I still distinctly remember the rally that was formed around the stage at Luneta Park. It was about 2 hours before dusk when we decided to check out how many people had gathered for the rally so far. There was a crowd of thousands who were either standing or sitting as groups on the side, and, as we followed their gaze, we saw a group of people standing on the stage talking about how we cannot go through martial law again.
I agree, don’t you?
To fully understand why these people put up the courage, action, and passion to stand up on stage and speak to thousands of people watching, we should go a few decades back.
President Ferdinand Marcos, who was elected in 1965, made the decision and declared martial law on September 21, 1972.
Martial Law was removed in 1981.
As we look up, we notice that the time from when martial law began and the time to when it (finally) stopped is 9 years. Can you imagine nine years of suffering? NINE FLAT YEARS. To even fully understand it more to what their suffering means here are the horrible things they underwent:
Here’s the thing, instead of using their brains to solve “world peace” or to slowly diminish famine around the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos (and whoever else devised these ways of torture) just, you know, used their brain powers to construct cruel and unnecessary devices and ways to hurt people and torture them till they die.
(WARNING: The following illustrations may be graphic to some readers. Kindly view at your own discretion.)
Electric shock – Electric wires are attached to the victim’s fingers, arms, head and in some cases, genitalia.
San Juanico Bridge – The victim lies between two beds and if his/her body falls, he/she will be beaten.
Truth serum – An injection administered in hospitals and used for interrogation, making a victim “talk drunkenly.”
Russian roulette – Loading a bullet into one chamber of a revolver, spinning the cylinder, and then forcing the victim to pull the trigger while pointing the gun at his/her own head.
Beating – Victim is beaten by a group of soldiers.
Pistol-whipping – The victim is beaten with a rifle butt.
Water cure – Water is forced through the victim’s mouth and then forced out by beating.
Strangulation – Constriction of the victim’s neck done by hand, electric wire, or steel bar.
Cigar and flat iron burns – Victims of torture are inflicted with burns using cigarettes, and even a flat iron.
Pepper torture – A “concentrated pepper substance” is put on the victim’s lips or rubbed on his/her genitalia.
Animal treatment –The victim is shackled, caged, treated, and fed like an animal.
It’s too much. Thousands were brought unto this dreadful times and even some described it as “worse than death”. Nobody, not one single human being, deserves this kind of treatment. So say it with me!! Never Again, Never Again, Never Again to Martial Law!!!!
Going back to what happened at the rally:
As night fell, the rain seemed to follow along with some thunder. But the crowd never faltered. Barely anyone was leaving. We even spotted six people all huddled together under one single umbrella still having their laser focus on the speakers at the stage. The energy was great. And, with every second passing, with every trickle of rain streaming down someone’s umbrella, with every roar of thunder, the crowd just kept growing with the excitement with the feeling of victory and teamwork. Even though no one really knew each other except for their friends or family that they had with them, there was a split second when everyone joined in for the shouting of freedom (“NEVER AGAIN TO MARTIAL LAW”) and singing (Do you hear the people sing?) that I saw the closeness and the bravery of each and every one. It was an awesome night and it truly changed my perspective of how I saw martial law.
Our third day begins with some Longganisa and eggs. Excited, we left to the mangrove eco – park. One of the men, Denise, who works at the park called us. We went to him and he pointed to a bucket and told us he caught two mud – lobsters. Ate Aga picked it up, but we only saw one mud – lobster. We told him there was only one, then he said that the other men ate it. I was shocked, but after, he said it might have just been a crab. So, which really ate it? I guess we had to accept it. It affect us that much.
Denise showed us another passage to enter the starting of the park because there will be a wedding. The wedding was starting in the afternoon but we have to be prepared. We can’t just walk through a wedding all muddy and stinky.
Unfortunately, when we checked our traps nothing popped up. We left the traps behind and went to our first station. The first two mounds we dug with our hands and when we used the shovel, it kinda went terribly wrong because the mounds got clogged. The third one was going alright and deep but high tide was coming. A few minutes after, we started to pack up. Luckily, we hung our bags on a branch. The water was already on our knees. You could see some worms and other weird bugs floating around already.
We trudged under the bridge and through the mud where we could hear the music from the wedding. And, today we learned many different things from the local people who work in the park. They told us how they cut down the nipa and sell them for about 300 PHP per sack. It’s exciting learning about their culture here and because they stay here every day they know a lot of things about mangroves and mud lobster and other wildlife.
It’s beautiful how they take care of the land so much. They know how to find the right food. But, we need to make more people aware. And, not just aware but also care about these mangroves. Are you in?
We went back to the park to check out our traps and the mangroves. This time, we came at 8:00 am. The sun was shining through the trees and the birds were chirping beautifully. We arrived at our trap site.
Did we catch any?
From afar we could see the trap was touched by something. The trap was deactivated, but by what? We walked down the muddy stairs and to the traps. One was under a bridge and the other was near the oldest tree. We got both the traps and checked them. We were able to peek through a small hole which was created for inserting the paddle. We saw a claw and an antenna. It was possible that it was just a crab, but I guess we’ll find out soon.
We slowly lifted the opening for the creature to get out. On the other end of the trap, we put a container to catch it. We didn’t know exactly how the attitude of this animal was. We prepared to catch it as a mix of excitement and curiosity took over. We surrounded our trap and waited patiently. Silence filled the air. You could probably hear a leaf fall from a mile away.
But, fortunately for us, slowly it came out. It meaning the mud – lobster. We closed the lid of the cylindrical container. The mud – lobster pushed the cover and was trying to claw its way up. Very intelligent animals, indeed. It stopped moving when I ventured toward the container it was in. I put a small stick in front of its face to see what it would do. It didn’t move but after a few seconds, it loudly tried to clamp it with both its claws.
After capturing the mud – lobsters we went back to our second plot. We measured the starting of the plot and went further inland. We noticed there were a lot of Nypas on one of the mounds. We studied how the other mounds were surrounded by other kinds of plants. We were trying to measure the other mounds on the other side but it was covered with Acanthuses and Nypa Fruticans. After measuring all the mounds visible, we went back to the old tree.
Since we found some interesting things happening on this small piece of an island with the tree, we decided to make a plot there. The circumference of the whole island was 18 M 77. We wanted to look at the mud – lobster better so we decided to let it go for awhile. Scared it would run, we tied a small piece of string to its body creating a leash. It looked pretty funny, leashing a lobster. After realizing they are actually very, very slow we just unleashed them. We barricaded their surroundings with small logs and pieces of stick we found lying around, even an old boot. The biggest mud – lobster kept escaping and trying to get into one of the holes. They both stopped moving so we put them back into their containers.
We decided the best idea was to set up the traps in the same mound to check if more than one lobster lived in it. After setting up the traps, and nearly catching some mudskippers, we rested on top of one of the open bridges. This bridge wasn’t completely finished so the sides had no railings yet. We spotted a medium-sized jellyfish that got itself tangled up in the vines. It was beautiful and after few minutes untangled. The cool breeze was passing as I stared through the binoculars. I could barely make out the sweet songs of the birds anymore. The sun started to fall and the night was filled with partying crickets.
