I don’t know how to swim but I wanna snorkel (Balicasag Island, Bohol)

Yup! This now father of three aged thirty-three still doesn’t know how to swim. Maybe the death of a friend who drowned two decades ago in one of our summer outing had its toll with me.

Before August of this year, what comes to my mind when I think of Bohol are the tarsiers and the Chocolate Hills. Balicasag Island now makes it three.

It’s a 45 minutes boat ride from Panglao Island, Bohol. Before going ashore of Balicasag, you may opt for dolphin watching early in the morning. I don’t have pictures of the dolphins because believe me, you will miss them if you focus in preparing for a shot. And it’s more fun seeing those wonderful creatures jump. The dolphin watching thrill set the tone for our snorkeling.

Today, there are lots of camera with underwater capabilities; otherwise, you’ll need to waterproof. The high-end waterproof casing from Dicapac range Php 1,300 for digital camera and Php 3,600 for DSLR. Of course my “Cheap Camera” goes with a cheap but reliable waterproof case from Aqua Gear for only Php 600. It is not hard to find, just google “Aqua Gear Philippines” and you’ll find it first in Sulit.com.ph. I can vouch for the great customer service of Aqua Gear’s sir Eugene.

That’s me at the left-most with my Fujifilm A170 enclosed for waterproofing by Aqua Gear.

The snorkeling equipment we used were lend to us by the boatman from our tour package provider. It’s better to have your own for a hygienic snorkel. Maybe next time! The boatman became our snorkeling guru and photographer. Unfortunately, I forgot to tell him to half-press first my digicam (for focusing) before taking shots.

Look at my first attempt to snorkel, my body was at 45° sporting a sandals instead of reef walker. Water shoes are for rent for Php 100 and I regret not having one for my feet were full of abrasions after.

I learned to use the mask & snorkel set while holding to an outrigger (katig).

Then came the moment of truth….. well a half-truth. I managed to swim aided by a mask & snorkel set and a not-so-fit vest.

I handed my bottle filled with pieces of bread to a friend who is a good swimmer. If you want to get a close-up with a school of fish, bring with you lots of bread, put it in a bottle for a control feeding.

The area where tourists can set their feet on the corals is confined to less than 1% of the Balicasag marine sanctuary. Look at the picture below and see the rope confining the tourists area. Don’t you worry nature lovers, the earnings from tourism are being used to finance the locals since they are prohibited from fishing and coral harvesting.

This is my only shot underwater when the boatman handed me my camera because unfortunately, it’s time for us to go. (Here’s the difference of HALF-PRESS first for focusing.)

Enjoy my short video.

A longer one by my swimmer friend taken using my digicam.

The blind man in Baclayon Church

Aside from those morning-glory, have you gazed on your eyes at the mirror? Have you took a break from those hours of internet surfing because you have experienced eye strain? Have you imagined becoming blind?

I do.

What if I wake-up one morning blind?

Then I won’t see my sons sleep, the pleasure seeing them sleep well will be gone. It will be hard for me to wake them up. I might find it harder to prepare their food, open the stove, and cook – I might burn their breakfast, what more lunch and dinner. The joy in helping them change to school uniform will end. Those “goodbyes”  and kisses before they leave will still be possible, but how can you see them smile?

I find it annoying today every time my sons ask me to teach them on their assignments, it always feels like going back to school, which I hate.

But if I become blind, how can I teach my sons? What if their assignments need help of an adult? They may find it arduous answering their homework unassisted. Their grades might dive because of me, it will be very painful. If they excel in class, how can I witness them walk on the stage… and when they graduate. How I can watch over them in the playground, bring them to the mall to watch movies, or guide them to the church.

This father would want to see his sons’ first and last girlfriends, subsequent weddings, his would-be grandchildren, their new homes.

This husband, if God permits, would want to carry his wife on their silver wedding anniversary at Baclayon Church in Bohol, considered as one of the oldest churches in the Philippines.

I want to thank God for these eyes, the face of my wife is soothing. I can enjoy more our God’s blessings, I can have more quality time with my family, I can value every little thing I have.

But everything has its ending. Before my eyes rust, I want to tour my sons in Bohol, their mama would want to come again.