THE PROMISE.

Ever since I found out early this year that the RD Group of Companies has launched a commercial vessel to ferry passengers to Balut island (READ ACCOUNT HERE), I started setting my sights on it, promising myself that it should be my “must-visit” destination this year.

Balut Island can be seen at the bottom of this map beside Sarangani Island. Both belong to the Municipality of Balut under the province of Davao del Sur. It is four hours away from General Santos City via the much-faster M/V Song of Dolly 3.

Balut Island has always been a mystery to me.  There are only a few references you can gather from the internet.  And except for a few photos and an informative history of its first settlers from the Multiply site of a staffer of Gov. Migs of Sarangani Province and a 4 year old account of a trip there by a foreigner, nothing much can be read about it.

Curiously enough, the official website of the provincial government of Davao del Sur doesn’t say much about the island except for a few geographical data.

I then planned to go there last Holy Week but my brother who was supposed to travel with me, backed out.

Luckily, after judging for Dolores Tropicana Resort Hotel‘s Bikini Open Competition last summer, Ms. Tata Mondido, VP of the Dolores Resorts and Hotels invited me to come along with them on a weekend trip two weeks hence, to Balut Island along with some of the finalists of the competition plus her staff.

THE SHIP.

We were to leave Saturday midnight via the M/V Song of Dolly 3 which had berthed at the old makeshift dock at the Queen Tuna Park (formerly the Lion’s Beach) right behind the Bayside Petron Gas Station and beside the houses on stilts of the illegal settlers at the notorious Barrio Tinago.

There were about 24 of us, including Bikini Babes Aisa, Ivy, Joelde; Bikini Hunks Jolo, and the 2 MichaelsDirector Al-nezzar Ali with his assistants and Tata’s staff with their families.  Together with me was Marz, my cameraman.

M/V Song of Dolly 3 looked quite small from where we were at the shore of Lion’s Beach.  We couldn’t see much of it because of the poor lighting from a lone fluorescent hanging from a post which tried but failed to illuminate the short expanse of the dock made of coco lumber.

Passengers at the Lion’s Beach waiting for the signal to board the ship

Lots of cargo were still being loaded into the boat and when I say lots, I really mean LOTS of it.  Bricks, furniture, fuel in blue drums, cases of softdrinks, applicances, vehicle tires of all shapes, LPG tanks, groceries, bed mattresses and every imaginable house fixture seem to be finding its way into the boat and filling up her every nook and cranny!

Before the boat runs out of space for passengers, we decided to go aboard and look for our seats.

Bricks being loaded into M/V Song of Dolly 3, 5 bricks at a time…..

Earlier, we were given photocopies of what passed off as tickets with handwritten seat numbers we could barely make out.  We were in luck, as we were told, because we reserved 50% of the seats in the supposedly air-conditioned section of the ship. We had to shoo away some passengers who thought that it was free seating and luckily, there were no fights… just a few ruffled feathers.  This was around 11:00 midnite mind you.

THE VIP ROOM.

The air inside the room was stuffy and we all started perspiring heavily inspite of the aircon.  Much as I wanted to sleep, I couldn’t and so, I tried to squeeze my way through the piles of cargo and baggage along the pathways and eventually, reached the ship’s upper deck.

There, I was welcomed by the cooling effects of the Sarangani Bay breeze and by the sight of the lights of P. Acharon Boulevard on the shore. At that time (around 12:30am), the ship was slowly inching her way away from the wharf and I stayed on to watch until finally all I could see were just tiny  flickers of light coming from the Tuna Capital.

We were definitely on our way to Balut Island!

In a few minutes, it was all pitch dark from both sides of Sarangani Bay.  If not for the moon above us, one couldn’t make out the bodies of land we were passing.

I would have wanted to stay longer on the upper deck if not for the humming drone of the ship’s engines which was lulling me to sleep.  And so before i accidentally fall into the dark waters of Sarangani Bay I again navigated my way through the mountains of cargo until finally reaching my seat in the VIP room and eventually finding out that the airconditioning has conked out earlier.

Doesn’t matter.  Too happy to have my own seat.  In a little while, I was away in dreamland.

THE SUNRISE.

I must have been sleeping for 3-4 hours when I was awakened from a nudge by Marz.  He wanted to take shots of the sunrise from the upper deck.  I looked at my watch.  It was only quarter past five in the morning but I got also excited at the idea that I agreed right away.

At the upper deck, everyone is stirring, some were like us, waiting for the sunrise.  We were now out of the Sarangani Bay and sailing through Sarangani Straits.  To our left is Davao del Sur, while at our right is the beckoning distance of what seems to be Balut Island.

These are just some of the shots we took.

The sun is still behind these mountains of Balut Island

Breathtaking view, isn’t it?

Passengers of M/V Dolly at the upper deck looking out into the sunrise
The captain’s cabin

 

Finally, the sight of Mabila Port, Balut Island, Municipality of Balut
M/V Song of Dolly while docked at Mabila Port, Balut Island

 

 CHECK OUT for the next installment of My Journey to Balut Island, The Series: CLICK THIS–> Olaniban Island Paradise

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