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Savedra Beach And Community Cleanup In Moalboal, Philippines

 

Savedra Community and Beach Cleanup in Moalboal, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

What I love about traveling is when I get to be involved in the community where I visit. I had the chance to join a beach cleanup while I was diving in Moalboal. Savedra Dive Center was organizing the cleanup with the local kids and invited me to take pictures and join in on the fun!

Moalboal Diving Town

Moalboal is a small peninsula located on the southwest coast of Cebu Island. This little diving town brings people from all over the world to swim their famous sardine run. The sardines are just 100 meters (328 feet) off the Panagsama house reef. You can see the sardines year round, which makes Moalboal a great place to visit any time of year. I dove with the sardines three times and snorkeled with them once. I went out early morning, just me and my snorkel gear, which was my favorite time swimming with them.

 Savedra Community Cleanup

Savedra Dive Center organized the cleanup to bring awareness and education to the local children and teach them about litter and how it hurts sea life and the environment they live in. Saverdra’s instructors went to Basdiot Elementary School to give a talk about litter and see how many kids would be interested in participating in the cleanup. By the end of the talk, there were more kids that wanted to do the cleanup than there were teachers to supervise! The kids were really excited about the prizes, which included scuba courses and snorkeling equipment to the kids who collected the most trash.

Volunteers were made up of ninety-five students from grade five, along with twelve teachers and fifteen members of Savedra staff. Both the faculty and Savedra staff pitched in to make the day a success. We started at 8:00 am, the teachers organized the students into ten groups, and each student was given a large rice bag to collect trash. Each group was designated to head to one of four beach and community locations. After getting their trash bags, and bags of snacks to take with them, the kids were off to collect trash! And I was off on the back of a motorbike, I had a personal driver for the day!

Savedra Community and Beach Cleanup in Moalboal, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Savedra Community and Beach Cleanup in Moalboal, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Savedra Community and Beach Cleanup in Moalboal, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Savedra Community and Beach Cleanup in Moalboal, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Savedra Community and Beach Cleanup in Moalboal, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Savedra Community and Beach Cleanup in Moalboal, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

The Final Tally!

The kids really got into it by picking up everything from glass to paper to metal in order to clean up the streets and beach areas. By 2:00 pm the kids were back at the school with their bags filled to the brim. In total, the kids collected 917 Kilograms (2000+ Pounds!) of trash!

Savedra Community and Beach Cleanup in Moalboal, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Savedra Community and Beach Cleanup in Moalboal, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Savedra Community and Beach Cleanup in Moalboal, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Savedra Community and Beach Cleanup in Moalboal, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Savedra Community and Beach Cleanup in Moalboal, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Savedra Community and Beach Cleanup in Moalboal, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Savedra Community and Beach Cleanup in Moalboal, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Savedra Community and Beach Cleanup in Moalboal, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Savedra Community and Beach Cleanup in Moalboal, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Savedra Community and Beach Cleanup in Moalboal, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Savedra Community and Beach Cleanup in Moalboal, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Savedra Community and Beach Cleanup in Moalboal, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Savedra Community and Beach Cleanup in Moalboal, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Savedra also does regular reef cleanups with their divers. But, for this small town, the community cleanup is an excellent way to bring locals and expats together. It’s something that benefits everyone in the community. The kids enjoyed it, and I loved being a part of it!

Savedra Community and Beach Cleanup in Moalboal, Philippines - Robyn Around The World




Should You Swim With The Whale Sharks In Oslob?

Should you swim with the whale sharks in Oslob? - Robyn Around the World.

Swimming with whale sharks, a divers dream, but there is a lot of controversy about swimming with the whale sharks in Oslob. Many divers refuse to swim with them in Oslob because they feel the conditions are unfair. I originally wasn’t going to go. I didn’t want to condone the behavior. I changed my mind after talking to some local and expat dive shops and hearing their take. I decided to check it out and experience it myself and try to keep an open mind while I was there.