It’s been two hours since we left the trap and made a decision to check them out. We steadily made out our way with some flashlights. The ants started to appear everywhere, we could barely touch the railings for support. There was this one time when we found five ants all tearing up one ant. It was crazy. We did our nocturnal prospection for maybe 45 minutes. We went back and forth quietly trying to spot some mud – lobsters burrowing away. On our way out we closed all our lights and stared into the sky. All the stars were out, and the moon was like a shimmering diamond. We told each other stories and left back to go home.
We’ve finished freshening up and we were just laying around studying. We could see the flashes of lightning through our window. There was no after sound with the lightning in a long time. The silence in the air was occupied by the sound of the aircon. All of a sudden a loud boom came screaming through my ears. I jumped, accidentally pulling off my earphones with it. We all looked at each other, surprised. The ground shook for me, it felt so close by. It was past 9:00 pm so we decided to sleep already.
So, here we go. We are about to dive into this adventure I took a while back. Get ready!!
Circa: JUNE 6, 2016
Arrival at Ibajay, Panay
Our journey finally begins as we arrived in Ibajay, Panay at 6:00 pm. Me, Kuya Garrett and ate Aga went to our room and cleaned up our baggage. After preparing our backpacks with some of the survival and mangrove equipment needs such as :
First Aid Kit
Old newspapers (for press drying the leaves from Mangroves)
we ate our dinner and hit the snooze button.
Start of our field work
Around 5:00 am we ate our breakfast and headed straight to the Ibajay Mangrove Eco – Park where we waited for our guide. There were a lot of different kinds of mangroves it was sometimes difficult to tell apart. You really needed to check the bark, leaves, texture, color, fruits, and flowers. We would even use our newspapers to dry and identify them while we had our guide around. While walking through the park I found a few of the 28 kinds of trees :
1. Avicennia Alba / Marina / Officinalis / Rumphiana
5. Acanthus Ebracteate / ilicifolius / Volubilis
6. Aegiceras corniculatum
7. Bruguiera Parviflora
8. Ceriops Decandra / Tagal
9. Pemphis Acidula
10. S. Alba / Caseolaris
11. Xylocarpus Granatum / Moluccensis
12. And exploring more…
We went deeper into the park and went to explore the ground and get our hands dirty. We started to plot ten by ten meters square for our stations. Each station we would measure how big the mounds were, the circumference and the height. We have now created two stations and are planning on hitting 5 stations. Each side of the square we would use an app, altimeter, to find out the coordinates and the degrees. Measuring the plot would, sometimes, get us stabbed by the Acanthus Ebracteate, This plant was very sharp and you can find almost everywhere around or on top of the mound.
Mounds and Mud – lobsters
Mounds are like big lumps of soil which are made by mud – lobsters. You can find these mounds almost everywhere near the mangrove trees or the saline environment. The biggest mound we’ve measured had a circumference of 14 meters, which was pretty large.
Some of the mounds are all clumped together, we called these condos. When we open up these ‘condos’ there would be dozens of holes leading somewhere deep. We couldn’t even reach the bottom, the mud – lobsters are really good at making mounds. The mud – lobsters use their claws to burrow a mound. They are called engineers sometimes. When mounds are created it also helps the soil. People usually see these mounds as useless lumps on the ground, but actually, it provides homes for special snakes, ants, crabs, spiders and other animals. Mud – lobsters are very timid and nocturnal creatures so it is low probability to see one.
On the second plot, we started to hear some thunder. We hurried up our business before everything started to pour. We didn’t have time to measure any mounds because the hard rain started. We ran up the stairs to the nipa hut where we ate some snacks. Our research did say that the mud – lobster come out when it’s raining so me and ate Aga went to look at some of the mounds.
The rain somehow changed the color of the river to blue. Awhile ago it was murky green now it was just light clear blue. I wanted to get a sample but I didn’t find time to get any. We didn’t know why it changed the color. We were thinking maybe when the fresh water and the salt water mixed it did some things and changed color? I still need to research on that
We came up with an idea to conduct an experiment and see if the mud lobsters repair their damaged homes. We started to shovel up open the tunnels from the mounds which were really deep. We never reached the bottom but opened up everything. The next spot we dug up was near the biggest in width tree which was a 750-year-old Avicenna Rumphiana.
We all decided to check our second station and start doing our measurement again. Everything was covered with water, all the small plants. The water was so high up our knees we couldn’t find the path we were in awhile ago. We decided to do our studies of our second plot in a few hours.
While waiting for the tide to lower down a notch we swam in the beach. Not one single fish did I see. The water we swam in was clear. No corals. No fish. No seaweed. Nothing. We started to swim further from shore. There, in the middle of nowhere, a blue starfish with small spikes on top. We picked it up and I noticed one of its arms were missing. It must have been washed here by the tide. But, it was awesome that a starfish out of, so far, a clear sea just popped up here.
Setting up traps
After cleaning ourselves up we walked back to the eco – park. Finally, the tide calmed down and we could do more field work. We went to the spot where we opened a hole to see the progress. We raced back to the scene where we shoveled the mounds. Amazed, the mounds were covered with fresh mud. They say that this creature only does their work at night because they are nocturnal. This time, we planned to trap the mud – lobster with a snare trap. Luckily, we had a few which were made of bamboo. We put two snare traps in two holes which were in the area of the oldest mangrove.
A snare trap is bamboo contraption which was designed to lure in animals and trap them. This is the trap that was set up to catch them in the park.
While the others were setting up the snare trap, I and my brother looked for some fiddler crabs. The fiddler crabs (color: red, blue and gray) which were hiding under the soil were fast. We caught two each. One of them had a big claw and the others were spotty. We put them in a small plastic container to identify them later. Our guide said that the light red one was the female, while the fiddler with the large claw was a male. The crabs with the one big claw are the ones who fight for the female and gain their territories. If you stay quite and watch carefully you could find two crabs fight with their large claw. Their claw is the size of their body. While I held them captive I was watching what they would do when their just not bothered. The female crab was using its small claws to like scratch her eye.
There are about 100 species of the genus Uca. We have 5 in the mangrove park. I did identify it to be a genus Uca but not the exact species.
Our wake up call was thirty minutes earlier than our normal routine and we all started to prepare. My roommates and I changed quickly and then headed down to meet up with the others. As all the colored groups assembled, we headed out team by team into the limestone forest. We went our normal route to one of the beaches as we were getting hyped for the day.
Apparently, we were doing bird watching! It was a really fun adventure. Each team was handed three pages of different birds each. We spotted a few migratory birds in the distance which seemed to be lounging on top of a branch. As we walked near the end of the beach, we started to play these learning games. Before the answers were revealed, we were given chances to guess the answer to their questions about birds. This also helped teams to earn more points and really just have fun. A few of the questions asked were:”
Q: “How many species of birds are found on Danjugan Island?”
A: “72 species are found on the island”
Q: “Which bird sounds like a witch laughing?”
A: “Umm, Philippine Cuckoo Dove?”
