Dilation and constriction of these organelles, called chromatophores, are responsible for the squid’s ability to change color.
Inside Nature’s Giants: The Giant Squid (2010)
Oka Espenilla on breath hold || Twin Rocks, Anilao, Mabini, Batangas PHILIPPINES
(c) Oka Espenilla || Oslob, Cebu, PHILIPPINES
Jan31’14 || Religion
There is a gargantuan shape that emerges between the sands of my imagination and the blues of the sea, the greens of its grasslands that never need mowing. This is the story of me going to church: the reverent silence, the muffled scuffling of the other devoted, a kneeling, two prayers, and the standing —- all in awe of a mighty something that could only have been an act of a god or God himself, proof that life is anything but smaller than us.
The guidelines at the Briefing Area were simple: wear your life jacket on the boat, you have 30 minutes of interaction, don’t swim without the life jacket if you can’t, no sunblock, no flash photography, no touching the animal, and if they touch you just calmly swim away.
The caveat by my environmentalist friends was simple too: it may get as depressing as a zoo.
It was January, and I was shivering as I pulled on my rash guard, wore my monofin and plopped into the water. I was shivering in the water. But the visibility was good enough, and I quickly became aware of the rather venomous sea snake on the half-grassy, half-sandy bottom, of the sparse schools of basslets and cardinal fish. I test my fin and feel the cold escape me.
There were only about 8 boats that Monday morning after Sinulog, and only 3 of us tourists knew how to swim to the bottom. So I took a drop, the sand being a mere 15 feet from the surface, and laid down on the grass, allowing the silence of the sea to swallow me (the boatmen use oars to avoid harming the whale sharks). I was weightless. The sand was warm. The sun was blinding, as it should be. Then it was not.
The feeding boat passed overhead, its pet whale shark in tow. By the size of the fish I took it to be a juvenile, or a severely stunted adult. Swimming under it, I saw its massive body, however small for its species: the slits for its gills and its tail that was as tall as I was, the small dark spots on its white underbelly, the round white spots on its dark shark skin, the ridges, the dorsal (the fin on its back), and the left eye — the ever forward, focused, hungry eye. It is an eye that sees food, the little shrimp meals from the mama boat, and nothing else. So when I felt a shape emerge from my right side - its pectoral (side) fin! - I knew it hadn’t seen me, so I jerked my body upward to avoid it BY A HAIR. It was a slow and graceful movement, yet menacing nevertheless.
A few nights later while I was back in Manila, my freediving instructor posts a photo of himself and a whale shark that passed in front of his shop in Panglao, Bohol. It was three times the size of my little friend, migratory and seldom (you can’t guarantee a sighting at any given time). But more importantly, it was horizontal - swimming with its mouth open to take in plankton - and not vertical nor inclined like the ones in Oslob. My heart sinks as he updates me with the story of yet another whale shark reportedly crashing into a boat. “It associates them to food,” he says.
But maybe that’s just the way it is, that we are not responsible for what we don’t see. Maybe we just don’t have the right - the tourism does help the residents of the local barangay after all. But if you see the sharks like I do, and swim as freely as they should, then you’d know how hard it is to do nothing.
You should see them for yourself.
Brgy. Tan-awan, Oslob
To get there: pay Php 150-155 for a 2-3 hour bus ride from the South Bus Terminal near Elizabeth Mall in Cebu City. Head to the Briefing Area to get well-acquainted with the guidelines. Pay Php 300 per head just to watch, Php 500 per head to swim with the sharks, and Php 1000 per head for foreigners. They close at around noon.
To learn more about the status of the whale sharks in the Oslob area, follow Large Marine Vertebrates Project Philippines or LAMAVE here.
a letter in response to this article
disclaimer: starting the letter, I never thought it would turn out feminist nor related at all to gender studies but this is how Oka and I work.
Have you heard of the saying “Behind every great man is THE woman” or somethingtothateffect? Yep, that’s the one. That’s a thing we like to call THE dream. No one is going to admit it, but it is every woman’s dream to be THE woman: the giver, the lover, the muse. I want to be the one to set him right. I want to be the best thing to ever happen in his life. And in most cases, we win.
AS IF we can only run the world when we do it behind a man. Well I’m not going to be THE woman. I won’t always be the ice to your bruises, or cook dinner solely for your enjoyment. I am not responsible for your personal development, the catalyst for your maturity nor am I the beacon to guide you home. I was not made for you. I was made for me. I can move people with my words and stop them with a smile. I’m armed to the teeteeteeteeth and drip-ping—in—charisss-mah. I have a solid education, awards in my wake and languages they don’t speak in this part of the world — you’d better keep up boy. I’m beautiful, smart and hilarious. I pay my own dues. I cook well too, in my own honest opinion. But am I the best thing that ever happened to you? Then you’d better-look-harder… Because life begins outside you-and-me and we-will-never-be if you can’t. handle. that.
(But I’m really glad you can handle that because really, what we-do-have is pretty awesome and I gotta admit — I love you because you’re not too bad yesself mister man.)
Life is the best thing that ever happened in my life, through shit storms and golden hours, and I am honored everyday that you choose to share it (and yours) with me.
ps. I love you today
"1. a mistake.
2. I don’t even remember how to spell her name anymore.
3. a stranger.
4. that leak in your shower that you got fixed before you could hear it sing.
5. your father’s favorite curse word.
6. the moth that died trapped in your ceiling light.
7. a picture shoved into the drawer of your nightstand.
8. such a shame.
9. 5 o’clock in the morning.
10. the mold on the shower curtains.
11. the light from the bathroom, when you forget it’s not me in there, anymore.
12. a bad habit.
13. the taste of cigarette smoke on your teeth.
14. the reason why you can’t meet her parents or hold her after you have sex.
15. bad coffee.
16. I used to love her, but, don’t worry, that’s over now. promise. I’m sorry."
I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited for anything, ever, and that’s saying something, as I am pretty much the most excitable person I know. What’s funny is that this fire is not even for any specific thing, but for the collective plans and dreams I have laid out in my head, and in my heart, and for life in general. I’ve always known that the mundane was never for me (a confession: the thing I fear the most in this world is boredom), but I have never been so sure as I am now that in the future I will find nothing but grandness, however I may define that in the years to come. And it won’t be because of luck, or of any sort of bullshit about stars aligning, or karma. It will just be because I refuse, absolutely, vehemently refuse, to settle for anything less.
Well said, baby girl. Run, walk, crawl, take a fucking rocket for all I care, but if you got a dream you follow it you hear, and keep following it til you can’t move them legs no more, til your feet melt into the ground and your eyes hurt from watching it. You follow that dream to the ends of the earth and don’t you stop until you get it.
Eyes on the prize baby, eyes on the prize.
How you can tell they will grow up to be good guard dogs.
Pia Ranada || Rappler:
Starting 6:30 am on Monday, the petitioners and their supporters will walk from Rizal Park to the Supreme Court, where they will file a petition for a writ of kalikasan and mandamus for the government to divide the roads in half: half for cars and half for collective transport systems, like all-weather bike lanes and sidewalks, bus rapid transit (which the country doesn’t have in place yet), and public trains.
People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.
A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.
A soul mates purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master…"
Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love