Running against time
27.04.2013 - 30.04.2013
I looked left and right. Nothing in the water but fellow snorkellers. Then all of a sudden I detected another presence in the water. I looked down. This huge several metre shape below brushed me with its dorsal fin. John Williams score evaded my mind inappropriately.
Back on the island of Cebu, a mere 30 minute boat and 1 hour bus journey from Dumaguette is a place that has got marine biologists, conservationists and tourists in a tidal wave of excitement . This is Oslob, a small resort which a year ago became a feeding station for Whale Sharks. So recent this has been that it is not in the guide books yet. Tourists can pay a charge (mainly for conservation and feeding) and actually observe feeding time from am to 12 noon. You can even get up close and personal and swim with them. As we did. You may appear intimidated in their presence, as boat loads of screaming tourists certainly were. They are however harmless to man. They're pretty graceful creatures. They just happen to be the biggest fish in the world. Just because a kid is the tallest in class it doesn't mean he is the school bully.
After tearing ourselves away from our Rhincodon typus friends we settled for a night in the main town of Oslob and ultimately made some new friends. We had just seen several sharks but this was surely a one sea horse town. Not a lot to do other than gaze at the ocean and stroll around the ruins of an old church. We had stayed for one night at a family run guest house. The family's quarters seemed to squeeze a dozen members including brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces. The matriarchal figurehead was 40 year old Annabel. Her father, an 88 year old former policeman was still around and still had his marbles. She has a boyfriend, an overweight American whom she sees every couple of years. He has promised the earth but can only provide the girth.
Her brother was out of work and had plenty of time to escort his guests. Joe had expressed an interest in seeing a cockfight. This is the nations obsession as football is to the English. This is something I had always felt was morally repugnant. Now Annabel's brother Vincent is out of work, broke, as thin as the chicken he perceived would shape his future. Just another sad story of someone with a penchant for gambling and indeed on this occasion he blew about £50. This is probably the equivalent of you or I blowing £200. At least he came off better than the cocks who died in a bitter battle, speeded up by the knives attached to their feet. Joe pointed out that one of the losing birds looked like David Bowie. "Ashes to ashes............etc". He lost! Sick, Sick sick. I will never visit another cock fight again in my life. Alarmingly a family joined us in the airconditioned VIP viewing room. Fun for all the family then. They probably went to church first. They may finish off this Sunday sitting around the TV watching Filipino Country file with Jonnoh Craven. That's entertainment sang the Jam.
We left the family behind and took the Ceres bus to a ghost town of a resort. Lovely beach though and we still managed to find a room in a pension. We also got into a near altercation with a guy over a "picture pie" which he ordered for us. Surely he meant Pizza Pie. Whatever he meant he certainly wanted some Monet from us.
We took a bus to Cebu and then got a flight to Clark (with air "Skyfall"). The airport serviced yet another sleazy city. This time Angeles, which stands choking in the middle of a polluted valley. It emerged following the development of a US airbase which was once the biggest outside the US. The flashing lights and flashing tights lured servicemen in search of entertainment. Many still flock here in search of such adult fun. It is however sleaze that holds no shame, indeed it wears its sleaze on its sleeve. Infact hotel rooms advertise their "hourly rates" quite openly. They also have extended the meaning of 'room service'.
It is an eruption on one of the two neighbuoring volcanoes that caused much devastation in town 20 years ago and sealed the fate of the us airbase. The smaller of the volcanos lies dormant however. I read it afforded a decent and accessible half day walk to its 100m plus peak. Alas despite the starting point being only 25km away the logistics and the traffic meant we had to forgo this day trip that I was so looking forward to. Anyway back to town to play the guessing game. Take a cursory look across the road. Is it a man or a woman, lady bird or lady boy?. Whatever the answer is someone in this town will find out the hard way................