TNMK* (*Tindahan ni Mana Kordapya) comes up with a new collection designed to tease summer.

For the special photoshoot, we decided to combine work and a bit of R & R and headed up to Caluwayan Palm Island Beach Resort in Marabut, Samar.

The ambiance at Caluwayan always provides a refreshing respite from one’s daily grind. The seascape view, with the rock islets and rock formations in the vicinity, is very much relaxing.

Yeah, I love the calm sea.

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The final results of the singing competition:

Champion: May Obando of Ormoc City

2nd Place: Reginald Detabali of Baybay City

3rd Place: Ma. Kristine Ricarte of Ormoc City

Congratulations to all!

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Ormoc City’s May Obando grabbed the top prize of P200,000 in the 5th Season of Leyte IDOL held Sunday, March 21, 2010 at the jampacked LNHS Gym in Tacloban City.

The show was but another reconfirmation of how good the Leyteño talents are in the field of singing. The governor himself started the ball rolling with his opening vocal number.

Here are the initial photos (more to come!):

May Obando, center, does her winning number, together with the other finalists of this season’s Leyte IDOL.

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Much has been written about the success story of Donsol, Sorsogon and its transformation from being a sleepy, rustic, 5th Class municipality to its current 1st Class stature since the discovery of hundreds of whale sharks or butanding congregating in its murky but food-rich bay.

Donsol now stands proudly as the site with the largest number of recorded sightings of whale sharks anywhere in the world. It has become a world-class tourist destination and is now known as the “Whale Shark Capital of the World”. Their presence has become a major income generator, as thousands arrive each season to swim and witness the friendly behavior of these giant fish.

Donsol’s local residents have long known about the presence of the butandings in their area for over 100 years. The locals believed, however, that the butanding sharks were dangerous. This all changed in 1998 when a group of divers came in contact with them where their interaction with the gentle giants was documented and publicized by the media and got the attention of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), an international non-governmental organization working on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment.

The Whale Shark (scientific name: Rhincodon Typus) is considered the biggest fish in the world and is included in the list of endangered species, with only about 1,000 identified worldwide. (For those not in the know, the huge and enormous blue whale is a mammal, not a fish.) Butandings seen in Donsol measure from 3 meters to as long as 10 meters (15 ft. – 40 ft.) in length and weigh up to 40 tons. The butanding has leathery grayish brown skin with silvery polka dots all over its huge body. They feed only on plankton and krill and are harmless and gentle, allowing humans to swim alongside with them.

Whale sharks are migratory and are found in warm tropical waters as they follow their food supply. They have been observed to converge in vast numbers off plankton-rich waters of Donsol starting in October and November and peaks in the months of February to May. After this time, they move on to other areas.

In Eastern Visayas, sightings of butandings have been reported in Pintuyan, Southern Leyte and in Dulag, Leyte.

Interaction with the whale sharks at Donsol is regulated by a triumvirate group – the Donsol Local Government Unit, the Department of Tourism (DOT) and WWF-Philippines. WWF guidelines are generally observed which are intended to maintain safety and to defend the creatures from over exploitation.

Rules include limiting number of motorized bancas to one boat per butanding, the number of swimmers per boat to six, and no scuba divers and flash photography allowed.

The swimming interaction is simple: a group of six hires a boat (this includes a swimmer guide, a spotter and banca operators), the group finds a shark and slips into the water alongside the creature. Snorkeling gear are available for rent.

We went to Donsol, Sorosogon March 16-18, 2010. It was an experience for a lifetime.

The banca trip is a mere 10-minuter ride from the beach. Once the spotter spots a butanding, the boat maneuvers near it and swimmers, led by the guide, slip into the water and swim towards the fish.

The first time you see the giant creature, one naturally freezes. Your instinct forces you to push away to safer distance. But after recovering from the initial shock, you get by and start to marvel at the butanding’s enormous size and natural beauty.

It’s one truly awesome and memorable experience, guaranteed to last over a lifetime.

Thanks to DOT Regional Offices  No. 8 (Eastern Visayas) and No. 5 (Bicol), Regional Development Council for Region 8, Donsol LGU, and to our guide – the best of them – Allan. Salamat sa lahat!

View more photos and slideshow: http://gerryruiz.callezaragosa.com/p435649078

Gae Samson

Ludette Ruiz

Peace!

Gae Samson & Ludette Ruiz

Ludette & Gae

View more photos and slideshow: http://gerryruiz.callezaragosa.com/p435649078

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