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The Real Queen City of the Real South

The real south of the Philippines is Mindanao and its queen city is Davao. Kiki Tan checks what the place has to offer.

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Discovering Davao City

“He likes you,” Arvin Y. whispered, pointing with his lips to a guy not far from us.

“No, he doesn’t,” I whisper back, eyeing the guy who was, indeed, looking. “He’s just curious or something.”

And then the guy smiled, seeing me looking at him.

“He does like you; he does!” Arvin Y. said again, this time no longer whispering, as he added: “Go talk to him or something!”

I did – and without beating around the bush, the day (and the night, actually) ended with the guy (“Clint’s the name,” he said, “and anything’s the game”) hanging with us. A definite plus for Arvin who, because I wouldn’t, ended up sleeping with him, “enjoying for real the Davaoeño’s brand of hospitality,” Arvin Y. said.

This, normally, wouldn’t merit special attention, but we were at this small Internet café right beside Dunkin Donuts, not too far from the entrance of Gaisano Center along Jacinto Street in Davao City – a relatively busy heterosexual place; and Clint wasn’t a boy for-hire, too, but a “straight-acting, straight-looking gay guy just looking for (others with the same persuasion) to hang out with,” he said.

And while Arvin Y., in his 30s, said Clint is a rarity, Clint, in his early 20s, said he isn’t. “There’s many of us, actually. ‘Out’ out there, looking for fun,” he said.

“Then I may have been hiding all these times,” Arvin Y. said, “and I missed out the changing of Davao City.”

“Perhaps you were,” Clint said. “Perhaps you were…”

And indeed, perhaps we – not just Arvin Y. – missed out on the changing of Davao City, which has developed to be the rightful Queen City of the Real South of the Philippines (not Cebu City, which is in Central Philippines, even if it is south of Metro Manila, thus the moniker that is in every way representative of how imperialist Metro Manila is).

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DAKBAYAN SA DABAW

Occupying 2,444 square kilometers of land, the city of Davao on the Mindanao group of islands in southern Philippines is the largest city in the country (and once, of the whole world). Ranked by Asiaweek Magazine among the 20 Most Livable Cities in Asia, it is one of only three recognized Metro areas in the Philippines, the others being Metro Manila and Metro Cebu, which Metro Davao outranked as the number one most livable city in the country. Also ranked as the 10th Asian City of the Future by the Foreign Direct Investment Magazine, Metro Davao is composed of the cities Davao, Tagum, Panabo, Island Garden City of Samal, and Digos, and the municipalities of Carmen and Sta. Cruz.

The bigger question is why go to Davao City, if at all.

Well, for one, there are its attractions. Davao is home to “kings and queens of nature,” e.g. Waling-Waling, the Queen of Philippine Orchids; Philippine Eagle, King of Philippine Skies; Durian, King of Exotic Fruits; and Mt. Apo, King of Philippine Mountains. “Try being here in February, when we annually celebrate our foundation day; or in August, when we celebrate the annual Kadayawan Festival, the big fiesta to celebrate while giving thanks to God for the bounties that the province continues to get,” Arvin Y. said.

Among the major attractions include (to cover the kings and queens), Mt. Apo, which, at 10,311 feet is the tallest mountain in the Philippines, ideal for mountaineers or simply naturalist adventurers; the Philippine Eagle Natural Center, home to almost 20 Philippine Eagles, and where they are bred in captivity to grow their number (there are buses from Aldevinco Mall to take visitors to the center); and various orchid and fruit plantations, e.g. Waling-Waling Orchid (Vanda Sanderiana), Yuhico Orchid Gardens in Greenhils, Derling Worldwide Orchid Corporations in Dumoy, Malagos Gardens Resort in Calinan, and the Puentespina Orchid Gardens along Cabaguio Avenue.

Then there are the San Pedro Cathedral, whose structure was laid in 1847, making it one of the oldest churches in Mindanao, honoring St. Peter, the city’s patron saint; and Dabaw Museum, located inside the Davao Insular Village, showcasing the province’s heritage.

