The Gentle Giant’s Journey

The Gentle Giant’s Journey

A morning with the whale sharks in Cebu

Text by MA. VANESSA ESTINOZO


SWIMMING WITH THE whale sharks is a once in a lifetime experience, unless you are in Cebu.

Oslob, Cebu is bringing the definition of “it’s more fun” to a whole new level, giving guests an up close adventure with the gentle giants in their natural habitat.

In the small barangay Tan-awan, swimming with whale shark costs about PhP 500, but staying in your boat costs less about PhP 300.

We arrive at around 8 a.m. and we’re just in time when more butandings frolic in the sea. But before heading to whale shark watching, tourists will be given a lowdown of what to do during the sightseeing.

So, put your shades on, strap your vests, and get some vitamin sea with the biggest living fish.

UNBELIEVABLE SWIM

Also known as tuki among Cebuanos, they swim freely just a few kilometers off the shore while a boatman throws krill—a natural food eaten by the whale sharks.

As the boatman paddles closer to them, we were contemplating whether we’d swim with the whale sharks or stay cooped up in our boats—we chose the latter.

A sudden realization that if there’s anything I left in Manila, it’s definitely my adventurous-self. But the inner child in me grins from ear to ear not long after.

Amazement filled my eyes as seven, white-dotted, with an average size of 10-meter creatures greeted us, a surreal moment taken straight out from a National Geographic documentary with perfect sunrise and calm waves.

Everyone was quiet, if not whispering, as the whale sharks swim from one boat to the other and engulfing a handful of krill thrown by the boatman.

Some swim while many dive for the picture-perfect shot. Although we didn’t have that photo taken, the sunrise and crystal blue water itself were more than enough to appreciate the beauty of the once quiet town.

After a five-hour-long drive and a whole night of traveling, the scenery washed away our grogginess while we stare in mesmerization.

Who knew a harmless, bus-size, calm creature that only came for the food would bring recognition and put Oslob on the map and on our bucket list.TP