Talisayan: More than the Usual

colorful depths of Red Sands!

There wasn’t much enthusiasm towards this year’s after birthday weekend trip, originally the dates were reserved already for the much awaited Tawi-Tawi dives.  Much awaited because last year’s plan was cancelled, so it was rescheduled for July 2011 and was thrilled when we got our tickets on sale last November!  Well, it was called off again just with the Batanes sojourn. It brought home in the end for Mantangale dives but Angel’s mixed-up schedules daunted my MADRI homecoming…

Saturday Ramblings

We made it though, but arriving late at the resort, all the dive boats sailed off already to Mantigue Island and Medina.  After more than two hours of waiting and taking our complimentary lunch at the resto, Angel and I went down to the diveshop to prepare and gear up. I guess we’re just dying to be in the waters for our dried up gills!  🙂 Just in time when Sir Dong came back from Duka Bay, we had some catch-up talk until we sailed off for our first descent at Sipaka Point.

Can you find the cleaner shrimp?

Although Sipaka is just nearby from the resort, it belonged to the next coastal town of Talisayan. The spot wasn’t new but I was sure there is something more I will find since I last explored its depths. Back-rolling for our first water entry at the Red Sand, we separated from the boat with group of OW students having their exercise at the spot. We descend on a sandy slope with Danny as our dive guide – we are now confident to go down with no DM.  🙂  We sighted variety specie of soft and hard corals, sponges, colorful crinoids, cucumbers, anemones and even crown of sea thorns. We sighted also a banded sea snake slithering from us as we took turns for photos!  We moved around and searched for more critters – spotted colorful nudis, elusive cleaner shrimp and juvenile fishes. I was amused with the jerky many spotted sweetlips – we keep on following as it kept darting when we took photos. 😛  We found uniquely shaped corals – like mushrooms, like suntan flora, like thorny fruit and more. There was no encounter with pelagics but the colorful tropical fishes decorating the corals was all there in splendor creating a colorful underwater and active fish life. We ascend after 62 minutes still having 1000psi of air.

colorful nudi!

We were grateful the shop arranged for our second descent together with John (Australian), who wanted to search for mandarin fish.  Leisure talk with Sir Dong – right, for next dive trips! J Good food, idyllic environs with good weather while watching Camiguin Island in the horizons, was a perfect surface interval for me.  Though it was late, there was no rush as we waited sundown for our night dive.

We boarded the boat in twilight and cruised for about 15 minutes to Talisayan Shoal getting thrilled what to find, it was our first time at the shoal.  I always find night dives as challenging and exciting! The plan:  DM Cena will look for mandarin fish while the dive guide stay with John, we will follow them as we do our own exploration.  It was almost dark when we descend at 5:52pm on a sandy area.

like mushrooms sprouting!

The dark underwater seemed another world to me, armed with our torches we started our search – search for the unknown!  We spotted critters – crabs, shrimps, juvenile lion fish, clams, and more.  Angel pointed out a juvenile puffer fish with those green pleading eyes!  We went around getting familiar with the darkness, only to find out we were separated from the others.  It didn’t bother us as we continue to roam around.  Indeed, at night different species showed up.  We stayed close to the seabed as we continue our search, I felt something crawling on my bodice – a crinoid stuck with me! 😛  In a while, we noticed a flickering light beyond us, following it we caught up with our companions. We ascend after 68 minutes with my air still at 1000psi, at 7pm it was all dark surrounding us.  The cold night air gave me shivers as we sped off to the resort.

Gills Refreshed

Perhaps  a dive in far-off waters is just ordinary for some but the sights in our two descents were not usual ones – we had more of colorful macros and colorful active marine life. I couldn’t help again to be more passionate with marine life as I view my photos,  you know – that fire within.  How vast and mysterious underwater world is, and how fortunate I am given the privilege to experience this grandeur.

Even with battery of cancelled trips, my after birthday weekend dives with my favorite dive buddy was more than enough for my dried-up gills and itching fins.  Life can be more beautiful deep down!

NB.  I use Lumix TS2 with Ikelite casing.

Diving in December!

I never knew that getting into the depths in the last days of the year can be more challenging!  🙂

Amazing Duka Bay!

There is always something new in every dive I had and indeed there are surprises and lessons in store in my every underwater encounters – what a joy!  J  Despite pretty hectic schedules in December, Angel and I tried to fit in one dive trip (my last for the year) last weekend.  Mindanao has a perfect sunny weather on year ends except two weeks ago when Typhoon Urduja strike Northern Mindanao leaving floods and landslides in some parts in Misamis Oriental.  I was suggesting for a hop to Camiguin but Angel wanted to have a side trip to Butuan for his cravings at Margie’s Kitchen.  Duka Bay would be a strategic site for our dive given itinerary plans.  I have been eagerly waiting for this last 2009 dive with Angel.

