October 2013, Mactan, Cebu, Philippines
I am floating on top of a lush green hill topped with a derelict boat that isn’t supposed to be here. As I glide, my lightness becomes apparent as the wind blows my little self to and fro, commanded by the thousand maestros of bladed grass moving in unison below. There are butterflies that look like fish fluttering about the aged motor boat and rocks that litter about that resemble corals.
Above:Lighter moments during the competition .. a #selfie below the boat.
Into the deep. You literally step in.
Then you sink.
Then sort of float up to the surface. Someone hands you the camera from the boat. And off you go.
Ah, photography. But underwater. The agony and the ecstasy of it are what contributes to the addiction.
Imagine the work it takes to set up for a shoot on land — lugging all your reflectors, lights, backdrops and what have you and set it all up on set. Now imagine having to bring all of that down with you into the deep. With SCUBA gear.
Imagine how it feels using a snorkeling mask to look into your camera’s viewfinder (I shoot with a DSLR). And it’s not just the mask that makes it harder — it’s the protective housing that keeps your camera waterproof that adds to the inches between the viewfinder and your eyes. Roughly put, it’s about a total of 3-4 inches of shooting distance between what you see in the camera and your eyes.
Now imagine doing all this while you’re running out of air.
I made a quick trip to Cebu last week for the 3rd Student Marketing Congress in Cebu. More than 3,000 students (and my biggest crowd yet) can get a tad overwhelming. I was there to talk about effective websites but repurposed my talk to discuss blogging and content because well, it was really more fitting to a crowd of teenagers. That’s me with Boy Abunda, one of the other speakers on celebrity marketing.
If you’re wondering where you can have your Lenovo mobile phone repaired, here is a compilation of service centers and drop off / pick up points for your dear smartphones. The first list includes all the service centers while the second list shows the drop off and pick up points for your phones after they are serviced. If you live near the service center, all the better.
BIG 2015 UPDATE: I was part of an underwater video crew that helped document whale shark tourism practices in Oslob and Donsol. You can watch the trailer below. It is titled ‘On the Brink’ and will be shown next year (2016).
DENR-Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau Director Theresa Mundita S. Lim gave the directive in a letter to the DENR regional executive director.
It was made in response to an email of whale shark researcher Elson Q. Aca addressed to DENR Secretary Ramon Paje “regarding the practice of feeding whale sharks by tourists and scuba divers in Oslob, Cebu.”
EDIT: There is a similar practice with swimming with whale sharks in the island of Leyte and it seems to be more sustainable.
I promised myself that I would write about the controversy behind the whale sharks of Oslob on the condition that I see the phenomenon myself. Being there, seeing it — it contributes to being informed. Frankly I’m tired of “armchair activists” who pile on issues like this — making sweeping generalizations about what’s best for these fish yet are so far away removed from the situation while they drink their lattes and sport clothes that apparently have buttons made out of poached Philippine shells. All oblivious.