Anilao, My Favorite Playground

Photos by Editha Apacible, Batangas I’ve always loved the sea. My father lived in Lian, Batangas and brought us to the beach almost every month since we were small. I spent most of the day outside until my parents had persuaded me to eat my meals with them. I remember negotiating over Good Friday after 3pm as my sacrifice for Holy Week, because I liked to swim from Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday. My mother had moved to the US when I was 16. Since then, I relied on friends for beach outings an d twice a year trips to Lian Batangas with my father’s relatives. I always dreamed of being able to get certified as a scuba diver. Underwater seemed more interesting than above water. I promised my mother to forego this dream so as not to worry her after all she sponsored most of my education so obedience was mandatory. And then I turned 40 and became a senior officer of a bank (Citibank at that time). I heard stories from colleagues and had seen their pictures and videos. So, I told my mom that I was pursuing my dream, to which she cried and knelt for a long time to pray. More than 500 dives later, my mom is one of my main followers on Facebook and has seen all my underwater pictures. With 7,100 islands, it would be a miss not to show how beautiful the Philippine Seas are. Aside from getting certified, I went into underwater photography. I try to capture the beauty underwater by patiently waiting for the proper moment to take the shot, checking for the best angles, and deciding on the type of lighting using all lights, spotlight only, no light, blue/red or just white light, etc. I already flooded 3 cameras, but I’ve not gotten tired of buying another camera in time for my next dive trip. I am still employed so diving happens once or twice a month, mostly on weekends. The nearest diving spot to Metro Manila is Anilao, Batangas. I have considered Anilao as my favorite playground in the world and my most effective stress reliever. Anilao is in Mabini, Batangas and is accessible via South Luzon Expressway, Star Tollway, and the new Bauan-San Pascual Expressway. Due to its proximity to Manila, Manila-based divers as well as foreigners come here to dive and compete in photo competitions while National Geographic and foreign technical divers look for interesting species. Anilao never ceases to amaze me. Despite going to my favorite sites over and over again, I still find something interesting and worth sharing. Its rich marine biodiversity gives divers a unique experience. There are more than 20 beautiful dive sites, and mostly boast of coral reefs. For macro photographers, there are lots of colorful fish, nudibranchs, and sometimes rare species like frogfish, blue ringed octopus, stonefish, and scorpionfish. For landscape photographers, there are soft corals, sea fans, sea snakes, big fish like batfish, trevally, groupers, schools of jackfish and triggerfish, and if one is lucky, there may be reef sharks in sites where the current is running. Sharing my favorite pictures which will hopefully encourage new and seasoned divers to visit.

Anilao, My Favorite Playground