Diving at Asia Divers
24 December 2006 -- 01 January 2007
and a tour to Payatas Dumpsite

Some pictures from above and under the surface...

The "Wahlstedt Tribe" (Asia Diver Tommy Soderstrom's epithet for nice guy Bjorn (i.e. me) and my two daughters Katarina and Elisabet), this time added by Tommy (Katarina's boyfriend - no not the same Tommy...) had decided to spend Christmas and New Year 2006 -- 2007 together. The target this time was Sabang, Puerto Galera, Philippines, combined with a short stay in Manila. During the stay in Manila, Old Daddy had planned a visit to a quite different world; the Payatas Dumpsite in Quezon City.

Katarina and Tommy needed (well...) some vacation from their studies in Singapore, and Elisabet made a stop in Singapore on her way to Australia on her round-the-world trip as a mind-clearer before her studies would start in Sweden in August 2007.

Old Daddy had just recently passed the Instructor Exam and wanted to practice some courses with some more easy-to-command students than normal paying ones...

As usual when dealing with Asia Divers there are always surprises coming up and some of them are caught by the camera - some are not (and that is probably just as good).

To get a larger image of the pictures displayed, please just click on the picture and it will enlarge (after some time depending on the speed of your Internet connection). If you would like the get the original picture, please just contact me.

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And finally; do you know what is the main joy making a web site like this?
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Take care and dive safely!

Björn W

To Sabang and the Christmas Party

Katarina, Elisabet, and Tommy arriving at Manila Airport after a short trip from Singapore. As usual, it was interesting for Old Daddy to note in which direction all the Filipino boys' heads suddenly turned...
(I had my shotgun prepared...)

The banca from Asia Divers was on time (as usual) waiting at Leah Beach.

A relaxed journey towards the Point.

The sun set while we were on our way.

We arrived just in time for the Christmas Eve Dinner...

... and Katarina and Elisabet had brought a specially designed gingerbread house as dessert.

Antoine was a bit hesitant from the beginning

... and so was Allan ...

... but when he realized the beauty of this Swedish Christmas delicacy, he praised it.

Of course Kjell (Old Daddy's partner during the Instructor Course earlier this year) enjoyed it with an appetite.

All the sweet goblins at El Galleon made the Christmas Party even more enjoyable.

Back in the apartments, we had our own Christmas Gift party.

The Diving Courses

Old Daddy had just recently passed the Instructor Exam at iDAP college together with, among others, Kjell (more of that below...). So now it was time to practice some courses and how could it be possible to start more gently than trying to teach daughters and a related boyfriend.

Elisabet was mostly the early bird in the kitchen preparing breakfast.

A healthy breakfast paves the way for hard work.

Just as remark, Old Daddy had to do prepare breakfasts as well (this Swedish equality stuff, you know, and he was complaining and highly promoting the Filipino Household Helper System...), but that just meant that there was no room for any "negotiations Philippine Style" when it came to passing the courses!

View from the breakfast table.
There are worse places on earth to have breakfast...

No dinners at home and for some strange reason there was no "equality" to be found when it came to footing the bills...

Serious Old Daddy preparing the theoretical parts of the courses - with some modifications (or should we rather call it improvements?) compared to the PADI way...

And even a industrial-engineer-to-be had to do some thinking when it came to NITROX theory and calculations.

All chapters, quizzes, questions, and tests were carefully worked over.

However, some of the students were more guiding and some were more receiving - but all passed with good results.

As a part of the course, Dave Ross at Tech Asia kindly demonstrated some equipment used for Technical Diving.


Dave's very personal and friendly ways of explaining the challenges, risks, but certainly also the satisfactions involved in Technical Diving were highly appreciated.

... and now time for diving

Since none of the students had been in the water for a long time - and particularly Tommy who only had his basic Open Water Certificate with less than a dozen dives under his belt, we started with some pool sessions.

Preparing for the first dive.
Peak Performance Buoyancy

The first course
was "Peak Performance Buoyancy".
It was not that easy since we naturally managed to hit a rather strong current in combination with poor visibility, so the Peak Performance Buoyancy tended to be more of a Drift Dive.
That was not the best start for Tommy who was undertaking his Advanced Open Water Course, but he managed to swim under the crossbar in some kind of style anyway.


