Half-submerged in the raucous sea with our marine masks on, we battled the droplets and lines of rainwater hitting the transparent goggles, then dripping down. It was a few days before the coming of the strong monsoon – habagat – rains, and we were just in the nick of time, or else we might be swept away. But still, we never defeated the surge of waters coming from above. Occasionally, we had to remove our masks and wipe out the droplets of water stuck on them. It was a fight we would never forget: a fight with the storm. All for Marine Science 1.
The time it took for the bus to take the road to Lian, Batangas where it all occurred was almost entirely negligible. We travelled without seeing a ray of the sun, only the dim lights coming from the bus’ ceiling. Almost everyone was trying to catch lost sleep, paying the debt. I myself was part of the team. I only opened my eyes for a few seconds to see the scene outside from peeping through the tiny window covered with curtains. The sun has risen but I saw, apart from the blurred views of the houses and trees, was fog. The bus crossed the foggy path.
Next off, we were able to get hold of snorkeling devices. I was amused when I saw people excited as they were already wearing the snorkeling goggles on their faces even before stepping into the sea. I used to snorkel in El Nido, Palawan and in Bohol with my family but what the tour guides taught us about snorkeling was just a about a percentage of what I learned from the field trip. I did learn a lot, seriously, on snorkeling alone. I didn’t think such a simple way of swimming would require a lot of patience.
Lesson number one – treat the snorkeling gear with respect
You heard it right, like how fencing athletes treat their weapons with respect, and like how taekwondo stars place a high regard on their belts, people who do snorkeling must do the same. On my experience, I have seen people throw the gear to another person or hit the gear on a boat. When at sea, the gears become your friend.
Lesson number two – no toothpaste? Use your saliva
Fogging masks are a common problem of amateur people who snorkel. To avoid it, be prepared with a drop of toothpaste and spread it on both sides of the mask completely. Once done, wash it moderately with water until the seen toothpaste marks are cleared. Toothpastes are considered hydrophilic or they prevent water from staying on the masks. No toothpaste? Use another hydrophilic substance like your saliva. Just make sure it’s your personal snorkeling mask.
Lesson number three – learn how to wear it properly, with poise added
A no-no: placing the goggles on your face at the same time pulling the straps and putting it on. The proper way of wearing the mask is to first place it on your face and get the perfect position. Then you can now pull the straps over and wear it on.
Lesson number four – do not put your snorkeling gear on your head
If you’re dreaming of becoming like Catwoman who likes to put her goggles on her head when it’s not use, then the sea is not a good place for it. Placing the masks on your head or on your forehead while resting, is a signal that the swimmer is in distress and needs SOS. So don’t raise a false alarm. Wear it off and hang it on your neck.
Lesson number five – snorkel, don’t walk
Many people, especially those without background in swimming, or those who always want to swim like a drowning dog, would just bow their heads down on the water with the goggles on and look at the beautiful fish and marine creatures. But the fish is not the only creature underwater, the corals too. People usually step on and walk on the corals and when they do, the corals die instantly. When you get off a boat, make sure you hover horizontally on the water, and swim or paddle to avoid falling on your feet.
Take heed of these lessons. Enjoy snorkeling!