Scuba Diving Palawan

Trial dive with Mike Olondriz

The next day was the anniversary of the EDSA Revolution.  I woke up by 5:30 AM for my morning stroll with my videocam.  It turned out to be an educational tour as I had my first close encounter with the endangered Calamian hog-deer (Axis porsinus calamianensis).  Introduced in the early 1990s, it is now said to number more than a dozen.  The sounds of colorful exotic bird life is also evident among the trees as the island is home to orioles, kingfishers, turtle doves and imperial pigeons.  It also has a resident baruray or Rufous Night Heron.  Although I didn’t see any, there are also monitor lizards (Varanus salvator) and green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas).

Attending pre-dive lecture

After breakfast, it was off to my first trial dive.  It comes free with the travel package.  Tellie and my mom (for obvious reasons) begged off.  Our divemaster was Mike Olondriz.  At first I mistook him for a foreigner, but any notions I had were dispelled after he spoke Tagalog.  Later late-evening conversations with him revealed him to be a resident of Magallanes Village in Makati City.  His brother was a barkada of my friend (and SPED teacher of my son Jandy), Inaki Martinez.  Small world.  

Getting into the water

Before the actual dive, I had to undergo a lecture on the use of the scuba gear as well as breathing techniques.  Then it was off to the beach with Mike.  I looked silly as I walked backwards to the beach wearing my fins, but once in the water, I was fitted with my tank, weight belt and mask.   The 15-min. dive was easy at first, but when we got to the 15-ft. depth, my ears began to hurt as they felt like popping.  We ascended to the 10-ft. depth where Mike handed me bread crumbs to feed the fish.  I was soon surrounded by them, large and small, and some of the large fish (probably a Napoleon wrasse) took nips at my bare legs.

Suiting up in the water

AUTHOR’S NOTES

“Is it ethical?”  Books that I have read later have revealed that this fish feeding craze which brings the fish closer for underwater photography also makes them tamer and ideal spear gun targets.  Also feeding leftovers could also be fatal as these fish sometimes die of indigestion.

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