- Posted May 10, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Eye on the Philippines
Under the Vasaya Sea
‘Make a negative entry’ calls the Divemaster. He means jump without air in the BCD and sink immediately. The bow plunges. I jump. We’re soon prone on the sand. ‘Look behind’ I indicate. A banded sea snake rests on Pony’s fin.
What attracts scuba divers? Maybe scuba gives a sense of outer-worldliness: Of taking a flippery, experiential step in Life, the Universe and Everything: Of tumbling in soggy space like Arthur Dent in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Arthur ran into Zaphod Beeblebrox, we find sharks, mantas and Cuttlefish, Lionfish with angel wings and devil’s stings, clownfish playing in coral that waves like the spindly arms of village children: There are Nudibranch, crushing Manta and Striped Box Shrimp. Diners in ‘The Restaurant at the End of the[ir] Universe’ are diverse, but when sharks circle while the dive computer’s flashing beam-me-up-Scotty, diners and dinner become indistinguishable. Life beneath the ocean is good clean fun except in my aptly named wetsuit.
We surface 300 metres from the boat. Pony is puking into her regulator. Balt and Pusoy support her while we’re tossed like sardines in a shark frenzy. From the crest of a swell we see captain Irwin cranking the improbability drive on Exotic-1. On the ride to Malapascua, dreams are interrupted only by waves churning the deck into a waterbed. The boatmen drape Pony over the rail where Wally joins her. Lashings tear, a beam brakes and the canopy is furled to stop it shredding, but nothing interrupts my illusion of pleasure.
‘He looked like he was having a very wet dream’ Alfredo jokes later. His smile went from ear to ear and never stopped even when waves fell on him. Shark Dundee from Australia we call him. Every time he dives he sees sharks and we see nothing’. Alfredo is a gregarious lawyer from Ibiza.
‘Your right!’ exclaims Nic. ‘I dived 4 times before I saw a Thresher shark and he sees them every time’.
On our next visit the seabed is littered with dead fish. We’ve previously heard the ping of dynamite fishing. The result is thousands of silvery bellies wallowing in the coral. A Nemo feebly swims away from my outstretched palm.
Do these fish feel the same as survivors of Vietnam, Afghanistan or Iraq. After gaining so much enjoyment from these creatures I cry to see brutality inflicted upon them. Excuses are made. We’re freeing people from despots. A few lives a is small price to stop communism. Here they say, Families must be fed. I’m naive bemoaning the lack of rights given other species, but seeing this I wish flying-fish could also retaliate 9-11.
I analyse my feelings while diving a ferry sunk in typhoon Judy. Nappies, flip flops, and other belongings float in the cabins where clams with serrated mouths lay in rusting beds, but this disasters is a natural phenomenon of typhoons. Unnatural are the unexploded ordinance, fibulas, femurs, clavicles and pelvic girdles laying about a Japanese ship bombed off Tapilon village. Wordless epitaphs like these exist in the catacombs of Rome, Lima, S21, Cambodian killing fields and anyplace warmongering empiricists invade. Actions are justified with spin that rarely stands perceptive questioning. Few view aggression by their country as immoral. Watching clownfish dart to protect offspring from my fingers is like watching any parent protect their children. It’s hard to believe that only humans feel emotions.
I leave the Philippines as an inner-galactic hitchhiker who’s gorged under the Vasaya sea. ‘So Long and Thanks for the Fish’, or, as General McArthur said when leaving the Philippines, as big Arnie paraphrased him ‘I’ll be back’.