Lights off please! 🙂 Take a moment to enjoy the light from the fireflies 🙂
Out of curiosity and recommendation from a good friend I met in FB, Mr. Bryan Dejarme, I made way to include this on my bucket list in short notice. I barely knew what to expect since I did not see much pictures of fireflies (later on you will know why). Also I found only a handful of blogs regarding this, and all I’ve read were words such as “magical”, “romantic” and “wonderful”.
I was afraid that I would not be able to experience this because some people said that the event required pre-registration, and I was unable to do that. On the other hand, some people also said that they allow walk-ins. So we braved and did the latter. I AM TELLING YOU NOW, IT IS WORTH IT!:))
So how did we get there?
Coming from Mitra’s Ranch, we asked a tricycle driver, Kuya Randy, on how to get to Iwahig (the firefly place). He charged us P700 (we haggled from P800, and that was for the me and Taro). According to my research, each person would cost P200, but that’s just one way. So you have to double it for a 2-way trip. I personally think it was just okay since he dropped us at Palawan Village Hotel, on our place of accommodation. Plus,he was nice to us. 🙂
When we met kuya Randy as he was servicing (as in driving) some customers at Baker’s hill and Mitra’s ranch, so he had to drop them first and fetch us afterwards. It turns out he has a contact in Iwahig Firefly Watching, which was great since he got to registered us right away. That time it was still around 5pm, but the show would start at 7pm. So he suggested that we eat our dinner first in the buffet so that we will be just on time.
As I’ve said, the start of event is at 7pm. We arrived at the venue around 6:30pm. We opted not to eat at the buffet because we were still full from Baker’s hill. We were number 22 on the list, and were included in the 2nd batch. There were a total of 12-14 boats(?) in the water. While waiting for our turn, we had to apply off lotion insect repellent. They were sold in the area for 15php/sachet. So if you do not want to buy, you might want to include this on your “To-bring list”.
IT’S OUR TURN
The tour runs for about 30 mins. The only thing that you would see aside from the pitch black surroundings are the sparkle from the fireflies in the mangroves, the sparkle from the trees and the stars up above the vast sky. Thank God for the perfect weather and we were able to see a lot of stars, some planets such as Jupiter and Saturn (visible that night), and the Milky Way Galaxy even. It was so relaxing. The sky was clear enough to show the various constellations like the Big Dipper and Scorpio. It turned into a giant planetarium, and that surprised me. .“Sarap tumambay doon.” It was also my first time to see a Shooting star.
There was something that I did not disclose to those that were with me that time. I was actually a bit anxious because of the fact that it was dark. You know that itsy bitsy anxiety when you can’t see anything, and the fear that something might happen. Though I was able to calm up my nerves after a short while after the tour started. The whole trip was just very calming and relaxing. The boats were only moving on paddles, so no noise from the motors as well. (As long as you’re sitting still and wearing your lifevest, there really is nothing to be afraid of.
They did however mention that there were snakes: walo-walo (poisonous mangrove snakes which were colored black and yellow), Philippine pitviper and king cobras. The boat doesn’t come near the trees anyway so there is a low possibility that the snake would come in contact to you. But did you know that these snakes are also important? They are part of ecological balance. They are predators of tree frogs, which happens to be the predator of the fireflies. So in essence, fireflies exists when snakes exist.
There was also light underwater. It came from Bioluminous planktons or dinoflaggelates, and their presence indicated that the water was clean. I can imagine myself glowing if I had dipped in the waters. Like the fireflies, they were very minute and difficult to capture with the camera. So sadly, they are also “For our eyes only” :).
Because of sir Jason’s vast knowledge with the environment, I have learned that the light from the fireflies and planktons came from a biochemical processes known as Bioluminescence. The light is being emitted in the living organism through the action of the oxidative enzyme luciferase being coverted to luciferin. As long as there is an ample source of oxygen, the fireflies and plankton will be able to undergo this process, thus making them an indicator of a healthy environment. It is also good to note that the same process applies with glowsticks, and once the stick no longer produces light, it means the oxygen inside the stick has already been consumed.
Thanks to sir Jason for refreshing my mind, and for providing me all the nice-to-knows. I won’t say everything though, otherwise that would be like tattling everything that the people of the tour had to offer , and you won’t be as enticed to go there anymore. haha. But believe me, you will appreciate it more when you experience it for yourself. Sir Jason was also able to answer all our questions. It was just so spontaneous, like he was able to give the “nice to knows” while we were just talking and have a casual conversation. So I’ll give him an A for that!!haha..
Upon his mentioning of the life cycle and the threats to life in the firefly, he was able to make a hugot: ”Kung ano pa yung mganda, siya pa yung mabilis mawala”. He also added ”bakit di nalang ipis o bangaw” which is true in the real world. “Mahirap daw maging firefly”.
The fireflies reacted to Led lights only. Their eyesight is very sensitive, and are able to respond to the light from a very distant source. However, they cannot be captured by simple cameras. Our camera had green light on it. Sir Aries, the person who briefed us before the tour, said that there is a possibility that they will be stimulated by this light. Maybe that was the reason why we were (barely) able to capture some pictures of the fireflies.
They said that some phone cameras such as Iphone 7’s or nexus’ can capture pictures of the fireflies. Just know it though, that it really is difficult to take photos of them. One reason why it’s so difficult is because in the dark, you normally have to captureimages in long exposure. You cannot do it in the tour’s set up because the boat is constantly moving. But if you are really interested in getting footage of the fireflies, then that may require more preparation. They mentioned that a team from natGeo visited before, and were succesful in capturing images of the fireflies. They had arrangements and a little paperwork done (plus there must be an extra fee.)
Overall, It was truly a wonderful experience. It’s one of those adventures that is meant to be enjoyed in tranquility and serenity, without the pressure of taking lots of pictures. You just need to listen to nature, appreciate it on its own, learn or relearn the ecological importance of the ecosystem, and experience the vibe of the whole ride. It somehow awakened the little biologist side of me. (Biologist friends, don’t get mad me. Don’t say I’m feelingera, pls. Haha!!)
So friends, You might want to try this as well:))