Saturday, November 30, 2013

My Milking Carabaos

Maria and her newborn calf (almost 3 weeks old here), Mario

Note the white tip of the tail in contrast with the pitch black hair and complexion--good Murrah genes

With Mang Ben stroking Mario's body to get the animal used to human contact

I don't care to remember exactly when I purchased my three female milking carabaos, also known as Murrah Carabaos, imported from Bulgaria, Brazil, among other places, by the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC, a Philippine government entity). I was referred by a trusted friend to an allegedly trusted agent and so I did not bother with any due diligence review (big mistake). I eventually discovered that I paid nearly twice the amount I should have for the animals, which were not exactly in the best of health. Two of the three (Maria and Juana) were, in fact, pregnant, as represented by the seller. Long story short, both offsprings died. The third (Petra) had a defective ovary and was unlikely to conceive. It was a traumatic experience that taught me to be a better livestock purchaser in the future.

Later, I successfully secured a young carabao bull or stud from the PCC, under their bull loan program to impregnate my female carabaos as well as those in the surrounding communities. We named him Juan but he was not yet ready to "go at it" with my three gals. I had Juan for a little over six months and just when I thought he was ready to start humpin', disaster struck. Juan got bitten on the snout by a snake (probably a Philippine cobra, which is endemic in the area) and died in a period of about an hour.

I was now on the shit list of PCC, so I decided to acquire my own carabao bull. We named him Angelo, because of his mild (almost angelic) temperament, in spite of his reported age of 5 years. At this age of maturity, this particular breed of carabao bull, which is related to the African Cape Buffalo, tends to revert to its inherent wild and violent behavior. Not so with Angelo, who remains as gentle as he is an effective stud.

At long last, Maria gave birth to a healthy baby male Murrah Carabao--a future stud we have named Mario, born on Sunday, November 17, 2013. Juana is expected to give birth soon--any day now I hope. Petra, who has not conceived until now, will be traded for a young female Murrah Carabao just short of mating maturity and therefore much lighter (in weight) than Petra, who will eventually be slaughtered for her meat.


As expected, Juana gave birth to a healthy baby male Murrah Carabao--another future stud we have named Juan, born on Thursday, December 5, 2013. The following pictures of Juan barely three (3) days old.


Angelo, the gentle stud responsible for Mario and Juan

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Scuba Diving at Balicasag Island

At a pier in the vicinity of Panglao before crossing to Balicasag Island
Our morning flight from Manila to Tagbilaran, Bohol was almost diverted to Mactan, Cebu

The calm before the storm . . .
Typhoon Zoraida just entered Surigao del Sur and forecasted to be over Balicasag the following morning.

Typhoon Zoraida weakened into a low pressure area (LPA), so all was well at Balicasag Island the following day.

I am relatively new at scuba diving and have dived a number of places in the Philippines, including Anilao (Batangas), Mansalay (Oriental Mindoro), Poctoy Beach (Marinduque), Gato Island (Cebu), Malapasqua (Cebu), Oslob (Cebu) and, most recently, Balicasag Island (Bohol). I must say, Balicasag tops them all in terms of overall condition of the coral reef and marine life.

I dove 6 times over a period of 3 days at various locations around Balicasag Island and I saw mature Pacific green turtles (an endangered species) at least once in 5 out of the 6 dives. I thought that was impressive. There are at least two schools of jackfish around Balicasag, which I saw at two distinct locations during a single dive. In addition, I was fortunate to also see the school of baracuda (each about a meter long), which I understand is not as generous in presenting itself to divers at the Island. Unlike most places that manifest severe devastation or partial recovery from severe devastation (due to unsustainable and irresponsible fishing practices like dynamite fishing, cyanide fishing, compressor fishing and the like), the coral reefs surrounding the Island are visibly in good condition (apparently not having been subjected to the usual human abuse typically experienced by most of the coral reefs throughout the Philippines), except for those at the Black Forest (Balicasag) that were reportedly devastated by Typhoon Pablo last year (November 2012).

Kudos to the Boholanos for preserving this priceless resource! If you want to see coral reefs and marine life in good condition (this is probably as good as it gets anywhere in the world!), visit Balicasag Island, Bohol.

Below are a couple of film clips of my dives and snorkeling at Balicasag:

Highlights of Balicasag Dives
Snorkeling at Balicasag