I smile and shake my head, "No, but we're strong swimmers." Fact is, there's nothing I'm more confident about than my sister's (and my) athletic capabilities, especially when we're together. Since we were genetically designed to be highly competitive (thanks to our (sometimes neurotic) mother, and equally competitive father), being around each other tends to bring out the most competitive side in both of us.
"Okay, well it's simple," one of the divers was telling us, "just tuck your head in so that your body moves vertically and then push with your legs."
Right, simple. "But my body is naturally buoyant," I say--not so much as a form of protest, but only to let him know so that if I fail, I have a faulty body buoyancy to blame.
He laughed, "what do you mean?"
"Well, I mean, I just don't sink."
I don't remember what was said after this moment, just that after two and a half hours of swimming freely in the open ocean, my sister and I finally learned how to skin dive.
It turns out, the BlueWater properties actually have a save the seas initiative (which I write about in the June 2015 issue of Mabuhay Magazine). Some 20 divers (or so) do a dive at least once a month to clean up the surrounding areas of the BlueWater Properties namely: Sumilon, Panglao and Maribago. While we were there, we were informed by Project Blue's Head Erik Monsato that they were going to go coral planting behind the island.
My sister and I have never gone coral planting. That is to say, I thought it would be as simple as placing my feet into the ocean, bending over and putting the corals in place. Apparently, it's not as easy as it sounds. Before the actual coral planting, they asked us if we had flippers and snorkeling gear (we had none) and provided us with the closest fit.
At this point, I realized we weren't just going to be bending over and dropping corals, but Iya and I have never been the type to back out on a challenge, so we pushed forward, swimming into unknown territory. Some ten minutes (and a couple of "A JELLY FISH, ATE!!" moments), we finally reached coral planting area behind Maribago's man-made island. And so commenced our first foray into saving the seas.
A Lesson in Survival
After the coral planting session was over, we were informed that we'd been swimming in open water for almost 2 hours. In our heads, that wasn't even an achievement. What we were more excited about was the fact that we were able to dive to the bottom of the ocean floor, and pick up corals and shells. It surprised me to know that we were out in the open water for 2 hours (almost 3) and that we didn't even get tired at all.
And so, the (not so quiet) realization: how did we stay out in the open seas for two hours without so much a word of complaint from either of our mouths?
Simple: you don't get tired of the things you love.
I have learned (the hard way) that to survive in this world, you have to find the things that will make you want to roll out of bed in the morning. Make you want to forego sleep. I haven't been waking up early enough for work--even with enough sleep (and that says a lot, I suppose). But when I'm only running on three hours of sleep (or none at all), and I have to be up for a trip to Sagada or Baguio with my friends, or a vacation with my sister, I am so giddy with excitement, I don't even need the extra cup of coffee in the morning. It's not so much that my legs were strong enough to keep me afloat during those two hours in the open sea, not so much that my sister and I have been swimming since who knows when, not so much that we wanted to outdo one another in terms of stamina and skill. It's that she and I both love the ocean (and fear it), and are never more at home than when we are out at sea.
Charles Bukowski once said: "Find what you love and let it kill you." I hope one day to be able to fall in love with a craft, and let it consume me with passion (the way things used to)--the same way being out in the open seas (saving the planet in our little way) meant more to my sister and I than we ever imagined it could.