25 Days And Still No Crocodiles To Worry About

About a week before I was scheduled to catch my flight out here to the Philippines I came across an article (with photo) stating that the Guinness World Record people had just verified the capture of the largest crocodile on record.. here in the Philippines.  Now, up until the moment I came across that article all my mental images of swimming here involved crystal clear waters with some bright, tropical fish to observe and not a care in the world as I floated around the warm waters sipping on a coconut drink, complete with mini-umbrella, that some beautiful Filipina kept refreshing for me as I basked in the sunshine.  (I have a very active imagination, as you can tell.)

Well, it’s been mostly storms since I got here so.. no trips to the beach yet.  Although I am thankful for the break in the heat, these cool breezes are nothing less than a God-send of joy.  But.. nobody said anything about giant crocodiles.

Chocolates at WowPhilippines

Right away I started Googling everything I could about crocodiles, where they live and what (or who) they eat.  Saw some vicious video, geez.. crocodiles are one cranky animal with zero sense of humor.  Suddenly my mental image of bobbing lazily in the beach involved being surrounded on all sides by beady eyed dinosaurs of the water looking for a quick meal.  Like my ex-wife used to tell me, “If the Martians ever land here, you know they’re going to eat the big ones first.”  At 230 pounds I’d be a floating buffet.

Ignorance is not always bliss.  In this case my fears were set aside only when I came to learn that crocodiles do not normally frequent the sunny beaches I plan to do my relaxation at.  They prefer the salt-water swamps, inland near the provinces like Agusan, where the one I read about was caught.  I felt a sigh of relief.  That was until I started thinking about piranhas.  Did some more Googling.  Nope, don’t have to worry about those unless I’m in Venezuela.  Man-eating sharks?  The three hot-spots for human-shark encounters turned out to be Florida, Australia and Northern California.  Another sigh of relief.  I hear you have to keep an eye out for sharp coral, ‘rock fish’ which are poisonous so it’s best to wear fins or water-sandals.  And the smaller sharks they do have around here are usually at 20 feet.. much further than I usually venture so.. another sigh of relief.

World Record Crocodile in Agusan
World Record Crocodile in Agusan

That only leaves one other concern of mine.. rip-tides.  I’ve seen the Google-Earth ocean floor images off the coast-line along the beachs of Mactan.  It’s largely a long, shallow extension of shallow water from the beach and then.. a sudden drop down into the Deep Blue Abyss.  I’ve been caught in a riptide once before in Southern California.  It was one of those few moments in my life I surely thought I was going to die that day.  Fortunately a life-guard showed up just as I made it back to reaching bottom and I made it back to shore, exhausted but shaken to the core.   I haven’t gotten much information on the rip-tides (or if they even have them here) but I keep imagining that deep, cliff-like drop-off of island underwater and can’t help but think the ocean is hungry to draw something into it.. including me.  Staying in the shallow water is the plan until I get more info on this.

So, for the most part my fears have been assuaged.  I arrived in Mactan and walked out of the airport feeling much better about the situation.  That was until I got settled into my studio and discovered a variety of ‘critters’ that had taken up residence ahead of me.  The first one to really freak me out was the Giant Spider (see my video below) I encountered returning home on my 5th day or so.  I managed to get some video before setting about terminating him.  Fortunately I did not have the video camera running to record the screaming, cursing and hysteria involved in trying to kill that insanely fast and wicked creature.  It turned out there was no screen on the bathroom window and any creature that cared to could just crawl right in.  I got the handyman to fix that priority one.

But now that meant a variety of creatures was now trapped in the studio with me.  I knew something was there, hiding.  So I went to the grocery store and got some cans of Baygon Insect Killer.  I sprayed all the inside floorboards, window-sills, door-sills , under the bed, cabinets and bathroom walls.  After a while, that stuff started smelling kinda good.  That’s when I knew it was time to get out of the studio for the day so it could air-out.  I took a cab to Cebu and spent the day exploring SM Mall and catching a movie.

I returned home and it was nothing short of a holocaust of insects.  They say roaches can survive nuclear radiation.  Well, whatever is in that Baygon spray had them hating life big-time.  They were insanely big too.  Not a small one in the lot.  Each one as big as your thumb and writhing in agony.  I used some paper as a scoop and put them all in the toilet.  Several flushes later.. no more roaches.  Until the next day.  For about three days they kept staggering out begging for death.  That was too good for them.  They were giving me the heebie-jeebies and deserved to be banished to the septic tank.  Within 5 days, no more bugs.  It’s been almost 2 weeks and.. nothing.  I guess word got out that entering my studio meant a sure-fire death sentence.  I can rest in peace again.  But I still have a green Baygon can at the ready for touch-up perimeter sprays every week.

