General Luna Wekend: Capturing Chances

Opportunity loss costs more than just financials, the rare opportunity to explore and discover something substantial maybe at stake!

Afternoon scene in Dapa Pier

The alarm clock went off at 3am, with my backpack ready before I doze off few hours back, I slowly drag myself from bed. But reminded myself not to miss the 4am aircon bus for Butuan.  The long weekend prompted this homecoming trip to Siargao for some reasons – rediscover GL, long weekends is seldom, a break sans leave… I need an early departure hoping to catch up the 12:00 noon RoRo boat to Dapa but the road stops slowed down the rides.  Arriving Surigao City bus terminal quarter of 12 noon, I was crossing my fingers I will catch the trip.

The weather was perfectly sunny despite the storm just the other day, my host gladly message back that boat trips to the island had been cleared by coast guards that day.  Just watching the blue waters with gentle breeze blowing was comforting enough for the four hour-boat sail to Dapa.  The sight of the pier with the docked boats gave me a warm welcome, it’s been four years since I last visited main island Siargao.

Bluish dusk in GL waters…

It was already dark when I got to my lodgings at General Luna, I almost forgotten the way to Jade Star Lodge but the friendly locals were helpful enough. My host was already at the gate to welcome me, nothing much was changed. This resort under the coco grove is like home to me.

 Surprises & Chances

I wanted to linger on my bed but need to start early for my appointment with Alex, the owner of the next property from my lodge, a Deutsch national who operated Siargao Divers Club.  Just out of curiosity, my host joined me after dinner to inquire of any dive schedule from him, there was none.  But to my surprise, he invited me if would like to join  while he do some works in his mini-sanctuary project off the coast of his property, halfway to Daku Island.  It was interesting, I don’t want to miss the chance not only for a dive but also to learn from his project!

Nipa huts under the coco grove!

We made the initial discussion – marine protection, his project and the dive. The dive has to be in the afternoon to wait for the high tide.  Having more than enough time, I decided to have a quick detour to Pilar for the Magpupungko Pool rushing to catch the low tide. Undaunted of the looming dark skies I went for the long ride, the rain caught us up before we could reach the next town.  But the jade green infinity pool was there almost to succumb to the high tide, a nature’s wonder worth for a revisit despite the distance.

Waters & Inspiration

DM Alex explained to me the plan drawing sketches on the white sand and reviewed hand signals, before we got to the small boat.  The area was only 10-12 meters deep on sloping sand and with the afternoon sun shining again, I was in high spirits as we sailed on.  The surrounding waters and the smell of the gears gave me that kick for the descent, my last dive was yet in August with Angel. No doubt my gills and fins were aching for the dive.  Rolling back for my entry, the DM was

Artificial reef out of recycled materials

already ahead for the preliminaries of his works.  Slowly descending until we got to the sandy area with lot of sea grasses.  There were three improvised artificial reefs out of recycled materials, simple creation out of passion for marine life, the only objective is to provide shelter for the fishes as they grew in number.  Alex is right, lot of fishes have stayed in the area claiming as their abode.  Lot of species were attracted to the shelter, obviously for protection from predators.  A herd of striped ell fish, banner, emperor, sergeants, anthias, the lone batfish, puffer, and more decorated the space. There was also a leopard sea cucumber, sea stars, juvenile sweet lips, nudi, corals also abound the area. In my own observation the site has great potential, hopefully soon it could become a rich house reef for Siargao Divers Club.

Colorful rubber corals!

 I did the roaming around while Alex worked with the big stones we carried from the shore, arranging for more fish shelters at the site.  I simply immersed my self with the brief visit of the water world, communing again quietly with the friendly creatures as I swam around as if dancing in joy!  Alex showed around briefly before we had our ascent, spotted the big coral and passed by a wide coral area until he signaled that he is low on air. In one brief look, my mind tried to photograph the scene – the lowly thriving mini-sanctuary with the multiplying marine species.  In deep thought, my three-minute- safety stop gave few more moments to feel the serenity and calmness of the GL waters, which can be rough and fierce any time.

Herd of striped eel fish!

Just one descent, it was brief and shallow but it sure did freshen up my gills. It was a dive in a flash!

Hidden Wonders

The brief visit to this lowly coastal town was indeed taking chances and discovering new things, the brief encounter with my DM was another learning experience and an uplifting gesture for the protection and preservation of marine world.  There are more than ten diving sites in the area which include the interesting Blue Cathedral off the coast of Surigao Deep near Cloud Nine surfing area.  He briefly described the site and explained that the shallower cave is safe for non-tech diver like me, with twinkling eyes I promised for a return to explore Siargao depths (in my mind – with Angel, of course!).

Diving in Siargao had been in my list for some time, now the return would be soon for this.  The Blue Cathedral is waiting and without doubt there are other hidden wonders of the island in store for me.  The itch for the tunnel is kicking me now!

Travel notes

My route for this trip:
Cagayan de Oro to Butuan City      –  5 hours aircon bus at PhP 337.00 (BEI tour bus is now with wi-fi)
Butuan City to Surigao City             –   2.5 hours airon bus at PhP 196.00
Surigao City to Dapa Pier                 –   4 hours cruise thru Montenegro RoRo Boat at PhP 173.00
Dapa Pier to General Luna               –   30 minutes tricycle ride at PhP 30.00

GL to Dapa Pier                                     –   20 minutes van at PhP 100.00
Dapa Pier to Surigao Pier                  –   3 hours cruise thru LQP lines at PhP 250.00
Suirgao City to Butuan City              –   2.5 hours aircon bus at PhP 196.00
Butuan City to Cagayan de Oro       –   5 hours aircon bus at PhP 337.00