Katarina, who has a superb natural buoyancy

... also practiced other buoyancy tricks.

Divemaster Elisabet practiced her (old?) skills with the Safety Balloon...

and finally managed to get it working.

On the surface after the dive.

Equipment maintenance was strongly emphasized! Rinse

... and dry!
Enriched Air / NITROX

Preparing for the first NITROX dive included the check of the oxygen content.


Ruben Maranan seemed to happily help the girls
(- but I have never received that kind of close attention...???)

Gearing up.
Alli is planning for the dives in the background.

With one girl wearing a red tank and the other a yellow tank it might be possible to keep track of them even under the surface.

A blue spotted sting ray came in our way.


And the girls felt cold and miserable after the dive.

I did my Wreck Diver Instructor Specialty Course with Pedro Magsino at Atlantis, which is the other high quality Diving Center in Sabang.

Just click on the book cover to find the other courses provided by Atlantis.


So we started at the Alma Jane Wreck at around 30 meters of water just outside Sabang. When back in Singapore, Tommy "confessed"  that he actually felt a bit scared at the depth and the sight of the cargo hold of the wreck...


The pictures on this row are taken from
Anders Poulsen's Homepage.

MV Alma Jane Express is a 60-ton, 115 feet steel-hulled cargo ship built in Japan in 1966. She is situated at a depth of around 30 meter just outside the Point from Asia Divers.

She was scuttled in March 2003 and luckily settled upright so you can easily enter the wheel house and cargo hold below decks.

Surveying the wreck and the cargo hold.

Start measuring the wreck and practicing with the line.
But please Tommy, what about your flash light? In which direction is it pointing?

No tangle!

Fine. We managed in and out of the cargo hold.

So now it is time to penetrate the cargo hold of Alma Jane Wreck. Close your eyes and just follow the line!

We managed. Check the air!

Katarina is a bit upside-down...
(I did not say "as usual", did I?)

Preparing to ascend.

To spend the time during the Safety Stop the girls were playing.

Keep the level!




We also did Drift Dive with the help of Tommy Soderstrom to find the way (he is to the right just to let you know him if you did not already...), but the current was not stronger than it allowed us to watch this turtle feeding on corals. You could actually hear it cracking the corals.

The New Year Party 31 December 2006

Life is not only diving (even if some people tend to act like it is) and by 31 December we were finished with the courses and Tommy got his Advanced Open Water Diver Certificate!

It started off with a rather quiet New Year's Eve Dinner

... at El Galleon.

But rather soon it became a bit more "active" - to say the least.
(There is no price to tell who this is...)

The girls at the Point Bar were surely VERY busy this evening - and night - and morning...

Sometime is it worthwhile all the trouble being an Old Daddy.

This is a picture of a real heart...
You will have to figure out the meaning yourself...


Oh well, we have all been young once upon a time...
The True Story of Kjell Soderstrom's and my Instructor Course is one year older than this day.
I was celebrating New Year and of course, getting stronger and braver proportionally to the amount of drinks consumed, I challenged Kjell:
"Let's do the Instructor Course this summer (i.e. 2006)"!
Kjell is a nice guy (or lacking judgment when in certain "conditions"...) so there was a deal. Since none of us could "chicken out" without losing face completely, well, we did it.
I have heard that this kind of background is not uncommon to be the main reason for many Instructor Course participants - at least among the ones that have passed 40 and still believe they are 18...

IDC students from Asia Divers/iDAP under the guidance of Warren Dixon (middle) and his assistant Pete Eaton (far right).
To the left is one of the most - if not the most - professional PADI member I have met:
Our Examiner George Wegmann.
(Thanks Alli for the picture.)

To commemorate this important occasion we settled another deal - all under the supervision of Rhuby (Kjell's wife, who is totally in control of the money flows at Asia Divers - and of course also of Kjell).

Celebrating with a cigar...

The deed is done!

And here it is.
Does anybody have any idea for an appropriate Instructor Course?
I proposed Yak Trainer in Tibet...
Well, the night went on and most of the more celebrators gradually went home.

However, obviously enough celebrators stayed on at the Point Bar to reach this remarkable record (to the right).

Comments are unnecessary...


And here are the "remains"...


The Motor Bike Excursion

It all started with Tommy Soderstrom's generous offer to take us for a motor bike excursion in the neighborhood of Puerto Galera.
Here Kjell is "fitting" the helmet on Katarina at the Point Bar.