Everyone was putting their ideas and asking their questions and really learning. As questions about which bird was this or that came up, everyone stared intently at their laminated papers of bird species. There was a time when one of the AL’s asked which birds had a yellow body and black tail me and another camper both screamed “BLACK-NAPED ORIOLE!”. Just in case you were wondering, the number of points earned for this question was 1000 and I couldn’t help but try. We got it correctly and I and the other camper split it into 500 each for our teams.
A bird that stuck to my mind as we went on with our interactive lesson was the bird called Olive-backed Sunbird. It was a small but beautiful bird. The male (olive-backed) Sunbird had a shiny bluish breast which was used to attract the female birds. Did you know that male birds are sometimes way more attractive compared to the female birds? An example of a certain type of bird compared with its opposite sex is the following:
[Disclaimer: I do NOT own these photos.]
The bird on the right is the male while the bird on the left is female. According to Scientific American, it was Charles Darwin who “developed much of the theory that helps explain this. He proposed that traits promoting survival in individuals are favored by the process of natural selection, whereas traits that help the individuals of just one sex (usually the males) compete for mates are favored by sexual selection. Sexual selection is responsible for many of the features unique to one sex in a given species. These features can be divided into two general categories: those acting as weapons that allow males to fight for access to females (antlers on deer, for example) and those acting as ornaments that attract the attention of females, such as long tails on birds”.
So long story short, some males have the different burst of colors and other features to use as weapons against other males to access female birds and attract female birds to mate.
Another activity we did was identify different species of birds according to their sound! As the AL grabbed her phone out and started to play a bird sound, the beach seemed to hush as all the campers huddled around trying to remember what kind of bird it was. This was fairly hard as we’ve gotten a few birds mixed up. I forgot to mention, but last night, we were also learning the bird sounds and which bird it matched to. Another thing we learned was the anatomy of a bird.
After we finished spotting birds and trying to name them as they swooped by us, we headed back to the camp to enjoy some breakfast.
7:30 – 9:00 am
After eating our breakfast, we all just relaxed for about 15 minutes as we played some board games and talked about we learned and other things.
We then started our lecture about Climate Change and Renewable Energy. Did you know that in 2015, it was recorded as the hottest year? Did you know that 2016 is recorded as the hottest year in history? And, did you know that 2017 is set to be the hottest year next? You’ve probably heard it all. The climate change is getting worse. Our Ice Caps are melting. Our polar bears losing their homes. Beach fronts and other cities are starting to sink. Heat waves are taking people’s lives. This has been a major problem for a long time.
Did you know that the kids and plenty of other people and families have to wear a mask as they live their lives in Beijing? Below are pictures from an article written by Mashable where they wrote about Beijing such as:
When Sean Gallagher first visited Beijing in 2005, they simply called it “fog.”
The British photographer, who has lived in Asia for the past decade, noticed that very few people in Beijing truly considered the city’s notorious air pollution much of an issue.
That attitude shifted in 2006 when Beijing hosted the Summer Olympics and the city’s choking pollution became an issue in the Chinese press.
“It entered people’s consciousness, but wasn’t something people took action to protect themselves against,” Gallagher said.
Nine years later, they wear the mask.”…….
At least the Chinese government is taking this seriously and making changes like they “banned new coal-fired power plants in major cities” and China’s renewable energy is doing great.
Yes, this is just one of the many problems that are occurring. Another example is what is happening in India. There have been so many heat waves that have victimized thousands of people. In 2010, 1300 lives were gone. In 2013, 1500 lives were taken. In 2015, another heat wave came and took 2,500 lives more. Also, there are “tens of millions of Indian lives” that are in poverty which also puts about 1.3 billion people (a quarter of India’s population) who doesn’t have electricity and lives on less than $1.25 a day to have no air – conditioner (which is seen as middle-class luxury) and struggle in finding a way to survive through the terrible heat (Waldman).
Before continuing, I shared to the camp my own experience of the Yolanda Typhoon which some say was the effect of climate change. We had to barricade our windows as the wind kept hitting it and composing these loud shaky sounds which made us worry about our windows breaking. We also had to go through about 1 month of brown out which was hard as we took turns at night to fan each other and help exchange flashlights and candles to navigate our way through the house at night. One thing which I was utterly terrified about was our neighborhoods restaurant’s roof flew off. The roof was big and strong and destroyed a couple of houses just a couple blocks from our house. If you looked down when you go outside, you could see leaves or smithereens of rocks going around in small circles which just showed the directions the winds were moving, which seemed to be everywhere.
Other campers told their experiences as well. We then went on from the drastic changes the earth has gone through and climate changes and tipping points to renewable energy.
We all raised our hands as we tried guessing and explaining the different types of renewable energy and what we know about them. What is “Renewable Energy” or “Green Energy” you might ask. Well, it’s energy which is generated from natural sources such as the sun, the wind, water or hydro, the rain, the tides, and geothermal heat. The good thing about renewable energy compared to coal is that it won’t deplete or run out and (AND) it’s naturally replenished.
As you may have heard, there are already many different types of renewable energy such as:
Hydroelectric Energy (Energy from Water)
Biomass (Energy from Plants)
I feel that we all are competent to save our world and restoring it back to it’s healthier self. If we all and try to do our part even if it’s just a little (such as spreading the word or not littering) we could make a difference.
9:30 – 12:00
After learning more on climate change and renewable energy, each group was given a piece of manila paper and some crayons. We were going to draw down what we loved most or enjoy about mother nature. We put a line to divide the paper for four people in our group (just like everyone else). When we all finished our assignment, each group showed their drawing to their teammate. Each group was quietly explaining why we drew what we drew to each other. My idea was to draw a tree because I’ve grown up loving trees and walking through them in the quiet and beautiful forests. I also love how trees help to make air and have shelters for birds and other animals and look magnificent. Then, I added a saw next to a tree and the money sign. For the last requirement, I drew a sign that showed no plastic and no deforestation. All the other campers did an amazing job, too! Another camper from another group color drew a group of fish, cyanide, and trash (like plastic) being thrown in the water and then to protect these awesome creatures were MPA or MSA areas which are also known as Marine Protected (or Secured) Area.
After this, we were all then handed another sheet of Manila paper and told to draw a symbol. A symbol of mother nature. Or, just nature.
As everyone sat on their separate tables with their group, we all seemed to be thinking. Four minds for each group were just quite for like two minutes just wondering what would be a good idea.
Eventually, the cabana was filled with excited talk about what their project would be. In my team (the white group, YEAH!), we made up the idea to draw a big shield with trees, fish, animals, and even a mountain to fill some of the space up. Outside the shield, we put smoke, cyanide and other things that affect nature. When everyone else finished, each group was supposed to show the drawing that we made as a well as an explanation about it. As our turn came up, we had this small debate going on about who would talk about it. I immediately got the paper and held it up so that I would be the holder and not the speaker. Eventually, we coordinated into all speaking up a little. We told everyone we wanted these things inside the shield to be protected and everything outside to be stopped or lessened. Another camper from another group color actually told the ALs to give us some extra points because of the inspiration for the shield idea.
We refueled our minds with some snacks that they handed out like puto.
After this, we prepared for a little island exploration and ventured into the limestone forest.
12:30 – 5:00 pm
L. U. N. C. H. Party lunch!!! We were celebrating one of the campers birthdays! I was surprised haha. A cake came in and everyone started singing. After getting a slice and some spaghetti.
