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My Journey to Balut Island, The Series: On board M/V Song of Dolly

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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About Avel Manansala

Avel Manansala aka Bariles, is a native of a bustling city down south of Mindanao Island. He is a consultant on Blogging, Social Media, and Marketing . He is co-founder and head of the SoCCSkSarGen Bloggers and manager of Google Business Group (GBG)- General Santos. You may add him to your circles on G+ - http://plus.google.com/+AvelManansala. If you need more info on any of these fields, please leave him a message.

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Comments

  1. Mindanao Bob says:

    Hi Avel – Does Balut Island have anything in the way of a Pension House, or some place for overnight stays?

    Mindanao Bobs last blog post..Transportation fares

  2. bariles says:

    Hello Bob! They have but you will have to coordinate with the Tourism Office of the Provincial Government of Davao del Sur which I was supposed to do for my cancelled Holy Week Trip.

    In my sponsored trip, we went home the same night on board the same vessel, so we did not have lodging concerns, the story which can be read at my next post. Thanks Bob. 🙂

    bariless last blog post..My Journey to Balut Island, The Series: On board M/V Song of Dolly

  3. orman says:

    i hate crossing the sea to reach a destination but balut island sure looks like fun…

  4. gensanite says:

    nice pics on the sunrise… 🙂

  5. bariles says:

    @Orman, you have to go there with Bob and Feyma. Time to bond with our godchild. Hehehe! :0

    @gensanite, hello! Thanks. You still owe me your name. 🙂

  6. philip ceasar c says:

    wow good news talaga yan bosing.. mas madali ng pumunta ng balot island. ganda ng mga shot mo ah,,

  7. Joseph Vergara says:

    Kuya avel magkano naman pamasahe papuntang balut island?at ilang oras ang byahe dun?maganda cguro pag uwi dun ako magbabakasyon,nakakasawa n rin kasi sa bahay n lng lagi.huhuhu..gaya ng sabi ni mr bob kung may matulugan dun overnyt.thanks..hello to kuya Orman..

  8. Mindanao Bob says:

    Hi Orman – Why do you hate crossing the sea? The fact that you have to cross the sea makes the destination that much more interesting to me, because it makes Balut a place that is visited by only a few people. Most of my favorite Mindanao Destinations have been places like that.

    Mindanao Bobs last blog post..Can it be? I simply cannot believe it

  9. blackmeat says:

    Sir Avel,

    I had a classmate from high school before. She’s the princess of Balut Island. Ahehe!

  10. Kimberly says:

    now this reminds me… this escapade of yours kuya avel was
    months back pa… i remembered you were texting me before
    you depart and upon arrival at Balut Island. murag excited
    ka na murag nahadlok! hehehe! i was even wondering…what
    the hell are you doing in Balut Island! I needed to know coz
    i have to report it to our batch78 yahoogroup.

    reading and looking at the awesome pix (esp. the sunrise)…
    looks like it’s an interesting place indeed!
    what an experience huh! thanks for sharing kuya avel.

    Orms… if ever i take you to Langkawi Island here in Malaysia…
    for sure you would have no qualms in crossing the sea. hahaha!
    quesehodang magka sea-sickness ka fah! it’s really worth the trip!
    para kang nasa fantasy island! hehehe!

  11. kuya avel,

    as promise, i’m here in your site na.

    Wow! its nice to know that we have M/V songs of Dolly for Balut Island. Some friends keep on inviting me to visit their place but dont have much nerve to take the risk in moving out of sarangani bay. hehehehehe But your article gave me the interest again to find time to visit Balut Island. Do you recommend us to visit the place? bwahahahaha

  12. ..ohh the view is totally breathtaking..ive never been there though..but would love to check that out when i get my hometown..gensan…

  13. ..hey joseph!!are you the joseph vergara that i know???

