Diving in Dumaguete: Dauin and Apo Island

The ocean beckoned once again, and I heeded its call.

This time it took me a south to Dumaguete in Negros Oriental.

Dumaguete offers awesome scuba diving and is known for two prime locations: Dauin and Apo Island.

Underwater photographers would love Dauin for its abundance of critters.

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Clockwise from bottom left: Ghost Pipefish, Flamboyant Cuttlefish, Warty Frogfish and a really small nudibranch.

More than taking their photographs, 75% of the thrill, at least for me, was searching for these creatures underwater. They would be camouflaged on the sand bed or clinging on to ropes where corals have started to thrive.

Lest one think that Dauin could be boring for the non-photographer, there are reefs teeming with life and other things of interest.

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A house wreck.

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An artificial reef made of rubber tires.

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A wandering ray.

A 40-minute boat ride from Dauin, Apo Island is the highlight of every scuba diver’s trip to Dumaguete, and with good reason reason. It has the perfect combination of smooth drifts, excellent visibility and diverse marine life (turtles, jacks, parrot fish, sea snakes are a common sight). My pictures don’t do it justice.

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Old-timers have been saying that what I saw was nothing compared to what Apo Island used to be before it was ravaged by typhoons a couple of years ago.  And with climate change and ocean acidification a reality, the reefs may bounce back, or it may not.

I choose to put my faith in nature’s resilience. And in raising awareness to nurture and strengthen that resilience. That in sharing pictures and stories such as this, readers who swing by this blog appreciate whatever resources we have. After all, we can only protect what we know and love.

We dove with Bongo Bongo Divers. 

More on Dumaguete here.

P.S. The food in Dumaguete is awesome. But that deserves another blog post.

May 1

Went out on the streets on May 1 for the first time.

Life and work went on as usual. Because for many of us, a day off meant no food on the table.

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And for the rest, there was no work to speak of.

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Maybe luck would favor them.

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Or other voices would speak on their behalf.

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India: Delhi-Jaipur-Agra

Pappu Singh, driver extraordinaire says:, “Things you need when driving in India: good breaks, and good luck.”

Going through Delhi, I would have to agree that he was right: many side mirrors were folded, if not gone; scratches and dents were the norm; traffic lights were just a suggestion.

It was an assault to the senses (at least to mine). I think this encapsulates what India is: loud, colorful, pungent, spicy, old, new,  crazy, beautiful, millions of voices (amidst cows) trying to make themselves heard all at once.

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If Jaipur were a person, he would be a dusty and leathery maharajah who time traveled to the future but has kept his regal bearing intact.

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Agra, of course, is home to the Taj Mahal, arguably the most over the top profession of love I’ve come upon. Really, shipping all that marble through beasts of burden?

On seeing it up close, the verdict was, “yup, he really did love her.”

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Having said all this, India may not be for everyone, particularly now, when its capital is in the headlines due to safety issues.  Take your wits along should you go, together with trusted travel friends and an open mind and heart. As the owner of our hostel said, “If you expect things to be always comfortable and familiar wherever you go, you might as well stay at home.”

Getting there:

Cebu Pacific (Manila – Bangkok)

Go Indigo (Bangkok – Delhi)

Where to stay:

Delhi: Red Maple Bed and Breakfast

Jaipur: Krishna Palace

*Filipinos can get their visas upon arrival. Just bring a passport photo and USD60.

Lunar New Year in Binondo

It’s a vibrant mix of firecrackers, lion dances, intense percussion beats, lucky charms, fresh produce, delicious food and riotous color.

It’s the Lunar New Year in Binondo, Manila. Established in 1594, it is said to be the oldest Chinatown in the world.

The place is brimming with life on a regular day, but this is amplified ten times over during one of the year’s highly anticipated occasions.

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Candles

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And being Binondo, it’s still business as usual.

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The Green Fins Guide to Eco Diving and Snorkeling

Just like any good guest, wouldn’t it be great if we left the places we visited just as we saw it – or even a bit cleaner?

Enter Green Fins, a comprehensive program that encourages dive centers and snorkel operators to work together to reduce their environmental impact on coral reefs by adopting the Green Fins Code of Conduct.

In the Philippines, the materials below are now seen in key diving/snorkeling destinations such as Puerto Galera, Anilao, Mactan, Moalboal, El Nido  and Malapascua. These have also been translated into Chinese and Korean.

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Indeed, tourist-y things we do,  like buying marine life as souvenirs, or feeding fish, disturb the natural the  balance of things. So this Code of Conduct would be great to keep in mind and share away.

For more information, visit the Green Fins website.