Secondly, as an emerging business hub, Davao should be in every businessman’s must-visit lists in the Philippines – it sure has been for the likes of the Ayalas and Gokongweis (among Metro Manila’s biggest business families), not to mention that the Sys (of SM) already made a home there. In fact, particularly for ICT businesses, a recently concluded XMG Global Offshoring Leadership Study reveals that Davao will be a viable alternative ICT site three years from now, considering that competition in Cebu City is nearing saturation as the talent ramp-up continues. Among others, the study highlights the population of Davao City as considerably higher than other Tier-2 offshoring cities globally. In the Philippine context, Davao City’s population is 71% higher than Cebu City, 499% larger than Olongapo-Subic City, 333% higher than Angeles-Clark City, and 340% larger than Baguio City. The city’s estimated workforce is twice of Cebu, nine times of Subic, seven times of Clark, and six times of Baguio. This has not even taken to account the manpower pool at the nearby cities and provinces of Davao. Also according to the study, Davao has various educational institutions annually yielding a higher number of IT and BPO qualified graduates than Subic, Clark and Baguio by 689%, 278% and 40%, respectively.

Thirdly, there are the traditional attractions, e.g Samal Island in Davao del Norte, which has white sanded beaches as beauteous (well, so-so) as Bohol’s, or at least of Puerto Galera in Mindoro Oriental, less the number of people flocking there; and Talomo Beach, which has sunken World war II warships, just 200 meters from the shore.

And then, of course, there are the boys.

BOYS, BOYS, BOYS…

There was a time when cruising in Davao was largely AYOR (at your own risk), with open secret cruising areas including Victoria Plaza Mall (J.P. Laurel, Bajada), Gaisano Mall of Davao (J.P. Laurel Avenue), Gaisano South City Mall (Illustre St.), the Boulevard Strip, Ilustre Avenue, and the Lawaan Theater. Cruising-wise, though, the other malls may actually be included – e.g. Aldevinco Shopping Center, Chimes Mall, City Triangle, DAMOSA Market Basket, Davao Central Warehouse Club, Felcris Department Stores, NCCC Mall of Davao (McArthur Highway corner MA-A), NCCC Mall (Main), and SM City Davao (Quimpo Boulevard). “As is typical in the Philippines, you can basically pick up any man anywhere,” Arvin Y. said, commented by Clint with: “The difference is, here, you pick up men who wouldn’t expect to be paid – they’re the same as you, looking to have fun.”

Of course both admit that “care should be taken.” “This isn’t a city that’s one big buffet of men, after all,” Arvin Y. said. “Just that progress as far as gay (or bisexual, as straight-acting, straight-looking gay Davaoeño’s self-identify) expression is concerned.” Generally speaking, similar to other places all over the Philippines, male Davaoeños can be “persuaded” to have same-sex sexual relations, though this often involves payment of some kind (by the out homosexual to the self-identified heterosexual), so care really is needed, especially for those not into this scene.

Fortunately, there already are gay-specific venues, e.g. Tahun Bar and Jefz Café, though, generally, “most every place is just gay friendly,” e.g. Philosophy Spa (near Apo View Hotel), Bahia Spa, Holiday Gym and Spa (both in Torres), and Firm Spa, where the expression of gay identity is more akin to Western expressions, i.e. gay to gay (or, locally, bi to bi, even if the use of term is questionable), so that no monetary exchanges are needed.

Arvin Y. promised to catch up with Clint a few days later – I’d already be back in Makati City in Metro Manila then, so I would be out of the picture. But “do come back,” he said, “having seen how Davao has blossomed into the city it is now.”

And perhaps I will – in this city that’s the real queen of the south.

HOW TO GET THERE
Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and Air Philippines flights are available daily from Metro Manila, with the approximate flying time of one hour and 35 minutes; though there are also flights from Cebu City, Cagayan de oro City, and Zamboanga City, taking approximately 55 minutes.