  14. orman says:

    kim… will send the invite to kenneth soon…

    bob… i agree with you but i have this fear of dark blue waters…

    joseph… make sure na dadaan ka sa bank when you get home…

  15. dimaks says:

    I like the sunrise shots.. breathtaking as you named it. that photo of the Mabila port looks classic but stunning. you had a great adventure indeed.

    dimakss last blog post..How to Maximize Your Memory

  16. Kimberly says:

    Hi Orms… email Ken asap jud so i can make the booking insigida!
    then, i can block off his sched for 1st week of Sept. Pag tumaas
    ang airfare baka hindi ako isama nyan! huhuhu! wala kang tongkat
    ali cafe! hehehe! charrr!

  17. meg says:

    hi avel,
    congrats… you finally made it to balut.. i know that its really a breathtaking site.. i should know.. mommy’s been there before (15 years ago) and said olaniban is a wonderful site… donut island daw..
    i envy your courage to really take time to travel places .. sana ma overcome ko yun fear ko of taking the boat..hahaha..
    honestly ang galing mo dear friend.. wala na akong masabi..
    kudos..
    menggay

  18. bariles says:

    Originally Posted By philip ceasar c
    wow good news talaga yan bosing.. mas madali ng pumunta ng balot island. ganda ng mga shot mo ah,,

    Sinabi mo pa! Dati, mga wooden hulled-ships lang ang pumupunta, ang tagal pa ng byahe. Mas mabilis na ngayon.

    Thanks for appreciating my shots. Watch out for PART II.

    Salamat uli. 🙂

  19. bariles says:

    Originally Posted By Joseph Vergara
    Kuya avel magkano naman pamasahe papuntang balut island?at ilang oras ang byahe dun?maganda cguro pag uwi dun ako magbabakasyon,nakakasawa n rin kasi sa bahay n lng lagi.huhuhu..gaya ng sabi ni mr bob kung may matulugan dun overnyt.thanks..hello to kuya Orman..

    Hello Kuya Joseph! The one-way fare via M/V Dolly is only P200. Very cheap for the 3 hour trip.

    Why do you need a pension house when you can stay overnite at the beach under the stars, di ba?

  20. bariles says:

    Originally Posted By Mindanao BobHi Orman – Why do you hate crossing the sea? The fact that you have to cross the sea makes the destination that much more interesting to me, because it makes Balut a place that is visited by only a few people. Most of my favorite Mindanao Destinations have been places like that.

    Mindanao Bobs last blog post..Can it be? I simply cannot believe it

    Bob, Why don’t we go on a travel blog adventure together one of these days? Let’s visit LEBAK!!!! 🙂

  21. bariles says:

    Originally Posted By blackmeat
    Sir Avel,

    I had a classmate from high school before. She’s the princess of Balut Island. Ahehe!

    Hi blackmeat! Hahahaha! Really??? Ikaw naman ang prince? Hahaha! Thanks for dropping by, Kid. 🙂

  22. bariles says:

    Originally Posted By Kimberly
    now this reminds me… this escapade of yours kuya avel was
    months back pa… i remembered you were texting me before
    you depart and upon arrival at Balut Island. murag excited
    ka na murag nahadlok! hehehe! i was even wondering…what
    the hell are you doing in Balut Island! I needed to know coz
    i have to report it to our batch78 yahoogroup.

    reading and looking at the awesome pix (esp. the sunrise)…
    looks like it’s an interesting place indeed!
    what an experience huh! thanks for sharing kuya avel.

    Orms… if ever i take you to Langkawi Island here in Malaysia…
    for sure you would have no qualms in crossing the sea. hahaha!
    quesehodang magka sea-sickness ka fah! it’s really worth the trip!
    para kang nasa fantasy island! hehehe!

    Hi Kim! Yeah, this was that same trip. It was really awesome. I am glad I made that decision to go because it would be hard for me to go back again, considering my hectic showbiz schedule. Hehehe!

    We really have to make Orman go out and sail across the seas one of these days. Too bad, he likes to fly and not sail. I hope Langkawi will make him change his mind… if and when, only God knows!

