When you first tell people you are leaving for the Philippines you are addressed with concern and warnings. You need to look past this as it is an area of simple living, which brings with it simple pleasures and appreciation for the things you have once forgotten. If you can see this and take it all with a pinch of salt then you are rewarded with a relaxed, welcoming, and yet very vibrant culture.
Home comforts are forgotten and not needed. They are replaced with an appreciation for regular blackouts so you can gaze at the stars, a simple diet where you eat what your local fruit stall or “tuck shop” (James R, 2014) sells, and no need for an alarm clock because the ten cockerels, five dogs, and one certain neighbour next door wake you up on time.
The environment displays dramatic sceneries , where the lush mountains tumble down to create beautiful white sand beaches. The wonders do not stop there as they are met by meadows of seagrass, coral reefs, and great sea walls. The sea is warm, but not as warm as you may expect, so when advised to wrap up warm do so as you will get cold! The apartment is nestled in a small village just above the most popular mango tree a five minute walk from the HQ and a spectacular private beach with two reefs within snorkelling distance. It poses challenges of learning how to use a bucket shower and using the fridge for the most random items/everything so the ants do not get them, but it is clean, simple, very comfortable, and has the best morning view to wake up to!
Zoox sets you up well for your adventure and the bus and boat ride to Puerto Galera is beautiful and cultural so DON’T sleep! The course starts with a ‘splash’ so be prepared and ready to get to work and get wet and all the questions you have quickly start to fall into place. Sessions start with snorkel, surveying, knowledge, and diving skills. You learn a lot very quickly and need to absorb as much information as possible within the first week. It may sound intense, but it is very enjoyable and accompanied by a couple of coffees (3 in 1 instant packs are by far the best), fresh mangos and choco mucho bars it is very manageable. I have found it/foresee it to be important to be passionate and hard working towards the project, but at the same time become immersed in the culture and enjoy the surroundings!
So just remember “everything is more fun in the Philippines” (Sam C, 2014)!!!!