Freediving 101

Freediving 101

No tanks and regulators. It’s just you and the deep blue. How to freedive according to instructor Johnn Mendoza.

Conserve oxygen, equalize and safely surface

Relax before and during the dive.

Prepare for a freedive by lowering your heart rate through normal breathing and exposure of the face to water. This induces the mammalian dive reflex that helps in adapting the body for freediving.

Equalize the whole time because the initial depth changes in the water greatly affects the ears’ eustachian tubes and it may cause pain or discomfort—similar to what you feel when flying in higher altitudes.

Go only as far as you can, then go up. Slowly.

When you reach the depth you can handle, ascent safely and slowly and avoid overstretching as you do so.

Upon surfacing, do sharp sets of inhale, holding it in, then exhaling to restore oxygen content in your body.

Best time to freedive

In the Philippines, it’s year round because the waters, in general, have wonderful temperatures and conditions. The best is in the summer months of March, April and May when the waters are flat, warm and clear, allowing for a better diving experience.

The ideal location

Cebu has good waters for freediving, as well as seeing whale sharks.

Cebu is one the best and most convenient places forfreediving with so many dive spots only a few hours’ drive from the city. Panglao, Bohol has amazing reefs.

The right outfit and gear

You might also want to bring something to capture the moment, but it’s best to just enjoy the dive.

Fins, mask and snorkel. A low-volume mask is necessary for easier equalization. The snorkel has to be a simple J-type without a purge valve. Go for long fins designed for greater thrust using minimal exertion.

The basics

Lessons

Dive ta Bai chapters all over the Philippines can help you connect you with the local community of freedivers. Message them on Facebook at Facebook.com/DiveTaBai/.

Words and photos by Johnn Mendoza

Insane and intense city explorations

Insane and intense city explorations

We spoke with the man who built a reputation scaling towering structures no seemingly sane man ever would: urban explorer Benjo Cabarro.

 

 

Urban Exploration, for me, is to find and share the beauty in things that are uncommon to the common man. I was in a dark place before and a crazy friend of mine invited me to my first mission. I saw the light and the rest is history.

A mission is our own version of a road trip. We prepare for it just like you would on any other road trip: charge our cameras, pack food, water, extra clothes, and extra batteries. We also make sure we have movies to watch and music to listen to while we shoot.

I like watching the city from above and at night. It’s peaceful and the perspective change is really life-enhancing; you get to see that your problems are not so big after all.

Three things to expect from doing urban exploration: Dirt, Dust and Death. There is nothing else in play at that moment except your life. It’s beautiful really; in these moments, you again have a life-enhancing realization, that living is truly wonderful. The sooner you accept this, the better the experience will become.

Urban explorers for inspiration: James Kingston (@thejameskingston); Lam Yock (@yock7). These guys are legends!

My most memorable mission was when I finally climbed the tallest building in the Philippines! Photo by Benjo Cabarro

My go-to gadget for my missions: GoPro. I tried bringing a DSLR once, but it was too bulky.

I love the Makati Skyline so much! The street and city colors at night are perfect especially when you’re shooting the Poblacion area. The purples and magentas that illuminate the buildings around it are sooo pretty.

On of my most memorable missions was… when a massive mist engulfed my on a rooftop in Ortigas. I was taking photos and videos of the storm clouds and lightning play in the Antipolo Side, when from down south, a massive body of mist came rolling in. Everything turned white. It was eerie and magical at the same time. I was very blessed to have captured it on video because you don’t see that everyday in Manila.

Would you dare walk this plank?

My most daring mission was in another Ortigas mission where I “walked the plank.” It took me two years to prepare for it. It was utterly mental and required a lot of willpower.

My 5 best missions in the Philippines: Climbing a TV station transmitter tower; climbing the tallest building in at Century City; climbing the tallest building in Makati City; climbing the tallest building in the Philippines, and walking the scariest “plank.” 

I’m looking forward to experiencing the Hong Kong roofs! It’s a massive urban jungle and cannot wait to explore its highs and lows.

I prefer heights, but urban exploration can be done anywhere. We’ve even explored a war tunnel. It’s just easier for me to meditate when I’m up high because of the tranquil and serene atmosphere.

The TV Tower

If you want to try urban exploration, make sure you know what you’re doing and prepare for all the risks. I’ve never really gotten into trouble during missions because of that. 

A sound mind and a strong body are definitely required. I cannot count the number of times I was able to get out of a pretty life-threatening situation because my body and mind were strong enough. I work out my whole body at the gym every week. I practice parkour on weekends, though not as religiously as I once did, and I meditate when I can.

Who is Benjo Cabarro?
Notably the best urban explorer in the Philippines. He’s a professional photographer who’s known for his urbanscape photos among many things.  Benjocabarro.com.