    Thanks for your comments Kim. Really appreciate it manay. 🙂

  23. bariles says:

    Originally Posted By MIchael Binas
    kuya avel,

    as promise, i’m here in your site na.

    Wow! its nice to know that we have M/V songs of Dolly for Balut Island. Some friends keep on inviting me to visit their place but dont have much nerve to take the risk in moving out of sarangani bay. hehehehehe But your article gave me the interest again to find time to visit Balut Island. Do you recommend us to visit the place? bwahahahaha

    Hi Mike! Finally, you’re here!!! I definitely recommend this trip to you and your friends. Better go there with a group, because as they say, THE MORE, THE MERRIER.

    And, sama ako ha? Bring me with you! 🙂

  24. bariles says:

    Originally Posted By pingcambarijan
    ..ohh the view is totally breathtaking..ive never been there though..but would love to check that out when i get my hometown..gensan…

    Hi Ping! Before do that before a lot of local and foreign tourists get to know about the place and visit it in droves. Go, go, go! :0

  25. bariles says:

    Originally Posted By dimaks
    I like the sunrise shots.. breathtaking as you named it. that photo of the Mabila port looks classic but stunning. you had a great adventure indeed.

    dimakss last blog post..How to Maximize Your Memory

    Hello dimaks! I did have the time of my life there. More on this on my next post. Thanks again. 🙂

  26. bariles says:

    Originally Posted By meg
    hi avel,
    congrats… you finally made it to balut.. i know that its really a breathtaking site.. i should know.. mommy’s been there before (15 years ago) and said olaniban is a wonderful site… donut island daw..
    i envy your courage to really take time to travel places .. sana ma overcome ko yun fear ko of taking the boat..hahaha..
    honestly ang galing mo dear friend.. wala na akong masabi..
    kudos..
    menggay

    Hi ate megs! You should take the trip there too, being a beachcomber too. It’s my best short vacation this year and am sure, you’ll enjoy it too. Thanks kagawad! :0

  27. arlene nayre says:

    @orman

    to those who admire balut island..

    its our pride to hear from you that balut island is anice place to visit to unwind..isa po akong taga balut island..
    anyone who want to visit balut island im willing to share my humble barrio/barangay to stay witn..i have my own little house to stay..comfy
    ..feel at home while stay at our place..i live in one of our baranggay,the baranggay laker..just call mu name and ill be there,hehehe
    (kanta yata yon..)by the way im arlene nayre-olarte one of business woman in balut island..cme and shop w/my store..hehehe..
    hope to see more tourist in our place.

  28. rich says:

    Hi Bob

    Crossing the sea to Balut can be quite an adventure and a scary one many times. Very rough seas have caused many boats to capsize. Also, remember many filipino people cannot swim even if they are on the water lots of times.

    Balut island is also a place you should really visit with a local or professional guide especially if you a white foreigner. Foreigners can be viewed with suspicion and the island is mostly Muslim. It is not like many other islands and has very little infastructure that are not easily adaptable by people that are used to creature comfort. Lights are on between 4pm and midnight only.

    It is however a very beautiful place that makes other islands in the Philippines pale in comparison. For example a place even like Samal Island (where you are near I think) everyone likes to talk about would be like a very very poor sister compared to the beauty of Balut and Sarangani Islands.

    rich

  29. orman says:

    @rich – naku rich if you only knew the places that bob has visited, you’ll be surprised. mas pinoy pa siya sa ating lahat in terms of his many travels around the philippines. he had been to areas which are taboo to foreigners. and bob has only good words about his encounters with the many filipinos he met along the way. kaya nga nacha-challenge ako to explore pilipinas first than any other country…

    ormans last blog post..I love…

  30. arlene nayre-olarte says:

    hello every body…

    sana one of this days ma discover ang balut island bilang isang bagong tourist distenation..its clean and fresh island,very hospitable ang mga residente its like your in a safe place kung pagbabakasyon ang pag uusapan.
    ..kaya lang wala pang mga hotels or lodging house na matutuluyan ng mga bakasyonista..well pwede ko naman i offer ang house ko para sa mga taong gusto magbakasyon..bring your own baon lang,hehehe..eron namn ako store na pwede kayong mag shopping..y not d ba?atleast libre ang house,may sweet room pa.hhehehe..
    sa totoo lang maganda ang balut island kung pagbabakasyon ang pag uusapan.

    welcome po d2 sa balut island.
    God bless.

