I look at diving as one of my primary hobbies. I don't have too many vices, don't spend too much money on clothes and looking pretty. Diving is not cheap, and much of my savings gets siphoned off by paying for a trip or two. The equipment is an investment. I bought my suit, fins and other gear at the beginning and take care of them. I haven't had to replace any of them, although my short suit is languishing in the bathroom. I should sell it and use the money to pay for a trip!
One of the top ten dive sites in the country is Tubbataha. Better writers and photographers than I have written about the site/s, which is actually a set of dive sites located in the middle of the Sulu Sea. Among local and other international divers, Tubbataha is an ecological paradise, hard to reach, only dive-able for 4 months of the year. It has the blessings of many international environmental organizations, and part of the sustainable development there is covered by the WWF (not the wrestling silly-heads, but the group with the panda logo). Personally, my favorite part of the dives there is the presence of sharks and turtles.
The first Tubbataha trip I went on was in 2004. We had a small group of divers, many of them I met on the boat. We had a good divemaster who had amazing underwater vision, and could distinguish the smallest creatures and sight the big fish hundred of meters away. Our dives were punctuated by excitement over whale sharks, mantas, and lots of sharks and turtles. Each dive was unique, and it was a trip I will treasure for as long as my memory stays sharp. I can still visualize my first brush with the whale sharks, the first coming so close I could distinguish the pattern of her dappled coat and her soft eyes. The feeding manta that played by the boat for over half an hour, somersaulting till we grew dizzy watching it play. The school of barracudas parting like the Red Sea for the Israelites, closing back into their formation when we had passed. So many wonderful memories of that trip.
Tomorrow, I leave for another Tubbataha trip. Some of the fellow divers who were there in 2004 will be back. But most of the group are new to me. It will be a bigger group too. Less space to move around. I'll have a roommate this time. Won't be so easy to make a mess.
But whether this trip proves to be as memorable as 2004, I'm just happy to be going out of town. I need time away from the problems at the office, some new complications in my life, and family. I want to be where the most important part of the day is how many sharks were visible and preventing decompression sickness.
And should things go screwy, I am glad that a few of my important resolutions in life worked out this year. Good luck to me.