Posts Tagged 'scuba diving'

back from oblivion

hello!!!!

the past three and a half years have been a journey. and i know how delinquent i got in visiting my crib. it’s not fair cuz in the past years, i had soooo many beautiful adventures i can only wish now i have blogged right away.

but then again, hey! not that i have more time now in my hands, but i wish not to visit this again without anything to remind me how my week, or my month or my year of chasing dreams was.

so, let’s sit a spell once more and take the ride! <3 

back to dry land

…after 7 awesome days!

– Tubbataha Reef National Park

– Sharks (Grey Reef, Blacktip, Nurse and the ubiquitous Whitetip!!!)

– Bluespotted Stingray, Marble Ray, Eagle Ray

– school of Jacks/Trevally, Barracudas, Dogtooth Tuna & even Titan Trigger fish

– bunch of fish we’re yet to fish ID

– wall diving / drift diving

– 4 fantastic dives per day

– lovely Bird islet

– gorgeous sunsets

– turquoise waters

– reggae all day

– havin some booze at night

– countless photos & vids

– loads of laughters

– beautiful people

good times indeed!!!

hello world! banggigay is indeed back, albeit still suffering from severe case of Tubbataha Withdrawal Syndrome. she is unsure though how long it would take her to recover. however she is considering having a so-called ‘Transition Dive Trip’ for a smoother and more gradual shift from a full time diver to a 24/7 project manager again.

i’d post soon a proper entry about The Great Tubbataha Experience, promise!!! i’m posting some teaser photos for you though! :-)

divemanila.org

banggigay, wanderlass, silverprodigy

– thanks to Stephen & Wanderlass (respectively) for the photos :-)

sweet escape

A weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city, to some, is such a cliché. But to those souls willing to be closer again to nature and experience the great outdoors, the adventure it warrants shall never lose its novelty to true weekend warriors. Afterall, it’s the harrowing 8-hour grind on weekdays which makes the weekends  sweeter and lovelier.

Five (5) girls with shared passion for diving, even in a dinner meet-up with new found diving buddies (thanks to the failed Tubbataha attempt), an Anilao weekend dive can be conceived.

Seems like the stars were aligned perfectly – long weekend, couple of days only before hopping on the boat for the crew’s second attempt to Tubbataha and Ford Philippines has reserved one of their vehicles for us, Wandersoles, to use for our next adventure trip.

Yes you got it right! Ford Philippines is generous enough to lend Wandersoles to test drive their 2010 Escape to wherever destination we fancy! :-)

Ford 2010 Escape

We took our sweet time at Paseo Center where we had a sumptuous Japanese fare dinner. After a couple of backgammon games against Wanderlass, with the smooth ride from Silang Cavite to Mabini Batangas, it didn’t take me long to be lulled and join Pinaydiver to sleep ;p Hey I was just lucky like that!!! ;p Wanderlass, Silverprodigy and Indayguapa (alternating respectively) volunteered to take charge of the wheels during the trip but the city driving was left to my care. Being a Ford Everest owner for three years, driving an Escape for the first time was a refreshing idea. And though I know I am not ready yet to let go of my perennial travel buddy, Gabriel (my Everest’s name),  I can’t deny my instant attraction to Escape’s sleek body yet spacious passenger & cargo room.

We arrived at Planet Dive a little past midnight. In my solid whole year of exclusively diving with PD, logging about 100++ during my freshie year only, I’ve been fantacising of getting booked to what was dubbed as the Party Room of PD. It is that big room that comfortably sleeps 5-6 persons with open air ventilation and stunning window view of the horizon and the blue waters.  Boy! Was I surprised when we were led to the dream room that night!

Slept soundly for 7 hours and was woken-up only by the familiar voices and echoing laughter of our Mamburao dive buddies. Their arrival signaled the commencement of the day’s adventure.

