Reporter's Run-In with Baby Jaws at Anilao Batangas

Eagle Point Beach Resort and Hotel in Batangas gives you the privilege to experience its pride of the best hotel accommodation in Anilao Batangas Philippines, as well its perfect match to your weekend


Eagle Point Beach Resort and Hotel in Batangas gives you the privilege to experience its pride of the best hotel accommodation in Anilao Batangas Philippines, as well its perfect match to your weekend getaway.

by Anna Liese L. Roque


jawsI am a child of the Jaws era.  You remember “Jaws”, don’t ya? It was the iconic film of the 70s which scared a lot of beachgoers out of the water. Anyway, after accidentally viewing the film (which of course I was forbidden to watch by my parents), I would only get into the pool or wade into the ocean past my waist only if I could see someone else already there (banking on the principle that the other person would get eaten first).  It was therefore a measure of my trust in a friend’s recommendation and personal determination to overcome a long-time fear to take the introductory dive course offered by Eagle Point Resort to be conducted in a dive pool… containing baby sharks.


AL-002After a smooth traffic-free drive and a light breakfast, I was off to the dive area of Eagle Point Resort for a lesson in theory with our dive instructor, Marianito “Lito” Castillo.  Lito is a child of Anilao, having been born, raised and still living in the area.  It was only college and work in Palau that had taken him away for a while.  The eldest in his family, it was actually his two younger brothers who worked as dive instructors in Anilao resorts who introduced him to diving back in 1981. By 1989, he already had a professional diver’s certification, allowing him to go on a thousand dives while he was in Palau.  He joined Eagle Point Resort in 1995, already with a certification from PADI as a dive master, and gaining his instructor’s certification by 1998. With those credentials handy, my nervousness was eased a little.


AL-005I took the course together with an 11-year old girl and her mom. It was a relief to me to know that both of them had no previous experience at all, though I later learned that my youngest classmate did a lot of swimming.  One thing that Lito emphasized was that, no matter how much theory he taught us, one thing that he couldn’t teach us despite his many years of experience was how to be comfortable in the water.  All of us had a chance to think about how comfortable we really were in the water, and so we were able to confidently assure him.


This was not easy getting into... :)

This was not easy getting into... :)

After getting into the wetsuit and water shoes provided by the resort, we settled down to our lecture.  Lito introduced us to the basic equipment of scuba diving:  mask, regulator, tank and the buoyancy control device (BCD).  We were shown how to put on the mask, how to de-fog  the mask (saliva was the preferred cleaning agent, being easily and always available; seeing what I’m sure was comical reluctance on our face to spit in the mask though, Lito relented and told us toothpaste would also serve the same purpose), what to do if water entered our mask while under water, and what to do if we needed to clean our mask underwater. Afterwards, we were taught how to retrieve and put on the regulator if it was accidentally knocked out while underwater, and how to clear it of water. Finally, we were shown how to compress and decompress our BCDs.  We then had a demonstration on the basic hand gestures divers needed to communicate with each other, i.e. which direction to go, whether we are okay, how to indicate trouble.


After the lecture, it was time for us to actually get in the water.  We were handed our weight belts, complete with demonstration on how to put it on.  We were then led to the edge of the dive pool and told to stay on the 3rd step down where we would be helped into our tanks.


After we had our scuba gear on, Lito led us in a series of drills first to get us used to the equipment.  First we de-fogged our face masks with discreet lady-like spits and rinsed it in the dive pool.  Next we practiced breathing through our regulators. Then we practiced clearing our masks, and retrieving our regulators after it was knocked out of our mouths. Safety was clearly paramount. Lito had us do it one by one underwater so he could observe us individually, and he had us repeat it if he wasn’t satisfied the first time we did it.


Here I go...
Here I go...

Then it was time to do some actual scuba diving in the twelve-foot deep dive pool that had a rock formation underneath, some actual huge fishes… and gulp… there they were… baby sharks… Jaws Jrs. I swear, when my head went under, I could almost hear the movie’s thrilling music as Jaws approached you unseen. Lito had us practice another important rule in diving, especially for beginners:  always buddy up!  I and my buddy did some practice swimming with our fins – which were initially a bit more difficult to maneuver with than I had expected, but managed after a while.  I have to admit to a teeny tiny bit of a pause when I first saw the baby sharks swimming underneath us, but after a while of swimming around the pool and a few nervous looks here and there, I have to admit that the marvel of swimming underwater overcame me, along with the feeling of relief that I had: a) swum with the sharks and b) not gotten nibbled on at all.

Dive Pool also known as the Reef Pool... It's just like swimming in an aquarium.

Our class had the additional treat of having Lito take us out to do some open water scuba diving around 10 feet from the stone steps of the resort leading straight out onto already incredible underwater sights.  When it was my turn, Lito told me to relax, as he would literally hold onto me as he steered me through the reefs up to around 15 feet down.  Down below, he pointed to corals and fish I had only seen in my Childcraft Animal Kingdom books, aquariums, and yes, Finding Nemo.  On dry land again, Lito suggested that if ever I decide to go for a diver’s certification, he’ll be my instructor and guide me to a few of the 30 or so dive spots like Caban Cove for beginners to enjoy drift diving and coral formations; and The Cathedral for fish feeding.  SombreroIsland was specially mentioned for wide angle coral photography, and Twin Rocks for wide-angle fish photography.  Arthur’s Rock and Sepok Wall was mentioned for their walls (think of a cliff, except underwater), and the attendant corals and marine life.  For more experienced divers, Lito recommends Mainit Point and Bahura.


Overall, it was a very good introduction to diving – a huge part of the credit goes to our instructor, Lito.  After the dive, I found out that Lito came from a family of divers – two of them siblings were certified instructors, while one was a commercial diver.  He also seems to be a born teacher, having taught aikido while working as a security guard to finance his college studies. He also mentioned that he really enjoys teaching people how to dive, and preferred being a dive instructor over being a dive master. What made him stay at Eagle Point Resort all these years?  He laughingly replied, it certainly wasn’t for the money!  Instead, he sees himself enjoying his retirement years (at 56 years old, that seems far off still) doing what he loves the most in a beautiful place he considers himself blessed to already call home with his family.

You may want to add to your address book or safe sender list so our emails get to your inbox. This message was sent by anilaodivingresort, Ground Floor Cacho Gonzales Building, 101 Aguirre St. Legazpi Village, Makati City, 1227 Philippines

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