Tommy drove ahead, and very soon he said his bike "complained":
"I have never been going at this low speed..."


The weather was not that sunny, but we enjoyed all the views anyway.

Astronauts or what?...


Anders was happy - rain or shine.

Old Daddy had to clean the bike after a minor scientific inspection of the mud...

Tommy has a bike in Singapore as well, but the road conditions there are somewhat different...

During the scientific inspection of the mud, Old Daddy's left sandal was used as a tool to take samples, and consequently it needed some refreshing at the shoe-repairer in Sabang upon return...
Well that was the Dive Trip. And now to a bit more serious things.

The Visit to Payatas Dump Site in Quezon City

Old Daddy has been managing a Solid Waste Management Project in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines. It would probably be interesting to spend some time on that website for most of the visitors to this website. It will hopefully trigger some thinking about the conditions under which many people are living in a developing country like the Philippines;
everything in Life is not clear water, coral reefs, and drinks in the evening.

So Old Daddy thought it would be a good thing for Katarina, Elisabet, and Tommy to visit Payatas Dumpsite in Quezon City, Metro Manila. Some more pictures and descriptions are found at the Solid Waste Management Project site describing Payatas.

Colonel (retired) Jaymalin, the manager of Payatas, welcomed us all. He and his staff made a general presentation of the dumpsite.

A view over the old and new dumpsites.

A bit different from the views from Point Bar.


Around 10,000 people are directly finding their livelihood in the "valuables" at the dumpsite.

Different worlds meet...

Time for reflection...



And selling of the recyclables.


Again, more information about Payatas Dumpsite is found here.

The Solid Waste Management Project was implemented in Barangay Pinagkaisahan in Quezon City, Metro Manila, under the dedicated and strong leadership of the Barangay Captain (Punong Barangay) Mrs Vivian Quitiquit (to the right).

And as usual, it is not possible to visit Barangay Pinagkaisahan without being invited by Vivian and enjoy her endless hospitality.

Besides Vivian, the "Ladies' Brigade" are always there to attend and help.

As a part of the Solid Waste Management Project, an "Ecological Center"  was started . The Eco Center is managed by Malou, who is just as dedicated as Vivian to improving the conditions in the barangay.

Proper management, strict enforcement of the rules and regulations combined with active recycling has reduced the number of trucks bringing solid waste to Payatas Dumpsite down from eight (8) per week to two (2);
a reduction of 75%!
You can read more about the Solid Waste Management Project in Barangay Pinagkaisahan here.

The Final Report from the Project can be downloaded from here (9 MB in pdf format).

Metro Manila might not be the safest place on earth, but Barangay Pinagkaisahan will surely improve the reputation.

We also visited the Health Center in Barangay Pinagkaisahan. Katarina was a bit concerned when she saw the equipment in the dentist's room.
(Just as a comment: This was how it looked as I remember my first visit to the dentist's in Sweden in the mid 50's.
Things and times change and so do "expectations and demands"...)

A workshop in Barangay Pinagkaisahan. Please note the recycling of the "waste" in the bucket from the turning lathe.

Sometimes I am astonished that the electrical supply works at all - and this example from Barangay Pinagkaisahan is not particularly unique.
Everything has an end and so had this visit to the Philippines for Katarina, Elisabet, and Tommy. Katarina and Tommy went back to Singapore for studies and Elisabet continued her journey around the world; all hopefully with more knowledge and experience from many fields of Life...

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Up ] Diving at Tubbataha Reef, Philippines; April 2004 ] Diving at Apo Reef, Philippines; November 2004 ] Diving at Apo Reef, Philippines; Katarina and Elisabet oriented; November 2004 ] Divemaster Course for Elisabet at Asia Divers; Christmas and New Year 2005-2006 ] [ Diving and Dump Sites in the Philippines; Christmas and New Year 2006-2007 ] Diving in Palau; February 2007 ] Kanjana and Greg Boulden's Wedding in Bangkok October 2008 ] My daughter Elisabet's High School Graduation in the US; June 2004 ] Katarina's and Elisabet's visit to Singapore; November 2004 ] Elisabet flyttar till Lund 2007 ] Roselie och Ulf Hanssons bröllop midsommarafton 2007 ]