La Luz Dive at Laiya, Batangas

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skin diving

going downJune 7, 2008

La Luz Dive at Laiya, Batangas

Surf and Turf
It was a planned double header - going to Laiya, Batangas to do some skin diving off La Luz Beach Resort and then climb Mt. Daguldol. Unlike the previous trips with my Mt. Pinatubo group where public transport is the name of the game, this time, someone brought a car. At my spartan level, a car is pure luxury...woo-hoo!

On the Road
The trip to Laiya took about 3 hours...not near by Batangas standards. But the last time I did skin diving off La Luz 2 years ago, it was a blast. The trip was worth it.

Progress?
It was interesting to note that the place has changed dramatically. The town of Laiya itself has become a developer's haven with upscale resorts and subdivisions mushrooming like crazy. Laiya was even featured on tv a few days back as 'the place'. On the favorable side, the section of rough road leading to the town's interior was being paved. Not surprisingly, the once quaint entrance to cluster of resorts leading to La Luz has already lent itself to increased commercialism. What used to be free parking under the trees now commanded P100. I didn't even bother to ask if it was on a daily basis.

Lodging
We managed to get a cottage behind La Luz for P2000. Since we were 8, the per person rate was manageable. It made sense to get the cottage instead of setting up camp (we all brought our mountaineering gear) on an area that would require some walking to get to the coral reef, which was just in front of La Luz.

Cuts and Bruises
Wasting no time, we hit the water with our dive masks and fins. The water was choppy, murky and deep - not exactly ideal. We chilled around playing with the waves breaking off the shore. It was fun, but a big mistake. It wasn't long before we all got our fair share of cuts from the sharp corals. I had a small puncture on my heel tendon causing me to bail out of the scheduled climb for Mt. Daguldol....argh!

State of the Corals
Early the next day, the climbing group already set out leaving the rest of us behind. Hmmm....if I can't climb, I'll just do more dives. I still could. The water this time was calmer and shallower allowing extended time in the reef. This was when I had the chance to get a better sense of the corals. The fishes were not as abundant as the last time although it still has a healthy population density. I even saw a moral eel and a lobster. The corals however seemed to be dying out. What used to be a monochromatic dull green now looks worse. It was scorched as though the surface burned down to change its color and texture. Adding insult to injury, the surface of the water was littered with trash. From down under, I could see the layer of trash overhead I had to breah through to get some air. I don't know if this occurence is a seasonal thing...maybe because of the rains or wind direction but it sure didn't look pretty. The giant clams that used to litter the coral floor was nowhere to be seen either. What happened in the last 2 years?

Food Trip in Lipa
On the way home, we passed through Lipa, Batangas. Someone remarked that there's a puto (rice cake) specialty house within the area. It took some asking around until we got to the place. It was worth it. The puto we got had a unique sticky texture. Together with its toppings, it was a gourmet feast. Later, we treated ourselves to an equally popular icon, the Lipa City Panciteria for their famous lomi (flat noodles in thick starched soup). It wasn't bad, but I've had better along the non-descript roadside eateries along the Lipa main road.

Ending Thoughts
With eco-tourism, increased commercialization has been happening across the country specially in places already known to be tourist spots. Laiya is just one of many. The skin diving, although not as good as it was 2 years ago, is still better than most dive areas in the Philippines where what used to be vibrant marine ecology has now become coral graveyards. Nonetheless, it should still be a pressing concern. Altogether, Laiya is still a viable destination. There are only a few places in the country where a weekend outing provides both mountain climbing and skin diving oppportunities.

--- TheLoneRider

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Reader Comments:

Aarone
(June 9, 2008) La Luz gilid lang


Mcar
(June 9, 2008) Wow! Sobrang Inggit ako! Sa La Luz kayo tumambay?



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