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tlatimer

Jacket or Backplate and Wing?

By | Dive Talk

The ultimate BCD choice: Jacket or Backplate and Wing?

Many of my students ask me why I have a ‘different’ BCD. To clarify: I dive with an Aquamundo aluminium backplate and wing. They ask me what the benefits are and if those steel bolts don’t hurt my back. My answer is always the same: I like the minimalistic design and the elimination of the need for extra led weights and the type of design makes sure that those bolts don’t touch my back.
Like most divers I also started my PADI Open Water Course with a jacket style BCD. When you are a novice diver it is mostly the only type that you are exposed to. Still only a few dive instructors teach their courses in a backplate and wing BCD, but it is on its way back.

Originally introduced in the world of technical diving, the backplate and wing has been making its way into the recreational diving market in the past few years. For novice divers the backplate and wing seems like a difficult operating system, so for all my Open Water Courses I still have my students wear a jacket style BCD. For Advanced Open Water I like to give my students the choice. Most still opt for the familiar jacket style, but there are definitely a few that are intrigued by the backplate and wing and take it out for a Peak Performance Buoyancy dive. It is a whole new thing to get used to, because the bladder is located on your back instead of around you. This has massively improved my trim after a bit of practice. I’ve got to admit that the first five dives were a bit uncomfortable. The transition isn’t the easiest, so I’ll say to all of you out there that have tried it only once and didn’t enjoy it: try it for at least 5-10 dives and I’m sure you’ll be joining us backplate and wing lovers.

One of the things that the naysayers are bringing up is the lack of pockets. Luckily Apeks, Scubapro, Aquamundo, Waterproof, Halcyon to name a few have invented some nice shorts and wetsuits with pockets attached to them. Also you can purchase pockets to attach to your harness, so problem solved.

Another problem for some seems to be the weight. Many divers tend to travel around with their gear. Now depending on what kind of material you choose for your backplate (aluminium versus steel), it’s not that big of a difference with the jacket style BCD especially looking at the massive shapes the jackets are being made in now. My backplate and wing can be taken apart completely, roll up the straps of the harness, fold the bladder into a small package and stick the backplate somewhere in between my clothes. So it might be a little heavier but is nowhere near as bulky… There are less colossal BCDs around, but many travel light jackets are not as durable.

Quite curious: still leaning towards the jacket BCD or did I persuade you?

Always wanted to try a backplate and wing but didn’t dare to purchase one yet? Come on down to Liquid and get out diving with one of our PADI Instructors or Divemasters, we’ll convince you that this is the best way to go!

 

Gobies

By | Dive Talk

Gobies

Every diver will remember this on at least one of their dives: a small burrow in the sand, a shrimp busy shovelling out all of the sediment and a tiny fish guarding the entrance to their little Batcave. These little bodyguards are called gobies.

With this statement however I do highlight the more well-known part of the Goby family. There are many different types like Coral Gobies, Dart Gobies and Partner Gobies. Only about 100 of the over 2000 known species are working together with burrowing snapping shrimps. These 100 species are called the Partner Gobies and their special relationship with the shrimps is what intrigues me.
Gobie

This symbioses works well for both the shrimps and the gobies. It is still unsure why these two species have evolved into being dependent on each other. Theories state that gobies are unable to make their own burrows and need the shrimps to dig the holes for them. In return the gobies turn into their personal bodyguards and hover just above the entrance to the elaborate tunnel system to warn the shrimp when a predator is getting a little too close. When trouble is near, the goby warns the shrimp with a so-called ‘tail flick signal’. The shrimp quickly protects itself in the burrow and makes some room for the goby to join him.

The shrimp has a long antenna that keeps in contact with the goby, especially when he’s out shovelling his front yard. All that we as divers see is the nicely landscaped garden entrance of the burrow but there is actually an entire tunnel system that can cover an area of about one square metre to about 50cm to 100cm deep.

Because this would take one tiny shrimp quite a while to dig by itself, usually they work in pairs. Most burrows are inhabited by two shrimp, a male and a female. The only way to distinguish that for us as divers would be to check which of the two claws is larger in size. This will be a different claw for both of the shrimp.

Since the shrimp are born to dig, the tunnel system is ever expanding and therefor even the entrance moves over time. It doesn’t look like much, but every day the entrance shifts a few decimetres!

Alright guys, this was my impressive goby knowledge. Is there anyone else with more amazing facts about gobies?

-Berlinda

Into the Blue

By | Dive Talk

Have you ever been into the blue?

Have you ever felt tiny? And by this I mean in the scheme of the universe that feeling when you realize that you are a minuscule element; part of something massive; yet slightly insignificant! Ominous I know, but honestly it’s an amazing feeling and one that not many people will ever get to experience unless you happen to be an astronaut or a scuba diver! What am I talking about…..blue dives! Maybe it’s time you take a dive into the blue.

