Growing up near the ocean in the Mindanao region had somehow acquainted me with the Badjao people who are known as sea gypsies and has the capacity of holding their breath longer in a deep sea. Freediving in the Philippines is I think started by them without knowing the real name on this kind of motion. To me, that is how I first got clued up into freediving Philippines.
Badjao or Bajau are visible from the streets to the seaports. At an early age, I also noticed them to different ports outside my city, like some parts in the Visayas and Mindanao region where they ride their own small houseboats asking money or any kind from the passengers on the big boats. These passengers voluntarily throw pennies near the Bajau’s houseboats but these are mostly landing into the deep water. Surprisingly, Bajaus can successfully get those coins regardless of its depth without the use of any gears. They don’t use any equipment, no mask, no fins, no snorkel, no nothing except a customized spearfishing material when they only aim to catch fish underwater.
What is FREEDIVING?
From Wikipedia - it is a form of underwater diving that relies on breath-holding until resurfacing rather than the use of breathing apparatus such as scuba gear.
Or to simplify, it is an activity going down the depts as much as you can without the use of any oxygen tanks.
Clearly adapted by their action for many years, the freediving skills had somehow oriented my senses given a glimpse of its process but not in a professional way like what we have today.
As a previous tour guide working everywhere in the country which, fortunately, had added exposure to freediving. It is during that time that I mixed my work and pleasantly doing this activity on the side. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any certificates nor attended a freediving course until this time. It is through the kind approach and knowledge of my freediver friends, my tour guide colleagues, those expert spearfishermen plus tour operators I worked with in the past that I learned more about freediving. With constant practice and great discipline, I pushed through.
To continuously improve the skills, my trip to Antique last June 2018 had taken further some great exposure while joining the Iloilo Freediver group. A very good friend Bhem is one of the members of that group.
We were 3 freedivers crossing on a small boat in a 4.8-kilometer distance from Anini-y mainland to Nogas Island. The weather is clear, blue sky, turquoise color of the water calmly calling us to jump in.
We set an hour or two every single session on the water. Started mid in the morning and ended when the sun is about to set at around 5 in the afternoon.
Among the three of us, I am the only one who didn’t have a full body suit. Incomplete. Yet, my Scuba Gear snorkeling kit is useful and my total confidence in diving to the water with these gears are of no question. No competition between the three of us, just a wild passion of fulfilling our own thirst on freediving.
Technically, I am not the right person to voice out about the whole freediving course and its safety precautions. Although largely acquainted by its safety measures, I think the best to hear are from the experts themselves like the group from Iloilo Freedivers. What I can share are the things I learned and the reason why we are doing this or why this group in Iloilo are doing a weekly session.
It mentally tested my capabilities. Not for a sports reason but for a matter of being in the moment with a relaxing mind and a vast meditation down under.
My thirst about being on the water, and my undying dreams of learning to go deeper, thus, Bajaus actions had greatly influenced myself that I tried using what I had observed from them.
The satisfaction of getting near the sea creatures, observing their movement when some of them glide and dance their way to different directions. In Nogas Island, when we were on the 25M deep, a pod of jackfish was lurking around the rope and the buoy we are in, descending every now and then. Plus, we were guided all the time by at least 4 bat fish who never seemed to leave us.
The tranquility when one goes down just even for a minute is so surreal. An unexplainable feeling.
It’s not expensive
It’s a better option than snorkeling as snorkeling can only let you do on the surface, whereas freediving can let you go deeper depending on a person’s capacity.
This and more are the reasons why I am continuously doing this water adventure. On the other hand, if this kind of activity is on your bucket list, I recommend for you to do prepare yourself first before delving into this. Here are some of the practices I did which can also be helpful. But, if getting a course is better for you, enroll to the nearest Freediving School.
Daily Brisk Walking with at least 5-7 km in distance
Dry Breathing, which means practice holding your breath every night and check the result by the time consumed, do this at home and not in the water. DO NOT DO this alone, look for someone who can be with you who knows what you are doing.
Try enrolling YOGA if you have not done it, Freediving is more of a Relaxation system and yoga is best to do this. The inhale and exhale breathing through the nose and mouth is better with the Yoga practice.
Develop Mental training, this is the most important thing that I did. Try checking this on what’s best for you on how to develop this. On my part, Yoga and the walking to nature or mountain have helped train my mind.
Exercise. At least 3-4 times a week.
Remember that it is a mental technique building your confidence when doing Freediving and set your mind to it.
In order to help you on which Freediving school and Freediver Instructor you should consider or hire, make sure you have to check one of this.
The full description has been stated on their courses.
Recent Freediving Event that the company or the instructor has done
Learn deeply about their program and how it can benefit you as a beginner
Interact with or connect with them by sending messages and ask questions that trigger or bothers you before joining.
Check if the equipment or gears are complete during the course and if it has been specified.
Understand what course you should take, either Discover Freediving or Introductory Freediving or those Certification Courses from AIDA.
Research more to check videos on Facebook and Youtube for known freedivers and organization.
Here are some of the Freediving Schools and those who offer Freediving Courses that you can check on in the Philippines:
I do hope that my personal experience on freediving can give you some learning especially those who are beginners.
Here is Where to Book your Trip to Nogas Island in Anini-Y, Antique
Freediving Course: Check the group Iloilo Freedivers Groups when you are in Iloilo or in Antique
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Author: Ferna Mae
Ferna is a spontaneous traveler from the Philippines who had a great experience traveling her own country first before she embarked to other countries. She thrives to be more independent in her own skin. Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org