Start with scuba diving Batangas-style. Before, when I think about scuba diving, I always thought it’s expensive. But I discovered that you can begin your journey to become a licensed scuba diver starting at PHP 1,500.
Unfortunately, it costs a fortune to gear yourself up in oxygen tanks and submerge yourself beneath the deep blue seas to see marine life — especially if you do it in commercialized tourist spots.
Lucky for me, Travel Compass has a scuba diving trip to Mabini Batangas, right at Bagalangit Hideaways. Here, Jeroen Elout Diving Manila instructs wannabe divers the basics of scuba diving.
Mabini, Batangas is accessible via JAM Liner bus ride to Batangas Port. A tricycle afterwards is taken to go to Bagalangit Hideaways. Jeroen along with other licensed scuba diving instructors awaited our arrival, whereupon they took us on a detour to Botoc Seaview Guest House which is a viable option for accommodation.
Scuba Diving Batangas-style 101
Jeroen made us watch introductory videos which covers the technical functions of the gear as well as what to do in panic-inducing situations (e.g. when water creeps into your snorkel), as well as the traditional gestures for underwater communication. Pretty soon, we strapped ourselves in and geared ourselves up.
It takes several minutes to line up the tubes and learn about their functions before plunging in. I was partnered with Jeroen himself, who has been a scuba diving instructor for nearly two decades. He showed us how to use the buoyancy control device (BCD), the gauges, the regulators and air hose, how to strap in the weight belts properly and to put on the fins. My mind raced to remember everything!
Ready, Set, Scuba Dive!
Once Maqi, Josh and I were set, we carried the heavy gear into the water. We had to get used to breathing with our mouths and live with the terrifying feeling of floating with our feet not touching the ground. You don’t have to learn how to swim to scuba dive.
Upon shallow waters, Jeroen asked us to apply what we learned from the video and the demonstrations before the dive. In case of losing air, we performed getting the extra air hose of our buddies. We also practiced towing our buddies across the surface, in case they get fatigued.
Afterwards, he led us to the vast coral reef reserves just a few minutes’ swim from the jump-off point. The sight of the undestroyed corals was breathtaking! I could hear Aladdin’s “A Whole New World” playing from the background and wished I can move more gracefully underwater.
Corals of different shapes and textures peppered the bottom of the sea. Even at 15 meters, the reefs were thick, clumped tightly together for as far as the eyes can see. If the density of coral reefs while scuba diving Batangas-style is like this, I wondered how much more awesome is the Tubbataha Reef?
Like Jasmine Singing “A Whole New World”
At deeper depth, my ears kept popping with the water pressure. I was also still not used to regulating my buoyancy, which means I had a difficult time estimating with the BCD. As seen in the picture below, I would sometimes lurk dangerously near the bottom! Jeroen went to the rescue and hoisted me up until I can adjust. Sometimes I would shoot right up the surface.
Thankfully, we learned how to hover properly. Since Maqi and Josh were on their second dives, they were taught more advanced techniques. My first dive was amazing, albeit a bit clumsy! Even with so many fears (of drowning, stepping on coral reefs, my ear drums giving away), I have zero doubt that I will be scuba diving Batangas-style again! After our dive (Jeroen really took his time), we went snorkeling as we are allowed to borrow the masks and fins as long as they are available.
After an entire day spent underwater, we finally prepared to go. I really enjoyed scuba diving Batangas-style because the world beneath the deep blue sea is something we don’t always say. The biodiversity of marine life, as they say, is much more pronounced especially in the Philippines. As they say, you can witness more biodiversity in one dive than in many forest hikes.
I desire to continue diving in order to make it to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Tubbataha Reef — the center of the center of marine biodiversity someday. A girl can dream. Join me until then?
More Resorts in Batangas
Credits to Josh and Jeroen Elout Diving Manila for the photos.