The only creature I had hoped to have hanging around my domicile which I have sadly not seen is a monkey.  I’ve loved monkeys all my life.  Each day I’d look longingly at the trees that shade my front porch.. hoping to see a small monkey I could feed bananas, or lumpia, or whatever else he was in the mood to eat.  I mentioned to my girlfriend that it’s been weeks and I still haven’t seen a monkey in my front yard.  She crushed all my expectations by simply saying, “There aren’t any monkeys on Mactan.  What were you thinking?

I don’t know.. maybe not thousands of monkeys but, just one monkey to hang out and chat with over breakfast maybe.

Well, no monkeys for now.. but no crocodiles either.  I’ve still got some wonderful weather, friendly people, good food and plenty of time to enjoy it all.  Life is good and I can’t ask for much more than that.  Except maybe more time with either my girlfriend.. or my own monkey.  Preferably both.

Post Author: Henry Velez (10 Posts)

Henry Velez is a recent (2012) addition to the Philippines and brings with him a fresh set of eyes as well as a talent for bringing his first-hand observations clearly to the reader. Motivated by both a life-long passion for writing, as well as for a Filipina he met in the US, Henry dove right in and made the move to the Philippines 'sight unseen'. He currently maintains three blogs, one which is devoted to his adventures here, and is currently working on a fictional novel set in the Philippines. We wish him the best of luck in his new adventures!

How to Move to the Philippines Manual


  1. Neal in RI says

    Henry V
    Great article. Got a good laugh out of the Gator part as my Wife has relatives in Agusan Delsur and we will be visiting there this November. I don’t think I will be taking a dip in the Agusan River when we visit.
    Now that’s a Spider!

    • says

      I never felt one way or the other about crocodiles, until they found this one in Agusan. ha! If I went there I’d be looking all around the whole time. :)

  2. says


    I just have to love this story. I can follow the romantic idea of a front porch monkey at breakfast…and how much the truth must have crushed your heart. Hsven’t seen any anywhere in Pinas though….on the other hand until now I hven’t seen a Cobra either but I’m freakinly aware that they are present.

    The roaches is creepy at first but in my experience you get used to them in time and learn to ignore them.

    Spiders one big (profanity deleted by editor)….did you ever find out if he’s harmless or not?

    • says

      Harmless?? A spider big enough to carry a small biscuit and ‘harmless’ never entered my mind. Ack.. the thought of waking up with that thing on my forehead still haunts me. You should have seen how fast that thing crawled the wall.. it was like that scene from the Exorcist sequel, I kid you not.

      And what’s this about cobras? Those I could handle, I spent two years hunting rattlesnakes and those are some vicious creatures, especially when you go after them.

  3. donna west says

    Girlfriend….Monkey…..no comparison I’m sure. But either way you could have some good times just “monkeying around”. HE HE . thanks for the fun article. enjoyed!

    • says

      I hear over at Bohol they have a huge part of the island set aside as a natural monkey preserve. That’s on my list of things to do soon as I can. Until then.. no monkeys, just girlfriend. ha!

    • Scott Fortune says

      Wait a second. There’s spiders there? Big ones?! Never mind, it may be cold as heck here in Michigan but we don’t have anything like that! LOL! Bug spray will be my friend! I might even buy stock in the company!

      • says

        They have this Baygon spray here and, I’m happy to report that weekly sprays along the perimeter and in the last three weeks it’s been spider free (one roach, but he died just from the leftover fumes of the Baygon). Whatever is in that can, it works. :)

        I do have maybe three salamanders that come out each night to my porch wall. I’ll watch them come inside.. look around and go back out again. No bugs to eat.

    • says

      I came across an article of someone living here in the Philippines, in a rural subdivision much like where I’m at, and the local ‘yard monkey’ simply stayed in the area in one of the yard trees. Nobody really ‘owned’ him.. he was more like a tireless neighbor kid who always wanted PBJ’s. I’ve read about how much time and attention they need, and how aggressive they can get when not in a social group of their own, which is why I was hoping for an independent sort of monkey situation here. Not sure what island the other guy lived at, but eventually, someday.. I’d like to just have a monkey “in the area” to interact with once in a while, even if just to watch him. :)

  4. Mitch says

    Nice story….. I remember waking up looking at no more the 1 to 2 feet away with a spider like that on the outside of my Mesqito(sp) net when working/sleeping in the fields of Mindoro Is. Well time is starting to FLY by as we get ready for take off in just 143 hours!!!

    Also, hope it’s starting to dry out for everyone!


    • says

      During the storm in northern Luzon recently, it’s been fantastic weather for us in the Cebu area. Hopefully the waters will recede soon over there, saw the photos.. incredible. Now the sun is starting to come out and it’s getting back to the usual heat/humidity here in Mactan.

