Posts Tagged 'dive'

Dive Galapagos – check!!!

it’s been a little over a month since my buddy and i took our first backroll into the waters of the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

but i can still feel the thrill…the excitement…the butterflies are still there ♥

and if it isn’t enough, i’ll share some more sea luvin, which i co-wrote with wanderlass here:

 

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Tubbataha Love Affair

What we went through to finally be again aboard this vessel, Stella Maris, would give the reality show, ‘The Amazing Race’, run for its money. But that’s history already (hop here for the story).

And I am not exaggerating if I say the suspense ‘24’ always delivers was pale in comparison to what I had at the airport’s check-in counter 20minutes before ETD (Estimated Time of Departure)…yes folks…20minutes before ETD because of a long, slow & chaotic campaign motorcade of a mayoral & vice mayoral candidates of Quezon City which I’m tailing to. It made my supposed 40-minute drive swell to 90minutes of unbearable, heart-pounding and buzzer-beating-not travel time. But thanks to L & Z who pressed hard the check-in officer not to close the counter as I am only a minute away (actually they’ve been saying that for the past 15mins, my friends are just cheeky like that). I was lucky too that the flight was delayed thus they have generously extended the checking-in time for me.  With my laptop bag, DSLR camera bag, 10kg duffel bag, I felt light, almost elated in fact, because I made it and the promise of Tubbataha was already within reach.

From the smooth landing to Palawan’s soil to the airport transfer to PPS Pier to the embarkation to Expedition Fleet’s Stella Maris, everything went like a breeze.  I have to say though I felt rather odd not to have hassles & stress since we flew out Manila. I’ve been waiting for those mishaps to break lose again but none came until we sailed to the open seas around dusk time, right after TPMO oriented the 18 aboard divers of Park’s laws and policies and got off the boat.

M/V Stella Maris Explorer

M/V Stella Maris Explorer, our home for 7 days (photo from SPD)

It’s more than a month of waiting for this second attempt and we were careful not to spill any hint of excitement to our other friends outside the Mamburao crew. We’re hush-hush the entire time not to preempt the trip again. But amongst us, an uncontainable excitement was ever present. You can call it a delayed reaction when we all started celebrating. We have already lost mobile phone signal and traversed the strait when we, all 10 members of the original 20-member Mamburao crew, cheered in unison, “THIS IS IT!!!”.

I was greeted the next morning with a ringing bell signaling our first dive of the day! Finally, thankfully, officially we’re right at the heart of Sulu Sea and below where our boat was moored is arguably The Holy Grail of Philippine diving! What else can we ask for but to gear up, hop on our assigned chase boat and ask either our buddy or the boat man “clear?”. It didn’t take us long before we all found ourselves doing a synchronized back roll to the Amos Rock dive site. Boy!!! The splashing of waters and our dive computer’s beep echoed sweetly to my ears as my closest dive buddies and I descend to the depths. Water temperature was perfect and visibility was incredible! The reef wall, which we kept on our right shoulder was heavily covered with colourful gorgonian fans, whip corals, christmas tree worms, and soft corals. On our left was an infinity of blue waters liven up by a seemingly soiree of various fishes. It’s stunning, overwhelming and magical until on the twelfth minute immediately after L & I saw our first juvenile shark, a minor mishap on my inflator hose shot me & my buddy Z to the surface. (This deserves a separate post).

banggigay wall diving

drift diving (photo from Sharkbite)

The succeeding dives were all drift dives making it more enjoyable and doubly exciting! We rode the current as we get charmed with the pelagic around us. Hawksbill sea turtles, Bluespotted Stingrays, Marble Rays, Eagle Ray, Nurse sharks, Grey reef sharks, Blacktip sharks and the ubiquitous Whitetip sharks were perpetually gracing all our dives. Schools of big Tuna, Trevally, Barracudas, Grouper,  Harlequinn Sweetlips, Wrasses, Parrot fish, Bat fish, Angel fish, Damsel fish and a lot more marine species we are yet to fish ID gave us an extravagant showdown underwater. Our safety stops were like send-offs to us by playing big, fat Whitetip sharks and turtles as they swim around us to conclude each dive with a remarkable close shallow encounter.

whitetip shark

Whitetip shark (photo from SPD)

sleeping shark

sleeping shark (photo from SPD)

school of juvenile barracuda

school of juvenile Barracuda (photo from SPD)

Hawksbill sea turtle

Hawksbill sea turtle (photo from SPD)

bluespotted stingray

Bluespotted Stingray (photo from SPD)

Emperor Angelfish

Emperor Angelfish (photo from SPD)

preggo map puffer fish

prego map puffer fish (photo from SPD)

It was so surreal you wish to hold the time for as long as you could. Fifty to sixty minutes of diving wasn’t just enough to marvel the beauty of Tubbataha Atolls. Tubbataha indeed defines ‘teeming with diversity of marine life’!!! It first teases you with its 20-30m great visibility then transports you to an enchanting world of marine life before it finally seduces you to the pleasurable climax of the whole diving experience!

