Saturday, June 20, 2015

Notes from Tañon Strait, Day 4: Missing the Sardine Run in Moalboal; Getting Inspired in Hale Manna

Adirondack chairs on Inspiration Point, Hale Manna, Moalboal • for Oceana Philippines
Day 4 of our Oceana Philippines photo safari/expedition was devoted to swimming.  However, the closest I got to taking a dip in the sea was walking to my waist going to Harold's liveaboard since the water was shallow a long way off the shore.

By now, I have had high fever during the night, unsure if I can shoot or function efficiently the next day.   There's this really nice, huge room in Hale Manna with cool air conditioning and comfy beds but all I could do was cower under the blanket farthest from the air conditioner.  The idea of taking the next day off crossed my mind but since this is an assignment and not a vacation, it was out of the question.  To add to my misery, my trusty Nikon was, putting it mildly, feeling its age and acting wonky.  Friends would often presume photo assignments are all fun and games.  It can be fun alright but at the end of the day, you have to deliver regardless of whether you're feeling sick or uninspired, or heaven forbid,  your equipment has gone bonkers.
Hook and line fishing around Pescador island • Image for Oceana Philippines
Our first destination was Pescador island.  Contingent 1 dove in Bas Diot.  Contingent 2 snorkeled a bit farther, away from the strong currents.  I can only marvel at their stories comparing notes on coral health and wildlife beneath the surface while I snapped shots of fishermen scattered around the island, using hooks and lines for catching fish.   After a brief respite for lunch at Club Serena (and befriending the resort's friendly dog), we next ventured to Panagsama beach for the highlight of the trip -- the sardine run.  It's incredulous that shoals of sardines made their home here so close to shore, within view of houses and beach combers who flock to the sandbars to stave off the afternoon heat.  Chalk this up to experiences I should come back for in these parts.  
Boys of summer • Panagsama Beach • Image for Oceana Philippines
All is not lost though as the time onboard the boat acquainted me with the acrobatic skills of the local boys of another diving boat mooring in the same area.  Tanned by the constant sea exposure and taut from all that swimming, they tirelessly somersaulted from the outriggers in a series of acrobatic maneuvers that defied gravity.  Oh, to be young again.  Somehow, I felt a bit of sadness for other kids who will not have the same privilege of having the seas as their playground.

The sun was arcing steeply across the horizon when we got back to Club Serena for a late afternoon snack.   Instead of waiting for the van to fetch us, we opted to walk on the beach back to Hale Manna.  We missed the sunset the day before, we didn't want to miss it again today, our penultimate day on Moalboal.  The low tide exposed a long stretch of reef littered with seagrass and sea urchins.  The view of the sea at sunset from Hale Manna was in a word, stunning.  Given an extra day or two, I could've put those red Adirondack chairs overlooking the sea to good use, either reading a book or writing one, painting the sunset, or composing a poem -- the scenery is just breathtaking.  Yas Arquiza, Oceana Philippines' communications director, would later tell us that part of the resort is called Inspiration Point.  What an inspiring spot indeed. 
Moalboal sun, sky, shallows, scenery • Image for Oceana Philippines
Notes:  This post is 4th in a series of features for our 6-day photo safari along Tañon Strait for Oceana Philippines. Oceana is dedicated to helping protect and restore the world's oceans on a global scale.  In the Philippines, the local office of Oceana is seeking to restore the health, richness, and abundance of our local oceans by ensuring sustainable fisheries and vibrant marine ecosystems.
Day 4 Route Map by Oggie Ramos

Info on Hale Manna:  Address: Barangay Saavedra, Moalboal (about 2 1/2 hour drive from Cebu City) • Contact Becky Pestaño-Smith at (+63-032) 316-2603; (+63+922) 842-4939; email:; visit



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