There are also international flights from Hong Kong and Palau, among others.
Davao City is, however, accessible through the Pan Philippine Highway from Metro Manila; as well as by ship/ferry, with major passenger ships docking in the city to and from other ports around the country.

"If someone asked you about me, about what I do for a living, it's to 'weave words'," says Kiki Tan, who has been a writer "for as long as I care to remember." With this, this one writes about... anything and everything.

Health & Wellness

Lesbian, gay, bisexual communities more at-risk for dementia – study

Social inequality makes less privileged groups, including sexual minorities, more prone to develop cognitive impairment. So making the society more just and more accepting of diverse sexuality may help prevent dementia and reduce related health care burden on society.

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Lesbian, gay and bisexual — or LGB — people are more vulnerable to one of the fastest-growing health concerns in the country: dementia, according to research from Michigan State University.

“Our study speaks to the unaddressed questions about whether members the LGB community are more likely to develop cognitive impairment at older ages and, if so, what factors contribute to their poorer cognitive health, ” said Ning Hsieh, an assistant professor of sociology at MSU and lead author of the study published in the journal, The Gerontologist.

“We knew that stress and depression are risk factors for many chronic health problems, including cognitive impairment, in later life. LGB people experience more stressful events and have higher rates of depression compared to their heterosexual counterparts,” she said.

Analyzing the elevated cognitive health risks among older members of the LGB community, the study was the first to use a national sample and screening tool to gauge cognitive health disparities between LGB and heterosexual older adults.

Hsieh and MSU colleagues Hui Liu, professor of sociology, and Wen-Hua Lai, a Ph.D. student of sociology — compared cognitive skills of 3,500 LGB and heterosexual adults using a screening tool and questionnaire that tests for six domains. Those areas included temporal orientation; language; visuospatial skills; executive function; attention, concentration and working memory; and short-term memory.

Social inequality makes less privileged groups, including sexual minorities, more prone to develop cognitive impairment. So making the society more just and more accepting of diverse sexuality may help prevent dementia and reduce related health care burden on society.

The researchers found that on average, older LGB adults were more likely to fall into categories for mild cognitive impairment or early dementia compared to heterosexual older adults. The team also tested for specific health and social factors — such as physical conditions, mental health conditions, living a healthy lifestyle and social connections — and the only factor related to cognitive differences for sexual minorities was depression.

“Our findings suggest that depression may be one of the important underlying factors leading to cognitive disadvantages for LGB people,” Hsieh said. “They may experience higher rates of depression than their heterosexual peers for many reasons, including not being accepted by parts of society, feeling ashamed of their sexual orientation or trying to hide their romantic relationships and being treated unfairly in school or at work.”

The researchers felt surprised that other factors — such as fewer social connections, drinking or smoking — didn’t have as great of an effect on LGB people’s cognitive function later in life. But, they also recognized the need for additional research to understand how the stressors sexual minorities experience earlier in life can lead to cognitive impairments as they age. Additionally, Hsieh said, they hope that the study’s findings shed light on the need for greater inclusivity for sexual minorities, as it can have an influence on their mental and cognitive well-being.

“Social inequality makes less privileged groups, including sexual minorities, more prone to develop cognitive impairment,” Hsieh said. “Making the society more just and more accepting of diverse sexuality may help prevent dementia and reduce related health care burden on society.”

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Travel

Trump-appointed judges void Florida bans on conversion therapy for children

Two south Florida laws that banned therapists from offering conversion therapy to children struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity were declared as unconstitutional by a federal appeals court.

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Image by Juan Pablo Mascanfroni from Unsplash.com

Two south Florida laws that banned therapists from offering conversion therapy to children struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity were declared as unconstitutional by a federal appeals court.

In the case – Otto et al v City of Boca Raton, Florida et al, 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 19-10604 – the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals sided (in a 2-1 decision) with two therapists who said the laws in the city of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County violated their free speech rights.

American Republican President Donald Trump – the loser in the country’s latest presidential election, and who refuses to concede – appointed the two judges who supported conversion therapy.

