Day 1: July 14, 2013
After doing an overnight talk at Villa Azela Resort, Cordova with the Working Scholars of UCLM I immediately flew back to Talisay at around 7am in order to catch up with the team bound for Gutalac, Zamboanga del Norte. Surprisingly, I reached Talisay in just an hour of travel which was pretty fast despite my far distance. So I arrived home packed my things and off to our rendezvous point. We boarded Ceres Bus bound for Samboan, Lilo-an port going to the Port of Dumaguete. From the Port we were bound to Dapitan, which was a 3hour and a half boat ride. When we reached Dapitan around 8:40 PM and we were picked by PENRO Sir Almario. We were brought to Dipolog where we had dinner, and then from there it was a 4hour ride going to Gutalac. It was around 10PM when we started our travel, the night was cold and the air passing through the van brought relief to the tight sitting condition we were in. We had many stops, and our first stop was at Sindangan to have coffee and our last stop was at the residence of the CENRO where we had coffee again and did stretching due to the cramped sitting position. We arrived in Maja Beach resort around 3:30AM of July 15, 2013 and after entering our rooms we immediately went to sleep. That was the 1st day.
Day 2: July 15, 2013
The second was allotted on the basics of Scuba Diving, a day with lectures on the identification of scuba gears, mechanics of pressure and dive tables done by Talisay City Aquanauts Divemaster Phimark Pablio. I did the lecture on dive tables and I was a bit surprised because I thought that I have already forgotten it. In the afternoon was the actual hands-on on how to assemble the scuba gears We had 15 particpants coming from the PNP, Bantay Dagat and fishermen of Barangay Labason and Barangay Vicenso Sagun. This day wasn’t really tedious but it was still a learning experience.
Day 3: July 16, 2013.
The morning of day was allotted for the lecture on how to do Underwater Assessment done by the Chief of the Coastal and Marine Management Division of DENR VII Edmundo Arregadas. Afterwards in the afternoon, basic swimming skills were trained to the participants in order for them to be more adept to the demands on moving underwater while SCUBA Diving. Then followed by the basic SCUBA drills and skills which is a requirement to all Open Water Divers done by Talisay City Aquanauts Dive Instructor Anthony “Bong” Nator. Below are the skills needed to be learned:
- Assembly of SCUBA unit
- Water entry such the front roll, back roll side roll, front fall entry and giant stride
- Body breathing procedures with hand signals
- Mask clearing
- Proper finning with proper execution upon reaching shallow waters
- Buoyancy control
- Removal and replacement of SCUBA Unit
- Free Emergency Ascent
Day 4: July 17, 2013
This day was the official check out of the participants wherein they will execute the skills in real sea water at around at least 30 ft. We had our dive in the marine sanctuary of Murcellagos Island, a beautiful island with white sand shores; it is the protected landscape and sea scape with an official site. As usual, I did the underwater photography and at the same time I assisted in the drills underwater looking after participants who might find difficulty being underwater and to prevent damage to corals caused by neophyte divers who can’t properly carry themselves in water. The day finished with everyone being able to perform the drills satisfactorily.
Day 5: July 18, 2013
The last day of the Open Water SCUBA Diving Training organized by DENR-CMMD Region IX wherein the participants get to experience a real open water dive through another part of the Murcellagos Island sanctuary. As expected I felt a unique kind of joy seeing life hidden by the sea and a unique joy doing underwater photography in the amazing seascape. I was given a special mission to take extensive photos of the coral nursery of DENR Region IX in the area, and off course I willingly took the job. With the use of my new fins the Mares Plana Avanti Quattro I accelerated in the water without much effort and got to the nursery in no time. In the nursery I saw amazing fish colonies and massive coral structures like the huge table coral, on site I took the best pictures I could despite the low air. After check out dive the participants did a little fish assessment simulation in the shore.
As the day ended we went back to the resort with an amazing sunset at our horizon, and in this moment I felt something different and this realization came to me;
“The world is truly a wonderful place despite its imperfections, especially the world under the sea. I somehow realize that my life will be spent for the purpose of protecting and documenting the world underwater in order to show the land its beauty and also its problems with the goal of mobilizing more people to take part in saving themselves by saving the oceans”
PS: YOu can know more about Murcielagos Island by visiting this link: http://murcielagosislandphil.com/MIPLS/