Just got back from a wonderful weekend. Waya from ABV made all the arrangements for the team to travel to Danjugan Island: a small island run by a conservation foundation. The group took over running the island nine years ago in an effort to restore the damaged coral and protect the marine life.
The first thing I did after arriving was snorkeling in the clear, turquoise-colored water. You could see that the efforts to conserve the island have had some success: areas that had been clearly damaged were starting to come to life. In some places you could see chunks of coral gone--dynamite fishing has been a big problem in the Philippines.
In addition to the wide varitey of coral, some of the highlights of things I saw were jumbo clams, tiger fish, trumpet fish, flying fish, and puffer fish. I also saw a huge fish, about 5 ft in length, with a large mouth and giant lips. He seemed interested in me--staring with his mouth open for a while: maybe he was trying to figure if I would fit in his mouth.
The island is an eco-tourism location: the rooms we slept in were open-air rooms with bug nets around our beds. Luckily there weren't too many bugs. The site had beds for 16 people and we filled up every one. Our room of five beds was filled with each of the IBM men. The first night I had trouble sleeping: we had a chorus of snorers--each time one would stop another would begin. Also, there were very large geckos that made an incredibly large noise; we thought for sure they were a bird until we got the details. On the island was also a bat cave with thousands of bats flying around. We understand there is a good-sized python as well that likes to fill up on bats every four days: luckily he didn't join us in our room.
Yesterday evening we went out in the owners yacht to visit the neighboring island. The small island is owned by a friend of ours, Maggie, in Bacolod--so we call it Maggie's Island. It has a beautiful beach for swimming that we enjoyed along with drinks and snacks--we were constantly eating. Just before sunset we cruised off to the backside of Danjugan to enjoy the sun going down and jump off of the boat.
As always, I enjoyed the ride to and from the location. It was about a four hour drive filled with lush hills, sugar cane and rice fields, villages and towns. I took some picture out the window and often got the attention of the locals--they loved to wave and yell out "hey Joe"--I love seeing their smiles. So many people live with so little, but most seem to be happy with life.