According to Circuit Judge Britt Grant, the laws “allow speech that many find concerning – even dangerous,” but the First Amendment “does not allow communities to determine how their neighbors may be counseled about matters of sexual orientation or gender.”

The therapists in the case, Robert Otto and Julie Hamilton, said their clients had “sincerely held religious beliefs conflicting with homosexuality,” and they sought counseling to conform their identities and behaviors with those beliefs.

A study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law noted that 20 American states and Washington, D.C. already ban licensed healthcare professionals from conducting conversion therapy on children. The practice – which aims to change people’s sexual orientations or gender identities – stigmatizes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and is linked to depression, anxiety and suicide.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) also opposes conversion therapy, since the practice often assumes that homosexuality is a mental disorder.

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Health & Wellness

Loneliness in youth could impact mental health over the long term

Loneliness is associated with mental health problems, including depression and anxiety-potentially affecting them years later.

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Photo by Cristian Palmer from Unsplash.com

The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated widespread social isolation, affecting all ages of global society. A new rapid review in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP), published by Elsevier, reports on the available evidence about children and young people specifically, stating that loneliness is associated with mental health problems, including depression and anxiety-potentially affecting them years later.

The review, which synthesizes over 60 pre-existing, peer-reviewed studies on topics spanning isolation, loneliness and mental health for young people aged between 4 and 21 years of age, found extensive evidence of an association between loneliness and an increased risk of mental health problems for children and young people.

“As school closures continue, indoor play facilities remain closed and at best, young people can meet outdoors in small groups only, chances are that many are lonely (and continue to be so over time),” said lead author, Maria Loades, DClinPsy, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology at the University of Bath, UK.

“This rapid review of what is known about loneliness and its impact on mental health in children and young people found that loneliness is associated with both depression and anxiety. This occurs when studies measured both loneliness and mental health at the same point in time; when loneliness was measured separately; and when depression and anxiety were measured subsequently, up to 9 years later,” Dr. Loades added. “Of relevance to the COVID-19 context, we found some evidence that it is the duration of loneliness that is more strongly associated with later mental health problems.”

From the selected studies there was evidence that children and young people who are lonely might be as much as three times more likely to develop depression in the future, and that the impact of loneliness on mental health outcomes like depressive symptoms could last for years. There was also evidence that the duration of loneliness may be more important, than the intensity of loneliness, in increasing the risk of future depression among young people.

For many young people, loneliness will decrease as they re-establish social contacts and connections as lockdown eases (e.g., as they return to school or college). For some a sense of loneliness may persist as they struggle to resume social life, particularly for those who were more vulnerable to being socially isolated before lockdown.

“It’s key that children and young people are allowed to return to activities such as playing together, even if outdoors, as soon as possible, and that they are able to resume attending school, which gives them a structure for their day, and provides them with opportunities to see peers and to get support from adults outside of the nuclear family,” said Dr. Loades. Furthermore, she added “children need more in their strategy for easing lockdown. Alongside this, the government could target children’s wellbeing in public health messaging. And meanwhile, we should also continue to embrace technology as a way to keep in touch.”

So whilst we do what we can to mitigate the effects of loneliness and re-establish social connections, we also need to prepare for an increase in mental health problems, in part due to loneliness, and also due to the other unintended consequences of lockdown, such as a lack of structure, physical inactivity and social and/separation anxiety that might be triggered when resuming social interactions outside of the home.

There are several levels at which we can prepare for the heightened demand:

  • Take a universal approach to promoting wellbeing through public messaging, and by schools doing activities to promote wellbeing in children and young people as they resume normal activities.
  • Seek to identify those who are struggling with loneliness as early as possible and do so by targeted interventions to help them overcome their struggles. This may be through the provision of extra support in schools, helping them overcome anxieties about returning to school, or giving them an extra hand with reconnecting socially with peers.

For those who continue to struggle over time, and can’t get back to doing the things they normally do as a result of their struggles, we need to ensure that they are made aware that services are open, and can provide specialist help, and to make sure that they know how to access this help and are supported to do so.