        • says

          If I’m not mistaken it is called “gagambang araw” spider sun. Some of them have yellow blot on their backs, the reason they were called as such. Yes they are harmless. They can grow as big as a 1 peso coin. Fighting spiders are smaller kind. Spider fighting, usually with wager, is one of the pastimes for kids (and some adults too).

  5. PapaDuck says

    I’m used to all the roaches, poisinous spiders, little lizards, and gators living here in Florida. So i should have little trouble adjusting to them there. Now the Cobras, thats another story. I’ve seen some brown recluse spiders here, but none as big as your spider. Henry have you visited that Taoist Temple overlooking Cebu? Would love to visit it if i make to Cebu someday. Take care and keep up the good job.

    • says

      I’ll have to add that to my list, got a link to it by any chance? I’ve got the critters in the house under control (for now) so I’ll keep up with my weekly spraying of the perimeter. I don’t mind the salamanders and preying mantis, they’re cool to watch as they catch gnats and other bugs.

      Meanwhile, I’ve got three bad kitty-kats who come around every time I start cooking, meowing at the porch.

    • Roselyn says

      Hi Papa Duck: Hire a passenger van for about half a day to visit the Taoist Temple in Cebu City. The temple is situated in the exclusive area known as Beverly Hills. The temple is located a way up the hill. Your driver will be stopped at a checkpoint and must leave his driver’s license or some form of identification. There is no fee to enter the grounds. The temple consists of many Chinese type of buildings. The grounds are well kept, quiet, and serene. It has an excellent view of Cebu City. Visit in the morning before it gets hot. It’s worth a visit.

  6. corjo says

    Not all Roaches are dangerous just the German roach. Dont kill every insect.We have Gekos who eat insects at night its wonderful watching them hang upside down and scamper up walls.We also get fireflies who display at night its really magical. Several neighbours do keep monkeys but they are a sad sight in their cages or tied to trees with chains.
    Cebu has very little of its flora or fauna left intact.Try a trip to Leyte or Samar if you want to see nature in the Visayas

    • says

      I love monkeys too much to ever chain or cage one. They are happiest free in the trees, interacting with their own kind as much as possible. Just one in the area to give healthy snacks to and observe/photograph would be great. I’m thinking once I get married/settle-down and build a home with plenty of jungle around, perhaps then I can buy some and let them loose around the house together.. see if they stick around. :) But if one of them steals my cell phone or external drive.. that bad monkey is gonna be on my black-list for snacks til he gives it back.

      • corjo says

        I once went on a real malaysian Jungle adventure , four days with our German guide.It was deep into the Jungle and we would see all manner of wonderful animals.Day one was training and practice.Far into the Jungle we went cutting down trees and lashing together shelters,after spending the morning covered in filth and with blisters on my hands and feet I decided that life by the pool was better.
        Taking all my courage I went to our German guide and whimped out,Its good he replied Jungle is tommorow this is a coconut plantation we go home tonight…I hope you enjoy your Jungle or plantation ha ha

        • says

          Well, at least you got that far. My g/f has a piggie farm out in the province.. way out there. I have 3 Momma-Piggies there myself and she’s been saying, “someday we should spend the weekend there”. Like.. as in, ‘overnight’??? The whole weekend? Hmm.. not sure I’m ready for that.. just yet.

  7. Opus says

    Southern California doesn’t have crocs or gators. But, they have mountain lions, snakes, and bears to worry about.

  8. Mark G. says

    I’ve had a couple encounters with spiders like that in Samar. The first had taken up residence over night in my shoe. Can you imagine my surprise when he scampered out when I picked up the shoe to put it on? The hair on the back of my neck stood up! The second had attached himself to my wifes laptop bag and was not at all happy about being taken from his nice dark, cubby hole onto the sunlit balcon, hehe. He scampered away never to be seen again, too…but wait maybe they were the same spider…

    • says

      When bugs get bigger than a 1/4″.. seeing them in the house just gives me the heebie-jeebies. Outdoors, yah.. I’ll observe them. But indoors.. that’s my domain.

  9. AlexB says

    Henry, For sure, there are crocs even in Cebu. They are the 2-legged kind, usually dressed in a barong, and found in gov’t offices. The lizards are great to keep the mosquitoes at bay. As for monkeys, check out the tarsiers at the sanctuary in Corella (Bohol). Apparently, they were the inspiration for Spielberg’s ET. Alex

    • says

      I like having the salamanders come in and out of the house. I’ll watch them snatch up little bugs along the wall and then go back outside and get more on the patio. :) I’m hoping to spend a day or two in Bohol to see the tarseirs soon. I want to go when I don’t have to rush through it, but take my time and enjoy looking around.

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