Ever since we started our passion for adventures, we have always asked the question in our subconscious mind: why are we doing this? Yes, adventuring is indescribably fun, and we learn a lot of lessons in our adrenaline-pumping activities. But there should be more than just enjoying picturesque scenes, challenging ourselves to conquer our limits, taking pleasure in the company of friends, and living life to the fullest.
In all our years of traveling and adventuring, whether individually or as a couple, we found asking that question. It was only during the first week of April 2015 that the answer came to us. It started out with an invitation from Cebu Blogging Community administrator and tenminutes.ph webmaster Chanel Marie Imperial to go scuba diving with her after Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort invited her to participate in a “fun” dive. Little did we know that we were about to participate in a very important and worthwhile endeavor.
We met our driver, Sir Jerry, at 5:30 AM. Wasting no time, we started a three-hour drive to Oslob, a trip which most of us took advantage of by sleeping! Hehehe! When we woke up, we were already in Boljoon, which is the municipality just before Oslob.
Along the way, we saw glimpses of the beautiful scenery of Cebu’s eastern shore.
Less than a kilometer from Oslob’s famed but personally unsupported whale shark watching site, we took a left turn going downhill to a gorgeous beach. We were finally here at the airy receiving area of Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort.
We signed in, and they offered us refreshingly cold and delicious lemongrass tea as welcome drinks.
We arrived at 8AM, but the boat to Sumilon won’t be arriving until 9:30 AM. So we took the time to explore the lovely beachfront. Can you see just how gorgeous that is? Couple that with a steady, salty breeze and powerful rolling waves, and we had a great, sunny day to look forward to.
That is Sumilon Island at the horizon. That’s our destination for the day.
This is not really being vain, but many of our avid readers who meet us in person get giddy with excitement. What they don’t know is that we get just as excited as well! We consider the readers of Adrenaline Romance the most important people in our blog; they fuel our inspiration.
Friendly Kristelle of Sumilon Bluewater is one of these readers. While engaging a little chit-chat with her, she revealed that she has been following our blog, and rock climbing has caught her interest. Of course, we definitely invited her. Way to go, Kristelle! You’re doing a wonderful job there.
After awhile, a few other tourists came in. When Kristelle saw the boat from Sumilon Island nearing the port, she gave us a short briefing of the activities and rules of the island.
After the briefing, she announced that it was time to board the boat. We walked on this nice and long pier that leads to the boat.
Just check out those lovely aquamarine waters, verdant mountains, blue skies, and rocky shores. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the paradise called Cebu. And as residents and citizens of Cebu, we should protect paradises such as this.
Cast off! After we were given life jackets for safety, we cruised towards the tiny 24-hectare island of Sumilon. Due to the presence of a strong sea-borne wind and, subsequently, large waves, the boat ride to Sumilon was considerably choppy.
It was such a clear day that the imposing peak of Mt. Talinis in Negros showed itself with all its glory. We will visit you again, Mt. Talinis.
Fifteen minutes later, we arrived at this majestic, verdant island surrounded by a substance that can only be described as liquid topaz. Just check out that glowing water!
Welcome to Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort! The resort covers the entire Sumilon Island although most of the operations and development rests on the southeastern part of the island.
We were ushered to the staging area where Bluewater Sumilon’s Earth Day event entitled My BlueArth started. Speeches made by Oslob Vice Mayor Renato Rendon, Bluewater Resorts Marketing Manager and Project BLUE Diver Enrico Monsanto, and Bluewater Sumilon Resident Manager EJ Barreto emphasized the importance of taking care of Mother Nature. It was here when we happily realized that we were to take part of a coral rehabilitation and marine sanctuary cleanup drive orchestrated by Bluewater Resorts’ Project BLUE divers.
One of the most meaningful highlights of the simple event is the signing of the pledge board. Sweetie and I pledged to promote sustainable tourism.
