MANILA, Philippines -- With nearly 500 unexplored dive sites, the Philippines could well become Asia’s scuba diving capital.
“In fact, the Philippines is already being regarded by many foreign divers as the ‘center of center’ of diving in the world,” said Benedict Reyes, president of the Philippine Association on Underwater Activities (PAUA) and board member of the Asian Underwater Federation.
Besides popular diving destinations in northern Luzon, Southern Tagalog, the Visayas and Mindanao, Reyes said there are hundreds more of potential dive sites all over the country that can be developed.
“The Philippines is one big dive site,” he stressed, noting the Philippines’ archipelagic structure.
Karen Chan, executive director of the Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving (PCSSD), noted diving is already regarded as one of the top tourist activities in the Philippines even if it is not well-promoted. "What more if it was?” she asked.
In line with this, a Dive Expo and Exhibition Philippines (World Deep) will be held from April 18 to 21 at the Shangri-La's Mactan Resort and Spa in Cebu. This will coincide with the World Underwater Federation's 13th Elective General Assembly, which will also be held there from April 17 to 23.
The event is expected to gather about 150 underwater federation leaders from all over the world – all of whom are endorsed by their respective governments and are key movers in underwater activities throughout the globe.
Reyes believes the Philippines will catch the attention of officials of the World Underwater Federation, more popularly know as CMAS or Confederacion Mondial des Activites Subaquatiques, the first international dive agency in the world.
According to its website, CMAS comprises of “over 130 federations from five continents. In addition to organizing international underwater sport events it is at the forefront of technical and scientific research and development. It can be associated with elaborating one of the oldest and most extensive dive training systems.”
It was founded by Jacques Yves Costeau, the father of scuba diving.
Finswimming, breath-hold diving
According to Reyes and Chan, World Deep will also showcase the Filipinos’ professionalism in organizing world events with the aim to unify the fast-growing diving community in the country and to activate and inspire the local diving community.
World Deep also intends to introduce alternative underwater sports, which have yet to gain ground in the country.
Included in the seminars during the World Deep are new and emerging underwater sports such as finswimming.
According to Philippinefinswimming.com, the use of just one fin allows the swimmer to move “much faster than with two. The monofin swimming technique coordinates the entire body into a single swimming muscle affording the swimmer better propulsion and greater speed. The monofin brings people closer to every swimmer's dream - to swim with the dolphins.”
During the 2011 Southeast Asian Games, Filipino finswimmers took home the gold -- the first time that the country joined the event.
Other seminars during the World Deep will include underwater photography, underwater wrestling or better known as aquathlon and apnoea or breath-hold diving.