Interview: Andrew Del Rosario   Photos: Benjo Cabarro

48 hours in awesome Antipolo

48 hours in awesome Antipolo

Looking for an escape near Manila that’s only minutes’ drive away? We bring you Antipolo, the land that’s put together into one the best of many worlds—breathtaking sceneries, trendy hangouts, creative spaces, and your perfect R&R. Experience the awesome city in only two days with this itinerary.

Day1, 8am


One of Antipolo’s not-so-hidden-gems is Hinulugang Taktak, which literally translates to “where the bell dropped,” and it’s sheer beauty. This beauty is about 21.5m tall and about 25.8m wide, and at its foreground is a landscaped picnic area with a pavilion—great spot for taking snaps.

Day1, 12pm

The crowd favorite: Beef Salpicao

 

A few blocks away from Hinulugang Taktak is Bistro at Le Blanc Hotel where you can enjoy unique Filipino-Asian fusion of dishes, and the restaurant’s star dish, the rib eye salpicao.
Facebook.com/The-Bistro-at-LeBlanc-1458714327516116/

Day 1, 1pm

Pinto Art Museum, a tricycle ride away from the Antipolo Municpal Office Building, has become one of today’s most sought after galleries in the country. Its main lure is the design of the gallery itself, which takes inspiration from the Cycladic Architecture. A lot of contemporary artists have hold exhibits at Pinto, and some of the notable ones like respected painter Bendicto Cabrera. To complete the Pinto experience is its unparalleled location—at the edge of a mountain.
1 Sierra Madre St, Subdivision, Antipolo, 1870 Rizal

Day 1, 7pm

The pool at the edge of Cafe Lupe makes for a wonderful dip

 

Imagine feasting on sumptuous kare-kare (peanut stew) and nachos while taking in views of the breathtaking cityscape at night with all the city light lit up. Well, you can actually make it happen by booking a stay at Café Lupe, a bed and breakfast with an infinity pool, KTV rooms, table tennis facility, a 70s inspired lobby, and countryside style restaurant.
Facebook.com/cafelupeantipolo

Day 2, 8am

Luljetta has one too many gardens and this is one of the nicer ones

Pops of color are a mainstay at Luljetta’s rooms

 

An overnight stay at Luljuetta’s Place will get you waking up to views of the metropolitan skyline for the resort sits literally on the edge of a mountain. Luljuetta’s main attractions are its pools surrounded by lush greens and flowering plants, and its outdoor spa. If you want to have a most pleasant breakfast, order their daing na bangus (milkfish) and signature garlic rice and have it at their garden.
Sitio Loreland, Barangay San Roque 1930 Antipolo, Rizal

Day2, 12pm

A dance number at 11Circle food park. Why not?

 

If you can’t decide where to have lunch for the last few hours of your stay in Antipolo, might as well head to 11Circle, a food park with a smorgasbord of booths selling dishes from around the world. Here you’ll find a samgyupsal (Korean specialty) stall, a ramen stall, and stalls that offer American and Filipino favorites.
Facebook.com/11circleantipolo/

Day 2pm

Beautiful place of worship, hands down

 

Cap your Antipolo adventure the most peaceful of ways by stopping by the Parish of Immaculate Heart of Mary, a solemn place of worship in Antipolo’s more quieter side along the main highway.  Inside it feels like you’re covered by a giant web of white panels and glass that let the trees from the outside meld with the inside and the natural light to seep in. Very unlike your typical heritage churches the Philippines is famous for, but equally impressive.
Daang Bakal Rd, Antipolo, 1870 Rizal

The basics
Book Bienvenido Travel and Tours operates. Contact operator Ramon Marinas at +630977 821 3075, tel +63695 1965, email [email protected], Bienvenidotours.com.

Get there:
SkyJet flies daily from Batanes, Coron in Palawan, and Siargao to Manila. Book a SkyJet flight now.

From NAIA Terminal 4, take a cab or book a Grab ride to Ayala Avenue in Makati (RCBC building) where there are Antipolo-bound UV commuter vans.

Story and photos by Kat Magsino

10 best mountains for serious climbers

10 best mountains for serious climbers

A sea of clouds, mysterious lakes, enchanting forests and a mountain-top active crater are some of the thrilling things you’ll see if you brave climbing some of the most exciting peaks in the Philippines. We’ve put together Davao-based mountaineer Rhonson Ng’s and UP Mountaineers president Ed Magdaluyo Jr.’s list of their favorite mountains that should be explored by any serious hiker at least once. 

Local curates Siargao

When islander Elaine Abonal is on a break from teaching surfing in Siargao, you’ll catch her on road trips, swimming in wild islands and eating at her favorite dining places

Elaine enjoying a day out in Dako Island

I was born and raised
 in Manila but I’ve been frequenting Siargao
 for the past 13 years.
At first I would stay for one month, then one month became two, and later on it stretched longer. In 2016, we started renting a house and got ourselves a dog.

My goal is to provide the best way to teach surfing in Siargao.
At Surfista Travels, we cover all bases when we teach, from theory to safety to etiquette. We do photo analysis. Surfista’s emphasis is for one to become a learned surfer.

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