almost Tubba, but not quite

when you’ve been planning for a trip for almost a year already – money, time, equipment, & mind set – only to be told by the boat manager that there’s a problem in the boat’s bearing after only about 6hrs into the open sea and can’t possibly proceed to sail to Apo / Tubbataha, you’d challenge Murphy’s Law and push your way to salvage the trip.

saturday morning, when we’re supposed to have finished our 1st Apo dive, we learned that Borneo Explorer is on its way to Mamburao waters (where we were stranded) so we can transfer and continue the trip. oblivious of what to be announced that night, we opted to maximize the day by doing an exploratory dive around the area. the dive spot being too close to a fishing village, and not protected under Marine Park jurisdiction, there was literally no life at all, or was there? i can’t actually remember. the 50min dive was longer than i can recall. i was sooo bored that i chose to skip the second dive. it didn’t help to think that around that time we should already be in Apo Reef and frolicking on the beauty of the splendid marine biodiversity of the atoll.

Pacific Explorer II

8ish that night, as BE gets closer to us, our hopes were high that we’d sail in a few hours and would miss only about 2 dives in Cuyo Island. but another bomb was dropped when we were told by G, the boat manager, that the owner, Mr. Wee, wanted both boats back in Anilao and will just cancel the trip. Mr. Wee sent BE to tow PE2 and not to actually pick us up to sail forward to Apo/ Tubba. with 24 fully paid divers, and very eager not to waste the week trip, despite the frustration, came to a compromise to agree to be towed back on the premise that as soon as the boats reached Anilao, will board BE and head to Apo/ Tubba immediately. we all understood that we lost 2 diving days already, but who the hell cares? we wanted the trip sooo bad, and we’re all willing to bend our backs. we thought we’d deal with the owner, once the trip is over.

sunday morning ’bout 7ish, when we’re supposed to have finished our 1st dive in Cuyo, we were again hit by another devastating news, Mr. Wee wanted us to disembark and just refund the money we paid for the trip, just that! no discussion, no negotiation! as if money was the only concern of the divers who have planned this trip and redesigned their schedules so as to be able to have an 8-day dive trip.

everyone was so furious, as we, the clients, felt we have been bending our backs when there was no effort on the other side of the table at all. he didn’t even try to call any of us to hear our compromise just to proceed the Apo/ Tubba trip.

it was a perfect example of bad business practice – not delivering to your clients what has been agreed and not knowing how to handle crisis properly. arrrrrg!!! it boils down to the fact too that Cruise Island Adventure (more known as Scuba World) has the monopoly of the Tubbataha route, thus the less care for clients so much so of their safety.

as we were left without a choice, we disembarked the boat and trusted that they will keep their word of a full refund the next day (monday). we were though offered a free overnight stay at Outrigger Resort (owned by Mr. Wee too), and do dives for free for that day.

of the 24 divers, 18 stayed overnight and enjoyed the day whilst planning for the next best alternative for the failed tubba trip. within few hours, 13 divers were booked for a flight to Busuanga and do ship wrecked dives instead.

sunday, 10ish evening, abs-cbn batangas went to the resort to interview our group. we wanted to make sure that CIA owner understands the gravity of the situation – safety & bad business practice.

PE2 is solely dedicated for tubba trips with March to June season only. they had july to feb to ensure that their boats are fit to sail to commence new tubba season. how on earth can a bearing be overlooked (when it’s actually a wear and tear part of the engine) and be the source of failure? 24 divers along with at least a 10-member boat crew’s safety were put to risk, by letting an unfit boat sail to open seas. something worse could have happened if it wasn’t discovered right away.

next morning, Monday, we were driven back to Manila at the resort’s expense, and headed straight to CIA/ Scuba World’s office. we were actually prepared for a long and unpleasant argument with the owner, but we were surprised that the discussion went like a breeze – full refund, including booked flights to Palawan. he was apologetic and looked like he didn’t know any better when he made the decision to tow us back. he even said he didn’t know we were ready to make a compromises and cut the tubba dive days. we don’t actually know who was telling the truth -the boat manager or the owner. was he really unaware of the compromises willing to take just to proceed the trip which we have clearly expressed to G, or was he just trying to cover his @$$e from embarassment?

whilst others opted to refund the money – our foreign friends who can’t possibly stay longer in MNL for a rebooked trip – majority chose to rebook a later date.

