Profile: Angelique Songco—“Mama Ranger” of Tubbataha

Angelique Songco (Source: TMO)
Angelique Songco (Source: TMO)

In a country that has so much to offer the travelling diver and underwater photographer, there are certain exceptional locations in the Philippines that really stand out and top of the list has to be the remote reefs and atolls of Tubbataha. Don Silcock interviewed a central figure in the story of the conservation of Tubbataha’s marine ecosystems: Angelique Songco.

Howard Johnson, Anilao Scuba Dive Centre, Shala Caliao, scuba diving news, PPE, COVID-19, face masks, plastic pollution, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, X-Ray Mag, XRay Magazine, Philippines
Polymeric materials used in face masks can be a potential source of plastic and break down into microplastic pollution.

Abandoned face masks found on Philippine reef

The popular dive spot is southeast of the Philippine capital, Manila.

BBC Philippine correspondent Howard Johnson joined dive professionals from Anilao Scuba Dive Centre as they resumed diving, following the national lockdown. The dive centre is affiliated to the United Nations Environment Programme’s Green Fins, which promotes sustainable marine tourism in South-East Asia.

South China Sea row: Hague Tribunal rules in favor of Philippines, China to ignore decision

South China Sea: International Tribunal backs Philippines in case against China

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, including reefs and islands also claimed by others. The Permanent Court of Arbitration said there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or resources.

(File photo) Philippine reef landscape. Look, but do not touch!

Touching corals punishable by law in the Philippines

PENRO chief Charlies Fabre has issued a warning to visiting scuba divers after at least two photos had been posted on Facebook by an environmentalist who frequented Apo Island showing a diver using a poker and touching corals. It turned out that this was a somewhat common practice among some scuba divers.

Fabre said he would ask the Protected Area Superintendent Efren Rombawa, who is also the chief of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office on Apo Island, to look into the matter.

Musashi under attack by American carrier aircraft during the Battle of Leyte Gulf

WWII Japanese battleship Musashi found

A team led and funded by Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Paul Allen has located the Musashi on the seabed of the Sibuyan Sea in the Philippines. Allen, 62, whose father served in World War II, says his research team discovered the Musashi's wreckage on March 1 and uploaded a number of pictures of what he described as the ship’s rusty bow, with a Japanese seal clearly visible.

Malapascua Island: Where thresher sharks roam

As picture perfect as Malapascua is, in a nation of 7,107 palm tree fringed islands, 2.5km long Malapascua wouldn’t be on anyone’s radar were it not for the thresher sharks that treat the island like a spa. Each morning as the sun peeks over the mountains on distant Cebu, Pelagic threshers rise from the depths to be cleaned by reef fish along a deep ledge known as Monad Shoal.

Beyond the Muck

Muck diving is a term used quite frequently these days that can be applied to either a dive site, a type of diving or even an entire region like Lembeh Strait in Indonesia or Anilao in the Philippines.

These areas of the Indo-Pacific have consistently ranked amongst the highest in terms of high coral counts, reef fish and of course the high impact Holy Grail of critters.