Looc's Giant Clams

Trip Start Dec 03, 2012
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Trip End Jan 09, 2013


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Where I stayed
Angelique Inn

Flag of Philippines  , Mimaropa,
Friday, December 21, 2012

Rural Life
Moved out to Looc 1.5 hours south of Odiongan on a jeepney this morning. Tablas Island, Romblon, being such a underdeveloped province, meant alot of rural villages and communities are still pretty much intact. Tall shady trees led the way through farmlands and greenery greeting many islanders along the way. I could imagine the same unspoiled rural settings in the other islands of Romblon. Ironically, Romblon is so close to Boracay but yet worlds apart. I have yet to spot any other foreigners since I sailed on the wretched bangka. I did however saw a rather huge european man with his filipino wife and kid at the market this morning. I considered them local anyway.
 
Looc
Looc town proper has got to be the most pleasing town in this trip so far. To begin with, Looc town is small. The centre of town are gridblocks of open space playgrounds, parks, basketball courts, a tiny market block and a dominating sports arena. These public spaces basically almost formed a square fronted by various types of shophouses and other establishments. The town's mood was unmistakenly jovial - a Romblon basketball tournament was to start in the afternoon. Music was blaring out of towering monitors and kids were raiding the playgrounds. 

I had the afternoon of good sunny weather, so I made my way out to the pier for my boat ride to Looc Bay Marine Refuge & Sanctuary - for snorkelling! This 48 hectare protected coral reef's main attraction? (Drums roll...) Giant Clams! 10 minutes on a spider bangka (can sit a total of 6 passengers) with two captains, we got to the sanctuary's moored bamboo raft where I watched schools of brightly coloured fishes fought for leftover rice. Time to snorkel!
 
Taste of Seawater
I must confess - this is my first time snorkeling and I suffers from asthma. For the first five minutes in the water, I struggled to learn how to breath with my mouth. The difficulty was exemplified by my shallow breathing. At this point, all I could see is murky water. I was so disappointed. "Where are the clams?" And the captains pointed east. Making my way around the bamboo hut float and the seabed got shallower and visibility was getting better. I saw alot of corals, bright purple and blue starfishes, strange looking/brain looking rock formations - still no giant clams! Not even small ones. Barely 20 minutes in the water, after swallowing gulps of seawater, I made my way up the moored raft for a break.
 
Giant Clams
Feeling disappointed, I was about to tell the captains to return us to shore when I asked once again about the good spots for giant clams. They pointed east again. Okay, that was twice they pointed east. I must be blind. Go again. I jumped back in and swam to the eastern side. Then I saw it - I actually went "Holy Shit!" in my breathing mouthpiece followed by hearing myself laughing underwater. One giant clam followed by another, slowly the clear visibility revealed a huge ecosystem of giant clams dotted on the seabed. They were so big, you can fit a basketball into each clam. My 300 php was worth it. From this point, I didn't even want to get out and remained in the water for the next 1.5 hours, exploring the coral reefs and swimming with the friendly fishes.
 
No Wifi
Returning to town at about 4 pm, the basketball tournament was already in full swing with crowds cheering their teams. I quickly showered and returned to the game to capture the excitement on photo. Any visitor to Looc should note the lack of internet access in town. Angelique Inn which I stayed in had no wifi, neither in town as well. Which may not be a bad thing.
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