Our journey now takes us to this. We fly into an airport, the word small does not help categorize exactly what this is. A single airstrip where planes land and take off. The terminal is not more than a hall in which passengers walk through and the baggage claim, it has no carousel at all, just a carted wagon drug in by a man or a horse, piled high with all the baggage from the plane. Welcome to Naga… After arriving we checked into our hotel, which for our family is a converted shipment container, that may have once been on the back of a diesel or on a oil rig shipped across the seas, but now serves as a two bedroom flat for me and my siblings tonight. Before bed we went out to the lake attached to the property and serves as a wake boarding park. We met the few that remained around at this time of night which consisted of two experts from Denmark and a local wake boarding champion, who grew up right in this area. We got a few pointers of how to ride the board and were set free to have some fun. Upon many attempts, none of my siblings, except one, was able to actually remain on their feet… But the warm night on the lake was filled with smiles and laughs of my family.
Up early the next morning and our motley crew pile into a van to amble to our next location. We stop along the way to talk to local fisherman, fishing on the shoreline. Also, we have to pull over when we see a dozen kids dancing on a stage on the side of the road. It brings us back to our roots in the states, of breakdancing on the streets of San Francisco. We exchange dance moves with kids and have an impromptu contest to find the best dancer. One kid with the most zeal, skinned his knees up pretty bad trying to accomplish some side swipes, but still manages to pull it off. We let him know he’s the winner and hand him 100 pesos! (About 2 dollars American) He’s ecstatic, we jump into the van and roll on. The highlight of the day was the introduction the most massive object in the area, the mountain. But not just any mountain, the Mayon volcano. Its a pretty amazing thing to stare at an active volcano. First thing, its taller then one would imagine, so tall in fact, you rarely see the tip, its mostly covered by the clouds that drift by. The locals tell us of the legend of the mountain and the clouds and the love affair they have with one another. Its said they are constantly making love at the top of the mountain and so its covered most of the time because they are very modest. (They are Filipino after all) But every now and then you can see the tip of the volcano and the smoke that comes out of it, the white puffs of smoke becoming one with the clouds… As sun sets, we are on the water, eating dinner on a floating catamaran. Our mobile dinner table ends up in a pitch black area where we are greeted by fire flies. They magically dance around us in the magical land. A perfect way to end the day.
Once again the alarm clock wakes me up early, 6am. Now in Donsol, me and the film crew have to get up early to accomplish our goal. Today, we meet a whaleshark. What is this you may wonder… And why are we up so early to do this? I wonder the exact same thing! In truth, the whaleshark is the biggest fish in the ocean, we’re up early because its high tide which is our best chance of meeting one and when I say meeting one, I mean we will be in the ocean swimming with it… I know, this sounds crazy. It does to me too! Sometimes you sign up to do certain things and you have to see them through. So there we are, geared up to meet the whaleshark. During orientation, I did find out, they are not carnivorous and they are quite docile, so much so, the are often referred to as, “The Gentle Giants.” Also learned they can get up to 60 feet long. So, there we are, me and my siblings, fully geared up in snorkel attire, in search of the whaleshark… And we look… And we look… And we look… Two hours go by and we’re at sea and there is no whaleshark. We ask our captain, he tells us, its a 50/50 chance. I’m not liking our odds right now… Just as I’m about to call it quits, I hear a voice from the back of the boat, a lot of scurrying goes on as the boat races to an area in the distance. Our guide says now! Jump in now! So I do… Kind of a calamity with all of us, under experienced water folk, flapping about. Then the guide says look down… Then the world slows down. Directly beneath me is a mammoth of a fish, over twice my size, just hovering about. He begins to swim and I follow him, together we swim 20 yards or so, it actually felt more like flying then swimming. It was a pretty awesome event. To be with a creature that large, in its natural environment, puts things in perspective a bit. The world is a big place filled with many miraculous things, sometimes we forget that when we are stuck in the small confines of our mind. So, meeting a whaleshark was worth it all… But I’ll always keep the image in my mind of me and all my brothers and sister, at the front of the little boat, making its way back to shore. Just the five of us, in the sun with smiles on our faces making our way home.