Diving in Anilao, Batangas

When one thinks of diving in the Philippines, Anilao is the first place that comes in my mind. Considered as the birthplace of scuba diving in the country, Anilao is the top dive destination for its accessibility, cost-effective and extensive biodiversity (being close to the Verde Passage which is the center of the center of the Coral Triangle).

I first visited Anilao on November of 2013, I was still working my way to get my Advanced Adventure Diver license. It is easy to go to Batangas from Manila, you just head over to LRT Buendia station where most of the buses headed for Batangas are. I took the BLTB, fare costs around P150 and the trip takes roughly 3 hours (it might be more these days with the ongoing road construction). I reached Batangas City bus terminal and took the jeepney bound for Mabini which cost around P40. I got off at the round about and hired a tricycle to Scuba Bro Dive Resort for P60.

 

Scuba Bro is a native inspired resort which is located in a picturesque cove. The architecture offer rooms and terraces overlooking the sea.

The perks of staying there is that their room accommodation already includes the buffet breakfast, free use of kayak and snorkeling gear, unlimited coffee and tea at the resto and free Wifi at the Resto. Another thing is that you do not need to go far, their next to the resort you can do a shore entry and see a good number of sea creatures such as nudibranchs, the emperor shrimps and frog fishes.

 I did a dive with a group of advanced divers from Shark Bait Huhaha (I felt a bit pressured because I was still having issues with my trim and buoyancy). Luckily they had underwater cameras to show how beautiful it is under, here is a video by Meg:

Amazing Anilao from Megarroo on Vimeo.

It was the longest dive I ever did to date (60mins. thanks to the school of jack fish that made me calmer underwater). Twin Rocks Marine Sanctuary did not disappoint, it offers a bit of everything from macro to pelagics. This site got its name because of the two big rocks underwater that is less than a meter apart. It is teeming with marine life and it is even dubbed as the number 1 dive site in Anilao. This is good for divers experienced dealing with currents, they said that the site is usually for advanced and skilled divers, that they do not really recommend it to beginners.  You can dive with just a 3mm suit, some even dive with just their board shorts (like my instructor) but there are thermoclines so if you have cold intolerance better to suit up.

Average depth: 15-20 meters/45-60 feet
Visibility: 10m.-20m./33ft.-66ft.
Current: Slight – Moderate

Anilao is a great diving escape for people tired of the metropolitan life in Manila who are itching to have saltwater in their skin. There is a good number of dive centers and resorts for you to choose from and it is one of the cheapest places in the Philippines to get certified.

