Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

Under Water Musing

Jen F. Vega - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - The underwater world always thrills me. It’s a sanctuary that I run to when I feel I deserve a respite after a “toxic” workweek, or put a pause to heartbreak (or what cool kids call maoy) overload. The sea is my escape when the going gets tough, a perfect venue to get lost, in a good way, and embrace the cure it gives.

Having invested so much time and effort to go places for a snorkeling safari (the farthest was in Siargao, Surigao del Norte), I finally gave in to the call of the mermaids to dive deeper via SCUBA and gave up my snorkeling gear in lieu of the breathing tanks and the body hugging body suit (that shrinks whenever I’m underwater), plus the booties (that make my feet look bigger!) to better enjoy Nemo’s playground.

Ninety percent of the stories of my diver friends include diving woes such as inability to equalize, buoyancy quandary and eardrum dilemma. Sadly, these did scare me big time and have kept me settling for snorkeling although I sulk in envy of those who are licensed to dive. But because of the prodding of my diving muse, I conceded and joined a fun dive (a non-certification course) initiated by the dive shop operators of Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort & Spa just to kill the jealousy and finally cross off an item in my bucket list.  

After the orientation, which included equipment intro, diving and survival techniques and, what I call the test dive, we headed to the dive site. The area where the reef walking activity was to be done was five minutes off the resort but still within the Mactan area.

And what a treat it was! The whole diving experience stayed true to its name — a fun dive, indeed! The only problem, as we went deeper, was ear pain (due to water pressure) despite many attempts in applying three ear equalization techniques: the Valsalva maneuver (done by closing one’s mouth and pinching the nose shut while pressing out as if blowing a balloon), Toynbee maneuver (done by pinching the nose and swallowing) and flexing the facial muscles. That got me!  After 15 minutes in the deep, I finally emerged from the coral-laden Mactan reef to give my ears a rest. “Carry on, my friend, that’s normal for a first dive!” my diving muse said.

If my first dive had me blowing bubbles underwater, my second dive was the exact opposite through the closed-circuit re-breather course at Scotty’s Dive Center at the Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort & Spa.

The dive became all the more exciting because of Poseidon. This is a bubble-free dive gear that is gaining popularity in the diving scene. The sophisticated, electronically-controlled, lightweight unit makes your underwater love affair easier and longer because you don’t have to carry with you big and heavy oxygen tanks. The Poseidon re-breather is as handy as a backpack and will last to up to two hours or more depending on usage. After a half-day orientation with awesome dive instructors Ray Bright and Peter Mawby, the Shangri-La Mactan Marine Sanctuary was my playground. Absolutely neat!

It is perfectly normal to have apprehensions about diving. But I tell you, the experience is truly worth it. With proper training and instruction, it can be an exciting and rewarding adventure. Scuba diving, they say, is addicting. And yes, I’m up for another adventure! (FREEMAN)

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