Shark Finning In The Philippines

Before this tiny town became a popular area to swim with the whale sharks, they were being harvested and their fins sold for income. Shark finning is illegal in the Philippines now, but it wasn’t for some time, and the whale shark populations were dwindling. The act of shark finning is when a fisherman catches a shark then slices of its fins and drops the rest of the body, alive, into the water to die. The sharks aren’t used for their full body meat, just the fins. Shark Fin Soup is very popular in Asia and the fins fetch a high dollar ticket when exported out. Many chefs, like Gordon Ramsey, have promoted not putting fins in shark fin soup. The fins don’t have a taste and have just become this commodity that has drove demand over the years.

How Swimming With Whale Wharks In Oslob Started

Local fishermen use shrimp as bait to catch fish, and the whale sharks were drawn to the shrimp and stuck around the boats. A local dive shop owner encouraged the fishermen not to fin them. He said to bring them into the bay by feeding them krill where they could share them with the community and tourists alike. The small town of Oslob went from not being able to send their children to school and living in shacks with no bathrooms to now where children have education, and families live in homes with plumbing and electric. If it weren’t for the sharks, this small town would still be struggling.

A foreign dive shop owner, from the UK, talked to me about not supporting them for years, in an effort to do their part in helping to put an end to it. He realized that divers were just going to other shops when his shop refused to go. His shop now offers dive trips to Oslob again, but his staff gives a thorough briefing along with educating his guests about the whale sharks and Oslob’s history with them.

My Experience Snorkeling With Whale Sharks In Oslob

My first impression upon arriving was that it wasn’t so bad, organization wise. Once there you are ushered to get your ticket (snorkeling is 1000 pesos and diving is 1500 Pesos). You then head off to another area to listen to a briefing on the do’s and don’ts of swimming with the whale sharks. I like that they have a briefing, but not everyone attends nor does everyone listen to what they are saying. The briefer did hit all the major points: stay at least 6m away from the whale sharks, don’t use sunscreen, and no swimming off from the boat to chase after them.

Should you swim with the whale sharks in Oslob? - Robyn Around the World

Should you swim with the whale sharks in Oslob? - Robyn Around the World

Should you swim with the whale sharks in Oslob? - Robyn Around the World

Once the briefing was over, I waited for my number to be called then headed out to the boats. The boats are regulated, and there weren’t more than 20 boats out at a time when I went. The boats were also all daisy chained up in a line, so there was some organized fashion with the boats, they’re not just a free for all in the Bay. Once chained up to your neighboring boat, you’re allowed to get in the water, staying next to the boat to wait for the whale sharks to pass you.

Should you swim with the whale sharks in Oslob? - Robyn Around the World

Should you swim with the whale sharks in Oslob? - Robyn Around the World

Here’s where the mixed emotion comes in. There are a few smaller boats in the water with a single fisherman on each, and he is hand-feeding the whale sharks buckets of krill. There tends to be one whale shark per boat, and they just follow the boat up and down the path of the tourists, eating the krill. In my eyes, this is not really an authentic experience. The whale sharks aren’t concerned about anything other than getting fed by the fishermen. They’re basically pets without leashes following their owner.

Should you swim with the whale sharks in Oslob? - Robyn Around the World

Should you swim with the whale sharks in Oslob? - Robyn Around the World

Should you swim with the whale sharks in Oslob? - Robyn Around the World

Why Feeding The Whale Sharks In Oslob Is Hurting Them

What I first noticed is none of the boats have propellers which are great, the whales won’t get chewed up by coming in contact with them, but what I witnessed is the whale sharks still had scrapes and cuts on them. The theory is because these sharks are used to being fed, they are going up to any boat once they are outside the bay thinking they’re going to be fed and are getting hit with the boat propellers.

Feeding the whale sharks is also breaking their migratory patterns. A local dive shop said that it’s the smaller whale sharks that stay in the bay and only for a few years then head off, but there’s not much data proving this.