Grow BLUE Coral Rehabilitation
After signing the board, we were led to a large pump boat anchored near the shore. Check that out; they prepared a whole lot of scuba gear for Project BLUE divers and us! Angeli looks pretty excited, don’t you think?
While waiting for the other Project BLUE divers to board the boat, we started tying coral buds to these metal frames, which will hopefully become flourishing artificial reefs. Frames like these are ideal bases for artificial corals because they allow the natural current to flow through them.
We used nylon tie-ins to secure the buds to the frames; nylon tie-ins are stronger and more resistant than simple string or hemp. Also, if you look closely, the frames are encrusted with sand. This is necessary for two things: one, to make the buds take root and two, to “trick” the fish to believe that the metal frame is a natural coral.
The Project BLUE team are divemasters and guides who are affiliated with Bluewater Resorts. More than that, they are adamant advocates of marine conservation and sustainable diving.
We, together with a few members of Project BLUE, listened to Sir Enrico as he briefed us on the site.
After a very short boat ride, we arrived at the coral rehabilitation site. Our divemaster gave the usual briefing while the Project BLUE team started dropping the frames in strategic places. Once all the frames were dropped, we donned on our scuba gear. We planned to dive at around 30 feet.
Check out this simple and short video documentary of the Grow BLUE project:
That’s me, putting the frame to its proper place near an existing natural coral as advised by the Project BLUE divers. The large existing coral pillar provides a buffer to protect the frame from being swept away by the noticeably strong current in the area.
That’s the final placement of the frame. Hopefully, the fish near the natural coral formation will be attracted to the frame. In addition, with the frame being protected, the buds will have a bigger chance to take root and live.
Project BLUE divers, together with Chanel and Angeli, surveyed the area. Earlier on the boat, Sir Enrico explained that this area was once filled with live corals. Unfortunately, Typhoon Sendong (international name Severe Tropical Storm Washi) in 2011 caused catastrophic damage of the reef. Now, together with Project BLUE, we are trying to revitalize the reef.
The entire team was busy at work but all the while having fun underwater! We also picked up pieces of plastic, paper, bottles, and other small amount of trash that found their way into the coral rehabilitation site.
Despite the massive damage—Typhoon Sendong virtually wiped out the entire reef—a good number of fish have returned and propagated in the area. It will probably take decades before the reef will have a significant growth, but this is definitely a good start.
Swaying anemones have started to grow on the rocks. Check out that cute clownfish.
And even better, a different variety of soft and hard corals have begun to grow. Check out this coral-encrusted rock.
That’s the coral rehabilitation site from a high point in Sumilon Island. From the photo below, you can clearly see that only patches of corals are left; the original corals were swept away, leaving only sand. Making this area “alive” again is what Project BLUE is trying to do.
Needless to say, the view is nothing short of stunning despite the catastrophic damage underwater.
Sumilon Island Marine Sanctuary Cleanup
After all the frames were in place, it was time to visit the famed marine sanctuary which is on the other side of the island. Check out the blue and blue-green water; they may look great but that’s because it’s all sand below. Before Typhoon Sendong, this area was filled with vast coral fields.
That’s the island’s lighthouse, which is erected in the middle of a protected tree park.
After around 15 minutes, we arrived at the other side of the island, which is characterized by a deep chasm. Check out the color of the water; the kantil starts immediately where dark blue color “meets” the light aquamarine water.
That’s Sumilon Island’s terrestrial jewel, a shape-shifting sandbar. Just look at that gorgeous light blue water, which looks like liquid topaz. Amazing!
Less than a hundred feet from the end of the sandbar lay Sumilon’s Marine sanctuary. We changed to full air tanks and prepared to dive to 40 feet.
At 40 feet, the glory of the marine sanctuary revealed itself right before our eyes. Just check out those beautiful, rich, live soft and hard corals!
Some sections of the sanctuary were damaged by Typhoon Sendong. Check out the large white patch that occupies a significant part of the photo below. Those are dead corals amidst healthy ones.
