Philippines: Diving, cock-fights and more whale sharks in Cebu

I arrived mid-afternoon in the 2nd biggest city in the Philippines, Cebu City on Cebu Island.  Having not heard great things about this city I headed straight for the coastal resort of Moalboal about 4 hours away.  Moalboal is a small seaside resort and popular diving spot and arriving early afternoon I found one of the only hostels in the Philippines (the backpacker scene is in its infancy in the Philippines and as such there are very few hostels; this was the only one I found outside of Manila).

Moalboal coastline.  The beach was washed away a few years ago by a typhoon so now the various bars, restaurants and hotels back up straight onto the water:

That evening I booked myself on a dive boat for the next day and got an early night.  The next morning I was up early but when I arrived at the dive shop I was told that the boat would be leaving in the afternoon and not the morning and therefore I took the time to do a bit of snorkelling along the reef which was about 20m from the Moalboal shoreline.  I managed to spot several clownfish lurking in their anenomae beds and a pipefish.  I was even rushed at by an overprotective damselfish.

Damselfish in strike position.  These little fiends are notorious for aggressively defending their territory:

Spotted this camoflaged pipefish in the shallows:

Later that afternoon I was taken to the famous Pescador Island and we had a lovely dive.  The visibility was not incredible but I was still able to see: turtles, several nudibranch, leaf fish, sea snake, frogfish and plenty of colourful and fascinating soft corals.  Back on the boat we had a coffee to warm up and we moved to a new divesite for more of the same underwater delights.

Nemo in his anonemae-house:

Sea-snake:

Frogfish, attached upsidedown to a sponge:

Back in town a local hotel was throwing its Saturday night disco which draws people from all over the region apparently, so I headed down there with a Yank, a Spaniard and two Chinese girls.  Once we arrived it appeared a large proportion of the guests were Chinese, Korean or Japanese tourists so it was interesting to see how they got down.

The following day was a Sunday which means two things to Filipinos: church and cock-fighting.  Cock-fighting is massive in the Philippines and you can’t go 5 metres without spotting a local man’s prize cockeral roped up to a stake.  They are everywhere and quite often proud owners will just carry their cocks around, stroking them in the street.

Fascinated by this I decided I needed to see what it was all about so I caught a trycicle to a local cock-fighting stadium where an afternoon of fighting had been scheduled.  When I arrived I walked into the arena and soon two cocks and their owners were entering the ring at which point there was a huge hub-bub as the betting commenced.  I still don’t know how the betting worked but after a while the cocks were unleashed and had-at each other.  To make the fight quicker each cock is garnished with a 5 inch blade on one of its legs.  The fight ends when one of the cocks either dies, or gives-up becasue it is too wounded (“how does it give up?” I hear you ask, well it’s quite funny because they just take a seat and lower their heads like they are in a real grump, and after being given three chances to get going by the referee he declares the fight over).  After several brutal bouts I had had enough so headed back to town at which point the heavens opened and there was a black-out for the rest of the evening.

Camera malfunction meant my video of the fight got lost so all I have is this picture:

The next day I had heard on thr grapevine about another whale shark site that had only been ‘discovered’ (in a touristic sense) six months ago.  Luckily it was only two hours from Moalboal so I boarded a local bus and headed to Oslob.  When I arrived at the whale shark site I parted with some cash and within several minutes was on a small launch out to the spot where the whale sharks congregate.  Unlike Donsol where I had had to ‘hunt’ to find the whale shark, here the local fishermen have been feeding them for years and as such they just hang about waiting for some delicious crill to be thrown down their gargantuous throats.

The boat awaits:

A local fisherman turned tourist whale shark feeder next to one of the whale sharks as tourists gather round in boats:

This led to quite a different experience to the Donsol one which was really exciting when we finally saw the fish but boring for the 8 hours I was stuck on a tiny boat.  Instead I was able to swim right up to three whale sharks and have a good look at them for 30 minutes, which was absolutely incredible but without the thrill of the chase it had a slightly manufactured feel to it.

The whale shark feeds.  I was in touching distance at this point:

There were few other tourists in the water so I had this whale shark all to myself:

Big enough to swallow a human?:


The whole thing was over within one hour so I was able to board another bus headed for Cebu City where I would be catching a boat to nearby island Bohol.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mum
    Apr 04, 2012 @ 13:50:46

    Dom its great that you are blogging so frequently, whenever, I decide to see if there are new stories there is one!!!!!!!!

    All sounds good – will you be meeting up with any friends from now on…..its great that you have been able to link up with pals from Londres – any pangs about leaving barcap or does the ocean and its inhabitants still inspire?

    Happy Easter, by the way, from snowy Derbyshire xxxxxxx

    Reply

    • dominicbooth
      Apr 07, 2012 @ 04:01:10

      Hi mum

      glad you are enjoying the blogging. I’m enjoying doing them .

      Don’t really have any pangs about leaving. Still enjoying discovering new things and meeting new people. Obviously miss certain people and things from ole’ blighty but that was to be expected. Not having a routine or anyone to answer to has a very liberated feel to it.

      Reply

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