Balogo Fish Sanctuary rests at the foot of a section of the Burburanan Forest, some of the last primary forest on Tablas Island. That combined with the efforts of the local fisherfolk people’s organization means conditions are good for ecosystem regrowth in a marine ecosystem where decades of destructive fishing and natural stresses have left the coral reef in poor condition. The fisherfolk organization actually manages the sanctuary and runs a mangrove nursery which they use for regular mangrove plantings in the forest surrounding the coral reef. Swing by their office (known locally as the CRM office in Balogo) to check-in for snorkeling and rent gear, but be prepared to pay a small fee which goes to keeping everything in order. A member of the local Bantay Dagat (literally “Guard of the Sea”) may or may not join you to keep tabs and point out interesting finds. While snorkeling, you’ll see a good expanse of sea grass area and beyond the recovering reef. Note that major portions of the reef are still in young stages of regrowth after a devastating storm wiped out progress in the mid-2000s. That said, it’s a good chance to see the effects of grass-roots environmental conservation in action, and there are certainly some rare species and good finds.
How to Get There:
Balogo is on the northern coast between the towns of San Andres and Calatrava. It’s administratively part of the latter. Jeepneys from Odiongan bound for Calatrava or San Augustin both pass the sanctuary and will drop you off if you ask the conductor (the fare should be 70 pesos or less). Alternatively you can hire motorcycles from nearly any town center. The fare from Calatrava should be between 20-30 pesos and from San Andres a little more.
If you’re coming on your own steam, look for the signs. From the direction of Odiongan, be on the lookout just after you cross the bridge over Balogo River in Balogo proper. From the direction of San Augustin, the sign is very obvious. At the time of writing, it is just after the road changes from unpaved to paved. If you cross the bridge, you’ve gone too far.