Diving, always more fun in the Philippines.
It’s no secret that our country is home to a breathtaking and unbelievably amazing underwater world. With about 7,100 islands to explore, many locals and foreigners have been captivated with the beauty under the sea. What better way to explore and unveil it than through diving?
Here in Cebu, we offer many perfect spots for diving but it’s an unfortunate fact that majority of the city dwellers have never actually tried diving (including me!). For some, it’s still an item on their bucket list that they need to tick off. The question is, “Will you ever get to do it?” I know many people would like to try it, but end up thinking that diving is too expensive and too risky among other things. We are fortunate to know some guys who are experts at this and who can give a clear picture of what diving is all about.
Zerothreetwo had the chance to ask Darwin Bawasanta (Filipino) and David de Gorter (Dutch) some questions about the one thing they truly love doing – diving. So for all of you who wants to learn and try diving, this is a must read!
032: Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got started with diving?
Darwin: I started diving back in 1999 and it was only until 2000 that I got certified. Since then, I have gone through the usual cycle of off and on when there are months or years of a time that I haven’t had my head wet. I worked as a BPO executive for the last 10 years (mostly working as a GM) until I decided to focus on my businesses, one of which is Dive Funatics. It was only until late 2012 when I decided to finally become a dive professional (dive instructor) so when I was in between jobs then, with a month to spare, I decided to go to Thailand to get my Instructor course and to take my Instructor Exams, that was the beginning of my professional career in scuba diving.
David: I started diving in 2010 when I was on holiday in Greece to visit a friend who is a dive instructor. I did my open water course there and it was a great experience. I started diving again on March 2013. This time I went to Thailand for a holiday to do a live-aboard dive trip. I got so hooked with scuba diving. I knew I found a new passion to pursue. I decided to extend my holiday so I could do more diving. I wanted to dive as much as I could. It was there where I also started to see how great the life of a dive instructor could be.
032: What was the defining moment that made you want to become a diver?
David: A year ago, I left Netherlands and came to the Philippines for diving and to determine if I wanted to become a scuba dive instructor. I did my dive master course first which was the first step to become an instructor. I got more and more pleasure from telling people about my passion. At some point, I was in Mindanao helping out some local people who did a discover scuba dive program. I saw how happy they were after completing the program, it was in that moment that I really knew that I wanted to become a dive instructor and share my passion with other people. A couple months after that, I became a scuba dive instructor.
032: How often do you dive? What are your personal preparations before diving?
Darwin: Back when I was just a recreational diver, scuba diving for me used to be just a couple of days every month (total of 6 dives), but right now, I even dive on weekdays depending on the need. Definitely, it is during weekends that diving is on its peak.
Normal preparations recommended for everyone, not necessarily just for newbies is to have a good night sleep, be properly hydrated and preferably no alcohol in the system in the previous night. It’s always best when the diver is in a healthy condition. Some medical conditions exclude people from diving so it is best to clear this with your instructor or consult your doctor and get a medical certificate prior to signing up.
032: Based on your personal diving trips, what are the top spots here in the Philippines? How about in Cebu?
David: The Philippines in general has so many great dive spots. Malapascua has been great because of the Thresher sharks. Balicasag is great because of its beautiful rocky underwater landscape. I also had some very nice dives in Mactan. There are some very good wall diving. You also get to see that the quality Marine Protected Areas around Mactan have been slowly getting better with more fish and more coral. More locals should definitely see and appreciate this.
032: Darwin, can you tell us more about Dive Funatics and the courses you offer?
Darwin: Dive Funatics started as group of dive enthusiasts seeking to invite new people and share our dive experiences with our friends, family and co-workers. We want to change the perception of most Filipinos that diving is expensive; we encourage everyone to try diving at least once in their lifetime because we believe that every hardworking Filipino should experience it at least once. So we started this initiative called, “A thousand and one”. We hope to get 1001 new divers to participate and hope they would become coral reef conservation warriors as a result of that dive experience. You see, we don’t just want people to dive with us; we want this to rally behind our advocacy too.
032: What do you think is the greatest challenge as a diver/ dive instructor?
Darwin: The main challenge about diving is the perception that is going around that: it is expensive (costs a huge chunk of money and takes days to get certified and dive); they are an activity for the rich, elite and tourists; that most people are afraid of the idea. Dive Funatics just lowered its price to make it even more affordable.
For some odd reason, Filipinos in general are not known to be good swimmers, most people don’t even like to go to our beaches and enjoy a bit of sun and sand on a regular basis. This could be a consequence of being an economically challenged society. Therefore, the “fear” challenge is something that we cannot address, unless the drive to conquer fear comes from within and all we (dive professionals) can do is to facilitate that conquest.
032: What do you think is the greatest reward as a diver/ dive instructor?
David: The biggest reward is being able to spend so much time in the amazing underwater world. The landscapes you see are so beautiful with all these wonderful creatures. Once you are underwater, you forget the world above the surface. It can be so relaxing, gives you great feeling of freedom and a different kind of fulfillment. As an instructor, it would be great for students to experience the same things.
Darwin: Fear is a normal instinctive response to uncertainty, not understanding something, not knowing. Fear of the unknown. So for me, it is very important that I understand where your fear (or for the general public) is coming from. But I’m guessing, the fear is partly coming from drowning as this is very common. We drown if we breathe water, but we will be breathing the whole time. In fact, the most important rule in diving is to, “Breathe continuously and never hold your breath.” Second would be to know how to swim. Swimming underwater while breathing with the aid of fins is far easier and effortless compared to swimming on the surface. So with scuba diving, all it requires is proper movement of your legs, no hands required and that’s all it takes to propel oneself.
Contrary to common misconception, scuba diving is all about slow and effortless exploration, rather than swimming like it’s a race for their lives.
One more important advice is to trust yourself, your instructor and your buddy. Scuba diving is a buddy system. So trust and rely on your dive buddy to help you solve any issues, difficulties and problems underwater. You are not alone; you are diving with someone who is primarily looking after you as you do for them.
032: What are the tips you can share to Filipinos and other foreigners who would like to try diving but are hesitant for now?
David: Take me as an instructor, haha. A good option is to start with Discover Scuba Diving. Under the supervision of an instructor, you will have little taste of how great diving can be. You will do one try dive and it’s possible in half a day. You can see if you like it but I’m pretty sure you will.
You also always have to think that what is out there now might not be there for the next 30 years or so. There are many threats to the underwater world so it’s better that you take your chance now. Trust me, it’s an experience of a lifetime!
So guys, are you ready for your diving experience soon?
*You can try a Discover Scuba Diving with Dive Funatics. Zerothreetwo got a chance to do it. Watch our video below.