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Diving with… Allison Manis, El Galleon Resort/Asia Divers, Puerto Galera, Philippines

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In this ongoing series, we speak to the people who run dive centres, resorts and liveaboards from around the world about their businesses and the diving they have to offer…


What is your name?

Allison Manis

What is the name of your business?

El Galleon Resort/Asia Divers

What is your role within the business?

Marketing Manager/PADI Instructor

How long has the business operated for?

Over 33 years

How long have you dived for, and what qualification are you?

Over 33 years. PADI IDC Staff Instructor. I have done training for Tech and Rebreather as well.

What is your favorite type of diving?

I enjoy all kinds of diving but I really do get a thrill out of a good drift dive. Also recently I’ve become very interested in Blackwater diving.

If you could tell people one thing about your business (or maybe more!) to make them want to visit you what would it be?

Wow…I can tell you so much about our business as I’ve worked here for more than 20 years! I think the main thing to know is that Puerto Galera has amazing biodiversity.  Puerto Galera is one of the leading scuba diving locations in the Philippines, offering some of the best diving in Asia. We are located in “The Verde Island Passage Marine Corridor” (VIP) which is known as “the center of the center of marine biodiversity”, the heart of the Coral Triangle. There is no better place to experience this than our spacious dive centre and beachfront resort.

What is your favorite dive in your location and why?

After more than 25 years and 11,000 dives in Puerto Galera  I would have to say that out of all the amazing dive sites here I am truly enthralled by The Canyons. This is Puerto Galera’s signature dive site and divers come here from all over the world to get that big “WOW” moment diving it. The Canyons is well known because it’s quite often an exciting heart-pumping drift dive that brings out all the bigger schools of bigger fishes and you can really get that feeling of flying.

What types of diving are available in your location?

We’re so lucky in Puerto Galera to have so many different types of diving including amazing drifts, gorgeous reefs, wreck, fantastic macro and of course one of the most spectacular dive sites in the world, Verde Island. Our Blackwater diving is getting more popular as well. We have had many world class underwater photographers coming here because of the biodiversity and variety of diving offered.  Asia Divers is a PADI Career Development centre and is well known for its high standard of teaching across all PADI courses, from Bubblemakers for kids to Divemaster and Instructor level courses. We keep new divers happy on easier dives but we also have more challenging dives for experienced divers. For those who like to go a step further, we have a technical diving operation, Tech Asia.

What do you find most rewarding about your current role?

I love to meet people from all over the world and I’m very proud to introduce them to the underwater beauty of Puerto Galera.

What is your favorite underwater creature?

Ha ha….I love so many creatures and critters, but lately I’ve become fascinated by salps. I come from an art and design background and I’m always searching for colours, shapes and textures in the ocean.

Are there any exciting changes / developments coming up in the near future?

With the “new normal”, our guest’s well-being and comfort is our priority at El Galleon Resort and Asia Divers. All considerations for health, safety and enjoyment are already in place throughout the resort.

Luckily being located right on the ocean and not in a busy area, we have lots of space and room for everyone to enjoy their stay and dive in a relaxing and safe way. It’s very easy to practice social distancing in our resort and dive center. El Galleon has implemented a 3-step room sanitizing process, with disinfectant fogging as one of the steps and many other steps to ensure everyone’s safety.

As a center what is the biggest problem you face at the moment?

COVID -19 has affected the whole world and tourism took a major hit here.  Right now of course it’s getting tourism back to the Philippines, safely. We have everything in place; we just need the government to lift travel bans and to allow people to travel here.

Is your center involved in any environmental work?

Asia Divers has been actively involved in the Project Aware International Clean up day and conduct underwater clean-up dives at least once a month as we are involved in Project AWARE Adopt a dive site. All candidates who are in training to become instructors at Asia Divers learn how to organise Project AWARE Dive Against Debris and use the data to change habits. We also report our data is great detail so it can be used for policy development. Throughout the years we have been working along with local schools for environmental education conducting beach clean-ups along with presentations about environmental awareness.

How do you see the SCUBA / Freediving / snorkeling industry overall? What changes would you make?

We’re lucky here that not only can people go scuba diving, but it’s also fantastic for snorkelling.  Freediving is gaining allot more interest and I can see that this is an area which will grow in the coming years.  Puerto Galera has pristine corals and lots of fish to keep everyone interested in the aquatic world.

What would you say to our visitors to promote the diving you have to offer?

El Galleon Dive Resort and its dive centre, Asia Divers, have everything you need to experience the best of Puerto Galera.  Located on a serene and quaint beachfront fronting Small Lalaguna Beach the resort has 30 air-conditioned rooms that have been constructed in the tropical hillside with stunning views of Sabang Bay and Small Lalaguna Beach.  The restaurant extends to the water’s edge, offering a great value in international  cuisine.  Puerto Galera is one of the leading scuba diving locations in the Philippines, offering some of the best diving in Asia and there is no better place to experience this than at our spacious dive centre.  We are the only dive center in Puerto Galera with a private pier and diving platform and of course you’ll get spoiled by our friendly and outgoing team!

Where can our visitors find out more about your business?

