Wednesday, June 5, 2013

CORELLA: Three Tarsiers for Wednesday


Today’s pathetic excuse for an itinerary was short and sweet, thanks to my laziness, but you have to give it to me. I am improving. Forfeiting my second day at Panglao Chocolate Hills Resort, I went back to Tagbilaran and booked a room for one night in a pension house because Panglao is just too far to serve as my home base in Bohol. The plan to leave by 7 AM got delayed by two hours, and given how going to the Chocolate Hills would take more time, I just chose the tarsiers for today. It has been a simple itinerary, really, and only took less than two hours. What did I do the rest of the day? Sleep.


Instead of waiting for a jeep to reach full capacity before departing, I opted for a habal-habal ride which cost me 150 pesos roundtrip. Corella was the destination as it is where the Tarsier Sanctuary is. The habal-habal ride takes around 20 minutes one way. Taking a bus or a jeep would drive down your transportation expenses to just around half, but it is only recommended if you have the luxury of time, which I had, but whatever. I am one impatient moron.


The Tarsier Sanctuary is the place to go to if you want to be informed regarding these primates, which have been hailed as the smallest of their kind. The information boards displayed at the sanctuary argues that we are actually related to these tarsiers, but branched away from each other how many eons ago. Their closest relatives are known to be the lemurs, but then you see the difference in appearance and size. Again, if ever this argument is true, then it must have been how many eons for the difference to be that huge today.


How many tarsiers would you see in there anyway? Ten, according to my tour guide. You get a tour guide after paying the 50-peso admission fee. S/he then leads you to the sanctuary itself, which is an enclave protected by special barriers made to keep those ten in, or better yet, to keep everyone out. It was drizzling when I came, not to mention that tarsiers are nocturnal creatures. I was already lucky to have seen three of them, in various distances, with one close enough to be captured on film, albeit blurred because I had to zoom in, like, half a dozen times.


The tour guide was impressive because she knew where to find them. You see, the said sanctuary looks like a mini forest. In fact, I was half expecting to find some snakes and yell “Those are SO NOT tarsiers!” in anticipated panic. No snakes. Let us remind ourselves that it is a protected environment, and the last thing you should expect to find in there is some predator out to hunt what the sanctuary has been built to protect. That would defy logic, now would it not?


The video and some of the photos contain the rules and regulations on how to behave while inside the sanctuary. No flash for cameras. No touching the tarsiers. No shaking the tree branches where they are on, etc. Those tarsiers are very small, but then again you might have already known that, unless you have lived under a rock for a decade now and have no access to Wikipedia. The time you spend inside the sanctuary is considerably short, like, 20 minutes kind of short. This is understandable because there really is nothing much that you can do in there aside from taking pictures. Tarsiers are notorious for being loners. Do not expect them to get down from their tree branch and play jack stones with you.


Fun facts! Tarsiers are able to give birth only once a year and only one baby per pregnancy, which takes six months. Now we know why they are endangered! Loners with no social skills! Now I have to ask my mother if I am part tarsier. Tomorrow: Chocolate Hills, then off to Dumaguete we go.

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