If a psychic ever foretold I’d be doing this, I would’ve laughed the incredulous thought off, until about two weeks ago. Me, dive? The only time I’m ever near the ocean is when I cover beachfront events for magazines or produce summer segments for a TV show. I can swim only in waters shallow enough that I can stand up with my head above the surface—which suffices to say I can’t swim to save my life.
Yet despite my trepidations about the sea, last weekend found me at Mabini, Batangas with my friends Magel, Joanne, Chez and Chris. Not just to swim, but to learn how to sink. And as I would later find out, to learn many things more.
We got to meet Magel’s friends as well. Dan and Jonathan beside us are intro divers too, while the ones in front (Magel, Anton, Javy and Kevin) have all been diving here for years.
I met these two in 2009. We were all part of the production team of Project Runway Philippines 2 and instantly hit it off. From back then until now, Magel and Joanne have always been a source of strength and wisdom. I know I wouldn’t even think about trying this if they weren’t the people I’d be with.
Pool session with James, our instructor.
We were taught the basics of mask clearing, regulator clearing, equalizing, finning and proper breathing. To my pleasant surprise, I took to water like, well, a duck takes to water. The week before our diving trip, up to the minute I was already parking the car at the resort, I had spent so much time and energy being scared and worried how everything would go. All that wasted effort on something that turned out to be so ridiculously simple!
I volunteered to go first. Pink fins always help give a girl courage.
And then I was off to sea. There was nothing but the steady rhythm of my breathing, harmonizing with the muffled gurgle of a thousand tiny bubbles around us. Even the noise of my own thoughts was drowned out.
Underwater shots care of Javy’s GoPro and underwater camera case.
At first, I held on tight, like a baby about to take her first few steps. But as we went deeper and deeper, the water seemed to be more welcoming, beckoning us to come and see all the beauty she has to offer.
It’s gonna be okay, it seemed to say. Slowly, the current washed away the fears and anxieties and I was able to let go.
The undersea wandering left me wondering why I’ve been squandering all those opportunities in the past to try new things and see what else is out there. Why I’ve let myself be hindered by so many fears I myself conjured up, by apprehensions I allowed people to shove in my head, by regrets I willingly wallowed in.
Joanne and Chez, who were just as afraid at first. When we all came up, the feeling was indescribable.
It helped enormously that I was with three types of divers that day: the inexperienced ones who shared my fears (thank you, Joanne and Chez), the seasoned ones who showed us how awesome they feel (thank you, boys), and the teacher who helped us transition from one to the other (thank you, James).
Above all, thank you, Magel. I’ve been a hermit crab this whole year, and you patiently coaxed me out of my shell to try and do things I previously thought unthinkable.
“Dive, but don’t drown.” I texted my parents and siblings just before I went out to sea, and that’s what my dad said to me. Knowing his penchant for humorous wordplay, he was probably just trying to be funny in telling his daughter to be careful. But his words spoke volumes more than that.
As the sun sank into sea, the realization sank into me that indeed, there are many things that will besiege us. Challenges, triumphs, excruciating sadness, immense joy, failures, victories. Whichever of these pressures arise, what’s important is that we learn to equalize, to go with the flow, to take deep breaths and calmly work our way through the current and not let ourselves be swept away. To clear the fog in our masks that might be keeping us from seeing things clearly. To dive into things and take it all in, embrace what’s enveloping us, but not let it drown us.
I can’t wait for what the next experience will be teaching.