Bencyrus Ellorin .
PACKING my extended family in van was not a bad idea to escape from urban life during the Holy Week holidays.
Sipaka Point is the westernmost tip of Gingoog Bay in Talisayan, Misamis Oriental. Facing the Bohol Sea, opposite the Pamilacan Island and the majestic Camiguin Island on its northwest, this area was infamous for the slaughter of the world’s biggest fish, the whale shark (Rhincodon typus), locally called Tawiki or tuki.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, hundreds of these gentle giants which feed on krills were hunted by fishermen every year resulting in its population decline. In 1998, the PH BFAR issued Fishery Administrative Order (FAO) 193 prohibiting the killing, transport and selling of whale shark meat.
Later in 2002, the Philippine delegation successfully campaigned at the Convention in International Trade of Endangered Species (Cites) resulting in its listing at Appendix 2 of the Cites as an endangered species.
I had participated in educating fisherfolk against unsustainable fishing practices, including the conservations of whale sharks and the pawikan, as a worker for coastal resource management and fisheries resource management projects in 1998 to 2005 in Macajalar, Gingoog and Butuan Bays.
I felt a bit of pride and that feeling of satisfaction of past struggles visiting this place carved by the force of the sea on Easter Sunday. A research in 2017 observed recurrence of the gentle giants with at least 32 encounters in municipal waters of Talisayan to Balingoan, up to Salay, Misamis Oriental.
The white sand beaches of Barangay Calamcam, also in Talisayan, is a perfect getaway for weary urbanites. An hour or two drive from the city are enclaves of excellent white beaches. Although generally rustic, some resorts like the Villa Arcadia offer modest accomodation and amenities.
Sleeping in tents was a good idea, but the humid nights when we were there made sleeping al fresco under the moon and the stars was better.
(The author is a former journalist with experience in managing and editing online news portals here and abroad. He is now a public relations consultant and political campaigner. One of the social media groups he co-administered was a finalist in Globe’s Tatt award in 2012.)