Early morning of January 16, 2016 we were en route to Oslob, Cebu.

The old heritage churches, the sunrise and the blue sea were noticeable while on the way. It distracted us a bit from heavy sleepiness due to the early call time.

Oslob is a municipality in the South of Cebu that has become famous (and controversial) for its whale shark watching attraction which was first in our itinerary for that day.

As we arrived, there were already a lot of tourists (local and foreigners) either lining up for the boat (bangka) or already out in the sea interacting with the whale sharks. January is peak season and just like us, tourists who will be celebrating the Sinulog in the main city also took side trips around Cebu.
We first had an orientation on the Do's and Dont's when whale watching. Afterwards, we waited for a few minutes and it was our turn to ride the bangka. Off we went.

I don't want to re-tell my experiences with rose-colored glasses so I'll be honest here. It's true that the place smells stinky because of the uyap (sergestid shrimp) that's being fed to the whale sharks.
When the boatmen stopped paddling, we waited for the go-signal from the guide to get off from the bangka. We dipped in the sea and waited...

And there it was, our first whale shark to behold in all its mighty glory!
But it's not as easy as it looks. The waves were strong and it was a real struggle seeing the whale shark up close. We were required to wear goggles which covers the nose because the whale sharks get distracted with bubbles. But all the kicking and struggling usually produces bubbles. 

We also kept looking where Kuya "GoPro" was, the guide we assigned to take charge of the camera to document the whole thing. We stayed a little longer just to get the perfect photos. We waited again for any whale shark to get close.

This is the kind of photo that makes it on Instagram:

And these are the photos that don't get the social media airtime but pretty sums up the actual experience:
At one point I stopped thinking where the hell Kuya "Go Pro" is and if my photo will be taken. I wanted to see the whale shark properly with my own two eyes. It's an experience I want saved in my core memory and not on a memory card.

I swam a little closer (not too close though) and was amazed how huge it really is! Its mouth, its fin, its gills...never seen anything quite like it!
But my realizations: It's a pity for the whale sharks that their food are to be baited around just to satisfy us curious tourists. It was an overwhelming experience but it is something I would only do once and that's it. No more.

On the other hand, I see how these whale sharks helped improve the eco-tourism in this fourth income class municipality. It provides livelihood and income to Oslobanons.

If you ever find yourself whale watching in Oslob, Cebu the least you can do is to follow the rules. Don't apply sunscreen as it will be harmful to the whale sharks.

As much as possible, do your best not to get too close and prevent physical contact with the whale sharks because they can be sensitive to human skin. (More about that in this article). I hope they implement strictly the rule of penalizing anyone who makes contact with the butandings. Follow the rules!

With researchers helping, I hope too that the local government will improve and develop a more (I quote the article) sustainable and well-guided management plan for the whale shark eco-tourism not just in Oslob but in the whole Philippines.

We had our brunch after the encounter with the butandings. There are a lot of eateries at the shore for you to choose from (an effect of the booming eco-tourism).

After our meal, we went to our next itinerary: TUMALOG FALLS! We had to ride a separate multicab for the uphill ride en route to Tumalog Falls. It's only a short drive away.

The view en route was amazing! You could see the sea from above and Sumilon Island from afar.

This photo is not even one-fourth of the actual view but you just knew you enjoyed the view cause you have no time capturing it (and the winding, uphill road made it hard to take pictures). You just take it all in. Ahh, how many times Cebu took my breath away. Naks.
We stopped in what seemed to be a terminal of habal-habal drivers. To get to Tumalog Falls, you have two choices: either you walk down or ride the habal-habal. We chose to ride the habal-habal (P50.00 per head, back & forth).

At first glance, Tumalog Falls was underwhelming. I mean, there were no bushy pathways getting there. You get off from the habal-habal and that's it, there's Tumalog Falls. We even joked that the artificial falls of Veranza in KCC Mall of Gensan is way better. Lol.

But as you get closer, it's a different story. Here I go again: ANG GANDAAA sa malapitan. <3
It's not your typical waterfalls. According to travel blog, Adrenaline Romance,"Tumalog Falls is an example of a horsetail waterfall in which the descending water remains in contact with the rock most of the time."

Kawasan Falls was intense while Tumalog Falls was chill, the drops were mild at that time. The pool underneath it is only knee-deep shallow but the water is super cold, mind you.

I seized the moment by floating on my back and just observed the descending water. In my head Bon Iver's Holocene was playing. I love moments like that. I'm so romanticizing the moment but travel just does that to you (or to me personally anyway).
Tumalog Falls ended up my Number 1 favorite among all the places we visited. :) I loved it. It's a grand piece of nature but it doesn't overwhelm you. You had to look at it closer to appreciate it. Kung naging tao pa, yung simple lang pero rock. Yung ganun. Gets niyo ba? Haha. What a beauty.
A groufie! It was a sweet short visit Tumalog Falls.

The sight-seeing doesn't stop! On the way back to the city, we made sure to visit The Monastery of the Holy Eucharist in Marian Hills, Lindogon, Sibonga.
This grand monastery is popularly known as "Simala" but Kuya Stewart, our tourguide, clarified that technically the monastery is in Brgy. LINDOGON, the baranggay after Simala. People perhaps started calling it Simala because the big arc where you turn on the way says "BRGY. SIMALA".

And Simala rhymes with "himala" (miracle in Filipino) which sounds more apt given that it is a religious place of devotion. Maybe that's what stuck with people more?

For a Catholic like me, it is always a religious experience coming to Cebu. Aside from the natural wonders of nature, the Catholic faith is also very evident in the whole province.
We said our prayers and marveled at the architecture of the place too. It's not yet even finished but for sure it'll be grander once it's done.
That ended our exploration of Cebu South!

We went back to the city and had dinner at Choobi Choobi, SM City Cebu as per Kuya Sonny's recommendation again. In all fairness, we liked whatever Kuya Sonny recommended (that must have been part of the package tour too noh? Haha). It really takes a true local to recommend the best food around.

We ordered the Sea Food Bag in Choobi Choobi Sauce. Perf! We loved it, the sauce especially.
(Glad to know Choobi Choobi will be opening soon in SM Lanang, Davao!)

Alright, that's Day 3 of 4.

Thank you for reading!

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