Buhatan River Eco Adventure
Daang Maharlika Highway, Buhatan River, Sorsogon City, Sorsogon
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This was the highlight of the Sorsogon leg of our annual vacation... This newly launched yet unforgettable river cruise should make it not just on your Bicol itinerary, but your bucket list as well...
You might think what would make a river cruise so special? If the clear, calm waters of the Buhatan river, the fresh air, and the promise of a seafood feast doesn't pique your interest immediately, think about a peaceful bamboo raft ride at night surrounded by thousands of fireflies lighting the way... That is the draw...
We arrived at the site late in the afternoon. We were guided to two rafts and we started the serene cruise that lasted for about an hour. Ate Mina, our guide, proudly talked about the birds and plants that we passed... She told us that Ms Gina Lopez of ABS-CBN foundation visited them about three years back and saw the potential of the place. Being an environmentalist, Mrs Lopez donated start-up funds to build a simple restaurant where guests can enjoy a feast at the end of the tour. The local government trained women to cook and bangkeros were tapped to guide the rafts along the course of the river. They started working without pay and they put their faith on their venture... From a small staff since they started last April 2015, they have grown into a cooperative with 60+ bangkeros, 10+ kitchen crew, a river clean-up crew as well as guides that conduct the tours. They utilize the entire village for the operations.
We were served bottled water and roasted pili nuts during our river cruise. At the end of the 3.9km path, we were delighted by the hauntingly beautiful sunset as we approached the open air restaurant built on stilts. The center of the restaurant has a pen in the middle where you can catch shrimps for the staff to cook. That is about as fresh as it gets!
We were served with tilapia, shrimps, clams (tuway), and crabs-- caught from the river and cooked in gata. We ate on banana leaves, all the while serenaded by crickets in a concerto we don't normally enjoy in the metro. We ended the very simple yet very delicious meal with bananas and pili pulp dipped in fish sauce-- my first time to actually eat the pili fruit (not the nut).
After enjoying our dinner, we rode back to shore and prepare for the show... Our hosts told us to clap loudly along the way to encourage the much awaited creatures to come out... We were cloaked in darkness initially, though the cool air enveloped us as we glided thru the water... Alas, little by little, tiny sparks started to blink until finally we were able to witness an amazing light show... Fireflies lined the path home--like little stars that twinkled on the river banks... It was really nature's spectacle that took my breath away... No picture can do justice to such a precious moment.
Indulge me for now and look at that those pictures... Can you believe that used to be filled with garbage and as dirty as the Pasig River? In just 2 years, the townspeople were able to rehabilitate the river, maintain the mangroves, and control the pest problem in the area... Today, the river is teeming with life-- filled with fish, oysters, clams, and shrimps and supporting a rich ecosystem consisting of endemic flora and fauna all around... The people, once indigent and dependent on the government for funds, are now part of a cooperative which runs the business, earns money to sustain the community and fiercely protects the beauty of their surroundings... You will not see children begging for alms or people just idling by... They are a happy and proud community, able to stand on their own two feet and proactively thinking of more ways to attract & entertain tourists... Everyone has a ready smile and a content disposition as they thrive in their little piece of heaven in Sorsogon...
Travel more and travel local! Dios Mabalos!
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