Monday, 12 October 2009

Finding love beneath Philippine seas

Syliza Marie Aquino

MANILA, Philiipines -- In 2001, I took up scuba diving and instantly fell in love with the beauty of the Philippine seas.

The surrounding waters reportedly have the highest level of biodiversity in the world, teeming with a wide variety of marine life within 27,000 square kilometers of coral reefs. About 500 of the 800 known coral reef species in the world are found in Philippine waters. With more than 7,000 islands of lush tropical greenery, ringed by unspoiled beaches and marine sanctuaries, it's hard not to be enthralled.

In 2003, I received an underwater proposal I will never forget -- a scuba diving expedition to Anilao, Batangas that my fiance proposed to me in the most romantic way I could ever imagine. With a little help from our dive buddies, I received an engagement ring underwater accompanied with a banner that says "Be My Buddy for Life! Will You Marry Me?"

For very obvious reasons, I could not verbally express my answer while I was submerged in water. However, my actions definitely showed how ecstatic I was as I hyperventilated and aborted the dive to say "yYes" to the love of my life on the surface.

The under-the-sea proposal is quite symbolic for my fiance for in the words of William Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet….."My bounty is as boundless as the sea, My love as deep; the more I give to thee, The more I have for both are infinite."

I couldn't have asked for a more romantic setting to receive a marriage proposal as the weather was gorgeous and the Anilao reef and tropical fish who stood as witnesses were as stunningly colorful as they could ever be.

In 2006, international marine scientists have regarded the Philippines as the "Center of Marine Biodiversity" in the world, surpassing the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. Environmental protection should be everyone’s concern. It is highly possible that these natural treasures may be lost because we take them for granted. Sadly, we realize the real value of a thing when they’re already gone.

In 2009, let's learn to love and respect the natural Wonders of the Philippine Seas. Who knows? You may be the next one to get engaged in it.

Note: Some of footage in the video above were taken from our dive expeditions at Tubbataha Reef and Anilao courtesy of Roby Formoso.

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