THERE’S a big advantage when you happen to be the only diver who is a journalist in Davao City. You get invited to an all-expenses paid unlimited dive break in Sarangani Province for their Dive Safari over the long Labor Day weekend.

That was how I met Michelle Lopez-Solon, first lady of Sarangani Province and the woman behind the Go Sarangani Travel. She was helping Department of Tourism 12 Regional Director Nelly Nita Dillera to invite Davao journalists and couldn’t find any… except me. Wiiiiii!

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That’s Michelle at the sandbar off Lemlunay Resort during our first dive upon my arrival.

I was with a cool team of divers. My roomie for that trip was mermaid coach Aabelle Jimenez from the national capital, then we had the youngest multi-awarded underwater photographer, 15-year-old Garri Immanuel Tadlip with his father Oleg Emmanuel Tadlip from Cebu, and couple Alieth Bontuyan from Cebu and Uwe Michaelis from Germany. Sarangani Governor Steve Chiongbian Solon DOT 12 RD Dillera, and Lemlunay Resort owner Paul Patridge in Maasim, Sarangani, welcomed us.

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That’s us, the divers, in front. Then there’s Paul Patridge (3rd from left, behind us), with RD Nelly Dillera beside him, and Michelle beside RD.

I’ve heard a lot about diving in Sarangani, but I’ve always had to call a raincheck whenever my friends went. Thus, the anticipation was like so up there. Especially about the current…

True enough… I was welcomed by… the current.

Finding it difficult to descend because of the current, I decided to jacknife and dove right into… the down current. That was quite an unsteady start, but the rope by the stairs helped me gain my bearings back. From then on… it was three days of paradise underwater.

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We were welcomed by a school of batfish off Tuka Beach in Maasim on our first dive on the second day after the original first offshore dive was aborted because of very strong current.

Soccskargen or South Cotabato-Cotabato Province-Sultan Kudarat-Sarangani-General Santos Region is a paradise for the adventurous. You can go river tubing along the crystal clear rapids of Maitum, Sarangani; imbibe the culture of the T’boli and learn how they make tinalak designs from dreams in Lake Sebu, South Coabato and zipline through seven falls or climb up Lake Holon; or you can visit Asik-asik Falls in Alamada, North Cotabato; go paragliding in Maasim, Sarangani… the list goes on and on… We haven’t even covered a quarter of what you can do in this province yet. And then… there’s the dive.

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This fish looks so relaxed on the coral. People-watching.

This is the focus of DOT 12’s campaign, #SoxIsNext, inviting visitors to put the region in the next place to visit, recognizing that the beauty of Soccsksargen has not yet been fully explored and visited.

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Soft and hard corals, sponges, sea fans, and feather stars paint a colorful backdrop.

#SoxIsNext is anchored on the premise that people all have their top of mind destinations. With the top of mind destinations done with, Soccsksargen is next.

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Say hello to Nemo!

Diving in Sarangani is a dose of adrenaline, as you drift with the current or struggle against it, from the house reef of Lemlunay to the offshore reef where small sharks rest. Sad to say, one shark swam away even before I could ready my camera while another one had too many divers surrounding it. Ergo, no sharkie shots for me.

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Waiting for my companions to arrive at the offshore reef where the sharks are. We had to use the rope of the anchor to drag ourselves down because of the strong current above.
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They’re here now. I’m hiding behind the rocks to catch my breath after that struggle with the current. But it was cool, relaxing dive at the bottom… just 90 feet deep.

The highlight of our dives were the two hawksbill turtles I met off Tuka and… the school of giant Bumphead parrotfishes, so HUGE, they could startle you at first glance. It was surreal, like watching something from a long-ago forgotten world…

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One of the two hawksbill turtles I met.
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The school of bumphead parrotfishes off Tuka Beach. I met a solo bumphead off Lemlunay on my last dive.

There’s a lot more to share and stories to tell… this doesn’t even cover the night dive where critters abound. But this should do for the meantime. I’m sure glad I’m back in this blog after years of being quiet.

Has this blog stirred your interest? Check out https://gosaranganitravel.com/, they can help you. They have a young professional team running the show, all you need to do is book and then relax.

Address: Partridge Building, J. Catolico Sr. St., Barangay Lagao, General Santos City (across the street from Robinsons Mall Gensan); Phone Number: (083) 5528015; Email Address: gosaranganitravel@gmail.com  or  gosaranganitravel1@gmail.com; Website: http://www.gosaranganitravel.com

Or if you just want to dive, then Lemlunay Resort is the place. Lemlunay is at Tampuan Point in Maasim, Sarangani Province. Email them at lemlunayresort@yahoo.com or call
+63 (83) 228-1704, +63 (917) 720-3804, and +63 (939) 915-9663. Website is http://lemlunayresort.com/.

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Aaaaawwww… Isn’t this puffer cute?

Here’s the link to my article about the Sarangani Dive Safari in Sun.Star Davao. http://www.sunstar.com.ph/davao/weekend/2017/05/20/sarangani-bares-its-underwater-treasures-and-more-542995

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6 Comments

  1. Best to check tide table though when planning your trip. Make sure the difference between high tide and low tide are not so great because the current can be pretty strong. like pretty-pretty strong.
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