Welcome to El Nido, Palawan – not only that El Nido is evident to be one of the many places being considered to travel to for its amazing nature made scenery viz. rock formations, crystal clear waters, islands, as well as the sea creatures to name a few, it is also highly recommended for people planning on a dive trip and get PADI certified.
We travelled 5 hours from Puerto Princesa and reached El Nido around midnight just in time to get to the beach straight, have a breath of fresh air, come back to the hostel and rest for the much awaited next day’s activity.
This year, my travel buddy cum cousin, Meng and I decided to skip the island hopping and challenged ourselves for something much more interesting – something that requires attentiveness, obedience, courage and Faith – also known as Scuba Diving!
Call time was 6 in the morning and as we reached the Dive Center, Master Diver Jojo welcomed us and handed us over the questionnaire to fill in – this is to give the divers a reference of what you can and cannot do and how far do you know about the ocean and its species as well as the diving itself. As we get on the boat to the diving site with the crew, Master Diver Jojo continues to brief and skill us with the needful.
The first and vital obvious thing to keep in mind when diving is that underwater you cannot speak, so  LISTENING is very important during the skill training.  OBEDIENCE – you will be tested once you are underwater and it will show how much you’ve listened during the skill training.  COMMUNICATION – successful communication with your Master Diver will only come effective if 1 & 2 is achieved.
What are being taught during skills training?
- Your Gear – You will be taught about the parts, uses and importance of your gear. I can assure by now that it is not breaking backs being heavy for nothing.
1.1 Mask – one of the most important pieces of equipment. A well-sealed mask creates a pocket of air so you can see. The nose piece must be flexible so you can equalize the pressure in your ear.
1.2 Regulator – the regulator is where you breathe underwater. The regulator takes high pressure gas (air or enriched air) from your tank and makes it breathable. Make sure you have a “safe second” or “octopus” regulator in case the primary regulator fails at depth.
1.3 Wet Suit – a good wet suit will prevent hypothermia, which may contribute to decompression sickness.
1.4 Alternate Air Source – this is a back up regulator in case the primary one fails at depth. Can also be used in emergency cases requiring to help another diver to breathe.
1.5 Weights – this is a belt with weights being worn to help balance your buoyancy underwater.
1.6 BCD Inflator & Deflator – this is where the volume of air in the bladder is being adjusted.
1.7 Tank – where the gas is stored.
1.8 Buoyancy Control Device (BCD) – worn by divers to establish neutral buoyancy underwater and positive buoyancy on the surface, when needed. The buoyancy is controlled by adjusting the volume of air in the bladder.
1.9 Pressure Gauge – tells how much gas is left in your tank.
1.10 Fins – should fit like a comfortable pair of shoes, not too loose and not too tight. The stiffer the blade, the more efficient you will feel in the water.
2. Breathing – breathing by mouth, how to release the leaked water from your mask while underwater by the use of breathing and how breathing affects your bouyancy.
3. Equalization – it is the process of releasing the pressure from your ears.
4. Buoyancy – how to manage your weight underwater.
5. Diver Communication – learning few basic important underwater language to communicate with your dive partner or dive master.
My honest struggle was the breathing – there were moments when it felt like the gas I breathe in to underwater is not enough as my lungs are adjusting to the pressure – make sense to me now why smoking is a real deal NO NO to divers and how it shifted me to being grateful of a now better lungs cause I quit the cigarette – but it only takes a few minutes of trial and error to get the hand of the skills and a whole lot of FAITH to get used to the underwater world and enjoy the marvelous creations of the cryptic deep water. Turns out, a day would not even be enough as it would lead to wanting to seeing and learning more about it as I have and given the opportunity, I am definitely doing it again!
Soaking to the gratefulness of seizing that particular moment of bliss, another simple delivery of joy is just about to come. This little sari-sari boat store is offering drinks like fresh coconuts, juices and soft drinks in the middle of a vast nowhere sea! Isn’t it more fun in the Philippines and awesome in Palawan?
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.” 2 Corinthians 2:14