We came to Tubbataha with a very high expectation, as we hear our buddies, who dove it, rave about it incessantly even after 2-8 yrs have already passed. We knew that sightings of hammerhead sharks and roving mantas are few and far in between, but we were optimistic of what a wild marine park can deliver. We did not relinquish the quest and up to our last day of diving at Shark Airport, we were positive about seeing them. But when we did our final chase boat ride back to our chartered boat, after our 20th dive, there was no sign of disappointment nor discontent among the 10 divers for not seeing them on this trip. With such lush landscape and bountiful sea life, how could we ask for more?! We were all ecstatic and screaming “we love you Tubbataha” for all the world to hear how fantastic the weeklong trip was!

Mamburao Group (at least half of it) at Tubbataha ReefMamburao Crew (at least half of it) at Tubbataha Reef promoting world class Philippine diving (photo from SPD)

banggigay's tubbataha dive log map dive log map (map courtesy of this site)

chase boats

Parked Chase Boats (photo from Wanderlass)

last day euphoriaLast day euphoria at shower deck (photo from Sharkbite)

Tubbataha you did not fail us! All these raves about you are nothing but understatements of what we have experienced in the last five days of diving! In your waters, there was a spiritual experience. I was humbled immensely how little we were compared to the vast beauty you have generously shown us. If to others, you are a love-hate relationship, you to me are love, love, and love alone!  You are beautiful and immeasurably so much more!

fish ID was aided by this site

– photos were from SPD, Wanderlass, Sharkbite

– dive site map was from this site

– for further info on Tubbataha Reef Conservation, please hop here

menu list

last friday night was like going inside starbucks and be faced with all the choices on how your caffeine fix can be served. option 1: anawangin-capones island getaway with OCMI; option 2: PICPA golf tournament for a cause; option 3: mizuno infinity run with h@ppy feet; option 4: daytrip dive with scubarats.

option 1 was slashed immediately despite my fervent wish to finally experience its splendid beauty cos it was a bit short notice for me and i didn’t want my anawangin-capones experience be a crap just because i came unprepared.

option 2 was actually a fallback should all other plans will not push through.

option 3 on the other hand gave option 4 a real hard time cos it’s a mizuno run and i just luv their products (from golf clubs to shoes. ok i don’t have yet their sophisticated running shoes which i actually intend to buy in my next HK trip but i read & heard lots of good things about it and my nike shoes i think are just too heavy thus making my calves even bigger! boo! not to mention i have a mizuno pair for badminton which has served me for 3 yrs already and is still at its top performance) and of course a lot of h@ppy feet have signed-up to join the race. but…but i haven’t ran since PIA (toxic in my work place) and i know i’ll just hurt my knees again if i push a 5k run on sunday.

so i decided to take option 4 instead cos i haven’t dove for the month (i promise to dive at least once a month) and i just cant let my alterego down especially when she asked me a favour of going with her as they take her “future” sis & bro in law for an intro dive. besides it’s a day trip only on sunday and i’d have the entire saturday to just lounge at home and spend quality time with mi familia since i was out of country during the easter break.

was already up even before sun peeked in the horizon to meet C at SLEX gas station at 530 and we’re at planet dive 8ish. we’re surprised to see that the house was full with guests.

1st dive: bebot point (pinoy slang for a chick)

1st time to dive at this point.

Alterego was my buddy

there was a moderate current

we dove with photographers who joined the underwater photo contest (their exhibit will be at ayala museum starting 5th april)

sea fan, flounder, box fish and the very cute puffer fish (waaaah! i left my cam’s underwater case i just bought. i missed taking photos of such beauty!)

saw no turtles. blech!

alterego broke her left fin. she had to hold on to R’s tank for the last few minutes of the dive

90ft: 48mins, SPG Reading 1700psi. (3000 psi initial rdg); 20-30 ft visibility

fun dive

Aye, had difficulty in descending. put only 2lbs in my belt and with my size now, i’m just too buoyant.

2nd dive: Mainit Point

one of my fave sites. it never fails to give me the adrenalin rush. current is almost always moderate to strong. but still ranks high up there cos species here are the coolest.

surprisingly there was no current or very mild current

stone fish, tube anemones, soft corals abound, garden eel (?) (have to check the book, hehehe!), file fish and two more species i still am to research

no shark sighting. blech!

i actually expected some action but nothing even after 55mintues

85 ft: 55mins, SPG reading 1600psi (3000 psi initial rdg); 20-30 ft visibility

felt was too heavy with the additional 2lbs weight from my 1st dive. boo! i ended up compensating it with my breathing and bc.

3rd dive: Twin Rocks

shore entry only. honestly i don’t like shore entry. cos i have to carry my stuff till i get to the waters so i can get a little help from water’s upward force.

since we know the landscape like we know the back of our hand already, diving twin rocks is relatively the easiest. but, it houses amazing species even at 20-30 ft depth only :-)

we joined H’s siblings as they take their intro dive course.

it was a riot underneath! there were too many divers!

everyone was having a photo op, especially when the school of jacks showed up. graaaaaabe! ang daming talakitok! ang ganda tingnan sooobra! sayang ala ako cam! hmmmp!

