A diver tells her tales

Journeying to the depths of the Philippine seas

Text and images by Kellda Centeno

With over 7,000 islands, the Philippines is said to be the “center of the center” of marine fish biodiversity with the highest density of species per unit area. I took all of these photos over the past two years from my dive trips around my home country, the Philippines.

I dive most frequently in Anilao, Batangas because it’s just a three-hour drive from home. With around 50 dive sites, I never get bored going back again and again. It’s known for rare macro subjects from hairy shrimps to larger hairy frogfish. There’s always something to see. While I don’t frequently dive with my wide angle lens here, there are also beautiful reefs with colorful corals and an abundance of reef fish.

Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is in the middle of the Sulu Sea is another perfect diving spot. It has 10,000 hectares of healthy coral reefs and amazing visibility. Mantas, whale sharks, hammerheads, and so much more in just one trip. It’s only accessible by live aboard from March to early June. If I could visit every year, I would!

Dauin in Dumaguete is our muck diving heaven. The entire shoreline is practically muck site after muck site. My favorite moment was seeing some harlequin shrimp feeding. I heard that during Octopus season one can easily see eight different species in one dive, so I must go back to verify this claim! From Dauin, it’s an easy trip by bangka to Apo Island for wide-angle opportunities with schooling jacks and turtles on every dive.

My diving bucket list (and do-over list) has only gotten longer through the years! Apo Reef is the second largest contiguous coral reef in the world. Malapascua has the beautiful thresher sharks. Moalboal has the schooling sardines.

Then there’s also Puerto Galera for more macro and reefs, Sogod Bay and Ticao Pass for the whale sharks and mantas, Romblon for super macro, Coron and Subic Bay for wrecks, Bohol for more turtles.

There are many beautiful places to dive around the world, but I feel blessed to have such easy access to so much underwater life. Call me biased, but there is just no place like home.