Before I tell you what happened next, I just need to say I was innocent. I was not the culprit and I don’t know how I got dragged into this. I was just sitting there with my cake eating and having a happy life when one of my friends smudged a cake on my face. I paused for awhile trying to understand the situation. I laughed before standing up and getting ready to get them back. Then, a few of my other friends targeted me and I just got them back. Hahaha. It was a good moment and time.
We were actually given a 2 hour “free time”. We had the choices to just hanging out with other, kayak, swim and others. A few campers chose to do some snorkeling and I decided to do some kayaking with some friends. An AL had to accompany us because of the recent spottings of boxed jellyfish. I rowed around the Morey lagoon looking at the bottom to find some urchins. We even saw some fire corals! I nearly bumped into a few things but eventually, I decided to go back to shore because the sun just wouldn’t stop heating us up.
After awhile, we may have regretted the decision in not joining the group of campers who recently left to snorkel. The first group which left used the boat to get to their destination. As we just sat on the beach wondering what to do, we saw a few campers with an AL who were about to swim somewhere. We asked if we could join them and they gladly waited for us. We quickly changed, got our snorkel and swam. We swam all the way to the boat. Then, we swam all the way to the other campers who were pretty far from the boat. They were surprised to see us but then we all started looking down into the deep ocean to look for some sea creatures.
We got so lucky!! There were about 20 big and long barracudas below us! It wasn’t that close don’t worry. It looked amazing they kept swimming back and forth all together. Did you know that it’s safer to be around barracudas when they are in a group rather when they are just alone? It’s because when a barracuda is alone, they feel more insecure and uneasy which makes them attack more easily when they get scared.
More minutes pass and I realized I was the only girl left in the water with the other guys and a few ALs. We took one last look at the barracudas and a few underwater shots and swam back to the boat.
5:00 – 6:30 pm
We sat down in the dining cabana as our swimming attire slowly dripped all its water out and eventually dried up. We did another lesson but this time on mangroves for about 30 minutes. FACTS:
Q: “Why are Mangroves important?”
A: Mangroves are home to small fish and crustaceans. And, did you know that they help in calming the waters when strong waves come in and also reduce the impact from tsunamis? They even help stop erosions from happening on the shoreline, too! Mangroves pretty much are our shield against tsunamis, storms and help save lives and properties. While doing all these things, mangroves also work as a home to different animals and provide wood, fruits, seafood, medicine, and fiber.
We learned more about how they help and how important they are.
Everyone went back to their cabanas to change or prepare to go to the beach because we were going to have an activity!
The first game they asked us a question “who’s good at running or who likes to run and tag?”. One of my friends raised her hand. This game was a demonstration of silt and soil. All the other campers were silt and the It (my friend who volunteered to be the tagger) was supposed to touch us. We were given a measured big space where were suppose to run to the other side without being tagged. If we were to be tagged, then we would have to stop at our place (not moving) and try to move our arms join the tagger (but in the place we got tagged). The only person who would get to run and the tag was the It. This game was so fun and we did the second round trying to implement a good strategy. We let everyone run first and while the It is distracted with the people who first ran, we would try to run all the way to the other side. Works like a charm.
The next activity we did was in the water. And, it had TEAMWORK in it. Wait, song intermission:
“What’s gonna work? Teammmmm Workkk!!!”
What’s gonna work? Teammm Work!!!”
To those who know where this is from, You’re AWESOME! But, to those who don’t know this song, You’re Still AWESOME!!
Now, getting back to what we did…. Each group went together and the tallest went to the back and the shortest at the front (which is me). We were only three because one of our teammates wasn’t feeling so good. While we were in the water, each group had to cling on to each other in a line with the legs and had to row using their arms. We did a few races and it was tiring but really enjoyable. A few more ecology games and we started to head back to the camp after a few sunset shot.
6:30 – 10:00 pm
We were all excited to finally have a (one bucket of water) shower! When we finished showering and changed into much more comfy clothes, we waited for dinner. Some of us were just resting in our cabanas, playing some guitar, singing and talking.
After some dinner, we closed all the lights and everyone quietly looked down at the lagoon. We spotted some Bioluminescent Algae! It was glowing. Every time a fish moved, it touched the algae and made it illuminate. These algae are widespread on the surface of the water and produce a blue and green light when moved or disturbed by motion, just what the fish was doing! They produce a flash of blue-green light whenever the water they are living in is disturbed by motion.
We had a long and amazing day which everyone enjoyed. I’m looking forward to tomorrow! We learned so much today 🙂
The independence day in the Philippines is on June 12. Well, to be exact, it was on June 12, 1898, when the Philippine Declaration of Independence was proclaimed.
Short History of How the Philippines Got its Independence Day
It was during the Spanish and American War when after 300 years under the Spanish rule when Emilio Aguinaldo led Filipino rebels to proclaim the independence of the Philippines. Unfortunately, this dream was washed away when the Philippines was formally “taken over” or annexed by the United States for their peace treaty with Spain.
It was around the late 19th century when the middle class and Filipino intellectuals started calling out for independence. Here’s a timeline of what happened to just make it more clear:
…… Late 16th Century
The Philippines was colonized by the Spanish
…… Late 19th Century
As I’ve mentioned above, “the middle class and Filipino intellectuals started calling out for independence”
…… In 1892
The Philippines capital located on the island of Luzon is known as Manila. And, a secret revolutionary society called the Katipunan was formed in Manila. Their abbreviation is usually KKK. Anti – Spanish Filipinos (in Manila) formed and founded this society. Their main aim was that through revolution they would gain independence from Spain. Memberships for this society rose high.
…… In 1896
Unfortunately, on August 1896, the Spanish found out the plans that the Katipunan society made to rebel and revolts started breaking out around and across Luzon.
…… In 1897
This part of the timeline was when Emilio Aguinaldo (still age 28) took charge and became the leader of the rebellion. Aguinaldo decided to negotiate an agreement with the Spanish when the revolutionaries were forced to flee (or were driven) to the hills southeast of Manila. The deal made with Aguinaldo and his fellow generals (which they accepted) was that they were to be exiled in Hong Kong. This helped to temporarily end the Philippine Revolution, fill in the gaps for financial compensation and a promise for the reform in the Philippines.
…… In April 1898
Here’s what happened. Spain’s brutal suppression of the rebellion happening in Cuba, the Spanish – American War broke out. So pretty much what happened during this part of the timeline was a war breaking out.
…… On May 1, 1898
In Manila Bay (still in the Philippines) the U.S. had a victory annihilating the Spanish Pacific fleet.
…… On May 19, 1898
Although the Americans may have won the battle in Manila Bay, there was still an ongoing fight. Aguinaldo made an arrangement with U.S. authorities to be sent back to the Philippines and to help in the war against Spain. It was on May 19 when he landed, rallied his revolutionaries and started to liberate towns south of Manila.
…… On June 12
V. I. C. T. O. R. Y.
This day was finally the day when Aguinaldo proclaimed the Philippines independence and established a provincial government. After this, he was made the head.
…… Timeline done.
