DFA receives PH flag used by Filipino oceanographer in historic Emdem Deep expedition

Dr. Deo Florence Onda, the first and only Filipino and one of the first two human beings to make the manned descent into Emden Deep, has turned over to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) the Philippine flag he brought when he reached the third deepest point on Earth.

Dr. Deo Florence Onda (right) and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. hold the Philippine flag that reached the Emdem Deep during the turnover rites at the DFA office in Pasay City on Tuesday, Sept. 14. (DFA/Philip Fernandez)

The turnover ceremony is part of the series of activities for the Maritime and Archipelagic Nation Awareness Month (MANA Mo).

On March 23, 2021, Onda and American undersea explorer Victor Vescovo made a touchdown at 10,045 meters of the Emden Deep located in the Philippine Trench in southwestern deep of the Pacific Ocean.

Onda, a microbial oceanographer and Deputy Director for Research of the Marine Science Institute (MSI) in the University of the Philippines Diliman (UP-MSI), handed over the flag to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. in a ceremony at the DFA main office in Pasay City on Tuesday, Sept. 14.

This historic expedition is equivalent to the first early flights into outer space, and has provided the first insights into this unstudied, previously unexplored, and underappreciated maritime region within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

Onda was invited by the private organization Caladan Oceanic to join the Emden Deep Expedition that carried out on board the DSSV Pressure Drop, the only marine vessel in the world designed to endure such missions and to carry humans to the deepest parts of the oceans.

The Filipino oceanographer was seen in a video waving the Philippine flag during the record-setting voyage.

Onda and his companions started the voyage from the port of Guam to the Philippine Trench. The activity was fully coordinated with the DFA-Maritime and Ocean Affairs Office (MOAO) and was considered a non-Marine Scientific Research (MSR) activity.

They were joined in the voyage by a capable crew and expedition team that included several Filipino members.