Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Battling my Biggest Fear at Aquaworld Resort, Mabini Batangas

Foreword: I promised to write this article as my gratitude to our gracious host, Mr. German Paz, an award winning surfer, for accommodating our group during our stay at their place. Thank you so much, German and the rest of the guys.

A friend received an invite to have a micro vacation at Batangas. After work, we stopped a bus going to Batangas in the middle of Boni, Edsa and we headed directly to San Jose, Mabini in Batangas.

Welcome to  Aquaworld Resort!

The coast of Mabini, Batangas, view from our boat.

Allow me to brag why I feel so wonderful that night. Well, this place isn't just a resort. This is the home of the Philippine Windsurfing Team and is a member of the Philippine Windsurfing Association and the Philippine Olympic Committee.

Meaning, if anything happens, I'm in good hands, considering this place homes the best of the best surfers of our country. Its obvious- awards, trophy's and plaque lined at one corner of the place. Along side all the possible water sports gear you could think about- oxygen tanks and lots of it, buoy, life jacket, diving suits and shoes of all types and sizes, goggles, kayak, boat, surf boards etc. Named it, they have it.

We arrived at the resort by midnight. The soothing sound of the water hitting the shore is so calming. Yes, I could vividly remember how relaxing the sound of the waves was during that night. Living in the metro, hearing sound of the sea is rare. It relaxes my soul instantly.

We decided to make the most of night by drinking alcohol on a bamboo raft near the resort. The effect of the alcohol plus the sound and movement of the water makes me feel that I could stay floating on the raft the whole night. Yes, I did lay on the raft and feel the waves while I am starring at the sky full of stars that lovely night. When the effect of alcohol kicked in, dipping in the cold water is overwhelming.
The following day, the real beauty of the place came in full color. I have a lush green mountain at the back of our room, blue clear sky above and vast blue clean sea at my horizon. This is one superb rest day- a place near Manila, short trip to get in touch with nature and viola-a clean sea to dip into.

 The coast does not have white sand we typically crave, instead it has stones. Stones that were polished by the tide and makes the water colder than typical sand beaches. The resort is simple compare to its neighbor, Vistamar Resort but it has big, spacious homes and rooms, fully equipped with air con, spacious rest room and comfortable, clean beds. If you are planning to stay longer on a certain place, find a cheaper place that can offer same accommodation and used the excess money for food and activities available around.

After breakfast, we rode on a speed boat and tour the coastline. Our surfer friend said he will fly a kite because the wind is great that day. Yes, a kite that could lift a human being. No motor or engine, just wind, waves, pure human strength, focus, right maneuver, determination and guts. Should I mention that once you let go of the kite, you'll be floating on a deep sea and the coast is too far. I am not a swimmer though I love sea so much. So seeing these guys conquering the waves and the depth is insanity for me.

I enjoyed the banca ride, taking pictures aboard and the mountains on side. Upon return to shore, I wore the tightest life jacket (size for kid, LOL) and continue enjoying the cold water. I even wore my plastic goggles and saw abundant fishes swimming nearby. You don't have to go deeper to see marine creatures here, they'll come near you. I even picked up a small sea urchin on the shore in front of the stair of the resort, thinking its a rambutan peel and guess what, its alive, even move its spikes and bleed my finger. Lesson learned: never touches anything in water. Sea creatures resembles other stuff on land and camouflage very well. I threw it back in the water and hope it wont sting other people. It will grow big and be one of the most delicious food someday. (I'm thinking food while I am returning it to water, LOL)

By afternoon, the guys decided we should make the most of our visit in the place. Tadah! They want us to try diving! Here's my real emotions; "WHAT???? DIVING????.....(brain system shut down).

I am not a swimmer, I don't even know how to float. Though I fascinated the underwater scenery because of the images I saw on National Geographic and I loved fishes so much- I am not sure if I could handle it.

READ: My greatest phobia is being submerge in water and I was really thinking of instant death when that happen. And were doing it not in a pool but in an open sea.