Final Thoughts

I was surprised to see there were more local tourists here than foreign tourists. Since the whale shark tourism isn’t going away anytime soon, I feel it’s a great way for the local tourists to see what’s in their waters and learn how to protect them and why they’re so important. They are also supporting the locals, giving them a better life. For the foreigners, I felt like I was at Disneyland. Many were screaming like they were on a wild ride. You’re not offered fins unless you bring them. I was the only one on my boat with fins, which helped in getting underneath the manic tourists. Most of the people in the boat, once in the water, were kicking and screaming when the whale sharks got close, and some even kicked them. Not really my cup of tea.

I honestly only spent about 10 minutes in the water with them. Absorbing what was going on around me, I took a bunch of pictures, yelled at a few tourists on my boat who were getting too close and generally just freaking out, and then got out. I honestly don’t know if paying the extra money to dive with them would have been any different.

Should you swim with the whale sharks in Oslob? - Robyn Around the World

Should you swim with the whale sharks in Oslob? - Robyn Around the World

As a dive professional, I believe, this is not the way to see these beautiful creatures. When you see one of these beauties in the wild, it’s like you are given a gift. Going to a place like Oslob where you know you’re guaranteed to see them, it takes the thunder away from seeing them in their natural environment. This was my first time seeing them and now more than ever, I want to see them when it’s not a guarantee, but when one randomly shows up on one of my dives. That will be an experience of a lifetime and one to remember and cherish.

 

Should you swim with the whale sharks in Oslob? - Robyn Around the World.

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Cooking Filipino At Ven’z Kitchen

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

 

If you’ve been following along for a while you know, I love learning how to cook local food! Philippines is the 9th country in Southeast Asia where I’ve taken a class, and I fell on it by happenstance. I had planned to find a cooking school in Cebu City. When I arrived at the small diving town of Moalboal, I fell in love with one of the restaurants there (I ate there almost every day!). I saw they offered classes, so I inquired, and the owners gave me a private class!

Venus and Venisse run Ven’z Kitchen. Venisse is from Manila and worked in IT in Malaysia for four years. Venus is from Davao and worked as a pharmacist for five years before opening the business. Both of their passion is cooking, and they decided to take their passion and open a restaurant on Cebu. They found their space in Moalboal and opened in April 2016.

Their food is a mix of local staples like Adobo and Pancit, but also serve local flavor fusions making an array of vegan dishes for the non-meat eaters. You must try the banana heart salad. It tastes like tuna but is all vegetables and absolutely delicious.

MARKET TOUR

On the day of my class, Venisse took me to the market to pick up the ingredients for our dishes – Chicken Adobo, Pork Kare-Kare, and Ginataang Talong – and gave me a tour of the market. We picked up a coconut and had it shredded that would be used to make the coconut milk and cream for the Ginataang Talong. This was a treat to learn how to make, I’ve learned how to squeeze coconut milk from shredded coconut in Thailand and Indonesia, but this technique was different. They use the coconut meat, where the other countries use the meat and the flesh.
Back in the kitchen, Venus was waiting for me to explain the ingredients and talk me through how to make the dishes.

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

 

FILIPINO DISHES

The first thing we did was extract the milk and cream from the coconut. You take a small amount of water and squeeze it through the coconut shreds. This first press creates the coconut milk. We then added another small amount of water and pushed it through a strainer, which created the coconut milk. Honestly, as long as there is coconut around, I will never use boxed coconut milk or cream again! So easy and it doesn’t get fresher than this!
Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

After the coconut milk and cream were made we moved on to making the dishes. First was Chicken Adobo. You’d think these recipes would be so complicated to make, but they are very simple and packed with flavor. Adobo was the first dish I had at Ven’z, and the chicken just melts in your mouth with the savory sauce. The ingredient that surprised me? Ketchup! You don’t even know it’s in there!

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World
The second dish we made was Pork Kare-Kare. I have to say I was a little concerned when Venus put a beautiful piece of pork belly in boiling water. I was like, what is she doing to the pork?! I’ve always had pork belly roasted or sauteed; I thought boiling it would take away flavor and texture. I was sooooo wrong. The boiling made the belly even more tender than it already is. We used the broth the pork was cooked in to make the sauce and just brought out all the flavors of this dish that just melts in your mouth. I can’t wait to try this one at home!

