MANILA, Philippines—It all started out of curiosity. Now, skydiving has become an activity that gives Justine Suva Alfonso her adrenaline rush and makes her heart skip a beat—figuratively and literally.
Alfonso took her first tandem jump in Cebu in 2018 at the age of 22. Since then, skydiving has been part of her life, opening her eyes to things beyond what she could land on.
Alfonso’s first love was figure skating. But, she needed to give it up during college as studies required more of her time. By the time she wanted to return to figure skating, she was not as flexible as before.
“After that, parang meron akong thirst for adventure inside of me. Parang hindi ma-fill ‘yung void na ‘yun and I needed to do something, kasi all my life naging athlete ako. I needed to feel that thrill again,” she told INQUIRER.net in an interview.
(After that, I still had a thirst for adventure inside of me. I felt like I could not fill that void and I needed to do something, because all my life I had been an athlete. I needed to feel that thrill again.)
She then tried fencing and free diving in search of that feeling to satisfy her athletic craving.
“And next thing I knew, I was about to jump out of an airplane in Skydive Cebu way back in 2018,” she recalled.
Skydiving seemed to have immediately caught on in Alfonso’s heart. After graduation in the same year, she took another tandem jump—this time in Dubai, where she later got a skydiving license in 2019.
Getting a license from the Emirate was tough but fun at the same time. Among the steps she took in the process were passing an online test, attending ground school, taking an accelerated free fall course and coaching jumps.
Like in any other sports, skydiving required a ton of determination, endurance and passion. But as Alfonso put it, all the hardships were worth it when she was able to make her first solo jump.
For Alfonso, skydiving makes her realize that there is more to life—and to the world in general—than the daily hustle and bustle of routine.
“Jumping outside of planes is not normal, this is not even common, and you get to see the world, you get to see things not from a normal perspective, you get to appreciate life more,” she said.
“Na-a-appreciate ko ‘yung life more (I get to appreciate life more). It makes me feel that there’s more to life than getting coffee and working the whole day, ‘yung parang (I feel like) I can do so much more kasi ang dami kong nakikita up there (because I can see a lot of things up there),” she added.
Alfonso also notes that sunrise looks much different at a higher altitude than seeing it on land—a priceless view, or perhaps a reward, that skydiving gives her.
For the young athlete, the rush of adrenaline made her fall in love with her new sport.
“I guess it’s really the adrenaline rush that makes me love skydiving. I can get that adrenaline from other places but that’s where I got it. That’s where I feel that much adrenaline and I like it,” she said.
Her advice for those who would want to try skydiving but are scared?
First, be dedicated once you start.
“If you start the sport, you have to be really dedicated. You have to be really keen on learning what to do, and what not to do, hindi ‘yung gusto mo lang for Instagram or gusto mo lang for the photos,” said Alfonso.
(If you start the sport, you have to be really dedicated. You have to be really keen on learning what to and what not to do. You should not do it just because you want to post photos on Instagram.)
“If you want to fall on your own, jump on your own, you have to make sure that you are dedicated as well in learning what are the best practices, what’s safe to do, what’s dangerous to do up in the sky with people or alone,” Alfonso said. “You have to be really keen on learning those things, and you have to remember those things because once you’re up there, it’s really different,” she added.
For starters, she advises those who are interested to first try a tandem skydive, where they will be strapped with another skydiving professional in the jump.
But even after completing all lessons, Alfonso says there’s never really full confidence in jumping.
“You’ll never really be [completely confident]. You just have to do it,” she said.