A new friend, another water sports professional gives us basic lesson on diving, instructions, hand signals and breathing techniques we will used when we submerge. And although this is a free lesson, I'll tell you these guys are serious with their profession. Though I am listening to him attentively, I swear my brain is going short-circuit.

I volunteered to be the first to try but I was actually the last to dive. Every time I submerged in the water and I could not breath correctly, I get praning and return to surface several times. And while my friends are laughing, my mind is going elsewhere- I am thinking of death, of sharks. I even texted my mother, sisters and friends and informing them I am going in a dive. I feel like peeing on my pants because of fear and my heart is pounding so loud, I could hear it palpitates.

When both my friends are done with their turn, no more excuses- its my turn. These are the only words I uttered to German before I submerged for the third time, " I entrusted you my life!

After practicing my breathing and relaxes me, we headed on the deeper part of the shore. Since its already mid-afternoon, we decided to plunge in front of the resort. Its our first time and we are not really ready for a deep submerge. Somehow, after my dive, I felt we should really went to the best diving site of Batangas.

So here's my first diving experience ever. Upon entering the water, the environment seems to change dramatically. The real feeling- its like I'm in a brand new place, a very unique place. Um, maybe like entering a new dimension, a new planet perhaps.

I feel like I'm on a high. I float even without someone holding me, I am gliding and flying and the water is my air and the next minutes I am walking, running, chasing the little fishes that seems just to be from nowhere. Its a fantasy world, a fairy-world.

Its like experiencing the flying of the birds. I saw fish eggs as big as a regular chicken egg. We don't touch it and we try to be careful not to break one. Small school of fishes sprang from rocks and if there will be more, I could compare them to fireworks exploding everywhere. And this is just in front of the resort. I am fantasizing what more could I see on the real diving sites of Batangas.

I forgot how deep it is. At times, I get praning again and emerged on the surface then return when I feel gutsy again. Good thing we brought underwater camera to catch my bravery. When I emerged on the surface, I am smiling a lot. My heart is genuinely happy. I feel braver thousand folds after this experience. I even joke to myself someday I'll try sky diving to completely conquer my fears.

Here's what I learned that day. I have to get out my comfort zone to try and experience new things so that I could understand why other people was happy doing it. I can say I am insane that moment to try a thing that I associated death with, but when I get out of the water, I felt wonderful that I was able to try it  and started listing activities in my mind that I want to try.

The resort offers lesson on all kind of water sports, for all levels and all ages. Be very proud that champions will be your mentors and instructors. I assure you all that you are in good hands with these guys. The resort is very simple if your main concern is comfort, but if your goal here is to try the water sports, I guaranteed this place and these people are the right folks to entrust your life and harness those hidden potential. You won't be treated as a regular guest, you will be treated as a friend. And if you will submerged yourself several feet under the water, you will prefer someone that will value your safety and life as much as you do and not because you pay them to do so, isn't it?

Diving seems to be a sports only for people with money considering you have to be properly equipped when you plunge in the water and its advisable to have diving buddies for safety purposes. But the reward of the experience is magical, fantastic and should I say addicting, too. I really could not get enough of the beauty of the ocean, of the creatures wandering freely on the water and the ever changing scenery of the depth. I am game for more diving experience and seeing more marine creatures!!

Thanks Aquaworld!
Never underestimate these humble rocks. They make the water cooler.

Clear water and abundant marine life in it.

The giant kite. I will try that one someday.
I want to try this one as well. Just don't have enough time that day.

That was my last try and that smile was fake. I felt like I am going to have a hearth attack that very moment.
No more turning back. It is now.... or never!! That tank is heavy when on surface and feels like nothing on your back at the water.
Conquering my fear!! ADIA!!
Do I look like Im scared? Peace everyone!
Confession:  I forgot all the basic hand signs and everything they taught when I submerged, the peace sign is the only thing I could think that moment.

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