Encounter with the Fireflies

I can still remember the time when Marx invited me to join their Donsol trip through Twitter. With no money, I should have said no. But my instinct told me otherwise. Without any second thought, I said yes. Almost two months of planning and then the most awaited day, to me at least, came. 

I met the Butanding Freaks (Chino, Elal, Marx, Paola and Heiz) at the Legazpi Integrated Terminal (LIT). They were practically strangers. Though I’ve been exchanging messages with Marx and religiously following his blog, I never met him in person. And so are the other 4. When I told my mom that I`ll be away for a day and I’m going out with strangers, she freaked out. In the end though, she allowed me to. 

Upon arrival at the LIT, you have several options: a) hire a taxi (though this would be a bit pricey), b) ride a commuter van, c) take a non-air-conditioned bus and d) ride a jeepney. We chose to take a commuter van. It is easy to spot vans going to Donsol. It is located just a few walks across Save More. Since there was a scarcity of passengers that day (it was Sunday), we waited for at least an hour or so before the van departed much to our frustration. The driver doesn’t leave the terminal until it reach the desired seating capacity. The van left the LIT at around 4PM. The drive to Sorsogon was longish and a little bit drag. I/we went to sleep. After 2 hours and so, our vehicle licked the asphalts, the streets of Donsol, Sorsogon. Finally! When I saw the Butanding Fest billboard, I had to stretch my hand out and take a shot of it with some random guy (and random hands) in front of it. And I didn’t care if the background was very unpicturesque.

The driver was kind enough to bring us directly to the Dangkalan Beach Resort where we will stay in, which is 15 minutes away from the town proper. We paid P100 each. The resort is strategically located in front of the ocean (that’s why it’s called a beach resort, duh) and a few walks away from the Donsol Tourist Center where you need to register prior to your Butanding Encounter. There are a handful of resorts in this part of Donsol. I think Dangkalan Beach Resort is the cheapest and the top choice of budget travelers.

Ms. Lalaine, which happened to be Marx’ cousin, greeted us with a warm smile. We checked-in. And guess what, we even had a great deal. We got 2 deluxe rooms (for 3 people) minus the A/C use for only P1,000/night each. That’s P333.33 for each of us. Great, isn’t it? The staff led us to the cottage where we will stay. I’m quite impressed by the room. Nothing fancy about it but it was spacious and well-maintained. It has 2 beds (a single and a doubles), a shower and the bathroom comes with 2 towels and some basic toiletries. The resort’s management was also kind enough to provide us with an electric fan. The only downturn was there was no free wi-fi in the resort and the same goes with the other resorts. I was told.

Firefly Watching 

After we freshened up, it was time for our first activity, Firefly Watching. I first heard about it on the local morning show, Marhay Na Aga Kapamilya. It honestly intrigued me. Miss Lalaine led us to the boat docked on the shore within the resort’s vicinity. I stepped into the boat with Elal, Chino, Paola, Marx and Heiz together with three boatmen. The boat could only board a maximum of 5 people (excluding the bangkeros and the guide) but because we were VIPs of Miss Lalaine we were able to do so (Marx pretended to be our tour guide). She also arranged the boat rental for the Firefly Watching at P1250/boat.

We sailed the night away. (Photo not mine)

Night sailing. That’s probably one of the scariest things I did in my whole life. I may not showed outward signs of being scared but deep inside, my vital organs are coiling. Have I ever told you that I can’t swim? I never learned how to. I looked up, down, from side to side and all I saw was darkness. For a moment, I became scared of the thought that we might get lost or be swallowed by the sea or be lured by mermaids into the depth of the ocean. Hahaha. But thank God, He was with us. The water was calm.

Moving on, because we literally moved on, we sailed for at least thirty minutes. After entering the Donsol River, a guide boarded. As much as I hate to say this, the guide was still a bit amateur-ish and knows a little about the whole tour. There were a lot of silent moments and if not for Chino and the fireflies it would be boring as hell. Anyway, there will be three stop-overs: the first one being the “Huling Puno” (sounds ironic, right?). According to the guide, it houses the most number of fireflies and she was definitely correct. I was in awe. It was magical. In some way, it reminded me of a scene in Tangled.

Just a reminder, don’t shoot with a flash on. It scares off the fire flies. Plus, it affects their light synchronicity whatever that means. I’m just a bit disappointed that my P&S can’t capture it. And so were their DSLRs. Mehehe~ We went like that for another 30 minutes or so, jumping from one tree to another. At first, it was amazing but a few minutes into it, it became repetitive and in a lack of a better term, boring. I was like, “can you please row fast Manong bangkero so we can get out of here”. Sorry :3 I hope the Tourism Office can do something about this. Make it livelier, more entertaining

We told the bangkero to drop us off near the town center. You have a choice to either ride a tricycle or just walk. And because we are responsible tourists, we walked. It took us at least 15 minutes to reach the town center. The original plan was to find a cheap resto that serves local dishes. The one inside the resort where we checked in are bit pricey in our opinion. But because it was already past 8pm, all the local eateries are closed (except for those inside inns and resorts) much to our dismay. Heiz passed by a fruit stand where she chanced upon ripe mangoes and watermelon. She bought a couple of kilos. We then went to a grocery store to buy some stuff. Then went straight to the resort. Lines of tricycles are waiting to bring you to your resort. The tricycle driver charged us P20/person and it can accommodate a total of six people. 


 • Buy things you need or you want in the Centro the commercial center of Donsol – before you go to your resort. It’s cheaper and besides, it’s really hard to find stores near the resorts. 

• If you’re on minimal budget, I suggest that you take an early dinner in the Centro where the local eateries are found, sometimes they run out of food during peak hours. 