  31. flor says:

    @Mindanao Bob

    bob,
    balut island is a breathtaking view, however i am still confused if it is a part of sarangani i mean there is such place as sarangani and there is also a sarangani island and where do i locate the hotspring and the 12 barangays of sarangani? (in island or in the province?) is there barangay in balut..
    please reply to me in my email add… joerick_me@yahoo.com
    i’m not always here in this site and not much familiar..
    if you know how to speak bisaya then go ahead… storya ta…
    Ü

  32. flor says:

    @arlene nayre-olarte
    hey dear
    gusto ko rin diyan pero dapat ko munang malaman may mga sangay pa ba ang balut island? i mean ano ba ang meron jan at ano ang makikita jan para mapuntahan?
    may mga barangays din ba?
    or isa lang talaga siya
    no worries if i have money mag-i-invest ako para maging tourist spot iyan…
    please reply to me.. kung hindi dito sa email add ko na lang minsan lang kasi ako pumupunta sa site na ito and im not familiar
    joerick_me@yahoo.com
    i’ll be waiting
    please,,,
    tnx

  33. jeffrey toos says:

    elo kuya!!may vessel ba din dun or network of that sort papuntang indonesia?baka kasi nalaman niyo bout dun!!

  34. bareyk says:

    pyu pa lapo degamo ete ete salom ko di butwa ako dd2 lando lumos nan maaung hapon mga tga gensan asenso na d i ang byahe sa balut ky naa na barko dli na wla na d i ang teresita oa pering ngfa lantsa
    .

  35. arvin jay says:

    hi!!!…..im a resident of brgy. patuko…tnx sa pag appreciate sa among lugar…hehehe…balik2x mo ha….hehehehe…

  36. geff alday says:

    i am in the market of fresh seafood here in manila. does anyone know from balut island whom you can refer me to supply of fresh marine seafood( lobster, abalone, grouper,etc ) will be greatly appreciated. kindly contact me at 09214708860.

    thanks in advance

  37. Marian says:

    Hello, sir. This is by far the most helpful site I have encountered about Balut Island. Can you still remember the boat schedules of M/V Dolly?

  38. rebie says:

    I came across your blog as i’m looking for balut island and is confused which muncipality and province does it really belong? i looked up sarangani and there’s none same with davao del sur.
    can you tell me which one?

    salamat. ;))

    1. bariles says:

      @rebie, Balut Island is a municipality under the province of Davao del Sur. Sarangani Island belongs to this Municipality. There’s is another Sarangani though which is Sarangani Province located along the shores of Sarangani Bay.

      The fastest way of going to Balut Island is either by boarding a boat from General Santos City or if you’re braver, any of available smaller vessels from Glan, Sarangani Province.

      I hope this helps.

  39. LYDIA FANO PARNOS says:

    @Bariles, Thank you so much for sharing your adventure to one of my dream destination islands of the Philippines. I have know Balut Island since I was little. Some of my brood had been there already to visit relatives who used to live in the island. And mind you, there were stories that they brought with them that really made me promised myself that I will visit that island one day.
    @miss arlene nayre-olarte…ma’am would you mind sharing your email address? I really want to visit the island next week…I hope available pa po ang place ninyo for visitors. My email address is ayachan67@yahoo.com.
    Hope everybody will get to visit this island.

  40. I miss my place i will be there oct. 13… see you balut island


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