Our day started 830ish and did an easy dive to Beatrice’ beautiful landscape. It never fails to sweep me away with the burst of colors of corals, fish and nudis which in my neutrally buoyant state, I can only gush about with tiny, rhythmic bubbles. Little did we know that our first dive was just a prelude of what would be an intense dive at Mainit. On our second jump off the boat, only 5 minutes into the dive, Mainit right away prove its reputation of having strong current condition which sometimes border to washing machine condition. We stayed closer to the reef and tried to reach what they call the shark highway but the attempt became futile and the two groups got divided to even several, smaller groups. It wasn’t actually a dive for faint-hearted, we’re thankful though that we’re all advanced divers and are equipped for some difficult diving. Some even able to document the whirlpool condition on vids and still photos. We all came out of water relatively unscathed with only little marks on our rashies of how intense the action underwater was. We felt like rock stars ready to take whatever the upcoming Tubbataha trip has in store for us.  Saved by the delicious lunch buffet and the long SIT (Surface Interval Time) we had, we recovered from the beating we just went through at Mainit. In just a few hours, we found ourselves again gearing up and getting ready for a shore entry to Twin Rocks. We were on our own this time (DM’s knew we don’t need a guide anymore as we know the landscape like the back of our hand already) and I found myself at the front of the pack and somehow leading the group from the barge towards the twin rocks. It was a good 55min dive, registering only 18m as the deepest point we’ve reached. It’s more than enough time for those with new underwater toys to play with muck (macro photography) whilst others enjoy doing the role of a spotter of bizarre, cryptic yet colourful macro creatures.

dive pre-briefing with the crew

banggigay with her new shorty

at twin rocks

at twin rocks

cute anemone fish

We finished our 3rd dive half hour past four only, and though we have actually planned for a 4-dive day trip (4th dive being a night dive), we submitted without a fight to just chill at the inviting sundeck and watch the sun gorgeously set on the horizon.

view from Planet Dive's sundeck

wandersoles during SIT

Pre-Tubba dive

For as long as…there’s still an adventure that underwater has to offer…sunsets still hold certain magic that can charm even the restless divers…beautiful people to share wonderful experiences of the day…weekend escape from the hustle and bustle will never be a cliché :-)

thanks to indayguapa, pinaydiver, Noel & SPD for the photos

enthralled all over again

going back to Coron for the 3rd time didn’t feel like it at all. especially this time around, i was with my closest dive buddies and closest friends.

concocted only the night before the booked flight, diving Calamianes is the next best plan after a failed Tubbataha live aboard adventure. i could have easily suggested a different destination, like Malapascua or Siquijor (both places i aim to do some diving too), but the charm of this group of islands in Northern Palawan beckons me like its own child, longing to throw me a party for my homecoming of some sort.

for a starter, Barracuda Lake elicited a wooooah! moment as we were welcomed with such beauty after climbing the karsts. T, a brit chap who’s been a full time traveler for two years already, exclaimed ‘gorgeous!’,  in my head though i said ‘wait till you see Kayangan Lake’

fantastic!!!-Kayangan Lake, view from the dividing hill, 2005

Barracuda Lake famous for its reverse thermocline property and the lone barracuda that resides in it, was successful in setting the bar high in Coron’s diving experience.

we ended the night at some local joint close to our resort, with a toast to awesome dives in the next days.

barracuda lake-L-Barracuda Lake, photo from wanderlass

true enough, the next 4 days were filled with beautiful adventures as we conquer each ship wreck. funny how penetrating Akitsushima gave me nostalgia of my first ever penetration dive last 2008. i was with my foreign dive group and E, my buddy, were all inside the lower chamber already, when i suddenly chickened out and felt claustrophobic seeing the small, really dark and unfamiliar passageway. i had to pause for a moment and rethink whether i indeed want to do it. E went back to me and asked me if there’s something wrong, but i just signaled that OK sign, without thinking. during the first few meters of finning, i can almost hear my heart throbbing unusually hard. i was sooo close to aborting when a hand reached for me and led me to the end of the tunnel. it was a reassuring hand that made me go back to my senses and reminded me, ‘you’re trained and equipped to do this. we can do it’. now 2 years have passed, in the absence of the split second anxiety and dependable buddy (not that i’m saying my new buddy wasn’t dependable) but equipped with new learning and experiences, i saw Akitsushima differently. a humongous 150m long warship, lying on its side, is remarkable for its good penetration. thrice i heard J, the usually silent one, muttered ‘wooooow!’ underwater.

