Coming back in this little paradise always felt like coming home, this is my residence for diving and will always be. More than a decade ago, this was where I braved the rigors of basic scuba skills. Donning the gears and with that sweet breath of oxygen underwater for the first time in its waters, was unforgettable. The staff always welcomed me like I am a family. The homey comforts in MADRI was just perfect for our year-end (2019)dive escapade.
That weekend was perfect timing as the dive resort was not crowded, and it was relaxing as there was no need to rush to Mantangale. Sir Dodong assured that tides would be right for dives by midday, thus our commute was just in right pace. We chanced again Russians for that day, a couple from Moscow who was still arriving to join the day’s dives.
As we waited for take-off, we had pleasantries with Sir Dodong, and had my regulator for some safety check as its mouthpiece too was due for replacement. The cheery weather was perfect with blue skies as we watched Camiguin Island over the horizon. A sight to behold, so mesmerizing! Relaxing at the dive shop with this view is such a wonderful gift of nature.
The Russians joined us finally at the shop and we rushed for the boat after we geared up. In less than ten minutes, we anchored for our first descent. The surf was bit up drawn by the tide, our descent went smoothly unto sandy slope. The spot is haven for Christmas tree worms, they were all over massive corals in various colors. I had fun watching as they flop down instantly but few stood their grounds. There were lot of linkia laevegata scattered around, culcita, choco chip stars, fish juveniles over the corals, damsels, chromis, angels, bannerfish, moorish idol and anthias in varied colors. We found some trashes though, mostly sachets of coffee and milk, fishing lines and nylon rope which I neatly rolled and tied up to avoid tangles. There were craters as we roamed around and spotted an alibuag too! I noticed a hairy shrimp over the anemone cohabiting with clownfish. As we roamed, we passed coral field with lots of fishes hanging over, those mysterious crevices too, chances are critters were just lurking in the dark. This lowly uninhabited islet looks ordinary and desolate but you never knew how diverse it could be deep down!
We ascend after 52 minutes with my deepest at 28.7 meters, with nitrox 30%.
After a relaxing lunch, we prepared for our last descent at the house reef –always my favorite here in Mantangale. The surf didn’t wane, it was necessary to hold the rope until the bouy. Yes, descending to the shoal needs a line or you could end up somewhere else! Halfway, the resident midnight snapper started darting around as if to welcome us. It’s a lot bigger now! As soon as we got on top of the shoal, a large swarm of fish came around and I guess the resident creatures have gotten used to human visitors. The rhythm of colors as they swarmed and wiggled on this shelter was a sight to behold, its perfect diverse environs is a nature’s wonder. Black corals abound, so with soft corals, whips, feather stars and more. We found nudis, giant clams, scorpion fish resting on table coral, lionfish, and moray eel! We went around, this time I went slow so that after a full circle it would be time to ascend before my NDL gets done. Other divers were gone ahead including Sir Dodong, while our guide went up halfway and waited for us. I have wanted to spend my last available minute before I start to ascend, so when my NDL was down to 1, signaled Angel for ascent and slowly as I could went up still looking down the mound. I went 33.3 meters with 49 minutes as bottom time, still with 30% nitrox.
We speed off over the afternoon surf to the shores, with happy smiles as we unload to the shop. Two wonderful dives in one of our favorite sites. Just enough to warm my diver’s heart.
After for more than a decade of diving pursuits, MADRI will always be my go-to abode. Essentially relaxed, not crowded, environment-friendly and not distant from my base. Ma’am Nana is just a text away, always ready to accommodate my request even sometimes an exclusive dive for me if there were no other guests. How blessed to have stumbled this happy place for my diving escapades without traveling far! Absolutely, there will be more diving trips here in this homely corner of Balingoan, MADRI is always worth coming back!