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Young Tenten of the ABS-CBN teleserye Dolce Amore believes that fireflies have magical powers: they actually turn into fairies at midnight and you can whisper your wishes to them. He happily shared this to Sese, a childhood penpal whom he meets in the Philippines years later. In a mystical turn of events, the two eventually find themselves in the middle of the woods and surrounded by a cluster of the shimmering insects. In the dark corner, the fireflies glow like stars that can make wishes come true.
Lucky for us, the Philippines has a number of marshes, mangrove forests, and rivers where fireflies flicker at night. Their abundance in these areas provide a night to remember and, sometimes, may make us believe in the childhood promise of a dream come true through their enthralling lights.
1) Donsol, Sorsogon
Sorsogon, a province in the Bicol Region, is surrounded by the waters of Ticao Pass and San Bernardino Strait on the southeast and southwest and Albay Gulf on the northwest. Its only land border is that of Albay on the northern part. It lies at the tip of Bicol Peninsula and is just a strait away from the Visayan island of Samar. With its irregular topography and highly-coastal geography, Sorsogon has become famous for the whalesharks of Donsol, the Mangrove Forest of Pilar, and the amazing surfing waves of Gubat.
It is also the home of the 100-kilometer winding Donsol River, which flows out towards Mt. Mayon. One of its arteries and smaller rivers is Ogod River, which is a perfect habitat for fireflies because of its thriving vegetation. Thousands to millions of the flickering insects can be seen every evening, just after visitors are treated to a beautiful view of the sunset.
2) Ihawig, Palawan
Palawan has been acclaimed as the world’s most beautiful island. It is riddled with limestone cliffs, sinkholes, lagoons, white sand beaches, prehistoric caves, and waterfalls and all these make the destination popular among beach lovers, scuba divers, and trekkers.
Mangroves, the fireflies’ home, is abundant along the banks of Sicsican and Ihawig Rivers in Puerto Princesa. The location is also away from the light pollution experienced in Palawan’s capital, which makes the spot ideal for firefly watching.
3) Loboc River, Bohol
An island province in Central Visayas, Bohol is well-loved by intrepid travelers because of the many activities that it offers. It has interesting limestone formations, stunning view of the sea through its many diving locations, majestic Spanish-era churches, and 75 smaller islands surrounding it. It is also the home of the tarsier, one of the smallest primates in the world and measures less than a human hand (85 to 160 millimeters). It may have sustained damages especially after the 7.2 earthquake in October 2013 but Bohol’s tourism is slowly picking up and restoring its high rank as a popular tourist destination.
Loboc River, one of its many popular spots, is famous for a buffet cruise along the charming body water. In the evening, it transforms into a paradise with dancing lights coming from fireflies.
4) Sibuyan Island, Romblon
Magdiwang in Sibuyan Island used to be a Spanish fortress. Now, it’s the sanctuary of thousands of fireflies and a whole river ecosystem. It was only in 2012 when the spot became available as a tour package for visitors who want to catch a glimpse of clusters of fireflies covering the foliage of mangroves.
5) Ticao Island, Masbate
Ticao Island is one of the three major islands of Masbate province in the Philippines. A resort in the island offers a 2-hour guided activity and evening tour along the mangrove river where fireflies abound. The perfect time to visit Masbate in Eastern Bicol is during the annual Rodeo Festival in March/April.