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Lifestyle & Culture

Sexy tips to spice up Christmas with your partner

Whether you want to offer a sexual gift or a Christmas-themed sexual favor, here are some sexy tips to spice up Christmas with your partner.

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With Christmas fast approaching, there is no better time than the present to buckle down and decide what to get all of your friends and family this year. Christmas is a time to love and if you are in a relationship, you may be trying to think of ways to make Christmas extra special this year. Finding something that they love and appreciate will make both of you feel good, especially if it is bedroom related. 

Whether you want to offer a sexual gift or a Christmas-themed sexual favor, here are some sexy tips to spice up Christmas with your partner. 

Introduce Sex Toys 

Christmas is about toys, so going to a sex shop and investing in some adult toys is a great way to spice up your sex life. You can go to an adult store or to various sex shops together. This will allow you to explore everything that they have to offer as a couple and learn more about each other’s likes, dislikes, and bedroom fantasies. If you are more reserved, you can look online at The Boudoir Store. They have the latest innovative sex toys for men and women, which can be delivered straight to your door to save you any embarrassment. 

Sexy Stocking Stuffers 

Getting some sexy stocking stuffers is a cheeky way to spice up Christmas with your partner. Going into an adult shop will allow you to get a proper feel for and understanding of a range of sex toys for you and your partner, so you should search in Google for ‘sex shop near me’ and start exploring. It gives you a chance to test how well you know your partner in the bedroom. During your search for erotic gifts, you may come across something you can dress yourself up in, which leads up to our next sexy tip. 

Wrap Yourself Up 

Wearing something irresistible this Christmas is a great way to get your partner’s heart pumping. You should look into sexy Christmas themed outfits or underwear to surprise your partner with. To finish off this gift, you can wrap yourself up. Covering your naughty areas up in wrapping paper and adding a gift bow, or simply tying a bow around yourself will finish off this sexy act a treat. Wrapping yourself up will really wow your partner and will make them very excited to unwrap their surprise.  

Set the Mood 

Setting the mood is key to making your partner feel sexy this Christmas. You should invest in some Christmas themed candles and throw some logs on the fire. This will create a Christmas themed and romantic atmosphere. Finding a sexy Christmas playlist is a simple yet effective way to get your partner in the mood during the festive season. Getting cosy and spooning by the fire, with delicious food and mulled wine will really create a sensual yet Christmassy atmosphere for you and your lover. 

Try Something New 

One of the best ways to keep your sex life interesting with your partner is to try something new. Finding new things that you both enjoy will keep the fire burning and Christmas is the perfect time of year to do so because it is a time for love and family. There will be plenty of time, food, and toys for you to experiment with in the bedroom. If you are nervous, you can enjoy a festive drink together and set the mood. There is always something new to try, you just need to research and prepare yourselves. 

There are so many areas that can be explored and enhanced in the bedroom. Having a theme to work with can help you be more creative, and the festive period creates the perfect atmosphere for making love and becoming closer with your partner. 

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Lifestyle & Culture

These are the weirdest and worst impacts of COVID-19

Let’s explore some of the weirdest side effects of this health pandemic.

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It’s true to say that COVID-19 and the health pandemic has rocked the world throughout 2020. It has led to numerous people suffering, either medically or financially. Indeed, the WHO recently warned that those most vulnerable to the economic dangers of COVID-19 are being completely overlooked in developing countries. Of course, the financial issues aren’t the only impact of COVID-19.

Let’s explore some of the weirdest side effects of this health pandemic. 

IMAGE SOURCE: PEXELS.COM

More Sex

We’ve mentioned this before. In the UK, there was essentially a sex ban unless you were married. However, this hasn’t stopped people from going out and getting freaky. Instead, it seems that more people are willing to throw caution to the wind now when it comes to sex.

Many experts are worried that COVID will trigger a new wave of sexual health diseases. Worse still, it’s fear that many people have not received the diagnosis they need because health clinics remained closed through the lockdown. 

