We wanted to find out more about diving credentials in the Philippines, so we caught up with dive masters Arjay Salac & Lor Bana…
Tell us a bit about yourselves.
Arjay: I am originally from Dauin here on Negros, where Atmosphere Resort & Spa is situated. I like to see other places and have lived in Manila, but my parents, sister and brother are here, it’s an affordable area to live in and Atmosphere is like a second family to me.
Lor: I am from Zamboanguita, 10 km south of Atmosphere and Dauin. I used to live in Manila working for a watersports park some years ago, but moved back to Negros. I have a great job here meeting lots of people and I have 4 children with my wife, so I am kept busy.
Why is this part of the world so good for diving?
Arjay: The water is always warm and we have a great combination of both reef and small rare critters. There is not too much current and reefs are shallow, so the diving is easy for all levels.
Lor: The islands here are beautiful and underwater you have macro diving and gorgeous corals. Only 20 minutes away in Apo island, we have bigger stuff like turtles, schools of jacks and barracudas, the occasional manta and thresher shark.
What is the most magical diving experience you’ve had here?
Arjay: The first time I saw a whale shark during a drift dive in Apo island – it just cruised past, that was amazing.
Lor: We have a lot of rare critters here and I still remember the first time I saw a mimic octopus. It was five years ago and I was guiding two divers when the mimic octopus tried to mimic a jaw fish. Not many divers get to see them, but we have them here, especially in October and November.
Is there any sea creature that lives in the local waters that you’ve not yet seen, but would really like to?
Arjay: I love the small stuff, the smaller the better. There are a couple of pygmy seahorses that I still haven’t seen that I would really like to find.
Lor: I like the big pelagics and there have been sightings of hammerhead sharks recently in Apo Island, as well as Mola Molas. I’ve not seen either but would love to.
How do you feel when you take someone diving here for the first time?
Lor: Superexcited. I know how rare many of our sea creatures are and knowing I will show them to divers who have not seen them is awesome.
What gets you up in the morning?
Arjay: I live by the beach facing East, so the beautiful sunrise gets me up most mornings.
What do you personally love about the island of Negros?
Arjay: Negros is a nice quiet place to live, not a crazy busy tourist spot. It is safe, we have really good weather (being below the typhoon belt) most of the time, so the diving is great.
Lor: This is my home island. It is also a safe place with gentle and kind people.
If you had to describe the Philippines in just 3 words, what would they be?
AS: (that’s a very difficult question…) It’s More Fun
LB: Year Round Diving