Coron Crewthe Coron Crew, photo from indayguapa

siete pecados-bday 1, after the Siete Pecados dive, photo from indayguapa

irako

irako– Irako warship, photo from indayguapa

as if the awesome dives weren’t enough, we found ourselves plunging to the turquoise water of Calamianes to head to the uninhabited little private island and find solace on its stretch of white sand. i was actually thinking of bringing my friends to Kayangan Lake, but realised that it’s the perfect way to end an action-packed weeklong holiday, with lovely sunset as our backdrop, with a cold beer on one hand and chips on the other, with sand between our toes.

CYC island-K-2– the crew heading to CYC island, photo from Kat

CYC island-K– beautiful island, photo from Kat

holiday salvaged. dive fix met. Coron revisited. old flame rekindled.

good times yeaaaaah!

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

with the hope to grow gills

in 10days, my solemates, our extended dive buddies and i would go on board pacific explorer to commence our 8-day live aboard dive adventure to Apo Reef – Tubbataha Reef (transition trip).

to say i am soooo excited is an utter understatement!!!

come on, who wouldn’t?!! excitement has been building up since June last year when we made the entire charter boat reserved for ourselves (just for 5 of us) without hesitation that we’d be able to complete the numbers for the transition trip (24 pax).

and now that it’s just few days away, it feels like i have this constant sweeeet grin across my face.

dove a couple of beautiful dive sites both in (Coron, Anilao, Puerto Galera, Dumaguete, Apo Island, Lubang Island, Boracay) and out of the country (Malaysia, Indonesia, Viet Nam, Thailand) already, but these two sites – Apo Reef & Tubbataha Reef can be what i’d call my dream dive destinations!!! yes, i may be dreaming of diving Palau, Sipadan, Red Sea, Maldives, French Polynesia, Galapagos, Sudan and the list goes on…but these two are the pinnacle of all!

let me give you some facts to give you a glimpse just how amazing this trip would be:

Apo Reef (infos are from diveapo, UNESCO and asiadivesite)

– second largest contiguous coral reef in the world and the largest one in the Philippines

– a marine national park currently nominated to be part of the UNESCO World heritage site

– has an area of 15,792 hectares including land and water areas

– home to 385 species of colorful marine fishes, including sharks, stingrays, mantas, tropical fish and morays, including the endangered Green Sea and Hawksbill turtles as well as 500 species of soft and branching types of hard corals

– hosts 47 species of migratory and resident birds. it has three islands, namely Apo Island , Apo Menor (Binangaan Is-land) and Cayos del Bajo, all with white beaches

– the steep walls are well covered with corals, sponges, tunicates, nudibranchs and slugs. the coral formation at the plateau is magnificent. green and hawksbill turtles, and a multitude of fish including damselfish, butterflyfish, batfish, surgeonfish, snappers, fusiliers and trevallies are common. strong currents increase the chance of sighting sharks (hammerhead, blacktip, whitetip, grey and tresher sharks), great barracudas, tunas and manta rays.

– wall diving is second to none and you won’t have to go too deep to experience a wide variety of life.

Apo Reef

Tubbataha Reef (infos are from 7natureswonder, asiadivesite, and TRNP)

– is home to some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world. Rising from the volcanic depths of the Sulu Sea in the western Philippines, these magnificent atolls encompass an astonishing diversity of marine life.

– site was declared a National Marine Park in 1988 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, a place of global importance being preserved for future generations of humankind.