Here are added commuting directions from http://www.ph-commute.com
From Caloocan:
Route 1: LRT-1-Bus
Take the LRT-1 to Gil Puyat station.
Ride a Tritran bus to Batangas City/Batangas Pier (leaves every 30 minutes, PHP149 fare) or a JAM Transit bus to Batangas.
Route 2: LRT-1-Bus
Take the LRT-1 to EDSA station.
Ride a BLTB bus to Nasugbu, Batangas or a JAM Transit bus to Batangas.
From Las Pinas:
From Alabang-Zapote Road, ride a jeep/bus to Alabang, and get off at Manuela Metropolis Alabang (Metropolis Mall).
Ride a bus to Batangas.
From Makati:
Route 1: MRT/Jeep-MRT/Jeep-Bus
Go to LRT-1-Gil Puyat station along Taft Ave. corner Gil Puyat Ave. (Buendia). In order to get there, you can either:
Take the MRT to Taft terminal station. Walk through the connecting foot bridge towards LRT-1-EDSA station. Take the LRT-1 to Gil Puyat station.
From Sen. Gil Puyat Ave. (Buendia), ride a jeep to Guadalupe, and get off at Buendia station. Take the MRT to Taft terminal station. Walk through the connecting foot bridge towards LRT-1-EDSA station. Take the LRT-1 to Gil Puyat station.
From Sen. Gil Puyat Ave. (Buendia), ride a jeep to LRT/Taft, and get off at Taft Ave.
Ride a Tritran bus to Batangas City/Batangas Pier (leaves every 30 minutes, PHP149 fare) or a JAM Transit bus to Batangas.
Route 2: MRT-Bus
Take the MRT to Taft terminal station.
Ride a BLTB bus to Nasugbu, Batangas or a JAM Transit bus to Batangas.
From Mandaluyong/Pasig:
Route 1: MRT-LRT-1-Bus
Take the MRT to Taft terminal station.
Walk through the connecting foot bridge towards LRT-1-EDSA station.
Take the LRT-1 to Gil Puyat station.
Ride a Tritran bus to Batangas City/Batangas Pier (leaves every 30 minutes, PHP149 fare) or a JAM Transit bus to Batangas.
Route 2: MRT-Bus
Take the MRT to Taft terminal station.
Ride a BLTB bus to Nasugbu, Batangas or a JAM Transit bus to Batangas.
Route 3: MRT-Bus
Take the MRT to Cubao station.
Walk 2 blocks along EDSA following the MRT track, past Farmers Plaza, Aurora Blvd., and Monte de Piedad. The bus terminal is just beyond Monte de Piedad.
Ride a bus to Batangas.
Route 4: MRT-Bus
Take the MRT to Kamuning station.
Walk 2 blocks the way you came along EDSA following the MRT track, past 11th Jamboree, GMA Channel 7, Metro Manila Commission, Timog Avenue/South Avenue, Carlos P. Garcia Avenue (East Avenue), Trinity Lutheran Church, and the Department of Interior and Local Government. (It’s not as far as it sounds.) The Tritran bus terminal is just beyond Trinity Lutheran Church.
Ride a Tritran bus to Batangas Pier (every 30 minutes, PHP 154 fare).
Route 5: MRT-Bus
Take the MRT to Cubao station.
Walk 1 block along EDSA the way you came, following the MRT track, until you get to Gen. McArthur Avenue.
Turn left at Gen. McArthur Avenue, and walk 5 short blocks past Session Road, Farmers Market, Gen. Araneta, Araneta Coliseum, Gen. Aguinaldo Avenue, Shopwise, Time Square Avenue, and Ali Mall, until you get to Gen. Romulo Avenue.
Cross Gen. Romulo Avenue. The bus terminal is just beside Auto Centro, across Ali Mall.
Ride a bus to Batangas.
From Manila:
Route 1: LRT-1/Jeep-Bus
Arrive at LRT-1-Gil Puyat. In order to get there:
Take the LRT-1 to Gil Puyat station.
Ride a jeep to Buendia/Taft, and get off at Gil Puyat station (Taft Ave. corner Sen. Gil Puyat Ave. [Buendia]).
Ride a Tritran bus to Batangas City/Batangas Pier (leaves every 30 minutes, PHP149 fare) or a JAM Transit bus to Batangas.
Route 2: LRT-1/Jeep-Bus
Arrive at LRT-1-Gil Puyat. In order to get there:
Take the LRT-1 to EDSA station.
Ride a jeep to EDSA/Taft/Baclaran, and get off at EDSA station (Taft Ave. corner EDSA).
Ride a BLTB bus to Nasugbu, Batangas or a JAM Transit bus to Batangas.
Route 3: Bus
From Plaza Lawton, ride a JAM Transit bus to Batangas Pier.
From Muntinlupa:
From Manuela Metropolis Alabang (Metropolis Mall), ride a bus to Batangas.
From Paranaque/Pasay:
Route 1: LRT-1-Bus
Take the LRT-1 to Gil Puyat station.
Ride a Tritran bus to Batangas City/Batangas Pier (leaves every 30 minutes, PHP149 fare) or a JAM Transit bus to Batangas.
Route 2: LRT-1-Bus
Take the LRT-1 to EDSA station.
Ride a BLTB bus to Nasugbu, Batangas or a JAM Transit bus to Batangas.
From Quezon City:
Route 1: MRT-Bus
Take the MRT to Taft terminal station.
Ride a BLTB bus to Nasugbu, Batangas or a JAM Transit bus to Batangas.
Route 2: MRT-LRT-1-Bus
Take the MRT to Taft terminal station.
Walk through the connecting foot bridge towards LRT-1-EDSA station.
Take the LRT-1 to Gil Puyat station.
Ride a Tritran bus to Batangas City/Batangas Pier (leaves every 30 minutes, PHP149 fare) or a JAM Transit bus to Batangas.
Route 3: LRT-2-LRT-1-Bus
Take the LRT-2 to Recto terminal station.
Walk through the connecting foot bridge towards LRT-1-Doroteo Jose station.
Take the LRT-1 to Gil Puyat station.
Ride a Tritran bus to Batangas City/Batangas Pier (leaves every 30 minutes, PHP149 fare) or a JAM Transit bus to Batangas.
Route 4: MRT-Bus
Take the MRT to Cubao station.
Walk 2 blocks along EDSA following the MRT track, past Farmers Plaza, Aurora Blvd., and Monte de Piedad. The bus terminal is just beyond Monte de Piedad.
Ride a bus to Batangas.
Route 5: MRT-Bus
Take the MRT to Kamuning station.
Walk 2 blocks the way you came along EDSA following the MRT track, past 11th Jamboree, GMA Channel 7, Metro Manila Commission, Timog Avenue/South Avenue, Carlos P. Garcia Avenue (East Avenue), Trinity Lutheran Church, and the Department of Interior and Local Government. (It’s not as far as it sounds.) The Tritran bus terminal is just beyond Trinity Lutheran Church.
Ride a Tritran bus to Batangas Pier (every 30 minutes, PHP 154 fare).
Route 6: MRT-Bus
Take the MRT to Cubao station.
Walk 1 block along EDSA the way you came, following the MRT track, until you get to Gen. McArthur Avenue.
Turn left at Gen. McArthur Avenue, and walk 5 short blocks past Session Road, Farmers Market, Gen. Araneta, Araneta Coliseum, Gen. Aguinaldo Avenue, Shopwise, Time Square Avenue, and Ali Mall, until you get to Gen. Romulo Avenue.
Cross Gen. Romulo Avenue. The bus terminal is just beside Auto Centro, across Ali Mall.
Ride a bus to Batangas.
From Taguig:
Route 1: Bus-MRT-LRT-1-Bus
From Market! Market!, Net2, or the Fort Open Field, ride the Fort bus/shuttle to Ayala.
Take the MRT to Taft terminal station.
Walk through the connecting foot bridge towards LRT-1-EDSA station.
Take the LRT-1 to Gil Puyat station.
Ride a Tritran bus to Batangas City/Batangas Pier (leaves every 30 minutes, PHP149 fare) or a JAM Transit bus to Batangas.
Route 2: Bus-MRT-Bus
From Market! Market!, Net2, or the Fort Open Field, ride the Fort bus/shuttle to Ayala.
Take the MRT to Taft terminal station.
Ride a BLTB bus to Nasugbu, Batangas or a JAM Transit bus to Batangas.