Full & Complete Saturday

Waking up early for the preliminaries – setting up uw cam and my contacts plus final packing,  promptly got a message from Angel of his arrival a little bit past 6am. I rushed thinking to get the 7am Bachelor Tours for Butuan.  It was fortunate to chance up a King Long bus, Angel was just in the nick of time when he arrived, the bus promptly left like 2 minutes after he got into the transpo!  It was a sunny morning indeed though when we arrived Medina, the skies went downcast.  Bubbles and Edward came to our aide, there were no other divers, just us and I like it.  We geared up for our first site, but we’re not on a dive boat but on a baruto – such a crude and spartan way to reach the dive spot though much better than swimming! We headed for  mooring bouy – it was that simple –  paddling to the spot riding the big waves! J It was something new and bit challenging, I only had my water entry during my night dive lessons but I had all the assistants surrounding me.  The water was choppy so we need to hold on to the mooring line for our descent.   It was amazing because it was plain clear and current-free down, we had a great deal going around – the crevices, small cave, drop-off.  We tried to search for critters, carefully probing corners.  We swam along the fresh water spring (alibuag) deep down, I went round again and again savoring the cold waters! It’s a wonder…  Near the spring were drop offs, we got down unto a sandy area and took photos.  We went round savoring the scenery and had our safety stop when our air got down to 80 bars, we went 110ft as our deepest! Well, taking off the gears in the choppy water is challenging indeed! And I got difficulty getting into the paddle boat but I made it though…. 🙂

When we got back to the dive shop, we took our early lunch and had some rest for our surface interval.  We geared up again for our next descent after more than an hour but this time the waves got higher!  This time we got a little pumpboat instead of the baruto, which was better especially that the water is getting more choppy. When we had our stop for the descent, we were tossed by the big waves. We started at the shallower part of the Aquarium going deeper. We went around, and the usual abundant fish life in the sanctuary is truly engaging – anthias, gorgonians, colorful crinoids, basket sponges, hard corals, soft corals.  We didn’t miss too the artificial reefs and swam on top of it, to get a glimpse of the giant clam perched on the AR crown.  We stumble upon a sea turtle – watching the creature wading its limbs was wonderful to behold!  J We followed him swimming. We sighted too a moray eel, puffers and lionfish trapped inside a basket sponge, and  school of angel fish and batfish.  Really, the sanctuary has truly an abundant fish life – just perfect for its name – Aquarium.  We prepared for our ascent when Angel’s air was almost zero.  It was getting more choppy and we were tossed when we surfaced, getting off from our gears.  Angel has to help me to get up into our boat, it was challenging but I was learning.  🙂

DM Edward suggested to call it a day, the waters became too choppy and the viz is getting hazy.  Angel and I planned for three dives but agreed with him, we felt exhausted too after the two challenging dives.  We packed our things and left Medina for Butuan a little past 3pm.  One thing keeps nagging my mind – I need a dive computer soon!  We arrived home after sundown, just right for our plans for the night.

Margie’s, Oh Margie’s

I was getting famished already and after settling our luggage we hastily left for my favorite café – which has become Angel’s favorite too.  He just loved the English beer battered fish n chips in tar tartar sauce plus the cookie monster and cheesecake.  He has these cravings months ago after he first tried it last April!  And indeed, we were blessed that fish n chips is still available (hallelujah!) – we had a sumptuous dinner , actually it was utter indulgence! The rich cookie monster and blueberry cheesecake  plus the langka homemade ice cream was so tempting – I’m feeling guilty of eating that much! 😛  I needed help from Angel for my crispy beef tadyang! Angel and I was biding our time – for me it was like savoring life’s pleasures – to brace me for the all too hectic days ahead during year ends. It was some kind of regaining my equilibrium, to keep me perfectly sane… 🙂

I guess Angel  is getting fanatic with Margie’s, because the next day before our leaving back to CdO we went there again with Kay for lunch, just imagine we were the first customers on that Sunday, we were just right at their doorstep when the coffee shop opened!  😛 We tried other menus but never eliminating the cookie monster and cheesecake, we had another sumptuous meal again!  It would still be long before Angel could get back to Butuan for Margie’s Kitchen.  This time we never missed the chance to scribble on the café’s wall, we tried to beg the staff to let us do it.  Voila, Lakwatsero invades Margie’s Kitchen!  And yes, we had our photo taken by the shop – hopefully to be posted in the shop’s bulletin board.

Another Great Weekend

Angel was saying his weekend is full, so much has happened – well, two cities , in two regions in Mindanao, two dives in two wonderful sites in Duka Bay and two sumptuous meals at Margie’s. It was full indeed, and no doubt pleasurable.  We arrived CdO past 4pm just right for Angel to catch up for his flight back home.  New lessons, new learnings and new challenges.  The Lord has always done marvelous things for my trips keeping things in perfect order. Indeed, all things work for good to those who trust Him…