Around this time of year, gigantic visitors are known to cross the Babuyan Islands. Majestic humpback whales, easily the size of a bus, are glimpsed showing off their dorsal fins and flukes on the water’s surface. In the summer of 2009, while filming a story in Camiguin Island, Kiko Rustia and the team chanced upon a group of researchers who have been studying the whales for almost a decade. The researchers hope to learn more about the humpback’s ways and the threats they face. The Born team was in luck. A day’s detour to the Babuyan Channel produced what researchers say is the first footage of a double breach or the humpback’s full-bodied rise from the water ever to be taken by local media.
A year later, Kiko Rustia embarks on the journey of a lifetime. He makes a comeback to the memorable island where he first met the “friendlies’. This is what experts and whale-watchers call humpbacks that linger around boats. But their journey was not easy. On their way back to the Babuyan Islands, their boat was nearly capsized by big waves. Yet the team did not give up. Their first morning on the island was greeted by several pods of dolphins that seemed to welcome them on their trip. Dolphins are said to escort whales at sea. And when dolphins are near, it can only mean one thing–the humpbacks are here.
Meanwhile, at the heart of Palanan’s rainforest lives a creature that has gone under the radar of science for centuries. Only discovered and named as a new species this April, the reptile locally known as butikaw became subject of local and international news. Described as a “man-sized” lizard, the butikaw can easily compete with the popularity of other “dragons” like the komodo. The Philippines in fact is a haven for reptiles, and many giant monitor lizards can only be found here. Doc Ferds Recio joins world-renowned reptile expert Daniel Bennett to scour the forests for signs of the elusive reptile’s presence.
At their first attempt to search for the butikaw, Doc Ferds discovers the hidden wealth and beauty of Palanan. Apart from seeing various species of insects and amphibians that are endemic to the region, the wildlife veterinarian finds himself in the middle of Dicocotan Beach. In this serene shoreline, he already encounters one wild reptile—the black-banded sea krait, one of the most venomous snakes in the world. Could it be that this place is really the perfect habitat for reptiles? And will Doc Ferds come face to face with the “dragon” that he came for?
Let the expeditions begin. This is nature in the raw as only the country’s pioneer environment and wildlife show can deliver. Humpback Saga and Dragon Hunt, a special three-part series, premieres this Wednesday, May 26, after Saksi, on GMA Network.