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PHIDEX returns to Manila this August

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DOT’s Philippine International Dive Expo (PHIDEX) returns to Manila in August 2022

Time to gear up and get dive-ready as the Department of Tourism (DOT) stages the Philippine International Dive Expo (PHIDEX), the country’s largest platform for the diving community, from August 19 to 21, 2022 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay, Manila.

PHIDEX’s third edition seeks to continue the narrative of conservation, community, and convergence within the diving community through the theme “Back into the Blue: One with the Sea”.

The expo will also showcase the Philippines’ readiness to welcome dive tourists from all over the globe, gathering local and international dive industry experts, dive tour operators, and partner dive businesses to share their ideas and experiences.

“The entry of international travelers is a welcome development that will lead to growth in the travel and tourism sector, restoration of jobs, and the generation of much-needed revenue for tourism-related enterprises and communities. We are optimistic that these economic benefits will also extend to dive destinations around the country. The country remains a leading dive destination, which tourists all over the world are eager to visit after a long wait of two years,” said Tourism Development Undersecretary Woodrow C. Maquiling, Jr.

“The DOT hopes to encourage divers to practice sustainability every time they dive to preserve the country’s seas. Sustainable diving practices are a huge part of the reason why the country’s dive destinations continue to operate despite challenges brought by the pandemic,” Undersecretary Maquiling added.

PHIDEX is the only dive show in the world that combines in one event a Dive Travel Exchange (TRAVEX), a business-to-business (B2B) meeting program for local and international dive operators, dive conference and seminars, and familiarization tours to top and emerging Philippine dive destinations. Exhibition booths will showcase dive resorts and centers in different destinations, as well as top-rated dive gear and equipment.

Through conferences, participants will also have a chance to learn about new dive destinations developed during the pandemic, product updates from key dive destinations, as well as up-to-date underwater photography gear showcases. International dive operators will also get to inspect and assess top and emerging dive destinations such as Anilao, Bohol, Camiguin, Coron, Dumaguete, Malapascua, Moalboal, Puerto Galera, Southern Leyte, and Ticao Island through familiarization tours.

At least 100 local and international dive buyers and media from the Philippines, US, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Korea, Japan, Thailand and Singapore, are expected to attend the expo. Meanwhile, activities such as Dive TRAVEX and Dive Conference will be accessible online for participants unable to attend due to international border restrictions.

Registration as consumer and trade visitors and exhibition booth reservation will open on June 24, 2022 through https://register.phidex.asia/.

For more information regarding the PHIDEX activities, follow Dive Philippines on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/DOTdivephilippines) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/dotdivephilippines/) or email the PHIDEX Organizing Committee at phidex@tourism.gov.ph.

Freediving Blogs

British freediver sets new national record with 112m dive

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British freediver Gary McGrath has set a new national record at the prestigious Vertical Blue freediving competition in the Bahamas.

Using only a monofin for propulsion, Gary swam down a measured rope to a depth of 112m (367ft), returning to the surface to receive a white card from the AIDA International judges to validate his dive.

Gary, 41, held his breath for three minutes and 13 seconds to complete the dive.

Freedivers descend underwater on a single breath of air and the atmospheric pressure on their bodies increases as they go deeper.

At 112m deep the pressure is 12 times greater than the surface, meaning the air in Gary’s lungs would have shrunk to less than a twelfth of its original volume – around the size of a golf ball.

Freedivers train to cope with the physiological strains placed on their bodies by their sport, and Gary uses his background of yoga and meditation to help his physical and mental preparation for deep dives.

He has also had to overcome physical challenges after contracting Covid last year during preparations for a previous national record attempt.

Gary said: ‘Diving below 100m is a totally unique environment, it’s my therapy. 

‘This year has been extremely challenging for my mental health and freediving has helped me overcome that for sure. 

‘At depth I have complete isolation from the everyday world we live in. Down there it’s just me and nature. It’s that escape that all freedivers crave. 

‘There are moments of extreme mental clarity and purity that I can only achieve when underwater. The flow state that a deep dive allows me to experience is unique and addictive.

Gary, originally from Twickenham, began freediving in 2006 and has been competing since 2008.

A former tree surgeon, he became a professional freedive instructor in 2014, and he and his partner Lynne Paddon run Yoga and Freedive Retreats in Ibiza.

Remarkably, he completed his 112m national record dive on Tuesday (August 9) despite being forced to compete wearing a borrowed monofin which was a size too small for his feet.

His entire kit bag containing his monofin, bifins and two wetsuits was lost by an airline as he travelled to the competition.

Despite his careful preparation, Gary said he suffered nerves on the morning of his national record dive, and relied on a phone call to his partner Lynne, who helped him focus on breathing techniques and visualisation to calm his nerves.

Speaking immediately after his dive, he said: ‘That was all for Lynne – this whole week has been about her. I could not do it without her. I hope that everyone finds someone they can click with, it’s the most magical thing in the world.’

Gary also thanked supporters who helped him to crowdfund to raise the money needed for him to travel to the Bahamas and compete.

Vertical Blue is considered one of the most elite events on the freediving calendar and has been dubbed the ‘Wimbledon of Freediving’.

Owned and run by world record freediver William Trubridge, the event takes place in a 202m (663ft) deep sinkhole known as Dean’s Blue Hole, off the coast of Long Island.

The previous British national record of 111m was set by Michael Board in 2018, also at a Vertical Blue competition.


All Photographs courtesy of Daan Verhoeven (www.daanverhoeven.com)

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Miscellaneous Blogs

Film Review: Thirteen Lives

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Ron Howard’s recreation of the 2018 rescue of a Thai junior football team is impressive. Even though we know what happens in the end the tension and drama played out is palpable.

On 23 June 2018, 12 members of a Thai junior football team, the Wild Boars, and their coach became trapped deep in the Tham Luang cave system by rising flood water. The film details the incredible international rescue efforts that ensue. And Ron Howard has judged the tone perfectly. There is no Hollywood glitz and glamour and the two leading actors: Colin Farrell and Viggo Mortensen, who play John Volanthen and Rick Stanton respectively, capture the intensity of the situation perfectly.

The diving scenes are claustrophobic in the extreme. Although I suspect that the visibility was even worse than the film depicts as you have to be able to see something in the dramatization! All the way through the film I found myself shaking my head in disbelief at the extraordinary feat these divers pulled off. The skill and bravery required still impresses after watching films, hearing them speak in public and reading about the rescue.

I loved that, whilst the divers took centre stage in the film, the heroic rescue efforts of the water engineer and his team was also given the attention they deserve, as well as the incredible Thai Navy Seals and the thousands of people that flocked to the region to help.

Thirteen Lives is a must watch movie about an incredible cave rescue. It’s sober tone hits the mark. The cinematography is skilled and creates an impressively tense experience. It is available on Amazon Prime right now.

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