January 25, 2013 – Bluewater Maribago is going full blast with its monthly coastal clean-up activities as part of its Blue Earth initiative. It was a Friday so my dive crew is the one’s tasked to do the underwater clean-up component of the activity.
It was a rainy day and the water temperature was enough to send chills through our 3mm shorties. But thankfully we were blessed with good visibility underneath. Our entry point was the Buyong side of the Bluewater Private Island and from there we made a beeline towards the Dakit-Dakit dive site. From that point we just allowed the current to push us towards the University of San Carlos Marine Bio Facility surveying where the concentrations of the underwater litters are.
We were not disappointed as we were able to haul about 20 kilos worth of garbage from beer bottles, tin cans, ladies underwear, ropes, plastic wrappers and even soiled diapers. It so disappointing to know how irresponsible some people can be.
It is gratifying that in our own little way we were able to contribute towards efforts in saving the environment. I know it isn’t much but with continued training and support from our employer Bluewater Resorts | Maribago | Panglao | Sumilon Island we will be able to do more.
Looking at my crew I could not help but think that this is the birth to a new breed of divers. One’s that dive not to sight see, spear fish or just take pictures. They are trash haulers maybe but they dive to conserve the things that makes diving a worthwhile experience for the rest of the diving community.
The Hilutungan Channel is a waterway that sits astride the main island of Mactan and Olango Island. The channel is deep enough to allow merchant ships to navigate it, there was even a story that the submarine USS Nautilus (SS-168) surfaced while in transit at the channel to ask a local fisherman their current location. Though the story cannot be exactly verified, records show that indeed US Navy submarines transited these waters during the war.
The Hilutungan Channel is also home to some of Mactan, Cebu’s fabled dive sites. It is impossible to claim that you have gone diving in the Philippines without having visited the numerous dive sites that abound the Hilutungan Channel.
Its dive sites include the Talima marine sanctuary, Tambuli, Kontiki, Nalusuan and the Hilutungan Sanctuaries can all be found in this body of water. The marine diversity in these sites are just awesome, schools of jacks, stingrays, thresher sharks, barracuda’s and a lot more is offered to those who seeks the beauty of its undersea spelndour.
Mactan’s numerous hotels and resorts are also littered at the beaches and coves of the channel. There is Bluewater Maribago rightfully situated at the Maribago Cove, Shangri-la Mactan, Imperial Palace, Plantation Bay, Costabella Beach Resort, Abaca and Movenpick are just the major players in the area. Other smaller bed and breakfast facilities can also be found around the vicinity.
To scuba diving freaks like me, the channel is the birthplace of scuba diving maybe not in Cebu (though it might be) but at least in Mactan. The dive shops here are run by some of the best in the business like Bluewater’s Aquamania, Boyla and Scotty’s. They also offer other forms of marine sports and recreation like jet skiing, snorkeling, parasailing, banana boat rides as well as guided tours to the surrounding islands.
But the channel with its charm is paying a heavy price. Rampant illegal fishing, commercialization, irresponsible tourism practices, garbage from its immediate vicinity and neighboring waters, basically progress and its accompanying unnecessary baggage’s is continuously threatening its existence.
The local government as well as the private sector launched several efforts to help conserve the channel for future generations and near future first time visitors. The resorts are also conducting their own initiatives to maintain the beauty and cleanliness of this very important body of water. Like Bluewater Maribago for example, who spent money, effort and manpower to conduct regular coastal clean-up drives along the Maribago cove as well as training divers to conduct a bi-monthly underwater clean-up efforts dubbed “Scubasurero” by its participants.
The channel may be ailing but there is still a lot left worth saving. So as scuba divers, me and my buddies pledge to protect it not just by picking up your trash but also by raising awareness to its plight. We dive for the environment, we are proudly professional “Scubasurero’s!”
Dive training with Aquamania at the Talima Marine Sanctuary Mactan Island Cebu
Unlike most divers I was introduced into scuba diving as part of our company’s corporate social responsibility project dubbed the Blue Earth Initiative of Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort located at Mactan Island, Cebu, Philippines.
Though I am not a stranger to the water growing up in the island of Mactan, Cebu and a regular patron of its many public beaches and privately owned resorts I have always maintained this fascination of what lies underneath the surface of that pristine aquamarine blanket that makes my hometown one of the best tourist and diving spots in the entire region.
Last December 2012 I finally got my chance to quell that urge to explore. As an early Christmas present from my employer (at least that is what I call it), we were given the chance to acquire our open water diver certificates via Coral Point Dive / Bluewater Aquamania Dive Shop in order to prepare us for our duties as underwater clean up divers or “scubasurero” to our dive instructors.
I was awed by the beauty underwater during our first dive and was equally shocked when I learned from my dive instructor that it was even more beautiful a few years back. This knowledge helped fuel my determination to pursue scuba diving and to use it as a means to preserve the natural beauty of our island. I dream that one day I will be the one to train my son how to dive and dive together not just as father and son or dive buddies but stewards of the environment.
I started this blog so that I can document my progress from a newbie scuba diver to a full pledged diver as our training will continue. I also want this blog to be a source of information to share not only ideas about the sport of diving but also on how to preserve the things that is the main reason why we dive.
It can also be a venue where we share knowledge about diving equipment, current trends, skills and anything or everything that will help all new divers like me further improve our scuba diving skills. I will also go around the local dive sites first mainly here in Mactan and the surrounding sites within Cebu Island that shares some of the best diving in the world and share my experiences to other divers who are just starting out like me or to those who are first time visitors to the country.
So let us go dive and explore the wonders that the undersea kingdom can offer. Let us also use our chosen sport of scuba diving to protect those that we dive to see and continue to propagate the knowledge to encourage others to do the same.