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scuba diving

first dive Mar 5, 2005

Discovery Dive in Anilao, Batangas

After an entire semester of training in an indoor pool, the UP scuba class is now ready to take its first open-sea plunge. 2 classes were combined and the group was divided into three dives.


Safety was paramount. We were all first timers and if something wrong can happen, it will happen - thus our team leaders were vigilant about this. There was a master diver in front of, behind, and with the class while we were doing the dives. A buddy-system was strictly enforced and there was even an equipment buddy-system in place too to ensure streamlining the process and creating accountability to the equipment.

The Reef
The coral reef was broad (not patchy) and alive. You can dive extensively and not run out of reef. There is growing hope that the initial skin diving disappointment I had early on is not reflective on the state of things for the local reefs. However, compared to La Luz, the reef didn't seem vividly colorful and the fishes weren't too bountiful. I don't know. Maybe it's just that time of day. Conversation with others in-the-know revealed that even adjacent resorts can have varying coral characters. Benedict, the dive leader, said there are infinitely better dive spots "out there" but not ideal to first time divers like us.

The Trip
The resort is 3.5 hours by bus south of Manila. It's 7 hours altogether and an overnight stay is a good idea. We went on a day trip and it was fairly taxing to be heading back so soon. Along the way was the usual vendor stands selling local delicacies...buco pie, espasol, etc. An increasing trend along the way is the proliferation of "convenience stops" at various gas stations. It resembles a mini-plaza with brand stores like Starbucks, McDonalds, Jollibee, etc. It just makes travelling more pleasurable.

The Dive
The common challenge for the class was bouyancy. Attaining neutral bouyancy (not on the surface and not on the bottom) requires some fine tuning of air in the BCD and more importantly, breathing. The 30-ft. dive on a "training ground" reef is understandable. Given our inexperience, we would have damaged some corals as we bumped into each other and hit bottom with our bouyancy issues.

I had a taste of something better...much more promising than skin-diving, given the vast coastline of the Philippines and its reefs. The initial excitement is there, but there's work to be done in educating the public about the environment...and how fragile it is. I've seen garbage in some dive areas and I've heard stories how dynamite fishing continues to this day. If everyone could only realize how great a gem we have here. The struggle continues and hopefully is being won.

--- TheLoneRider

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»» next story: U.P. Rock Climbing Interclass Competition
»» next Scuba Diving story: Scuba Diving at Vistamar Resort, Anilao, Batanga

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