We went by motorcycle from Manila to Donsol at Christmas, knowing full well that there are no whale sharks at this time of year, but were curious about the mention of a 'firefly spectacle' as a possibility. We had already driven around the entire base of Mount Mayon -possibly the most perfect coned volcano of the 165 volcanoes to be found throughout the Philippines. Early evening after our arrival at a small beach resort near Donsol the 2 of us climbed into a classic small wooden banca with bamboo outriggers on either side for stability, and the little popular inboard Briggs and Stratton engine took us upstream from near the river mouth. The night was moonless and the sky was brim full of hundreds of stars, then all of a sudden from between the twinkling stars shone more yellowish and flashing and swirling lights, and the backdrop on the river banks were rows of shadowy trees, with leaves and branches regularly showing up from the glinting lights that flickered incessantly. Nature had definitively taken centre stage and the incandescent show was in full swing as the fireflies darted every which way. This was the time of year for Christmas trees, but here was a Christmas forest lit in line for as far as the eye could see along both sides of the slow flowing river. As the banca drifted down stream the silence was abeam with light. We could only whisper to each other in this humbling stage, and the purity of the occasion flooded all our senses.
As the inboard engine fired up it seemed intensely out of place, but at least the paddles had carried us out of ear shot from the herding gangs and the massing crowds of fireflies. Nature had won our hearts and as the star filled sky crowded back into focus and we spoke in awe of a truly defining experience, and our insignificant place in the universe was confirmed!
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