So that’s what happened. That’s how we got our Philippine Independence day. But there’s a longer story to this and how it connects to our July 4 commemoration held annually in the Philippines which we call Filipino-American Friendship Day. Let’s just say that there was still a bit of battle left between
What Normally Happens in Independence Day?
Government offices are closed. No classes in all schools. Absolutely no classes at all. Business establishments (a great amount at least) except for shopping centers are closed, too. Limited routes for transportation such as buses, jeeps, and tricycles because of the closure of streets that are being used for the parades.
Many people (which includes students, employees and government officials) come and join the nationwide parade. There is also the police and military parade (which is known for it to be the main highlight of independence day) which is headed by the president followed by a speech and a 21 – gun salute. A lot of people also spend their time in parks and malls.
Other Places that have been Liberated and have Independence Day
Some places that got their Independence Day
Actually, the three places that I’ve written down above all go their independence day from United Kingdom. And, while there are 120+ places that celebrate independence day, I’ll stop for now.
It’s suppose to be 16 days!!
In 1994, as ordered by President Fidel V. Ramos in his Executive Order No. 179, the Independence Day is to be celebrated for 16 days, starting from May 28 up to June 12. Through this decree, the period was designated as flag days, during which all offices, agencies and instrumentalities of government, business establishments, institutions of learning and private homes are enjoined to display the flag. It was also in his term, on 12 June 1998, that the nation celebrated its centennial — the hundredth year of independence from Spain.
That would be really cool if people would celebrate their independence for 16 days! What’s your input on this?
About the Philippine Flag…
Did you know that the Philippines flag was made in Hong Kong with the design that Aguinaldo sent? The flag was made by Marvela Marino de Agoncillo with some help from her daughter Lorenza and Delfina Herbosa de Natividad which is the niece of Jose Rizal. More information about the Philippines flag is that it was first used on May 28, 1989 and not on June 12, 1898 (independence day).
Before I end this, let me just share with you guys what my view of what independence really is. Independence translates to be free. Independence is to not having to answer to someone else and being able to depend on yourself. Another word to describe Independence is the word CHOICE. We celebrate independence day because in the house of Emilio Aguinaldo in Cavite II el Viejo (present-day Kawit, Cavite), we proclaimed our country to be free and independent from the Spanish rule.
As we rode the car, our driver told us about the places we were passing. As we headed toward our destination, we passed by big big big big lands of sugar canes. It went from baby sugar canes to teen sugar canes to adult sugar canes. When we neared the mountain area, we arrived at MAMBUKAL.
We were greeted by the sweet chirps of different birds and the warm sunlight as we jumped out of our car. After writing down our names and paying the fee of 20 pesos each, we made a decision within 2 minutes whether or not we should walk around or ride the car. We looked at the map of the whole place it seemed fairly large. But the majority of walking won and we started our adventure on foot. Plus, I wanted to get my steps to 10,000 everyday :D.
I took a photo of the map and stayed at the front for navigation. Good thing for the big trees we weren’t being cooked by the sun. We kept walking until we reached the Boating Lagoon. On our left, we saw the butterfly sanctuary and a CAUTION! sign that said “BOILING MUD AREA…… DO. NOT. GO. BEYOND. THIS. POINT.” To be honest, there were no periods after every word, I just wanted to make it more dramatic. But just saying we didn’t see any boiling mud anywhere.
Anyways, we continued path through this bridge. Before I continue, I just want to mention a little fellah that we met along the way which I call Billy and he’s a brown dog which kept us company and followed us a long way.
We then climbed up this (not so) steep mountain while eating apples to keep us going. I took a glimpse at our map and saw that we were passing by the Family Cottages. After just taking a few more steps, we saw the Hot Sulfur Spring. We decided to check it out for awhile. The water was too low for us to swim but if you looked closely, you would notice the water was boiling in some of the areas. We left this place and noticed some more signs of Hot Boiling Mud followed by nothing we found.
When we finally reached the falls our main destination, we bought some corn first. As we walked up the stairs to sign our names, we were stopped because my sisters were too young and weren’t allowed to go to the falls. One of the men told us that we could take a route to see the seven falls at the top. We said, “sure we could try that”. We called our car which compared to how long we walked came pretty quick. One of the guides rode at the back as he told us our directions on where to go. We exited Mambuka and took this route. It was terrible, they said that it would be fast. The road seemed endless. And, it became more and more steep and rocky. He only told us that it would take about 30 minutes to go up. This was very inconvenient for us because we thought it was going to be quick, we had young children with us, we had other places to go to soon and the road was dangerous and we had no space to turn around. We had no choice but to venture forward. Another thing that came our way was when we thought we arrived at the seven falls thing, he told us that we still had 15 minutes of walking left! We canceled the whole thing and turned around. It was too dangerous especially since we had small kids with us. So, if you have kids and you aren’t prepared for a rocky path I don’t suggest going this way at all. Just don’t go this way because it’s very inconvenient and time-consuming. We dropped our guide of when we reached the bottom and paid him 100 pesos.
This is one of the sites that we passed by. Our driver explained that it was really famous in Bacolod and that how it worked was that two people would bring their roosters and let them fight. This Cockfight is actually a blood sport between two cocks which was first witnessed and documented by Antonio Pigaffeta (Mangellan’s chroniclers) in the Philippines in 1951. Also, there were some cockfights that happened in London too!
Finally, we got to eat! We decided to eat at Jollibee at the Burgos Street. When we told the lady at the counter that we wanted chicken, we received very surprising news. She told us it was going to take 40 minutes (40!!) for our order! We canceled because 40 minutes is just too much! Our driver then suggested this place called Maskkara. We entered the airconditioned room and ordered some Chicken inasal and barbecue. It tasted delicious!
As we rode up and paid an entrance fee to Campuestohan, it looked so fun! There were different pools, different kinds of zip lining, ice cream, restaurants, a big shoe, Anchors away or Vikings as you may call it and many other activities. Remember this, when you are going to zip line, you will need an adult older than 18 to sign a wwaiverto allow you to do it. Anyways, we did Vikings which is a boat that sways on both sides and you get that weird tummy feeling. It’s really fun. It’s also 30 pesos each. Also, if you are planning to do the zip line you might have to wait for awhile because they have very little equipment so when a person zip lines to one side, they have to bring it back. Anyways, we did a load of activities before being pooped and decided to head back to the car.
A castle like building appeared in our view as the fog (there’s wasn’t any fog but just pretend, okay?) started to clear. It wasn’t built and the walls made of concrete to be darkened by old age perphaps? We’ll get to the story soon.
The Real Story:
A Japanese man built this big mansion because he was making a headquarters in the Philippines. This mansion had the most finest furnitures, chinawares, and decorative items. But, the guerilla fighters of the Philippines didn’t liked the idea of the headquarters and burnt it down. All the wood components of the house was burnt and it became ruined. The End.
There was this rich man who decided to make a very grand mansion for the people of the world with his wife. They even made a grand garden for anyone who wanted fresh fruit and vegetables. But, one day ninjas was envious of this rich man because…. because… umm… because they were envious! And, one day they decided to burn it down and steal all the treasures inside. When the ninjas looked for the rich man and his wife and child, they couldn’t find them until now. The end.