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Warrior Wednesdays: Do Not Assume

How many times do you judge people in a day? I admit enjoy observing people and assuming things. I am not certain if it is really part of human instinct to judge people. We have created stereotypes and used cues to formulate conclusions without clarifying it to the person involved. We hate being judged and yet we like to judge.

Assume Nothing
Steer clear from prejudice.

When I was a kid, I used to judge the candidates of Binibining Pilipinas a lot. I would assume that they do not have much besides their physical beauty and that what they did was easy. Things changed when I decided to see things from their perspective. After joining several competitions, I had to get used to the label “beauty queen” among my friends. There was one incident where I was talking to a woman and she bluntly told me, ” I did not expect to have a good conversation with you. I thought most beauty queens did not have substance”. I felt insulted and wished that I had my academic records so I could show it to her face that I knew more things beyond looking beautiful. It then hit me on how similar I was to her.

Everyday we seek an audience, we want people to understand us. We assume too much and understand too little. We think we know everything and we categorize it according to how we think. How often do you get hurt and hurt others from assuming things? Avoiding conflict, keeping things to ourselves always ends in conflict.

You Know Nothing.
Be like Snow.

Always bear in mind this famous line from the Game of Thrones series, this is how you should program your mind daily. Try to see things like it is your first encounter, Just as how a newborn sees the world. Do not convince yourself that your guesses are fact, they probably are not. We think too much, and thinking leads to assumptions. Assumptions lead to nothing but disappointments. Follow Don Miguel Ruiz’s advice:

Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

Sharing Happiness: Where on Earth are you?

If you want a free letter or postcard from the Philippines, say Aye!

I recently started to ask people in Amazers (an awesome a social network that enables users to connect with like-minded individuals, participate in challenges, and draw inspiration) if they wanted a letter or a postcard from the Philippines and I realised it would also be great to know who reads my blog (I have no idea why my writings would be interesting but I am thankful).

snail-mail
Let’s revive snail mails!

