The present is all we have to live in. Or to lose.”—Marcus Aurelius
Keep moving! Keep swimming! Keep dancing! Keep dreaming! Keep heading in the direction you want your life to be and create all the energy to make it all happen.
Without dwelling on worry and regret in the past, look forward to what you may have in the future, and be grateful for what you presently have. The present moment is all anyone truly possesses. Living in fear or frustration could only set one up for failure. If we could learn from past lessons and grow with love and compassion, we have a more focused and purposeful life up ahead.
Love for the sea
Keep diving! My love for the sea has grown immensely through the years. Diving has been part of my life even before I was married almost 30 years ago. I continue to enjoy diving with my entire family.
I am so glad that new diver Ines Davila got certified last weekend, so she can join our family dive trips. I will ask my son, Tyrone Valdes, to plan another dive trip to Palau or Tubbataha Reef next year.
I was so fortunate to join a week of diving on board Oceana Maria (tel. 0917-8318867; email [email protected]) in Tubbataha Reefs, a United Nations Eucational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) World Heritage Site. My cousin, Jon-jon Rufino, and his mom, Mary de Leon Rufino, invited me to explore the Philippines’ finest diving destination on their liveaboard. The Oceana Maria Scuba offers the unique opportunity to dive in Tubbataha in a small group, and this allows for more intimate interaction with numerous sea animals.
Each specialized dive trip is designed to dive in sites that have the best chance of sighting mantas, hammerhead sharks and whale sharks, to mention a few. Each liveaboard has a working flexible itinerary as the weather, tides and currents change.
Due to its remote location, Tubbataha Reef can only be accessed by vessel-based or liveaboard with the dive season running from mid-March to mid-June. During these months, conditions are optimal with clear skies, calm seas and 30-meter to 40-m water visibility. These liveaboards mostly sail on a weekly basis to and from Puerto Princesa. They set sail by evening and arrive at Tubbataha by sunrise.
The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is made up of two huge coral atolls called the North and South Atolls, plus a smaller coral structure called the Jessie Beazley Reef, found northeast of the North Atoll. It sits at the heart of the Coral Triangle and is the largest marine protected area in the Philippines, covering 97,030 hectares of awe-inspiring marine biodiversity.
Keep dreaming! I have never seen hammerhead sharks. I dream that hopefully next year, I will see a school of them in Tubbataha when Jon-jon spots them really deep in the ocean. Diving with him is always an adventure, as we dive vertical walls and see some of the biggest marine megafauna like whale sharks, manta rays and sharks. Along walls of giant fan corals and sponge basket corals, gray reef sharks are seen on virtually every dive.
Red Charity Gala reboot
Keep connecting! Even with no signal in Tubbataha, we stayed connected to my Assumption classmates as we continue to work on our charity projects.
I am excited to tie up with the Estée Lauder Group to reboot the Red Charity Gala as we support a charity benefit this coming October. It will also be the annual Assumption Velada and my aunt Mary will be part of it. She recently hosted a get-together with her former classmates.
Keep smiling! The best thing about diving with divers who are photographers is that they are always looking for willing subjects underwater. In Anilao, Batangas, wonderful divers Marge Buot and Rosan Cruz took photos and videos.
Rosan also told me about the zodiac sign of Cancer that pertains to everything about family life, marriage, children and home. It’s a highly sensitive and emotional sign, that’s why you may feel nostalgic about the past.
Our current fave resort in Anilao is Solitude-Acacia. I discovered that the resort also operates a liveaboard, Solitude One Tubbataha. A beautiful 52-m ex-merchant vessel, Solitude One underwent a full makeover in 2013. The purpose-built dive liveaboard incorporates smart design, functionality and home comforts. The 10 beautifully designed cabins offer the finest luxury at sea.
Keep discovering! After a diving weekend with friends in Solitude-Acacia, I discovered that my life continues to be full of excitement and adventure without missing a void. I discovered that when you choose not to dwell on issues that negate your happiness, something more powerful happens. There is a growth in the emotional realm that puts you on a higher plane of acceptance.
Travel opens up
Keep believing! When the universe conspires and gets you what you are hoping for, you just believe and claim the gift. Who would have thought that travel is opening up and social media trips are present again!
It was both a blessing and surprise that I was able to go to my beloved South Africa again!
It was serendipitous that my travel buddy, Pepper Teehankee, told me about this Durban trip, the same one we attended three years before the pandemic. All of a sudden, we were invited to attend Durban July, one of the world’s biggest horse races, where I can once again dress up and showcase Philippine fashion. On invitation of the Durban Tourism Board, a Philippine delegation was asked to attend the races and visit other spectacular attractions.
I also am very grateful to be in my happy place, which means a lot to me since my 25th wedding anniversary had an African theme, and to be out of Manila at this particular time of the year (people who know me will know what I mean). I will feature all that next week.
Keep manifesting! Being here at Didima Resort in the Drakensberg mountain range is another one of the “firsts” I have done in my favorite South Africa. The Maloti-Drakensberg Park, renowned for its spectacular natural landscape, is a Unesco World Heritage Site, one of South Africa’s eight. More on that next week but for now, manifest what you want to have and you may just get it—I did with this timely trip to South Africa!