34.459 – Woodland Resort, Donsol
We have not been to the Butanding Festival since 2003. It was exciting to be here again during the festivities and the fluvial parade was not to be missed.
We went to Donsol via night bus from Manila. It was a 12 hour drive to get there and upon arriving Woodland Resort, our home away from home, we unpacked quickly, fixed our snorkeling and underwater camera gears and immediately rendezvoused with the whale shark tagging team who were patiently awaiting our arrival to deploy the last two tags they saved for us to document.
After we accomplished our tagging activities, we joined the task force boat at 6 am on April 27 to start the fluvial parade from Sta Cruz, the farthest coastal village of Donsol parading all the way to the town proper. This was to be our last day in Donsol before we took the night bus back to Manila again. And as we had anticipated, the event was festive!
There were more boats participating in the parade than we ever remember but we noticed the man-made whale sharks got considerably smaller this year – no trace of the gigantic whale sharks of the olden times which needed to have its own raft to be dragged by another boat. Oh well. Perhaps it was a matter of economics?!
And by two in the afternoon under the scorching heat of the sun, the street parade in town began. We couldn’t join the entire parade but we were so happy to see the children’s participation in the event. Even before the parade began, Barangay or village San Antonio won it for us! Here are some amazing shots of this village’s creative involvement.
It was good to see all this again. Donsol has grown in so many ways. There are many mobile phone towers now where there used to be just a single telephone operator with two phone booths in town with a long line of people waiting. Now I could have internet access using an internet dongle!
When we started hosting tours in 2000, there was not a single resort in the whole of Donsol. We had to ask the Mayor’s wife to open their rest house for us to rent for our guests to stay in! Now the coast is littered with resorts – about 8 of them! Donsol is now a number four municipality coming from a one which meant it was one of the poorest.
And the chaos in the water with unregulated whale shark interactions, well that is being addressed with the task force monitoring boat. Unruly boat operators and BIOs who go against the codes of proper whale shark conduct are immediately suspended! At last there will be some order in Donsol Bay. That for me is a great improvement. A clear step towards progress.