My Mom’s Story:
There was this rich man from England who was making a beautiful mansion with his wife. They were staying at a small hut when they suddenly died and the construction never finished. The End.
Okay, to be honest, it was really hot in the cabana. You would think that when you got to higher grounds (like in the cabana) it would be cooler, nope. Just prepare yourself for the heat. One of my roommates actually brought a small hand fan which kept breaking down. But anyways, we were able to laugh through it and keep ourselves distracted from the heat. Also, don’t move too much, it helps.
The time I woke up was around 3 am, to the sound of my roommates talking about something. Something. I sat up still half asleep as I look around…….. still so dark.
“What’s happening?”, I asked. Apparently, there was a big forest rat that came into our cabana. The reason you may have guessed already. The chips we left overnight.
By the time I head about the situation I was fully awake I couldn’t go back to sleep after knowing what just happened. It was only me and my 3 other roommates. We kept each other company with singing and deciding what should we do with the plastic bag (full of chips). We all made the choice to deal with the bag when it got brighter outside.
It was a good thing time quickly passed as we had fun. The sun came up eventually. We were the first ones awake and we decided to go down. It was beautiful. Even though the sun wasn’t in our view, orange and pink were blended and reflected on the ocean. We all sat on the rocks, taking some photos and just talking.
By 6:00 am we went back to the cabana changed into something more suitable for the day and poked the bag. DUN DUN DUN. Unfortunately, the rat actually ripped open a bag of chips (Cheetos) and ate some. Do you want to know the cycle of food to snakes? Here it goes:
Food in the Cabana summons the cockroaches.
Forest Rats come in and eat the cockroaches or the food
Snakes come in to eat the rats
We were lucky we didn’t encounter any snakes. But, last year, a snake did come into the cabana because of food. So, remember, NO FOOD IN THE CABANA. Unless you have a container to store it properly.
Anyways that all happened in the morning, it was such a rollercoaster.
Now here goes our schedule of the day…..
6:30 – 7:00 am
We made our way, team by team to the bat cave. We passed the same route as last time except we made a different turn. When we arrived, the bats were loud and flying around the cave looking for a place to sleep.
In case you were wondering, the type of forest that we were in is called a Limestone Forest which harbor caves. It was amazing was we learned as we stood in front of the thousands of bats.
Do you know what echolocation is? This is what bats use to see, especially in total darkness. Echolocation works when a bat shouts and that sound that they produce bounces of the objects ahead of them which gives them information about what they will be getting into. Also, another cool thing is that unlike most birds which make nests which just twigs and straws and others, bats use their saliva!
7:30 – 9:30 am
We all headed back to the camp where we went straight to the dining area. As we filled our plates, we looked down at the mangrove roots where we saw moray eels! There were about 5 of them just slowly swimming around in circles. They looked so calm. I sat down at the table with a group of friends as we talked about the bats we saw.
After we finished our breakfast and cleaning up our plates, we sat back down at the dining area and listened for further details about what our plan for the day was. We all headed outside for a bit while we did some community building. We did a few games and had so much fun!
After awhile, we were handed these manual/workbooks. As I peered inside the book, I noticed, aside from the quizzes, there was loads information about the island, different ecosystems, birds, fishes, coral and way more. Very interesting. I took my seat as well as my other campers and we started a lecture on basic biology and the identification of corals and their cousins. We were taught by Julia Herbolsheimer, a german scientist, who was very enthusiastic about what she taught.
Before we started, we were all told that we would be given a group test at the end. I grabbed my pen and went to the back of the booklet that they handed me where I started to jot down notes.
Maybe after 30 minutes everyone slowly started feeling sleepy. The lecture, on the other hand, was very interesting to all of us but I guess just us sitting there and the breeze coming in every now and then sent this sleepy vibe. When the AL’s and camp directors started to notice this, they didn’t hesitate to snap us out of the current (sleepy) mood. The AL (not the AL of my group but another group) teaching us about corals and fish paused the lecture for awhile. We all stood up as we did this kind of pass around dance which jolted everyone to wake up. We were still laughing as we sat down to continue. Our mind was ready to learn more and the laziness was gone.
When the lecture finished, each group, including mine, grabbed a table and four chairs. Me and my group all huddled around while we answered some of the questions on coral reefs together. I have a question for you… What are corals? An animal? A rock? A plant? Think for awhile. Here goes the answer….. it’s all! Amazing, isn’t it?! Also, did you know that corals are cousins with jellyfish? Yeah, pretty cool. Here’s the explanation: There is tiny, soft – bodied organism related to jellyfish and sea anemone called coral polyps. Millions of polyp colonies come together and form coral reefs. And maybe (just maybe) you are wondering “how are some corals hard if what they are made of are soft – bodied?” well I have your answer. It is because once these polyps form together, they secrete calcium carbonate which helps to form their hard skeleton. We also learned about the 7 major life forms of a coral such as:
Massive (brain coral)
10:00 – 12:30
After cleaning up our tables, we were told to prepare to snorkel. I went to my Cabana and changed into swimming clothes. I slipped on a rash guard before heading back down to get my snorkel. We didn’t walk this time but we took the boat to this snorkeling area. We looked down as the boat drove to our destination. The water was so clear and blue. You could see the sea floor filled with corals and fish.
Here’s a trick that I learned from the camp, if you want to prevent your scuba mask from fogging, you should spit it in, rub it around a little and wash it out. At first, I might have refused to try it because I thought that we weren’t going to wash out the spit (and I was a little disgusted just a little because I didn’t want to smell the food I recently ate while swimming) but when I found out what to do, I made the decision to test it. It works! I tried it :D. If ever you want to research more on this, you could check Leisure Pros. But you could also use toothpaste. There are also various solutions sold that you could apply on the mask to stop it from fogging but they don’t suggest using this because it might spread chemicals into the ocean and it might affect life underwater unless it’s like all natural or something. Also, why not use spit? Try it some time.
Anyways, when we went off the boat, our assignment was to draw 4 different types of coral life forms that we learned earlier. Our group (as I mentioned earlier each group has 4 people) was split into twos as we swam around and looked for corals to draw. Oh! I forgot to mention…. earlier we were given a dive slate and one pencil for two to share, this is where we are supposed to draw our corals. I swam around with my partner as we looked for some corals. We put our face underwater as we started to draw. All the other groups also started the activity. I was able to draw a branching, foliose and mushroom coral. When I labeled it, I dropped the slate and my life vest back on the boat and just started swimming around admiring the fish and other sea life. BTW, don’t leave your partner. It’s always better to stick together (heh, that rhymes).
We headed back to the camp to eat lunch. When we finished eating, we were given a 30 – minute break of free time. It was so fun. We talked, played cards and relaxed in the dining area.
1:00 – 3:00 pm
When our break ended, one of the ALs told us to do a hand roll on how active we still felt. 5 meaning we were so active that we felt we could swim the whole island and 1 meaning I can’t move anymore. 3…. 2… 1.. All of our hands released. Some were 5, 4 and 2. This hand roll was used a lot of times a day to just check up on ourselves and our fellow campers. Sometimes we used it on how hungry or happy we were.
