Let’s go to the Beach! We’re Diving!

“The best way to observe a fish is to become a fish”

– Jacques Yves Coustaeu
The Beachfront

I’ve been looking at vacation photos on my Facebook recently and I came across our trip to Pandan Island. It was such a memorable experience because It was my first time to go snorkeling and try free-diving! This experience led me to some realizations as well. Let me take you guys to the beach and free-dive with me as I try my best to paint the picture of the island, the corals, and the world under the sea! (*cue music Under the Sea*)

The oceans and seas have always fascinated me. Can you believe that the ocean covers 71% of the Earth and yet 95% of it remains unexplored? So when a group of friends invited me to go on vacation on a remote island resort I immediately said yes!

To the island!

We got on board a 30-minute plane ride from Manila going to Occidental Mindoro. We were buzzing with so much energy and excitement that we barely felt the 3-hour van ride taking us to the seaport where we’ll take a small boat to the island. The pleasant smell of the sea invaded our noses as we walked on the beachfront leaving our footprints in the fine white sand. We reached the bar and merrily gulped down our welcome drinks. Smiles were flashing across our faces – this is going to be the best summer EVER!

“Ok everyone, let’s gather here early tomorrow and I’ll give a 101 on freediving!” said our friend Sir Mel (nickname for Hanamel). He’s a an amazing free-diver! We then explored the island a little bit and waited for the next day to come.

As the sun greeted us with an energizing glow we headed to the beachfront bringing our masks, snorkels, and fins with us. We did stretches to warm up and dipped ourselves in the cool waters by the shore. Afterwards, Mel taught us the basics of breathing, equalizing, diving posture, safety measures and everything you need to know as a first timer in free-diving. He also warned us not to panic when we encounter dangerous sea creatures like jellyfish, lionfish, sea snakes, and the infamous triggerfish which has a human-like face and teeth that can punch a hole through your suit. I was a bit nervous but I was more excited to explore and try something that I haven’t done before.

We swam out in pairs as we headed to a nearby fish sanctuary. Sea turtles would come near and swim with us every now and then being friendly and hospitable to us – their visitors. There were occasional sightings of triggerfish, and sea snakes but they didn’t pose enough danger. After a myriad of schools of fish, and a showy display of corals we have arrived at the sanctuary.

My close encounter with a sea tutrle

It was beautiful. When you look down from the surface of the water, you will see the fish as a bunch of colorful lines busily swimming through their day minding their own businesses in the corals. But when you dive deep to meet them it’s like you’ve been plunged into a totally different world that only few know about. The light shines differently down there. You will literally get to see and know the fishes in a different light and perspective. Some fish will shine a pearly white sheen. Some show off a dazzling array of yellows, greens, and blues. The bigger fish would come in and assert their authority and the smaller ones would happily zoom in and out of their coral homes. I wished I had a bigger lung capacity so I can stay down there for more than a few seconds. I was captivated by the beauty of the sea.

“Be careful not to go over the deeper end, and dive more than 30 feet deep. You’ll go into free-fall.” Mel calmly told us.

I was curious about the free-fall. My maximum depth during that time was 18 feet. The deeper end, and beyond that was scary. It looked like a huge abyss where many unknowns live. A world where light also shines differently. A world unexplored – at least by me. At that moment I got why some get addicted to diving. For me, there’s a thrill calling for you to go beyond the surface and see the treasures that lie underneath.

Our five days on the island went by at a satisfying pace. We heeded the call of the waters every day and we just talked about anything in our lives under the moonlit sky every night. The calming sound of the waves and the silence of the island imprinted itself in our ears. I didn’t want to leave the place. On our last day, we said goodbye to the island and went back to the city with sun-kissed skin still hearing the call of the sea.

Diving With People

Looking back at this vacation I realized that diving can be related with people we meet every day. I believe that everyone has a story to tell. From the surface, it may seem like the people we encounter are just perpetually going about their day from point A to point B living their lives best they can. But when you have an opportunity to dive deep with them, especially with the ones close to you you’ll see how the light bounces off of them differently but in a beautiful way. Sometimes if you’re lucky and brave enough, you get to free-fall 30 feet below with them in their abyss and see their well-kept treasure.

Echoing the quote above, the best way to observe a person is to become a person too. It sounds a bit odd so let me rephrase. The best way to get to know people is for you to become a real person with them is willing to dive into their depths and see their own light. Our relationships with others can be as deep as you want to go diving with them. 

So let’s go diving! Are you ready to take the plunge?

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Remembering Good Things

One of the most amazing abilities that we have is the capacity to remember. Remembering allows us to reconnect with experiences that have already happened, and relive them again. To engage with past sights, sounds, smells, and feelings again are empowering. It enables us to see things in a new light and may remind us of the goodness of life if you know where to look.

I have been missing so many things lately. So right now, journey with me as I take you through some experiences I’m grateful for, that made my life worth living.

Steak! Excuse my camera skills!

Good Food

It was a special day. After sending pictures of food and searching for restaurant recommendations I and my friends ended up having lunch in a nearby steakhouse. Eating something luxurious always brightens up days where stress consumes you. A kind server came to our table with a polite “What can I get you?” We would always order the cheapest item on the menu but this time, we decided on getting our choice prime cuts. “Medium rare please! With a side of rice.”

Our eyes lit up as the steak arrives at our table on a hot platter. You should’ve seen it! It was so glorious, deserving of applause. We took pictures of it – immortalizing the mouth-watering beauty in social media. The steak was cooked to perfection. We squeezed lemon on it, sliced it, revealing an immaculate gradient of pink, and excitedly took it close to our mouths with a fork. A rush of joy went over us as we had our first perfect bite.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Amazing Coffee

I always enjoyed breathing in the air every time I enter my go-to cafe. The smell of freshly roasted coffee invades me with so much positive energy. “How’s it going?” greets my friend at the bar before taking my order. I would always get myself a hot strong blend and sit at my favorite nook, slowly sipping away at my cup. 

Drinking coffee is not complete without my friends. Time quickly passes by as we hang out and have conversations that won’t seem to end, pausing only to fuel it more with coffee. With every sip, a slightly different taste unfolds as the coffee reveals its characteristic blend. We get to the bottom of our cups, but the conversation goes on. “Should we get another cup?”

Adventure under the sun 🙂

Genuine Warmth

The sky was the perfect shade of blue and the sun radiated a friendly warmth as my friend and I walked through a grassy field. Our laughter would sometimes mingle with the gentle breeze of air. There were deep sighs of gratitude as we took in the views of the distant mountains and cornfields. We walked on dirt roads having cows and chickens as our companions.

It was almost high noon and the sun was already scorching, so we took shelter under a tree, and ate the bread we took from the breakfast table. As we sat there we couldn’t help but be thankful. It’s not every day that we get to experience something like this where you can just be. Life is good and everything is enough. 

Reliving Good Memories

Our memories are treasures. Make your heart remember the good things it has experienced. When times get rough and when the road ahead gets dark, open up your treasure, and remind yourself that everything will be better soon. 

What is your favorite uplifting memory that you’ll dive into today?

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