I am offering to send letters and postcards to anyone who reading this. It would be great to know the people behind the views and send you gals and guys a personal thank you.

Message me if you want one. I repeat this is free and I will not ask for donations or credit card details but if you offer me a trip to Galapagos who am I to say no (half-kidding). I would be more than happy to send you a bit of happiness. Just visit the contact page for details on how to reach me.

Monday Musings: Catfished

So you met a cute guy from Tinder, is he for real? Don’t be catfished.

Everything is virtually possible online, from reading scholarly papers to dating. Connecting to different parts of the world are now almost as fast as the speed of light. This new convenience, however, have left us disconnected with the physical world and vulnerable to an alternate reality. So what is catfished?

Catfish is an American slang that means luring someone into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona. This video below is about a lady who was catfished for 12 years. I find it hard to comprehend how it took her that long before she found out the truth but I guess there are professional liars lurking around the worldwide web.

http://embed.live.huffingtonpost.com/HPLEmbedPlayer/?segmentId=55b291042b8c2a2f6f000665&autoPlay=false

When internet became mainstream in the Philippines, I was still naive. I thought that everyone was honest online. I became a victim to false friendships. I have learned from my mistakes and have grown more of a cynic.

Nowadays, you can easily fake who you are according to what is generally likeable. If you have Tinder, you would understand how most of the photos showcase the best looks (I have a profile photo of a zombie) It has been an avenue for people with insecurities to feel more brave in approaching people and to feel appreciated . Some go as posting private intimate photos and end up destroying themselves. This is just desperate.

Be careful. Do not believe everything online specially when they become too affectionate in such a short time without really showing their real lives offline. Get to know them beyond the internet.

Monday Musings: The White Rabbit

Anyone who has read or watched Alice in Wonderland would remember the White Rabbit. He is the first character that Alice meets. Manic and frantic he is always on a rush. Most of us are like the White Rabbit.

Worry

How many times do you go through a day worrying about time, about the past or the future? I sometimes wonder why is it part of our nature to be so concerned about controlling life?

I am one of the control freaks. I like to plan things out. Although I appreciate surprises, I would prefer to know what will happen next. Maybe being a girl scout is partly to blame for it. Always ready, this is never leaves my mind. I end up worrying about everything. When I travel, I search for every detail and oftentimes I end up frustrated. I spend so much time worrying that I fall into a pit. Every detail has to be thought out, nothing to be left out of consideration. 

Age does things to you, it teaches you to be patient and accepting of life. As the year passed by, I eventually became laid back though there are instances where I would still want control over things.

Here is a thorough lecture on our addiction to control. by Alan Watts

We want our forever to be good but reality reminds us that forever is never here. It always avoids us and as we spend our seconds looking forward or back, we miss out on life. Everything in this world has a function. When we give up controlling life, we end up gaining it. Trust life to have power over it.

Now could be your only forever.

What is known is known, and there is no use worrying about it. One can accept it, reject it, work to change it, or try to ignore it, but what is, is. The true field of freedom is in consideration of what is not, what might be, what we think.

-Eric Rabkin

Warrior Wednesdays: Don’t Take Anything Personally

You will only need to trust yourself to make responsible choices. You are never responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for you.

“You are charming but you do not have the face to make it to a beauty pageant.”

“You look like a maid and you should not be part of Bb. Pilipinas.”

“You are damaged, no one will ever love you.”

Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in.

I will never forget these exact words. Even if I wanted to forget them, these have left a mark on me.

How did you do last week? Was the first agreement easy? Here is the next challenge from Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements: Don’t Take Anything Personally.

Everyday we receive judgements from people who would rather seek perfection than kindness. Damaging words, yes, but only if you allow it.

As an awkward middle child, I always felt uncomfortable being in the spotlight because I knew that I would be vulnerable to others judgement and I admittedly allowed them to limit me. Despite my mother’s constant encouragement, others made me feel insecure and uncomfortable in my skin. I would avoid wearing clothes that I liked just because I felt that I had fat limbs (when in reality, I was underweight).

When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world.