We then started our next lessons on reef fishes. Sometimes before we learned about a new thing on the reef fishes, we would be asked a question about it. In the camp, we were given the power of choice. We chose whether or not answer. I found the power of choice to be excellent. Normally, I would try to sit at the back of the class (trying to camouflage myself with the crowd) when we were doing lessons or something like that because I was shy for the teacher or someone to point to me and ask me to answer. But because the camp implemented power of choice, I was able to sit at the front and eventually I wanted to raise my hand and (make a choice to) try to answer even if I got it wrong because the community and the camp made me feel comfortable to actually speak out.
Anyways, onto the reef fishes. We learned about many different fishes that we could find if we looked properly. We also learned about the 3 classes of fish including:
Chondrichthyes (A.K.A Elasmobranchs)
Largest fish group
Found in marine/freshwater
Aside from this, we did a bit of fish anatomy. It was very interesting because there are many (very) similar fishes that you could mistakenly take as the same because you might have missed a small detail (even the difference of how they swim counts). Also, we learned the dangerous fishes, like rockfishes, that blend into their surroundings which can poison someone if provoked or stepped on. Also, I found how fish can be really sneaky when they mimic other fishes. For example, there are these small black and blue stripped fish called cleaner wrasse, other fishes allow these wrasses to venture into their mouth and actually let them clean it but another fish called the Fang Blenny looks nearly the same but instead of cleaning eats the skin and flesh of other fishes. Because the Fang Blenny has some of the same characteristics as the cleaner wrasse like the shape and color, other unknowing fish victims allow the Blenny to go close to them only to be bitten and lose a bit of flesh. That’s how the Fang Blenny takes advantage of mimicry. Evil.
Before we took another test, we were learning about the different signs to do when we are underwater to let other snorkelers know what fish they see. We wouldn’t want to be screaming “grouper!!!” to let others know, we might scare the fish away! Actually, we made some signs up, it was really fun. For example, when you see a barracuda, you could signal a fellow snorkeler and cover your ears. Because if you are wearing earrings underwater, barracudas get attracted to shiny things (because they mistake it for small fish shimmering from the sun while swimming). Or, if you see a grouper you could use you could pout because groupers look like they are frowning.
Next!! We did another test. This time, all we had to do was list down the name of the fish that we saw on the screen. About 15 different fishes flashed to the screen (not all at once) and everyone tried thinking about what fish it was. We looked at the details and I really enjoyed how we were doing teamwork with my group as each fish showed. One of the questions that we were able to ask was “how did it swim?”. That one clue helped most to answer a lot of questions.
I found the surgeon fish to be really scary because they have a sharp tip at the bottom of their body near their tail which is as sharp as a surgeon’s knife (that’s where they got the name). My favorite fish was the unicorn fish because UNICORNS but they also are related to surgeonfishes and when they fight (even though they aren’t normally aggresive) they don’t use their horns (even though that would look really cool) but their scalpel located near their tail.
After our test, we headed to another snorkeling area. Our next task was to draw 3 different fish each. The groups spread around while we looked for some fishes. There were pretty much fish everywhere. I got really excited when I saw a lionfish (even though they could be really dangerous) because honestly, I’ve only seen them in movies. It was still a baby and it seemed to just stay in its place which made it easy for me to draw it. When I finished (my masterpiece), I silently thanked the fish and resurfaced near the boat. As I swam beside the other campers, we saw various sizes and colors of fish. I didn’t want to leave, it was paradise.
4:00 pm onwards
We all left on the boat when we finished drawing our fishes and swimming around a bit. I thought we were going back to the camp but we seemed to take a different turn. The sun was still up and as we headed towards our next destination, I saw it. It was a small sandy island. We jumped off the boat and swam around. We took pictures and splashed around in the water. All the campers (around 25), ALs and the camp directors were there too! We even played a game! This is what happened…. we were put in a situation where, for example, someone was far away and drowning. Our setting was at a beach full of people. What the lifeguard would sometimes ask was for people around the beach to form a line and wrap their arms together. You’ll understand it better with the picture. Anyways, the other had to be the taller people at the land side while the smaller people on the water side. Now, the last person had to be a “good swimmer”. I was at the end (not that I was the smallest, I wasn’t) and I was given the assignment to grab the person drowning.
After taking a few sunset pictures, we headed back.
6:00 pm onwards
After filling up our bucket, we took a shower, still in our bathing suit. We found it easier to share one bucket then get another if needed. Everyone was so happy to finally take a shower. After me and the rest of the girls in my cabana finished changing, we all headed out to the dining area.
We finished dinner and we learned the introduction to birds and the basic identification of the birds on the island. There are so many birds!!! Did you know that just in the Philippines there are 576 species of birds? 35% of these are endemic the others are migratory. We’ll be learning and studying more about the birds on the Danjugan tomorrow! Yay, another adventure. After doing a game on birds and trees, we all headed to our cabanas around 9 pm.
As we lay in bed, we heard singing coming from the boy’s cabana which we eventually fell asleep to.
Before I end this, I just want to mention that you will really learn well from this camp because after you learn your lesson, you actually go out and see the real thing. And, personally, I found it awesome how applied knowledge from books and experience. It’s very interactive and funnn.
We reached our destination! Yay. We were assigned to drop our bags over at one of the tables before anything. I remember one of the first things that we were all told was about the eco toilet (which the place where you do the number 2). Btw, it was already lunch. Time to eatttt. The other kids went into the dining area already while I took a quick glimpse of the place. When I decided to join the rest I went up the small bamboo steps up to the dining area which was hovering over (with the aid of some concrete) the Moray Lagoon. The water was so clear and blue. Also, the reason to why the Lagoon had a Moray in it was because if you looked at the water you could see Moray Eels. They can look scary sometimes but also they made the water look lively if that makes sense.
As I stared at the dining area, I had no idea where to sit. Most of the tables were taken and I didn’t know where to sit. Also, I didn’t plan on sitting alone. And as I’ve mentioned before, most who came were with a relative or friend so they had a person to eat with.
I gathered my strength and decided to take a seat with a table that had 3 occupied seats. I said “hi” and we started to have a good conversation. In just a few minutes we all became friends.
While everyone finished their remaining lunch, one of the camp directors started introducing all the other camp members which we call ALs. Apparently, we were gonna be split up into four teams. Each team would be lead by one adult leader (or AL). All the AL’s each took turns in introducing themselves and their background about where they came from and why they’re in the camp. There was one scientist who came from Germany and who was going to teach us about fish and corals.
Also, we were told that for the answers that we got correct or for the behavior or actions that we did right we would get points for our teams. And of course, with being late or others our points could go down. Once we finished acquainting with our teams and AL’s, we all went out of the dining cabana and made a circle. Apparently, we were going to say our name and a dance. It went one way around the circle. When it reached my turn like everyone else, I shouted “LIBI!” and did this awkward dance move which everyone then shouted “LIBI!” and the same move. This was just a fun way to acquaint ourselves with everyone.
There are actually four cabanas for all the campers. Two are for the girls and two are for the boys. One of the main rules is that no boys allowed in the girl’s cabana and vise versa. There were about 5 girls in my cabana while there was about 7 in the other girl’s cabana.
