Archive for the ‘Donsol’ Category

Kinunot—Bicol’s shark food & the way to environmental conservation

April 8, 2009

Bicolanos have a delicious way of cooking sharks.—fresh slices of the shark’s meat boiled with thick coconut milk, vinegar, chilies, and corns of black pepper. With a dash of salt, the native dish kinunot is accented with green pepper leaves or malunggay (Moringa.) They give the tropical cuisine its tasty flavor and smooth aroma when eaten with hot rice.

That’s what the fishermen of Donsol, Sorsogon did to a wayward rare megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios) caught recently in the coast of Burias Island, a wildlife haven of whale sharks (Butanding,) dolphins. and giant manta rays. The sea hunters were out to fish for the usual bounty of the sea, but what they got last March 30, 2009 was an astounding surprise.

According to the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF,) the huge shark was the only one so far found in Sorsogon-Masbate, a fascinating area located in southern tip of Luzon in the Philippines. Measuring 4 meters long and weighing about 500-kg, the impressive fish with blue-gray exterior could be the 41st of its kind reported in the world.

“The first specimen was caught off Oahu, Hawaii in 1976. So different was it from all other sharks that it necessitated the creation of an entirely new family and genus – prompting the scientific community to hail it as the 20th century’s most significant marine find – rivaling the rediscovery of the coelacanth in 1938,” —WWF. Philstar (04/07/09 Andraneda, K)

Evidently, many people of Bicol didn’t know the significance of their unexpected catch which unfortunately ended up in the cooking pan. Kinunot is tasty and very nutritious. Other than being food in the dinner table, conservationists however were quick to educate the townspeople of megamouth shark’s bigger importance.

The WWF are working with Sorsogon and Masbate to protect the habitat of the endangered sharks and other precious treasures of the sea. At the same time the evnironmental group helps in developing eco-tourism which which is friendly to the animals and brings livelihood to the residents of the area.(Photo Credit: WWF/ Philstar) =0=


More of Andy’s Whaleshark (Butanding)

September 15, 2008

About this time of the year till December to May, the Butandings (Rhicodon typus,) the huge whale sharks come around to their usual haunts in Bicol in the farthest tip of Luzon Island in the Philippines. Many sightings of these gentle creatures which can grow to about 15 to 40 feet are in Sorsogon Province particularly in towns of Donsol, Pilar, Castilla, Magallanes, but may occasionally be encountered in the neighboring seas like in Camarines Sur, Albay and as far as Bohol in the Visayas and parts of Mindanao.

Harmlessly docile and friendly, the butandings allow people to go near and swim with them. With characteristic white spots (reminiscent of leopards,) on their gray-blue bodies, they quietly feed on minute planktons and krill abundant in the area at certain times of the year.

Supervised tours to see this giant wonders of the sea are available in the area. For more information, check the PDOT web site at, call (63) 52 435-0085 or e-mail The Donsol Tourism Office in Dancalan headed by Salvador Adrao Jr. can also be contacted (0927) 233-0364. Snorkeling gears can be rented from the resorts.=0=

Encounter With Whaleshark (Butanding) at Pasacao, Camarines Sur

September 14, 2008

As Featured On Ezine Articles Last weekend, I joined a medical mission in Tinalmud, Pasacao, Camarines Sur, a far barangay reachable only by boat travel through the Ragay Gulf, along the coast of the Bicol Peninsula. Aside from a welcome break from almost 24/7 Internet works, the occasion also gifted me with the rare chance to personally confirm that whalesharks (Butanding), considered “gift from God” by the people of Donsol Sorsogon, now also inhabit the coastal waters of Pasacao Camarines Sur.

Very few people in the world have had the chance to encounter these lovable, awe-inspiring giants. So I am proud to be just one point short of the career record of the great sea explorer, Jacques Cousteau, who had admitted having encountered a whaleshark only twice in his lifetime.

We left Pasacao port at 7:30 A.M. and reached Tinalmud at almost 10:00 AM. It was a sunny day but the waves were huge and we were traveling one kilometer away from the shore. Midway through the ride, the worried leader of our military escorts, Lt. Alcala, asked us to put on our life vests. At this point, I felt some regrets that I had to bring with me my video cam and laptop; I did not like to leave them in my car, which was parked at Pasacao port.

The waves were even more gigantic on our return trip by mid-afternoon, Few minutes on the way home, I asked an even more worried-looking Lt. Alcala if he was considering going back and wait for the morning the next day when the waves would be more tolerable. No, our navigator (a commissioned soldier from Catanduanes) is an expert, he assured me. He asked us however to sit very close to the floor of the banca.

So out we go, no turning back. I prepared my mind to losing my hand-carried favorite gadgets, in case we had to swim to shore if the boat capsized. For almost an hour, everyone simply watched the big waves in silence, feeling the motorized banca getting skillfully maneuvered through rushes of big waves after waves.

Then from the back of the boat came excited voices,”May butanding.” There it was indeed, a whaleshark, the size of a bantam car and looking every bit like the wonder I see only in photos and videos, traveling with us side by side. It was so close, just a couple of feet away from the right outrigger. If the whaleshark just touched the boat, it could tip, throwing us all into the open sea. I aimed my video camera in the direction of the whaleshark but it suddenly disappeared. Moments later it reappeared fleetingly 10 meters away still traveling with us. The soldier behind me said,”Ginagabayan tayo (It is guiding/protecting us).”

The whaleshark appeared for the last time around 100 meters ahead of us, playfully floating with the huge waves. For a fleeting moment it faced us and vanished as a splash.

This creature could be telling us, “This is my domain and you are welcome.”

It could as well be wishing us “Von Voyage.” We arrived at Pasacao port two rough hours later. And safe on shore, only then could I say thank you.

Tinalmud, Pasacao Google Map