I told my wife that whatever happens, she should make sure that she stays close to the boat. I tightened the lifevest of my wife and my little girl and I assured her that everything will be alright. Our excitement with our little expedition out to the sea has turned to anxiety as our little banca was being battered by huge waves. My little girl was enjoying the rough ride, not noticing that I was already starting to worry. Finally, we got a break into still waters. I gave a sigh of relief. Then we heard a loud thud under the banca and the motor of the motorized banca died out on us.
THROUGH ROUGH SEAS AND BEYOND (Bohol Day 3)
Bohol turned out to be one surprise after another. We found ourselves enjoying the nooks and crannies of the province where we found ourselves admiring the uniquely shaped hills from above, enjoying the rich flora and fauna of the provinces, and even heard stories of the past from old churches. Each day turned out to be an exciting adventure after another and our last day was something I will not forget.
I woke up excited as our third day in Bohol was the planned dolphin encounter activity. It was the day that we were venturing out to the sea and watch dolphins in their natural habitat. Apparently it rained just a few minutes before we stepped out of our room but seeing the clear skies, I felt that it was probably just a morning rain and there was nothing to worry about. So when our boatman arrived to pick us up, we were more than eager to venture out to the sea.
We ventured out to the sea, along with other boats, to search for dolphins. Dolphins are very playful creatures of the sea and my first encounter with these gentle mammals was during my first visit in Bohol. They show off their antics even in the wild by frolicking and jumping out of the water beside sea vessels. This delightful experience was what I wanted my family to experience first hand in the wild.
Unfortunately after about an hour out on the sea, we still had to get a glimpse of the dolphins. I started notice that it was getting gloomy and the waves were starting to swell. Our "manong" said that dolphin sighting might not be possible today as the waves were a bit rough for that morning. He said that we can proceed to Balicasag Island, about another 30 minutes of sea travel.
The thirty minute banca ride was one rough ride to the island. Halfway through the trip, it started to drizzle and the waves started to swell. My little girl started getting jittery and started crying. I was already considering of heading back to Alona Beach but our bankero looked confident with how he was maneuvering our banca. Balingcasag Island was already in full view. Finally, the sun broke out and the waves started to mellow down.
The serene waters of Balicasag Island was in complete contrast to the waves that we encountered earlier but it was a relief. Balicasag island do not have sandy beaches, in fact, its shoreline are dotted by rocks except for a few breaks of white spots that are composed of shells and dead white corals. However, the true beauty of Balicasag is found under its waters.
Initially, we explored the shores of Balicasag Island where we were treated with finding an abundance of blue starfish. My little girl was enjoying these finds and was gladly flashing it for the cameras. After we got settled in, we decided to venture out to explore the waters of Balicasag.
Balicasag Island is best appreciated when you are under the sea. I guess it is one of the best dive spots in the area as the underwater scene is just teeming with life. We enjoyed snorkeling in the area and the good thing about it is that you really do not have to venture very far from the shore to appreciate the beauty of the underwater life of the island. It was a visual delight.
After spending an hour under the sun, we decided to head back to shore to have breakfast that we ordered earlier. I must say...nothing beats having breakfast by the beach. We also had the chance to check out souvenir items from peddlers. My wife's bargaining skills were put to a test and she passed it with flying colors.
Virgin Island from Afar
After exploring the shores of Balicasag Island, we decided to proceed to our next location - Virgin Island. Virgin Island is best know for its white sand bar which is in contrast to the rocky shores of Balicasag. It was about a 30 - 40 minute boat ride from Balicasag.
The supposed travel time turned into an an hour of travel that was full of apprehension and worry. Our banca was battered by huge waves, one that I was not expecting at the time of the year. My little girl was enjoying the stomach churning ride not minding that I was already starting to worry. My wife kept glancing at me for assurance as I have also noticed that even our boatman was having a hard time. We did manage to reach a break into still waters as we were approaching Virgin Island. I was starting to relax until we heard a thud from under our boat. We had hit a coral reef that rendered our boat immobile for almost an hour.
It took some time for our boatman to figure out what to do and even with that I decided to pass up on Virgin Island and head back to Alona Beach for my family's safety and for us to be able to catch our ferry to Cebu. The ride across huge waves was just too much and we had to do with just admiring Virgin Island from afar. The trip back did take longer but with no more incident involving our damaged motorized boat.
Tagbilaran City Tourist Pier
As I was rushing inside the pier, I knew that we missed out on our 1pm ferry after our morning exploration took longer after having experienced a rough ride and a damaged motorized boat. I was surprised to be informed that our 1pm ferry trip to Cebu was not allowed to depart and all other succeeding boat trips were on stand by because typhoon signal number 1 was hoisted over the region. It was a mix of shock and relief for me as my family and I was out at sea that morning even with the weather disturbance - now that explained the huge waves that battered our boat that morning.
Nevertheless, luck was on our side as we were accomodated to the 5pm trip for that day. Our arrival in Cebu would just be delayed but I was confident that the Coast Guard will lift their orders by that time allowing us to depart from Bohol that afternoon.
As we settled down at the passenger departure area, I noticed a marker inside the room that piqued my interest. I went on to check and discover that I was standing on a historical site in Bohol. The pier is the site where American Forces landed to liberate Bohol from the Japanese forces. The marker was set-up to commemorate the liberation of Bohol on April 11, 1945.
The marker sits unnoticed inside the departure hall. Unless you sit in front of it, guests and tourists would not be able to notice the marker. Most of them, would probably have walked in and out of the hall not knowing that they were standing on a site that played a key role in Bohol's history and making it what it is today.
Bohol was one surprise after the other. It was a mix of fun, excitement, thrill, and at one time...scared the sh*t out of me. I enjoyed the different tastes of nature, history, and religion. It was definitely a great start to our week-long vacation as a family. One set-back though was that we had to contend with renting out a van for us to get around Bohol but I had to consider the convenience as I was with my family. In any case, if I am given the chance...I would probably head back to Bohol to rough it up again.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.