My mom celebrated her 67th birthday last week. In all her 40 years married to my dad, she never really got to celebrate her freedom apart from what my dad wanted.
Which was why we were ecstatic when she showed interest in trying out scuba diving. Sure, it’s a bit of a dangerous sport especially for seniors, but hey, you only live once.
We picked Halo Dive Resort (http://halodiveresort.com) in Anilao Batangas (Brgy. Ligaya Anilao Batangas, Mob: 0917-502 3483) for our same day excursion. Just in case you’re curious, the fee was Php 2,650 for a package of 4 people to share in one room with two queen-sized beds. This already includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Since we were only going there for a day, our total damage was a resort entry fee of Php 2,000 per head, and an uber expensive, not-so-worth-it lunch of Php 900 per head!
Oh well, you win some and lose some. Must not cry over spilled milk, especially if it’s mom’s birthday.
In the end, we chose to take the one-day Discovery Diving class with Allan and his son AJ Umali (Mob: +63-917 811 9651). You can ask AJ their fees, but I found them to be quite reasonable especially since it already included the scuba gears, the orientation, and the boat.
During the orientation, Allan shared with us what SCUBA meant. Apparently, it meant Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. Oh diba? Am sure you didn’t know that. I sure as well didn’t! 🙂
For beginners, you start with three important things: 1) the hand signals to communicate danger, OK, up or down, 2) how to breathe underwater, and 3) how to equalize under water (e.g., how to relieve pressure from your ears when under water). He also taught us how to get rid of water from the mask.
To breathe underwater, you’d simply have to breathe deeply in and out through your mouth. Think yoga, but breathe in and out as deep as you can. It’s quite comfortable, I promise.
Equalizing was a lot more difficult. You either had to swallow constantly, hold your nose and blow out, or move your jaws from side to side.
It seems simple by nature, but actually it’s harder than you think. When you’re underwater, it’s difficult to remember to neutralize the pressure. Here by the way is Allan teaching my mom and uncle hand signals.
After a one-hour introduction, we headed straight to the boat. The greatest thing about Anilao, Batangas is its multitude of diving sites all around as you can see in the map below:
The worst thing about Anilao, Batangas is how rocky it can be. As you can see, though the waters seem serene, when the waves get stronger as they did later that afternoon, it gets quite dangerous as the waves toss and turn you around the water.
The boat ride took around 30 minutes and we settled nearby the shore, just in a different area. Despite the close vicinity to the shore, there was still 8 meters worth of water between the boat and the bottom of the ocean, enough for us to thoroughly enjoy the different corals and fishies underneath.
Personally, scuba diving for me was interesting. I’ve done it once before in Taiwan, and I cannot help but notice just how comfortable it is to dive in Manila because you always have the resort and boat staff carry everything for you!
It’s also quite an experience to go down the deep sea and trying to appreciate nature in silence, with just your gear breathing bubbles in and out. It can be relaxing for some people.
In the end, each of us enjoyed around 20 minutes underwater. I had to swallow multiple times to equalize under water, and there were times that my ears felt they would pop, but I was okay.
My mom on the other hand had to do more adjustments. She found it harder to equalize and didn’t stay deep in the water too long.
Overall, it was a good experience though. Something everyone should try at least once in their lives. For me, I think it won’t be the last time I would try it, but I am also not jumping at the next time to try again.
For one, scuba diving is a bit of a hassle to go to. Batangas was 2 hours drive away from Manila, and it took the whole day. As soon as I got home at 11pm, I was already asleep in bed.
Two, it’s quite pricey. The lessons are in the thousands, and if you want to buy your own gear, can easily set you back Php 30,000-100,000 depending on the brand.
And lastly, it’s still a dangerous sport. There is good reason why you always need a partner when diving and why people warn you not to get on an airplane 24 hours after you dive. Apparently doing so causes your ears to bleed, and can cause nausea, paralysis or even death.
So go ahead! Dive. It’s fun! At least it’s worth a try.
C’est la vie all!