A Taste of PhilippinesDiving in the Philippines

Philippines Wedding Photographer

The Philippines were about diving, mostly. Thresher sharks, Whale Sharks, White tip sharks…

I started diving two years ago, eleven years after thinking, for the first time, that maybe I should try it. Someone had told me that, since I was obsessed with the idea of flying, it would be something to try. I wasn’t actually obsessed with the flying part, but with the freedom part, the floating, the lightness. The hovering above life. I was scared to try when in Australia because my english wasn’t that good then. I waited. And waited.

And then it was time.

The first time was in Malaysia. For the Open Water, I was lucky enough to learn in the ocean, on an Island near Sipadan. I was surrounded by all kinds of gorgeous creatures: Lion fish, parrot fish, and a billion other names that I didn’t know at the time. Staying concentrated was impossible even though I was trying to pay attention to the instructions. I had read the book though, but gosh, I struggled to not look around. I only wanted to get closer and watch… but first I had to learn. Learning to remove my mask underwater and put it back while removing the water inside it and dealing with my buoyancy… Don’t laugh, that’s the thing I probably struggle the most with, still. That, the breathing too much and not being able to pee underwater with my weight belt on (I said don’t laugh!!), lol.

But anyway, I try to dive any (warm) place I go to… and the last was the Philippines. The coral is one of the things that I was most impressed with, well, that, and the thresher sharks! Being underwater is incredible, going deeper and watching the surface getting further and further away… In Thailand, I think it was the 6th or 7th time that I dived… I got so overwhelmed by the beauty, the rays of light piercing through, the fishes everywhere, the unsuspected rocks, right there below the surface, and the bubbles dancing out of my regulator toward the sky… That I started crying. I was underwater and I fell in love with it. I felt so light, despite all the equipment… but most of all, I felt like my life and all my worries / guilt / sadness / sacrifices / regrets… They all stayed on the surface, in the boat and was free of it, if only for a little while.

So back to the Philippines: the coral was incredible, the soft ones, rolling with the currents, reminding me of a sea of lighters/phone screens up high at a concert on a slow song… The hard ones, competing with colors, shapes, textures… Oh, the textures… I wish I could touch them, but just looking, I can imagine, the soft, the rough, the fluffy, the surprising… I look at them and I’m amazed by nature, by the diversity… Yeah, I think the diversity is one of the most extraordinary things on this planet.

And then the aquarium in real life, in Moalboal. Have you ever imagine swimming in an aquarium you visited? Well, here you go. Colors, fishes, corals, textures…

The sharks, that happened on Malapascua Island. I woke extra early, I had to prepare since it was deeper than usual… Oh did I mention I broke my camera that day? Yep, I closed it properly but somehow in all the midst of putting my diving gear on, it came open and got water inside it…. and since we were somehow deep already, I couldnt go back to the boat so I just kept it with me…. Let me tell you what frustration is.

It was overwhelming, like many things when you try them for the first time. It was humbling and beautiful, their giant charcoal eyes and the tail, dancing behind them… And since I couldn’t take photos, I concentrated extra hard to capture the moment with my eyes.

In Philippines, I got really scared, too. I don’t like losing control, you know, like if you’re in a bus and the driver drives like a maniac and the road are near a cliff drop (oh, hello South America) or maneuvers without previously slowing down (hey Thailand!)… When you can’t do anything about it… Well, in the Philippines, i got really scared twice: the first time was on a small boat, crossing to go to Malapascua after dark. In my defense, I’d woken up at 5am and was exhausted. But I got scared, the sea was rough and not being able to see anything… was freaking the hell out of me. I held onto the wood bench I was sitting on and my grip was so tight, my hands became painful. It lasted about 30 minutes.

A few weeks later, it was the crossing from El Nido to Coron Island, to do Shipwreck diving… The boat was supposed to be cancelled. It should have been. Everyone got sick in the closed box were were locked in. The boat was hitting the water like it was asphalt, and then flying in the air for a few seconds, then bumping the water hard again. I was on my phone the whole time, no able to look at the window or at the sick people surrounding me. I felt reassured any time we passed islands, imagining that, in case of crash, we probably could swim to the island… But of course, it was the craziest when we were away from any land… and I really tried my hardest to keep my focus on whatever movie I was watching on my tiny screen… Yeah, don’t ask me what it was I have no clue. But it’s okay. Paradises are worth the price.

Philippines Wedding Photographer

@anneclairebrun