have to mention though how accommodating and extra apologetic the crew members were when we’re still on the boat. even when we were already at the resort, they took care of us unconditionally. Mr.Wee is lucky to have very good employees like them.

we dashed to the airport to catch a 1PM flight. lo & behold!!! just after we’ve haggled (but failed) to give us a free kg for each head as we checked-in our baggage (with already prepaid addl 5kg each), we heard the PA of our flight’s cancellation due to bush fire at the Busuanga Airport!!!

i never felt Murphy’s law as i did that day. we were so bummed we were stripped off with emotions. we thought if the world was indeed conspiring against us, why were we spared in the open seas? how did we manage to get a booking to Coron in a snap? obviously our unbreakable spirits are in the works.

we managed to get a rebooking on the next earliest flight the next day. i said though to Z, if after tomorrow’s attempt, we’d again fail, i’d accept defeat, let go of the week-long holiday and head home.

determined not to miss our early morning flight the next day, we decided to spend overnight at K‘s place at Magallanes and relaxed the night away. we called masseuse to come over her place and had an awesome an hour and a half massage :-)

7ish of Tuesday morning, it felt like deja vu to be back at the airport and queue for our baggages to be checked-in. we lack the strength already to negotiate for the baggage allowance so we just paid whatever the officer charged us. it’s past the baording time already when we heard another announcement – “Flight 5J5298 bound to Busuanga is temporarily on-hold due to low visibility around the area. please wait for further announcement in the next 15minutes.”

for people who had mishaps after mishaps for the past 4 days, 15minutes mean an eternity of waiting! there wasn’t a word uttered, wasn’t a complaint vented. silence was the prevailing element.

until a real upper was announced. flight pushed thru and in a little over an hour, we have landed the busuanga airport!!!

we were quick to let go of a guffaw and articulated – “F-I-N-A-L-L-Y!!!!!”

loading our super heavy dive equipment

my 3rd coron

what we went through the past days was unimaginable. and to finally set foot again in Coron was an effin relief!!! i whispered to myself, ‘thank God we’re safe’

we may have failed to conquer Apo Reef / Tubbataha Reef, but we’re blessed a hundred fold over to gain new dive buddies!!! amidst all that went on in the past days, we were actually still having fun.

wanderlass & banggigay

chase boat

aboard PE2

at the jacuzzi deck

we may have been deprived to experience Tubbataha’s beauty that time, but we have experienced real & beautiful friendship!!! how can i complain?


– Coron adventure on my next post :-)

– photos from indayguapa, jayvzter, bembong, boni & suzette

– cross-posted to wandersoles


8 Responses to “almost Tubba, but not quite”

  1. 1 Angie 15 March, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    This is insane!!! We’re all very excited how your trip would go, and this never entered our minds. Good to know you’re all safe. So any chance of going to Tubbataha still?

  2. 2 banggigay 16 March, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    @Geng Thanks! yup, we’re steadfast. and we have already booked for the 16-22nd april trip :-) our fingers are crossed that this time, we’d reach tubba and dive its waters :-)

  3. 3 Markus 16 March, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    Wow Bangge!!! What an adventure. Failed epic, but still an adventure in itself! Iba ka talaga! hahahaha!

  4. 4 banggigay 16 March, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    ei mark!!! true! just imagine the excitement build-up as 5th of March drew closer. it was a series of unfortunate events. but as my friend Z puts it, Murphy’s law was trumped by “If there’s a will, there’s a way” mantra! :-) so we’re all good! Coron wrecks was the next best thing! :-)

  5. 5 witchkitty 17 March, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    :( at least you are all safe! I’ve heard common stories on ferries to Palawan not safe or this cancellation or boat problem in the middle of the trip.

  6. 6 Anderrsen 13 September, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    Ohh that was so embarrassing,well maybe its not meant to happens guys alas you didn’t witness the beauty of Tubbataha,it is really a paradise :)

  7. 7 Joel F. Uichico 12 October, 2010 at 9:48 am

    I met Vangie at the meeting of the Project for Center of Marine Science in the Philippines. And since most of you might be into underwater macro photography, I would like to invite those to join Mad 7 in Panglao Island, Bohol. No registration fee. Just prizes. Thank you very much for your time and congratulations to the group for promoting scuba diving in the Philippines.

  1. 1 Tubbataha Love Affair « coffee mug Trackback on 3 May, 2010 at 1:08 pm

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