When we finished preparing ourselves for swimming and trekking, we heard our call (KUUUUUWEEEEE (which is a bird call which came from one of the ALs)).
Most of the things you would hear (from the Camp Director) when all the campers gathered are “look at me if you could hear me” or “clap twice if you could hear me“. These were some of the ways to gather the attention when everyone was being loud.
Anyways, back to the learning center. We were briefed about the island and the different beaches and lagoons. At this point, there were a few questions in which you could earn a few points from. We were also briefed about first aid and other things to be aware of while we do our trek. We were ready. We were instructed to bring our snorkel, other gear (if you have any), waterproof bag (if you need for things you want to bring which you don’t want to get wet), water bottle, sunscreen and insect repellent. If you forgot to bring your snorkel gear (just like me ;D) don’t worry! You could rent a snorkel or any other gear at one of the gear stall area on the island. All you have to do is sign your name and Tadaaa!
Because each team had its separate color (in my case, color white), we had to wrap a different color per team on the snorkel. We then headed out team by team. While passing one of the bridges, we saw big sea urchins at the bottom. Wanna know why they were hanging out there? Well, above the bridge is a bat cave. And, the bat cave goes all the way down. The urchins liked the bat poop. Mmmm.
We passed by turtle beach and typhoon beach. And, after waiting for the other teams at some sort of bar (rehydrating ourselves with some water), we swam to the beach reaching one of the far rafts with the ALs and our teams.
Good thing for the tapes wrapped our snorkels when the others were still snorkeling you could still identify which ones were part of your team. We were shown the different corals and fishes. It seemed to explode with colors! It was beautiful.
We made our way back with a sunset trek. The sky was orange and the light slowly made its way down. Our night ended with some dinner and finally a bath! Even though it’s only one bucket per person, I agree that it’s a good amount to use. Here’s the tip, use the tabo twice to wash away the sand and wet your hair, then shampoo and soap, then another wash. Done! You’ll probably have some leftovers.
Just before sleeping, we all sat around in a circle at the dining area after pushing away the chairs and tables to the side. One of the ALs told us that this was our community building and that it will be one of the only times we’ll be doing it. As we sat down in a circle, we shared what we enjoyed throughout the day and something we liked to build in our community. On a sheet of Manila Paper, a circle was drawn. Inside the circle, we would throw out ideas we would like to have in our community, an example, trust or respect for others.
The picture above is the paper that we all made. In our community, we had the power of choice, the power of two feet, and the power of experts. Inside our community, we wrote down words we wanted for our Danjugan community. As you may see above, we wanted positivity, trust, support, friendship respect, understanding for each other in our Danjugan family.
After this, we went to our cabanas and slept. Well, the truth is I talked to my roommates (cabana mates) before sleeping. We were having a small debate whether or not we should leave the chips in the cabana. Laziness kinda went around and we decided to leave the food in the room.
We put our mosquito nets properly around our mattresses and finally slept. 😉
I wake up at 5:00 am because the time to meet the Danjugan members and other kids going to the camp was around 6:30 am. I reached for my phone to check if I had any messages. Five. Five messages sent around the time of 3:00 – 4:30 am. I wondered who it could be as I unlocked my phone. They were all from my dad. And it read, “Don’t go anymore” “Too dangerous” “Don’t go” and so on. To be honest, my eyes watered a little there because just yesterday I arrived to Bacolod after a 10 – 11 hour trip. I was exhausted and now I have to go all the way back home. That would be another 10 – 11 hours. I called my dad in hopes of changing his mind…… It didn’t work. Apparently, the Danjugan camp sent out an email to all the parents which included some warnings because of the terrorist attack in Cebu which occurred a week before. A week ago. The farthest I got to have permission to go was to allow me and my tita to just meet everyone at the meeting point and get to say hi to everyone. I decided to leave my bag back at the hotel while we headed out.
We were dropped in front of an animal conservation park where we saw a big white bus and some adults around it. As I walked to the bus, I saw that it was nearly full already. Heh, I thought I was the first to get here. We were approached by one of the staff (I guess you could say) members. We made an explanation of why couldn’t come and also kinda “deviced” a plan to change my dad’s mind. Our first step was to call him. I talked to my dad for awhile explaining that I was at the meeting point and that I really wanted to go (still didn’t work). Apparently, my dad thought that a lot of the kids cancelled out like me because of the attack (a week ago). But, no. It was just me who was planning to cancel and reschedule. After my second failed attempt to convince my dad (I was so close), I passed my phone down to Kuya Kenneth (staff member). 6:15. Time was quickly passing and the bus was going to leave soon. Kuya Ken explained all the safety measures (like there were police guards in the mainland and on the island) to my dad and that pretty much did the tipping point(ish). By the way, a few days before the Danjugan Camp, the parents are requested to go to this parent conference where they explain everything (even the safety measures). Unfortunately, my parents missed the meeting which prevented them from knowing this sort of information (about safety and other, XD). Finally, we finished our quest and I could go!!
I boarded the bus only to run out again as I remembered I left my bag at the hotel!! I talked to my tita and kuya Ken. Kuya Ken brought one of the vans to the hotel where I ran and grabbed my bag. We headed back to the bus. We were about 10 minutes late. Everyone was waiting just for me. I took my seat at the back of the seat drivers seat. It was a single chair. I was happy, since I didn’t actually know anyone and I was sort of shy at the moment. My tita rode in a van right behind us. It was announced that we had 3 hours to go. Yay. _-_
Aside from the fact that nearly every kids here came with either a friend or sibling (unlike me all alone), It was so quite. Probably 1/4 of the kids in the bus were asleep while most were just quite and others you could hear the whispers. I tried listening to music on my phone but, for some reason, my phone wasn’t working. I was left with no music but earphones in my ears. I talked to kuya Kenneth and Tito Jay for awhile but the rest of the trip I just stared outside my window which showed me different views of trees and seas. There was some stopovers for anyone who wanted to go to the bathroom or buy some snacks. Also, sometime in our trip, I heard someone playing the ukulele with the song Riptide. Some joined in, it also helped to pass the time quickly.
We then arrived at a port. The ground was bumpy. And, we started to unload all the bags. I thought everyone was just going to bring a small back pack (as I did). I was wrong. I was the only one with one small bag. Everyone else brought a luggage. I was wondering what they were bringing and what I should have brought. Well, it was too late to go back now. Right?
Anyways, what we did next was go to a small bridge which seemed to be getting narrower and narrower the further we went. When we finally reached the end, we saw two boats waiting. I rode onto the first boat with around 11 other kids. Unfortunately, the boat didn’t have any cover on top like the second boat. Someone offered a jacket to me as the sun was scorching, everyone seemed really nice. It was a good thing that in the middle of our boat journey, the clouds decided to spare us a bit and provided us some shade from the sun. Anyways talking about our surroundings, the water was so clear. Some of the places (on the water on the boat) that we passed you could see that there were corals boasting with life.
After one last gust of wind came, the island came into view and then before we knew it, we started disembarking the boat with our bags. We were immediately greeted by some of the staff. They were all smiling as we greeted back.