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

The last dish we made was Ginataang Talong, eggplant in spicy coconut sauce. This is where we used the coconut milk and cream to make the sauce. Such a simple dish with a nice spicy kick.

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World
After all the dishes had been complete, I sat at their bar table and ate my labor of love. I stuffed myself silly trying to finish all the dishes. One of my favorite cooking classes to date!

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

 

Check out the other cooking classes I’ve taken around the world:

International Cooking Classes

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Scuba Diving In Cebu, Philippines

 

Scuba Diving in Cebu, Philippines - Robyn Around The World.

I had two things on my agenda when I went to Cebu Island in the Philippines. Moalboal to dive the Sardine Run and Malapascua to swim with Thresher sharks! I loved the laidback town of Moalboal. I absolutely fell in love with the little diving town and the locals. I really felt a connection there. Malapascua has some incredible diving and is away from the hustle of Cebu Island. It was fun to hang out on bean bag chairs while watching the sunset on the beach. I dove at both places and neither disappointed!

Moalboal

I spent most of my time here. I was only planning eight days and winded up staying 13! I couldn’t get enough of the diving and fell in love with the locals. If my heart wasn’t set on seeing the thresher sharks, I would have stayed here the whole month I was in Cebu. While here, I dove ten times. While all the dive sites are good, there are two that you must do when you’re there.

Scuba Diving in Cebu, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

House Reef – Sardine Run (3-65m – 100 m from beach)

My favorite dive out of all of them, even over the thresher sharks! This reef is right off the shore so you can take your snorkel gear and go anytime you’d like. I went early (6:30 am) one more and had them all to myself. It was the most magical time! Of course having a tank on your back lets you stay down a lot longer than a single breath, but there was something mystical about being out there with them by myself in that early morning.

Scuba Diving in Cebu, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Scuba Diving in Cebu, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Scuba Diving in Cebu, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Pescador Island (55m+ –  15 minutes)

Pescador is another site that divers come for. The island is a short ride out and has a beautiful, healthy reef that’s full of color. If you’re a frogfish fan, you’re going to love this dive site. We spotted easily 4-5 on each dive.
Scuba Diving in Cebu, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Scuba Diving in Cebu, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Scuba Diving in Cebu, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Scuba Diving in Cebu, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Malapascua

Malapasuca is just a 35 minute boat ride from the top of Cebu Island. The island doesn’t have ATM’s or cars and you can walk the island in a couple hours. The island isn’t just for divers, it’s tailored to all tourists with its beaches lined with bars, dive shops and restaurants.  There are two popular dive sites here, Monad Shoal and Gato Island. Don’t miss diving at these two amazing sites!

Scuba Diving in Cebu, Philippines -  Robyn Around The World..

Monad Shoal (26m+ – 20 mins)

Thresher Sharks!!! This is one of the only places in the world where they can be seen almost every morning. They are best seen at sunrise, so prepare to be up at 4:00 am to jump in the boat to get out there. The sharks are at about 24m so make sure you’re nitrox certified so you can get the longest bottom time with them. This is a show you don’t want to miss!

Scuba Diving in Cebu, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Scuba Diving in Cebu, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Scuba Diving in Cebu, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Gato Island (24m – 40 mins)

Gato Island is another famous dive site on the island. It’s a marine and sea snake sanctuary. I saw a few banded sea snakes on each of my dives. You can also see cuttlefish, scorpion fish, coral banded shrimp, nudibranchs, and plenty of reef sharks. I even saw my first big seahorse! I mean pigmys are cute and all, but I had a great time following a male around while he jumped from coral to coral.

Scuba Diving in Cebu, Philippines - Robyn Around The World.

Scuba Diving in Cebu, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Scuba Diving in Cebu, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Scuba Diving in Cebu, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Scuba Diving in Cebu, Philippines - Robyn Around The World

Scuba Diving in Cebu, Philippines - Robyn Around The World.

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