More Accidents On The Roads

With fewer people traveling through the lockdown, you would think that this meant there has been fewer accidents on the road. This hasn’t been the case and research suggests that the opposite has been true. There have been more cases of drivers simply not paying attention to road dangers or even ignoring them completely.

It seems that the 20 percent unemployment rate hasn’t stopped people from traveling in key locations and when they do they are not taking the right safety measures such as wearing a seatbelt. However, it’s not all bad news. 

Less Pollution 

Through the lockdown, there was a sharp reduction in levels of pollution in key areas across the world. Indeed, many residents were delighted to find that their skies were no longer covered by thick smog. As well as this, the reduction in levels of pollution has also helped ensure that wildlife has been able to return to key areas of the world that it hasn’t been seen in for years.

Unfortunately, pollution levels did start to rise again almost as soon as the lockdown was lifted in key locations. 

The Rich Get Richer

You might think that everyone suffered a massive economic blow during the coroavirus pandemic. However, this wasn’t the case and many savvy investors were able to immediately increase their investment. While many people were buying up the toilet paper, stock market investors were selling and buying the right stocks. The impact had an unprecedented effect on stock market prices. It allowed those with enough capital to seize massive profits and avoid the panic completely. Unfortunately, most of the people who benefited from this situation were already rich, to begin with. You can’t play the game unless you already have money in your hands. 

As you can seem there have been numerous impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic beyond some businesses shutting their doors. It has pushed people into desperate situations and in some cases made them more willing to take risks in their life rather than continue to play it safe. 

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Lifestyle & Culture

Common whales to see depending on the season

While many people think of whale watching as a seasonal activity reserved for warmer months, interesting and impressive species of whales can be seen in San Diego all year. If you are planning a trip, you should consider which species you would most like to see and book a tour during for when those species are most common.

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While many people think of whale watching as a seasonal activity reserved for warmer months, interesting and impressive species of whales can be seen in San Diego all year. If you are planning a trip, you should consider which species you would most like to see and book a tour during for when those species are most common.

Of course, some species are easier to spot than others. Those looking for the best humpback whale watching San Diego has to offer can find themselves satisfied all year. Blue whales, on the other hand, only migrate through San Diego from April to September.

All Year

Humpback whales are visible in San Diego all year round. Humpbacks are extremely popular with older tourists and children alike for their distinctive appearance. Dolphins are also common throughout the year, and what these brilliant creatures lack in size, they easily make up for in presentation. Dolphin pods love to breach the surface of the water, seemingly for the pure joy of doing flips and rolls for dazzled onlookers.

Summer

Summer is an excellent time for a San Diego whale watching tour. The peak season for blue whales, the largest creatures to have ever lived, is in June, so most times from May until August are good for blue whale sightings. Fin whales, the second largest species of whale, as well as minke whales are also most abundant during summer months. While you may have seen these species on nature documentaries, they have to be seen to be experienced properly. In person, you will be awed by their sheer size and power.

Fall

Humpback whales and rare species dominate fall months in San Diego. Though killer whales travel widely, their migrations take them through San Diego in late fall. Of course, there is plenty of other wildlife in the bay during fall, from seals to seabirds, and some tours have even spotted sharks swimming alongside whale watching vessels.

Winter

The gray whale, a species named for its coloration, is at its peak season in winter. Gray whales love to spout pillars of water into the air, and are highly social animals that often travel together with other cetaceans. February is known as one of the best months for a whale watching tour, as this is when an extremely high volume of gray whales pass through San Diego each year.

Spring

April is generally recognized as the last month for gray whale sightings. While various species can be spotted in early spring, the first blue whale sightings normally begin around May. Dolphin activity tends to ramp up in spring, resulting in awesome photos of playful pods and megapods.

If you are planning a trip to the San Diego area, you can find marine wildlife worth visiting throughout the year. Whether you’re booking a family whale watching tour, or you want to have your wedding reception on a boat San Diego waters have something for you.

Remember that, while no tour at any time of the year can guarantee that you will spot a specific type of whale, you are almost certain to see something interesting or learn something you didn’t know before when you book with a good company.

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