Just My Thoughts, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY, TRAVEL

Swimming with the Gentle Giants

I was pretty excited to see the whale sharks on my birthday. I knew I would be amazed to be swimming so close to the gentle giants, but I also anticipated that I would be scared. It reminded me of an old blog about things that are worth risking, no matter how terrifying. My experience was a mixture of emotions, really.

 

 

I was amazed, watching the shark eat. It just kept opening its mouth, waiting for its food, and swallowing gallons of water each time. Well, each time water entered its mouth, the water came right out of its huge gills. I made sure I was holding on to the boat’s balancer so that I wouldn’t get too near the shark. It felt pretty close. The warning to not touch them and not get too close as I could get hurt by their fin, hung in my mind the whole time.

 

whale sharks in Oslob
Captured from our video, taken by our boatman. Amazing! 🙂

I was just watching this one shark when another huge one came from the left and approached the one in front of me. I was curious as to what he was gonna do, but he left right after he gently laid his head on (or maybe smelled? haha) the other one’s back. Come to think of it, I wonder what I would have done if a fight ensued between the two sharks. Come to think of it, I have very little knowledge of their behavior. Can they actually get violent? They are after all SHARKS. Yikes!

 

There were a couple of times that I freaked out because one passed right under us, and from the video caught by our boatman, its tail almost hit my cousin! I realize I shouldn’t have swum away, since the whale shark could’ve thought I was going to feed him and so follow me. To them, we were told, bubbles means they are going to be fed. It happened to my cousin’s husband that day haha. He made too many bubbles as he swam, and one of the sharks followed him!

 

Honestly, I couldn’t move away from our boat until I saw that there was only one shark left, and it was the one who never left his boatman’s side. I think that was either Seemo or Lucas. I couldn’t handle being surprised by two or more moving sharks around me haha. But it was awesome seeing them move like that.

 

My experience was actually bittersweet. It was indeed a privilege to swim with the gentle giants, but I couldn’t help but feel bad for them. It’s completely unnatural for whale sharks to stay in one place, but they have trained those in Oslob to stay and come around the hours of 6 in the morning till 12 noon for food, everyday. I don’t know the implication it may have on nature or on the animals themselves, but a couple of them already seemed like zombies to me. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for the experience and for Seemo or Lucas who didn’t move much, but it was just unnatural for him to just hang there. He should be like his other friends, who freaked me out yes, but who seemed more active and free. I am not against it being a tourist attraction because it is a wonderful opportunity for us, but I wish their natural migratory behaviors or instincts were respected. I don’t know if a win-win for tourism AND the gentle giants is even possible. Wishful thinking.

 

One huge thing that I can commend the people of Tan-awan, Oslob for though, is their work in keeping the place clean. I did not notice any trash on the shorelines nor on the water. Thank God they were taught to take care of this opportunity by organizing the system and by being responsible for their town and their ocean’s cleanliness. Great job!

 

All in all, my 35th birthday was a blast. It was an awesome way to celebrate, with my precious family, what could be the half-mark of my entire lifetime! Thank you Lord for giving me 35 years, the last decade of which has belonged to You. I look forward to the rest of my years with You. Thank You for my life. It’s been some kind of wonderful. 🙂

*Ironically, I have no picture of myself in Oslob! Haha that’s what happens when I’m the photographer. I don’t mind. The memories are alive in my shots and King’s. 🙂

Just My Thoughts

Worth Risking

Visiting Coron made me appreciate the beauty of God’s work once again. (Check out the videos below, on the left side of this page.) The islands, the beaches and the clear blue water were spectacular. From the boat, I could already see the different colored corals. I was amazed to see pink ones, bright yellow ones. Then I thought, well God was the one who created all these colors, so it’s not surprising that such colors exist in the ocean. God’s beauty is boundless and it shows in His creation.

While I was underwater snorkeling, however, I found myself somewhat near the drop off. Remember in Finding Nemo, when Marlin freaked out when he found out that the kids were going to the drop off? Right by the corals, you’ll just see a vast expanse of blue. It was peaceful, but it was just too huge for me. I didn’t freak out like Marlin did, but I did get scared. It got me thinking. What if a huge fish, maybe even a whale, suddenly showed up in front of me? How would I react? I’d probably freeze in astonishment or scream in fear and excitement! The sea and everything in it is so beautiful, yet it’s so terrifying. The fish, the corals, the marine life are so wonderful to watch, but then you get a glimpse of the long spikes of the black sea urchin and you remember how dangerous the ocean is.


The more I got to thinking, the more I realized that most things, if not everything beautiful, are also terrifying. The strange rock formations in Coron were so beautiful and mysterious, I wanted to explore and check them out up close. But one misstep and the sharp rocks could definitely hurt or even kill you. My favorite animal is the tiger. It’s such a beautiful creature, with its beautiful striped fur, huge paws, cuddly face. But as much as I want to touch and play with a full-grown one (as I’ve already cuddled a cub), it’s risky because the danger is very real. Climbing up the Empire State Building is an experience and New York City is such an awesome site, but the strong wind and the extreme height can be pretty scary too.

Committing forever to a man I hardly knew (13 months to be exact haha), knowing that it was God’s will and timing, was one of the most beautiful things I ever experienced. Yet the uncertainty of our financial future was indeed a concern. Giving birth to my babies was an incredible experience, but it was also scary to be aware that anything could happen, complications and all. Many mothers have died from childbirth. Raising children is the most fulfilling, most wonderful thing in the world, but our responsibility to care for them and teach them is immense, making it terrifying to think of all the ways we can screw them up. Committing my life to the Lord was the most important decision I ever made. Because of it, I discovered the beauty of God — His love, His forgiveness, my freedom, my identity, my new life. But with it came giving up my old ways, giving up relationships that I was clinging to for security, tearing down my comfortable wall of anger and pride. Being vulnerable and unguarded can definitely be terrifying.

So do we let our fear keep us from experiencing the beauty of such things? Do we remain scared and be frozen by our fear? No. We go ahead, take a leap of faith even. We risk it, terrifying as it may be. Why? Because it’s worth it. I risked the danger of getting hurt, of being humiliated, of being uncomfortable, of making mistakes, of flaunting my flaws, of being different because it was worth it. Exploring the ocean was worth it. Marveling at nature was worth it. Enjoying New York City was worth it. Marrying my husband was worth it. Having my daughters was worth it, and raising them is worth it. My relationship with God is worth it. 🙂