I tried to break free from it and prove others wrong by joining my first pageant 6 years ago. Admittedly joining a pageant in the Philippines when you are 22 is quite late. Most of the girls start really early! This country takes beauty pageant seriously. Some girls go as far as giving up a year of study to prepare for a national pageant!

not listening photo tumblr_m57t1xMTJn1rnvlqy.gif

Even the opinions you have about yourself are not necessarily true; therefore you don’t need to take whatever you hear in your own mind personally…

After my transition from a normal tomboy to a beauty queen, I became more vulnerable to judgement and criticisms. I can’t even begin to list all the harsh comments I got the minute I made it through the final screening in Bb. Pilipinas. From my teeth to my overall look, everyone had a lot to say. My primary purpose for joining pageants was to go against ideals of perfection.

Au naturale!

I got sucked in and began to care so much about how I looked and what I wore. It got crazy that I would feel incomplete if I did not have my eyebrows done! Unconsciously, I was follwing the pattern, the stereotypical Filipina lady. I felt uneasy and ugly without make-up and had to be refined with my actions. I did not let the words affect me directly, it got under my skin slowly as I allowed myself to swim into the pool of expectations. I decided to break free.

It became easier when Bb. Pilipinas ended, I can leave the room without wearing make-up and be back to my boyish ways. I also become lenient with people that I do not expect much from them.

You will only need to trust yourself to make responsible choices. You are never responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for you.

When I went to Malaysia, I was relieved to know that the Ms. SCUBA International organisers preferred the girls wearing less of the chemicals. They preferred a more natural look (one reason why I think it is probably one of the better pageants that exist to date) focusing more on the cause.

I started feeling a huge amount of freedom once I started not taking anything personally. Those comments that used to stop me lost its power.

I am not completely free from it though, there are still times when I become upset over a lie, a gossip or a label but I am getting better at it. Once I understood, and refused to take things personally, I can’t hardly be hurt by the careless comments or actions of others. It does take a lot of strength to brush things off specially with social media has these days. A little mistake or imperfection could spur a major lashout from online trolls. All you need to do is to practice it daily, it becomes easier with each day.

You are a superstar.
Remind yourself this.

 The whole world can gossip about you, and if you don’t take it personally you are immune.

I admire people in the fashion and entertainment industry who can put up with such, my non-conforming nature will never be able to survive. I am in awe of how they are able to go through it daily. The media is unforgiving most of the time.

This is why I will never be a mainstream beauty queen, it takes a lot to be able to put up with such tall order and I would prefer to use my time to do other things ( having perfect hair and make-up not being part of it).

Words cannot express how much I don't care.
Care more about people.

If you keep this agreement, you can travel around the world with your heart completely open and no one can hurt you. You can say, “I love you,” without fear of being ridiculed or rejected. You can ask for what you need.

I am in a much happier and carefree state now. I have learned to stick to what is good and not to spread poison. I find it a bit easier to be vulnerable now (though there are still moments that the manhater in me is revived). I have less fears. More open to love people and embrace their imperfections. I dare you now to start the habit of not taking anything personally.

Happy
Who cares if I am a bit fluffy as long as I am happy!

P.S. I will be adding more challenges for next week asides from the agreements, I assure you that it will be good for your physical health and the environment.

Monday Musings: Dancing Through Life

Do not let life drown you out. Dance!

One sunday afternoon while catching up with the things I missed over Facebook ( You are not Filipino if you do not spend at least 10 minutes in a day, which I am occassionally guilty of.), I saw a feed from success.com about how Hawaiians managed to live happy lives.

Steve Rizzo said in his article that the secret for this was this:

Don’t wait for the storms of your life to pass. Learn to dance in the rain.

“Dancing in the rain” is an attitude that truly happy and successful people live by and few dancers come by it naturally. Can you learn to dance in the rain when the storms of change and misfortune are pouring down on you? I believe the answer is yes. It’s a matter of shifting your focus and way of thinking when times are tough that make the difference. “

I then recall how my life turned out last year, of how I wished for everything to leave me but then things got worse. I guess it is human nature for us to want things to stop. We are not the kind who would easily embrace difficult situations. There is always that instinct in us to resist change and close off.

I met a couple of people who have helped me learned to dance instead of remaining in the abyss like a drift wood. It is amazing how a change of perspective can do so much in one’s life.

How are you going through your life? Are you drowning or dancing?