Thursday, May 1

Snorkeling Induced Anxiety

Today was Labor Day in the Philippines, which equals no school! (I've come to believe that the Philippines probably has more holidays than any other country in the world!) So, we joined another fun family for an outing at the beach. It was a beautiful day when we arrived at the beach resort, and we decided to take a bunka boat (shown in the picture) across the way to a small island, known as Camera Island (also shown in the picture, along with the Capones Island). The ride was smooth, the water was gorgeous & the island was nice & quiet. Unfortunately, we didn't bring a snorkeling mask or any gear, but luckily our friends did. After they both swam far out to view the exotic sea creatures below, they swam back & offered their goggles for me to use. Sam put on Sydney's kid sized goggles (not the look for him!), I borrowed our friend's goggles & we swam out pretty far ourselves. However, I did not have an actual snorkel to use... only the goggles. So, between swimming against the ocean current to get out far enough, coming up for air every now & again & swallowing some nasty salt water, I started to panic a bit. I kept looking back at the island which was getting further & further away & that also made me nervous. In turn, as my heart started racing, my breath got shorter & shorter. So, my time enjoying the fascinating sea life was shortened by the constant need to come up for air every second, it seemed. The first time I snorkeled, I freaked out a bit as well because I couldn't get enough air into my lungs. Sam finally advised me to take steady, shallower breaths instead of deep breaths. I practiced for a while in shallow water & finally got the hang of it. This time, however, I was too far gone to stand anywhere. And, even if I could have stood, I was not wearing any flippers so my feet would have been completely exposed to the sea floor. Not a good idea when you don't know what's down there... sea urchins come to mind. (I did see a dried one on the shore, so I know they are definitely out there!) Anyway, we got out quite a ways & decided to just hang out at that spot instead of swimming out any further. Sam, who was absolutely fine, kept diving down to explore a little more closely. I, on the other hand, floated on my back as much as I could in an attempt to slow my heart & control my breathing. When I did feel a little more normal, I joined Sam and explored a bit as well. The water felt great & the coral was breathtaking. The fish were still rather small, because apparently, this area had been previously used by the military for target practice... bombs & such. They killed off all the beautiful fish & plants underwater. Only recently have the fish begun to return to these waters. Maybe by the time we leave, they will be large & plentiful!

We both swam back to the shore & unanimously decided on two things:
1. That we will add swimming to our exercise routine from now on. We were completely out of breath after that excursion.
2. That we will invest in a good snorkeling mask & gear for each of us. This opportunity is just too rare to pass up! We have got to take advantage of the awesome snorkeling that is so easily accessible to us.

I also decided that we need to splurge on an underwater camera. I have kicked myself twice now for not getting amazing photos of what we are seeing under the water. Any recommendations?

We would love for you to come visit! I know you would love the beauty of the Philippines also!


LeeAnne said...

Hi Amberly,
My husband and I are considering a possible move to Manila. As I was researching the Philippines online I came across your blog, and I thought I'd get in touch. Would you mind sharing some of your thoughts about expat life there and things to consider if we decide to make the move? We've never been to the Philippines so we're trying to learn as much as possible. If you have a few moments I would really appreciate it.

You can contact me at

Thanks so much!

Lynn Leaming said...

I have used just one of those store bought underwater cameras before and they work really good. Of course I have not used them in further down than about 8 feet. Sounds like so much fun! Hope that I can do it someday.

Sherri said...

I too found you in a seach for "Manila Expat". I moved here from Seattle WA area. I have been here 2 months. Any tips on how do I meet other expats? I have no children so I think that limits me. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I too have a blog on this site "Manila Surprise".

I can be reached at

Sherri Rommuno/Makati

Achilles Castillo Stamatelaky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Achilles Castillo Stamatelaky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Greg said...

Achilles...that sounds like an over-reaction. I have not heard of any incident where in a swimmer from amongst the many beautiful beaches here has lost a limb from busted bombs or developed bad skin allergies due to the polluted sea water, unless, of course, if Amber decides to immerse herself in the toxic water of the Pasig River but that will never, ever, happen, anyway. :-).

Hey, Amber, nice blog. Always refreshing to hear foreign sisters and brothers enjoying this part of the world. Makes me feel lucky. Enjoy the Philippines. After all, we are all its rightful owner, that is, if we all view our world from outside the universe. :-).

Your kids are cute. I have one baby girl, she is the cutest. :-)

Achilles Castillo Stamatelaky said...

Excuse me did I mentioned some lost of a limb or bad skin allergy
that's another typical Filipino attitude/back stabbing. Another "foreign sisters and brothers"? wow that's so low to greet people from other countries.

Just say "Welcome we are happy you are here"

I have a lot to say about Filipino attitude but this blog is the wrong place to explain it. by the way Filipinos never care about the environment so you are one of them Gregg. visit me at my blog. SO, we have a one on one talk about being ridicule.

I even deleted my past postings in respect of gregg's attitude.

Sorry Samberly

Anonymous said...

Amberly, Howdy from San Antonio Texas. I'm just catching up with your blog and is sounds like you are learning so much and having a blast. This is a wonderful life changing experience and you are one lucky person. Thank goodnees you have your family to share it with. Don't forget about us and keep us posted. School is almost out over here so I'm getting thrilled by the minute.

I need to pick up swimming too...

Kimberly Ann said...

Hej! I found your blog through the Expat Interviews site and I think your story is really interesting! I'm actually an American, but I was born in the Philippines and adopted very young. So my parents are Irish-American, etc. Anyways, I'm an expat now myself, living in Sweden! It's great to read about what life is like in the Philippines, since I have no recollection of the place!