A journey underwater (Part 1): Introducing freediving

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It all started with a Cebu Pacific seat sale I accidentally came across due to an unhealthy sleeping habit. I was looking for new destinations that seemed unfamiliar but still within my visa-free limit. I was booking for two but my supposed travel buddy challenged me to go solo for a change (this happened way before the incidental Apo Reef). So I did. I cancelled on the one-way ticket to Brunei and re-booked a one-way solo flight to Kota Kinabalu instead.

Nothing particularly remarkable happened in the months between, until I watched a slice-of-life anime called Amanchu! The anime isn’t exactly what I would recommend to watch because there was seriously nothing going on except the ocean and scuba diving. But being an ocean lover at heart (wink), I was really captivated by the very peaceful and calming depiction of being underwater. The laid-back atmosphere of the show and the animation of pillars of floating air bubbles from scuba divers made me want to bare and wash away my stressed out soul.

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I suddenly remembered about my upcoming trip to Kota Kinabalu (KK). It was a tropical paradise, not exactly up to par with what I’ve seen in the Philippines, but good enough. I thought it was the only time I could scuba dive, so I should. I started to research on nearby dive spots and came across a world entirely on its own.

I thought scuba diving should be my way of life. But discovery scuba diving alone, where you don’t have to be skilled at anything and rely your entire life to a complete stranger – your guide, costs around PhP 3000-5000 per day. On the other hand, getting your own most basic amateur license – the open water license, which could reduce future diving expenses to at most 60% costs around PhP 15,000 – P20,000 or at least three months of my rent. It was simply out of my league.

For a few months, I kind of gave up. Then I practiced how to go solo in Apo Reef. Then I regretted how I couldn’t get a good underwater photo because I couldn’t get near my subjects as I was completely relying on my life vest. Then I came across a blog post bragging about freedom from life vests when snorkeling (sorry I can’t link it now because I’ve completely forgotten where and what it was exactly).

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A dorky before and a much cooler after underwater photos.

That blog post introduced freediving and/or skin diving to the less fortunate me. She did it in Batangas, but luckily for me, some people are conducting lessons in dive pools in Manila. For PhP 2,100 (gears included), I obtained good enough freediving skills (that could last a lifetime with enough practice) and body aches in half a day. I did two open water fun dives with some other people (which cost around PhP 1,500 overnight with meals and transportation to- and from- Manila)  and one other pool practice within three months to prepare myself in a foreign sea. Fun dives are less expensive because it’s no longer instructional. Though, you can always ask and learn from your co-divers or even your previous coach/instructor if you are with him/her.

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Never dive alone.

Note: This was supposed to be a post about my trip to KK and Sipadan Island but due to my rusting skills for not being able to write for months, it became like this. I hope I’ll be able to write it soon.

Note 2: I would like to thank all the passionate people I’ve met and learned from during this time. Thank you also to my kaladkaring dive buddy who unfortunately burst her eardrum. Sea you soon!

Note 3:  This is an ode to my summer 2018 that came, unnoticeably left, and hence never was.

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Author: Maderu

I hope to do what my heart wants.

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