News

Diving below the waves of the Western Cape, South Africa – Long Beach at night (Watch Video)

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Head under the waves of False Bay and explore the incredible diversity that is found along the Western Cape. The bay has popular dive spots from diving amongst the biodiverse underwater kelp forests to jumping in with the playful and friendly cape fur sealions (Arctocephalus pusillus). The bay along with the rest of the South Africa coast is known for the range of shark species that are found from the shallow coastal shores out into the open oceans. The coast is also home to numerous endemic shark species such as puffadder shyshark (Haploblepharus edwardsii) and Pyjama shark.

Longbeach is a shallow shore dive close to the coastal town of Simonstown on the Western Cape. The dive is mainly made up of diving across the sand with a few wreckages, rocks and outcrops where there’s algae growing. A pipeline can be found at the site which provides locations for species such as Pyjama Sharks (Poroderma africanum) and octopus (Octopus vulgaris) to shelter. Diving at night at the site provides the opportunity to see species that are more often hidden during the day such as cape Squid (Loligo reynaudii) and Biscuit Skate (Raja straeleni). Other shark species such as the small Puff Adder Shyshark (Haploblepharus edwardsii) are also occasionally seen at the site.

Diving with the local dive club – Cape Town Dive Centre.


Follow Jake aka JD Scuba on the YouTube channel @Don’t Think Just Blog.

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Miscellaneous Blogs

Book Review – The Final Dive: The Life and Death of ‘Buster’ Crabbe (2007)

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It was the height of the Cold War. The Soviet Cruiser Ordzhonikidz, supported by two destroyers, had brought Soviet leaders Khruschev and Bulganin to Britain for sensitive meetings with the British Government. The ships were moored in Portsmouth harbour and the Prime Minister, Sir Anthony Eden, had expressly forbidden any clandestine inspection of them. However, on the morning of 19th April 1956 Commander Lionel ‘Buster’ Crabbe, an experienced naval diver, slipped into the cold waters of Portsmouth harbour. His top secret mission was to photograph the hull, propellers and rudder of the Ordzhonikidze. He was never seen alive again.

A badly decomposed body, with head and hands missing, was discovered by fishermen in Chichester harbour months later. It was claimed to be the missing body of Buster Crabbe – but many had doubts. The incident marked the start of a controversy that claimed the posts of several high ranking naval, government and intelligence service personnel. The author of The Final Dive, Don Hale, claims it is one that still rages and which may not be resolved even when secret government files are released in 2057.

Don Hale, an acknowledged campaigning journalist and former Journalist of the Year brings all his experience and skill to unravelling this longstanding scandal. He has drawn upon official reports and private letters, statements from government representatives, fellow officers and friends to piece together Buster’s life and events leading to his disappearance and subsequent investigation. He speaks of “inquiries blocked by intrigue, constant cover-ups and government bureaucracy coupled with threats relating to the Official Secrets Act” (p. xi). If you like reading about subterfuge on a grand scale you will enjoy The Final Dive.

Don Hale’s meticulous account of the life of Buster Crabbe is supported by dozens of black and white photos and extracts from numerous official documents. It reveals how an amazing series of civilian jobs, wartime activities and friendships with high ranking government officials, British intelligence officers, American CIA operatives. . . and now known spies, prepared him for his final dive and perhaps his fate. One of Crabbe’s acquaintances was the author Ian Fleming – of James Bond fame. Indeed, it is suggested that Fleming based the character of 007 on Buster Crabbe. After reading of his exploits, both before WWII, his bomb disposal work during the war, and afterwards it is easy to see why. Certainly, those who worked with Buster Crabbe “all agree he was fearless.” (p.59). After reading of his exploits one wonders if he was too fearless.

In the later stage of Buster’s life, prior to his disappearance, Don Hall recounts “a constant merry-go-round of overseas assignments” (p. 118) for Crabbe and how he “began to receive increasingly hazardous commissions” (p. 136). It culminated in the morning dive in Portsmouth harbour. Hale’s forsensic-like account of the events surrounding the final dive and aftermath reveals absolute panic and bungling behind the scenes as official answers conflict with known facts. He describes how “The whole incident still seems bathed in secrecy, with the true facts deliberately buried in bureaucracy, and supported at the highest level by an incredible cover-up operation”.(p. 205).

A final comment by Don Hale adds to the intrigue. He states “The only part of the Crabbe puzzle about which I am not certain is not who sent him – we know the answer to that – but why on earth he was he sent, possibly at considerable risk?” (p. 248). After reading The Final Dive: The Life and Death of ‘Buster’ Crabbe you will no doubt have your own ideas.


The Final Dive: The Life and Death of ‘Buster’ Crabbe (2007)

  • By Don Hale
  • Stroud: Sutton Publishing
  • ISBN 978 0 7509 4574 5
  • 260 pp

Don Hale was a professional footballer before becoming editor of several regional newspapers. He has received numerous national and international awards for investigative journalism including Journalist of the Year. In 2002 he was awarded an OBE for his campaigning journalism in the Stephen Downing miscarriage of justice case. He has championed several others who have been wrongly convicted.

His other books include Town without Pity (2002), Murder in the Graveyard (2019) and Mallard: How the ‘Blue Steak’ Broke the World Speed Record (2019).


Find out more about Professor Fred Lockwood, who is also a published author, at www.fredlockwood.co.uk.

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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