Siram Sana Resto and Bar 

Siram Sana is the restaurant found inside the Dangkalan Beach Resort. A single meal costs P150 and above. I told you it was a bit pricey. Little did we know that each serving is good for 2-3 people. So lesson learned, don’t be fooled by the menus. Charot! 

I ordered chicken adobo. And it was so yummy that it can probably match my mom’s. The others ordered tinolang manok, pinakbet and of course your Bicol experience won’t be complete if you haven’t tasted local dishes like laing and Bicol Express

Contrary to popular belief, Bicolanos don’t get to eat Bicol Express every day. Their version of Bicol Express is good but ain’t great. The laing on the other hand, well, I’m not buying it (high standards ba?). Then we had some ripe mangoes for dessert. I was so full at that time. It was like a “getting-to-know-each-other” dinner. I even taught them some basic Bicolano words. And I even told Chino a little bit of the legend of Magayon and Panganoron. Sorry, I don’t want to do the story-telling here.

After dosing ourselves to a splendid dinner and several Vice Ganda jokes, we went back to the girl’s room. We bought a bottle of a cheap hard drink and some chips when we were still in the Centro. I was a bit hesitant to drink because my alcohol tolerance is low. And when I say low, it’s really really low. I can only tolerate a bottle, two at the most. And indeed, after just three gulps, I rushed to the bathroom to puke. I didn’t push myself farther after that. Nobody likes to puke. To me, that’s not fun. 

Legazpi City to Donsol, Sorsogon (2 hours) – P100.00/person
Dangcalan Beach Resort
           • Deluxe room for 3 (fan cooled) – P1000.00/night 
Firefly Watching (arranged by the resort) – P1250/boat (good for 5 persons)
Centro to Dangcalan Beach Resort (tricycle) – P20/person 
Siram Sana Resto and Bar 
           • Chicken Adobo + 2 rice - P175.00 + P15.00 
           • Ripe mangoes – Free courtesy of Heiz


Hoobert the Awesome said...

My second (pathetic attempt to travel blog. So, give me a rating or whatever. But please be good to me! Lol.

Watch out for the Part 2 of the Donsol Adventure of the Butanding Freaks!

SunnyToast said...

so your discovering your own province:) I heard about this firefly watching but I dont have much time..so I guess this would be one of the reasons to visit back Bicol!

Hoobert the Awesome said...

Not really. It's in Sorsogon. I'm from Albay.

It was amazing at first but it got boring at the end. But still, you must try it. Malay mo, baka magustuhan mo, "to each his own" kumbaga. Mehehe~

Basta, next time, don't fail to inform me. Okay? Hahaha.


Dani said...

Aww! No photo of the fireflies. So kelangan talaga sila puntahan for experience no? Clever creatures! Haha.


gusto ko din makakita ng ganyang mga fireflies..... XD

xoxo_grah said...

gosh! looked at those fireflies...love it! Sulit din ung room nyo...astig ung presyo...:0


MEcoy said...

wow prang refreshing ung pinuntahan nu ahh ok din ung price sulit

Phioxee said...

bloggers bah mga kasama mo? me kasunod pa serye netong post mo ha> kasi gusto ko makita yung butanding. hanggang oslob, cebu lang kasi ako

Hoobert the Awesome said...

None, Danielle. Bad 'no? Masyadong pa-chicks mga fireflies sa Sorsogon. Damn. But I have to agree, they're clever and not to mention - gorgeous.

Hoobert the Awesome said...

Oh. Oh. Pabling is in the house!

Yes, their awesome. You should come here and see it for yourself. Mapapa-wow ka sa ganda. Mehehe~

Hoobert the Awesome said...

It really is Grah. Great deal 'no? Tatanggi ka pa ba sa ganyan? Hahaha.

It is a decent room. And it's big. Wala nga lang cold and hot shower but who currrrrs? Di naman ganun kalamig sa Donsol. Mehehe~

Archieviner VersionX said...

Mukhang saya ng trip nyo nato. Walang pic ng fireflies? Ganda ng background music while reading this post.

BTW new follower mo ko :P

June | Life and Spices said...

LOVELY! travel blogger ka na bert!

Christian | LAKAD Pilipinas said...

nyeks boring ba? pero kung siguro ako, i would never get bored, madali ako mapa mangha eh haha

gord said...

Woah. Lupet ng fireflies! XD

Pao Kun said...

Waah nakakaCHILL nga dito. Tapos ang ganda pa ng BG music nagbabasa! Boyce Ave. :)

Okay ang trip nyo, minsan kailangan talagang maniwala sa instict. :) bihira ang may skills na ganyan ha ^^

gandang gabi ser!


I did not have any photos of fireflies i am incredibly impressed kasi may nakuha kayo. Inggit naman ako...

Hoobert the Awesome said...

Yes, mas sulit pa sa sulit Mcoy. I spent (estimate) P1500 lang for the whole trip. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Hoobert the Awesome said...

I'm with 5 great travel bloggers Phioxee. It was actually to meet them and I got to tell you, they're all awesome! I had fun, really.

Hoobert the Awesome said...

Hello there Arki! You're new here, right? Thanks for following my blog. It means so much. Tagal ko na ring di 'to naa-update pero may mga tumatangkilik pa din. :'>

Yeah, it was pretty fun. Sobrang na-enjoy ko talaga. Kahit tirik na tirik ang araw, keribels na. Hahaha.

Salamat at marami talagang nakaka-appreciate ng playlist ko ditech. Thank yow!

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez said...

Never knew that fireflies could look so amazing through their sheer number! I've always dreamed of going to Donsol and didn't know it was this affordable and doable. Thank you for sharing:)