That is an impressive variety of hard corals. Can you spot the frogfish? No? Check out that stripped animal on top of the coral.
As what we mentioned in our previous scuba diving posts, live corals are integral parts of a healthy marine ecosystem. They provide shelter and protection for huge varieties of fish, mollusks, anemones, and other marine organisms. In many cases, they are used as breeding grounds of fish.
Like trees, corals regulate the carbon dioxide in the ocean. Without corals, the amount of carbon dioxide in the ocean will increase significantly, which will affect all life on earth.
Chanel, Angeli, Sweetie, the rest of the Project BLUE team and I got quite busy in scouring the sanctuary. From the photo below, the sanctuary looks clean. However, we were able to retrieve a considerable amount of garbage.
We even found strange objects like this backpack. Who and why would anyone throw a backpack out to sea is anyone’s guess.
A Project BLUE diver uses a net bag to collect the trash on the seabed. According to our divemaster, most of the garbage that ends on the reef is not from Sumilon Island. These are trash items dumped from mainland Cebu and drifted towards the sanctuary!
So you can just imagine how far and how large the environmental impact is when you carelessly throw that small plastic water bottle out to the sea.
Corals breathe life into the ocean, but they are now under stress from pollution, overfishing, destruction, greenhouse warming, and other man-made activities. In fact, 80 percent of Southeast Asia’s reefs are now endangered, and 10 percent of the world’s reefs are sadly dead.
Many governments and organizations around the world are fighting to reverse this trend. As responsible and nature-loving citizens, we can do our part by not removing corals from reefs, by not throwing garbage in the water, and by snorkeling and diving responsibly.
Check out the garbage we collected after almost an hour of diving. We retrieved three sacks of garbage from the sanctuary.
Several Project BLUE divers wrestled these two gigantic tires that somehow found its way to the kantil near the sanctuary. It took several people to haul the tires out of the water.
It was already past 1 PM when we arrived back at the beach in Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort. The garbage we collected will be sent to mainland Cebu for proper processing and disposal.
Then it was time to claim our reward—a super delicious beach-side lunch buffet courtesy of Sumilon Bluewater! It was our first time to eat in such a first-class resort, and let us tell you: the food is amazingly heavenly! We are not exaggerating.
It’s a feast! Only the occasional mumbled set of words broke through the din of sipping, chopping, and chewing. We were that hungry!
The two dives where exhausting, but we wanted a bit more exercise. Hehehe! So we went kayaking around the resort’s lagoon and fishing area.
Tired and sore from too much swimming, diving, and paddling? No worries! We had the Jacuzzi to ourselves to gently massage away all that accumulated stress and body pain.
A cool and refreshing dip in Bluewater Sumilon’s pool capped our Earth Day activity. The nice thing about this pool is that it overlooks a beautiful seascape.
Then, at 3:30 PM, it was time to go back home. This was definitely one of the most fulfilling adventures we had. Not only we had a fun dive, but we were also able to do our part in taking care of our dear Mother Nature.
We would like to thank Sir Enrico Monsanto of Project BLUE and the management of Bluewater Resorts for inviting us to participate in this endeavor. Sir, we share the same ideals when it comes to eco-friendly and sustainable ecotourism. Rest assured we will be there to support you in all your projects.
Thank you Project BLUE divers and the eco-police of Oslob. We are greatly honored and grateful to be part of this project. Happiness is an understatement, knowing that good people like you are doing everything to protect our marine treasures. We promise to support all of your endeavors.
Last, but not the least, we would like to thank Cebu Blogging Community administrator and tenminutes.ph webmaster Chanel Marie Imperial (right of Sweetie) for inviting us to this memorable event. Thank you too to Angeli Bas of Foodie Craft for joining us.
About Project Blue
Project BLUE is Bluewater Resorts dedicated team of divers and volunteers spearheading its coastal rehabilitation and marine conservation efforts. To know more about their endeavors, visit Project Blue’s Facebook page.
Save our precious corals. Save our Mother Earth.