– the atolls and Tubbataha Reef are a sanctuary for more than 1,000 species. lots of pelagics such as tunas, school of jacks, barracudas, whale sharks and reef sharks, hammerhead and grey reefs, manta and eagle rays,  lionfish, tortoises and clownfish. there are 300-350 coral species, 400-500 fish species, and numerous bird life.

– only diveable between the months of March to early June. mostly wall drift dives.

– encompasses 239,000 acres (968.24 sq km). the reefs and atolls are guarded 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

(if video is not loading properly please click here)

click here for some fantastic photos of tubbataha by tommy schultz.

and i have not even posted what seasoned divers of all nationals have said / written about the two sites.

Philippines, center of the marine biodiversity, it being a part of a Coral Triangle, scuba divers’ paradise. how can be diving any better than diving its waters?!?! wooohooo!

4 reasons why i joined the condura run

run for the dolphins

Concepcions (elo Ton & Pat!) may have 10 reasons to join the Condura race. i, on the other hand only have four.

One. i’m an environment stewardess a.k.a. tree hugger

race’ main cause was to save the dolphins. and whatever it is to save the ecosystem, count me in! i overheard during the race day, the emcee said for each registrant, Php50 would go to the conservation fund.(please correct me if i’m wrong). with 8,500 runners (that’s effin Php425,000.00!!!), substantial moolah to carry out the rehabilitation of the baclayon pier and the building of floating wharf.

Two. i’m a nomad and Bohol ranks high in my favorite Wow Philippines’ destination.

i’ve been to Bohol twice and wouldn’t think twice of going back again should an opportunity comes. and on both occasions, i was up before the dawn broke and hopped on the outrigger boat to Pamilacan to watch the dolphins dance gracefully to their audience’ heart’s content! on both times, it was magical!!!

isn’t it awesome to make Baclayon and Pamilacan Islands as the beneficiary islands? :-)

Three.i’m a scuba diver.

nothing can make this advocacy to save the marine life be any more meaningful to a heart of a true blue scuba diver! when you have actually gone through the depths of the water and have actually communed with the marine life, you’d be awed how much beauty is there underneath. then you’d learn to respect it and care for it beyond words.

Four.i’m a runner.

even if running doesn’t reciprocate my luv, i luv it unconditionally. it’s been an on & off affair, mainly due to injuries, but i always find myself going back to it – with undiminished passion. S, was a witness how i got overly excited the night before the race, i kept on tossing and turning, which was a bummer cuz we got late by 40ish minutes . when i saw how empty the 10k route already – runners have already gone – i had the choice to go back and just take the 5K route and run with my friends instead. but i thought, ‘hmmm. who gives a damn if i’d run alone and be at the tail end? i run not for anything, i run because of one simple reason – i.want.to.run!’ so i went on and continue the race. it felt good hearing your feet strike the ground of a familiar route. kalayaan fly over used to be my ‘kill-me-now’ part, but surprisingly i crossed it like a gentle wind – unnoticed yet sweet! i haven’t even hit my 3rd km when i saw other 10K runners going down the fly over, ‘good to know, i’m no longer alone on the road’ was my thought bubble :-) a couple of nods here and there to running acquaintances and even to strangers and that proverbial hollers and high fives to good ol’ running friends. it was then i realized how much i missed joining races. after i made the turn around, all i can think about was to reach the uphill again of Kalayaan.  crazy i know! but i want to run facing east to be enthralled with the beauty of sunrise! with less than 2kms to go, i felt the throbbing on my left knee. it wasn’t a nasty pain, but i decided not to push it further. i reduced my pace and did a positive split. the moment i took out my trail mix stash, i knew it’s chikka pace time.

1:56:58 (condura result) – 00:44:12 (lapsed after the gun shot) = 1:12:58; 7.2 min/km;

i may have officially ran sloooooow but i have crossed the finish line immensely happy! :-)

5mins after crossing the finish line

proud finishers

casper-not

*photos from wanderlass, marco & edith


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