1st dive with J, a fellow h@ppy feet:- ) 1st time to dive also with T. even underwater he has a very bubbly spirit! classic!

saya! pramis! whatta way to end the day! :-)

50ft; 40mins, SPG reading 2000 psi (3000 psi initial rdg); 30-40 ft visibility

was knackered big time on our way home! thank the heavens i wasn’t the one who’s driving!

and thankfully, i chose option 4 over option 3. i heard/read nasty stuff on the infinity run. otherwise, i’m ranting big time and not posting a fun weekend i had.

three lovely runners cum divers

off to bebot point

playful

~o~

i’m proud to say we took part of the earth hour last saturday! :-) my mum didn’t complain when i told her what’s the campaign about and she even turned off her room’s AC. she understands the criticality of global warming. whooopeee! i hope you too turned off the lights for at least an hour, did you?

~o~

it’s h@ppy feet’s 1st anniv! cheers to all my fellow impromptu runners! i made lots of good friendship in this group. first virtually, then real, then for keeps! they have brought back my faith to people again – that nice & genuine people still exist and they are still a lot. more happy and running years to all of us!

*underwater shot courtesy of the nocturnal girl. thanks for this! :-)

vacation syndrome

just got back from an uber looong vacay, 4-9 nov Sg-Kl with mi familia. 9th dinner with h@ppy feet to celebrate B’s brrrpday. then 3 fantastic dives on 10th at anilao! what else can i ask for but a goood rest. but i’m not complaining :-)

i’d post later, just need to settle my stuff, and feel my workstation once again. it’s always the hardest to start a working week after a splendid vacay. as in!

happy and shiny

IMG_0295

we’re turning 20 something and a weekend dive with our dive buddies is a great way to celebrate another year of diving adventures! (cathy, where art thou?) :-)

encho and poch! wasak!

encho and poch, in wasak state :-)

IMG_0300

the prodigies with CD dencio :-)

off to saddle point

minutes before our super duper extreme adventure at saddle point :-)

down-draft…strong current…flooding and ebbing at the point…daisy chain…unfastened weight belt..2 divers got separated from the group…40ft drastic descend whilst drifting to east…wooohoo! we survived it all unscathed! what a way to start our weekend dive!!!

high sa saya!

stoked of our saddle point adventure :-)

ecstatic of the beatrice experience!

off to mainit school (115ft); first fun dive together with alter ego encho:-)


P1010056

 

dive brief off to mainit school…

P1010057

P1010080

birthday dive wkend 010

from dawn till dusk

certified dive addicts! 7 dives including a night dive in two days ranging from 110 ft to 45ft depth…an hour to half an hour dive…super fun! I super lurve weekends like this!

and how else can we end this weekend but to explore the more popular dive point in anilao – beatrice point. it’s entirely a different world down there!!! burst of colors, shapes and textures. it’s sooo surreal! i have never seen such a beauty! i wish i can show that world to my family..to my friends and to all those whom i hold close to my heart…it was indeed a magical experience! i wish i can be ariel even for a day! encho, i know you won’t mind being flounder, yes? :-) i promise to take photos next time..(and i need to buy an underwater cam casing!)

and as if it’s not enough…my mentor shook my hand whilst i was cleaning my suit,

“ma’am, ngayon pa lang kino-congratulate na kita, i’m so proud of you!”

wooohoo! he didn’t know how hard to myself i was for the past weekends i’ve been diving religiously. underwater, i keep on reprimanding myself everytime i’d lose my rhythm in breathing, or each time my fin would touch the reef, or i’d hit a coral wall. for weeks i’ve been honing my hovering skill. i want to enjoy the beauty underwater without causing much effect on them, and buoyancy is the key. and him appreciating how fast i’ve learnt…him the legendary dencio…wooopee!

i know though i’m yet to perfect that skill, until i can hover a foot away from a marine life, like they do, i can never consider myself a true blue naui certified diver :-)

but for now, i’m humming an unknown song, and i know i’m haaaaappy just because:-)

ps: to all october celebrators, cheers to us! :-)

for the love of it

i bought myself a new baby…to support this growing interest of mine.

..love it!

my DM is a classic…amuses and cracks jokes even underneath! haha! almost chuckled underwater yesterday as my DM insist to go over the sunken barge. i was a bit hesitant and signaled him to other direction the moment i saw how sudden the change in depth of the the sea bed over the barge. oh yes! i’d love to go over there and see more colorful and strange sea creatures..but i’m afraid at the same time of what seems to me an abyss, and that my tank & regulator would break down as soon as i dive deeper…(you know the fear of the unknown)..but DM insisted…and lo and behold! bigger and more colorful schools of fish and fascinating corals are lying there…i love every second of playing with all those sea creatures…it makes me wonder what they think about us divers…are they enjoying our visit? are they too as enthralled as i am seeing their beauty and grace?..can’t help but be amazed unerneath…more of this please….

oh! how can i not commend the sumptous lunch they have prepared for us…isn’t it M?J?

we’d definitely go back there

*happiness*


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good ol’ brew

burst of colors

my luv affair to my islands


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