Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Exploring the clear waters of Apo reef

As usual hindi na naman ako makapag decide if I will write about this trip or not but lately there's a part of me that is telling me to share my experience. 

So saan ba ako magsisimula? Minsan talaga may mga bagay na mahirap simulan lalo na kung tinapos mona. Pero mas mahirap rin pala yung hindi pa man nagsisimula pero tinapos na niya.
Tama nang hugot, umay na!
Maybe I can start here?
Apo Reef is a coral reef system in the Philippines situated on the western waters of Occidental Mindoro province in the Mindoro Strait. Encompassing 34 square kilometers (13 sq mi), it is the world's second-largest contiguous coral reef system and the largest in the country. The reef and its surrounding waters are protected areas in the country administered as the Apo Reef Natural Park (ARNP). It is one of the best known and most popular dive sites in the country. - says Wikipedia
PC: Wendie M.
At first I really thought that Apo reef is just the same with Apo Island which is located in Dauin Negros Oriental but later I learned that they are different and both should be part of my bucket list (luckily I was able to visit Apo Island August last year). 

Sa totoo lang narinig ko lang talaga yung Apo reef when I started free diving (with Seazoned Philippines) ang dami nilang magagandang photos and close encounters to marine creatures which I always look forward to experience that's why when they re-opened another trip I immediately signed up and confirmed my attendance.
Introducing #Bhits (Batangas hits where it all started)
My Mer-sibs (Mermaid siblings) totally prepared for this trip kaya ang dami naming mga open water dives before this trip. We are preparing ourselves to deeper dives and longer breath hold kasi.
December 08, 2016: The DATE
We were all excited, come December 8 2016 we arrived early at the meeting place. My group #Bhits (Mer-sibs) brought a lot of food and extra butane in case the food provision provided by the organizers will not be enough.
Commute to the meeting place :)
Trivia: My group loves to eat so much so it's really safe that we'll bring additional snacks.

Travel time:
Manila to Batangas Port: 2 hours and 30 minutes *depending on traffic.
Batangas Port to Abra De Ilog Mindoro: 3 hours *depending on traffic - charot lang haha
Abra De Ilog to Sablayan: 2 hours 
Sablayan port to Apo Reef Island: 2 hours (I think? basta matagal haha)

December 09, 2016: Touch Down Apo Reef Island 
Our organizers also bought additional food and water in Sablayan Market before we board the boat going to Apo Reef.
While waiting, my group decided to explore the area and took some groupies! 
So technically we already occupied the top portion of the boat. No dull moments with these people!
It was a long trip. We arrived at Apo reef past lunch time due to unforeseen circumstances pero it was all worth it. 
Nawala ang pagod ko lalo na nung unti unti siyang lumalapit at sa tuwing nagtatama ang mga mata namin este what I meant was natuwa ako lalo na nung unti unting lumalapit yung banka sa isang isla na may puting buhangin. Medyo naiyak ako ng konti! char uli haha 
Kinikilig ako while walking sa shore pagbaba ng bangka! this is it!
Pag dating sa Isla syempre photo ops muna tapos kumain ng light snack while waiting for lunch.
Most awaited part of the day, LUNCH lol - Galit galit muna tayo mga bes!
So after lunch we rested for a moment, pitch ng tents, introduce ourselves to new faces at kung ano ano pa. 

The organizers also provided the groupings before dive so basically they assigned an acting team leader for each group and a safety diver (Master Diver). Nakakatuwa kasi I was assigned to be one of the team leader (ibig sabihin I am improving!).

We rode a boat going to the dive spot. During that dive we saw white tip sharks! Oh diba bongga? Unang araw palang may sightings na kagad. I was hoping to swim with them soon kaso they're too deep kaya aura nalang ako underwater bes! Maybe soon pag okay na ako, kapag kaya ko nang umilalim tapos selfie with sharks ganern.

Quick dive lang kasi hindi masyadong friendly yung condition that afternoon
Back to the Island - wash and prepared for dinner

Socials before dinner pero easyhan lang kasi may dive pa next day. Hindi ako uminom - bumangka lang ako at isa isa kaming nagpakilala and shared something about us to break the ice. It was fun - walang ka arte arte yung group namin and we treated each other like family.

Dinner - After dinner - natulog na and prepared for the next day's activity.

December 10, 2016: Exploring Apo Reef and nearby Dive sites
Here's what transpired the following day

Well, the water is impressive, Ang linaw niya! Actually mas malinaw pa sa relasyon namin e! haha charot lang bes!
PC: Nico Soriano
Can you spot the rare fish behind me?
Dive again (More aura)
PC: Nico Gavan
Back to the Island and aura again with the sunset.
PC: Emer Ocado
PC: Nico Gavan
PC: Nico Gavan

Walwalan socials (masaya! as in sobrang saya!! lol)

December 11, 2016: Pandan Island / Farewell
Then we wrapped our final day with another dive.
Can you imagine I have hangover while this photo was taken? lol
Ang sama ng hangover ko - nag tatawag ako ng uwak sa bangka lol
No matter how bad it may be basta may camera dapat smile lang at huwag magpapahalata na "the struggle is REAL". haha
PC: #YanGelo
To be honest hindi ako masyadong na impress sa corals but pwede na rin or baka masyado lang talagang mataas ang expectations ko. Hayaan mo sa susunod bababaan ko na para hindi ako masyadong masaktan.

Dive to Pandan Island
Padan's water is murky medyo off yung visibility but we saw 3 huge turtles - para silang mga artista, pinagkakaguluhan!
I also saw one small stingray as well but I was swimming really fast.
Lunch sa boat

Back to Sablayan Port

Banlaw - used our GL card (Ganda Lang card) and asked nearby store if we can use their toilet so we won't need to wait for others to finish.

Back to manila
Stop the hate, Pusuan nalang
Important notes: 
1. Walang kuryente sa island kaya huwag ka nang umasa na mag kakaspark.
2. No fresh water sa isla kasing alat ng lovelife mo.
3. Bring extra food - incase na iwan ka nya hindi ka magugutom.
4. Bring insect repellent - bawal ang makati dahil walang kakamot nyan kundi ikaw.
5. What happens in Apo stays in Apo.
Some photos are mine while some are grabbed from other participants.

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