If you have ever leapt of a boat in the middle of the ocean with no reef below you, or walls to guide your descent, or line to follow then you know exactly what I am talking about; that feeling of being completely overwhelmed by just how huge and infinite the ocean actually is.

I will never forget my first foray into blue diving. As a young relatively new PADI instructor – we are invincible don’t you know – I did many things that nowadays I would probably classify as pushing my own personally boundaries a little bit. And my first blue dive was one of those experiences.

There was a group of us, all likeminded new PADI Instructors with a rare day with no courses to teach. So instead of relaxing and taking time to off gas – remember I said we were all invincible – we agreed to take out the boat and go on an exploratory dive. The dive did have a purpose; we had been told of a sunken island not far off the wall and thought it sounded cool. So off we went with rough coordinates in hand in search of our new mystery dive site.

After a while of simply cruising around looking for a landmark that we were not really sure existed we decided to try our luck in essentially the middle of nowhere. Buddy checks were completed, dive plans were drawn up, safety procedures were discussed – we may be invincible but we were not stupid divers – once everyone was ready we leapt of the stern of the boat and slowly began to descend into the blue.

into the blueWow!! What a feeling, you see the sunlight above streaming through the water, the abyss below you getting darker and darker calling you to dive deeper and deeper. Strange jelly fish like creatures dancing and sparkling as they float past; schools of fish darting below and above you and then there is that sense of being totally lost, adrift at sea with nothing around you but bubbles and blue – amazing!

Now don’t get me wrong as wonderful and awe inspiring that is; it is also incredibly daunting and slightly terrifying! With no visual reference to guide you it is very easy to drop well below your planned depth, suffer from vertigo, get overcome by narcosis or simply feel inadequate, which is a feeling no diver ever likes to experience. Then there is that other fear of what is out there! After all there are some big fish down in the deep that surface for one reason only – dinner! And with no reef nearby for protection what would you do if that lone giant of the deep decided to swim up for a visit! (narcosis is really quite vivid at this depth)

We never did find the sunken island, but we did have an experience of a lifetime. Yes we pushed our personal boundaries a little; yes we all thought we saw a giant of the deep just slightly out of our direct line of vision to decide if it was a giant shark, whale or squid! And yes we all survived! As a likeminded group of divers who all happened to be good friends it was the perfect way to experience our first blue dive. Have I done them since, yes a few times and were they as good as the first? Yes they were. But every time I have jumped off the boat and sank into the blue abyss I have been with likeminded divers and friends. People I am comfortable pushing my personal boundaries with.

If you have been into the blue, I recommend you try it. Just remember to dive with people you know, after all it’s a big blue and very deep ocean out there!

-Zoe

Filipino food

By | This & That

Filipino food

RICE!!!! Basically that’s the main ingredient in any Filipino food dish.

Plain, mixed with savoury or sweet ingredients, fried, cooked, any form Filipinos can get it in will do. But there is more to the Philippine cuisine than just rice. Adobo, Kaldereta, Lechon, they’re all popular dishes here. However there are a few that acquire special taste buds.

I can’t write this blog without including one of the most (in)famous types of food in the Philippines: Balut. Balut is a boiled fertilized duck egg and comes in different forms depending on the age of the duck embryo. Here in the Dauin region of Negros Oriental, the most popular stages are 16, 18 or 20 days. At 16 days the embryo is fully formed, but is still missing its feathers. At 18 days these feathers have developed and at 20 days it is a grown duck embryo. Keep in mind that duck eggs hatch around the 26 day mark. Most of our Liquid Dive employees have voted for the 16 days to be their favorite.

balut

Eating balut is not without skill. Have a look at this short tutorial on ‘How to eat balut’ and try not to vomit in the meantime.

  1. Make a small hole on the rounder part of the shell.
  2. Crack it a little more until the hole is the size of a bottle cap. Drink the broth from the inner sides like drinking a shot of Tequila. I’ve got to say that I’d rather have a Liquid Deco Shot than a shot of duck embryo juice…
  3. Enlarge the opening. Sprinkle or dash whatever seasoning you desire on the contents. The most common seasoning is rough sea salt, which the vendor is expected to supply you. Otherwise, it’s vinegar spiced with chilies and minced onions, also available from the balut vendor.
  4. Enlarge the opening sufficiently for you to bite off a bit of the yolk. Similar to the boiled chicken egg yolk, only it looks way more disgusting because of the veins running through it.
  5. When you come to the duckling, eat that too. Yummy 😉 At the bottom of the egg, there will be a hardened white lump of egg white. Most Filipinos don’t eat this part, because it is quite tough.

This whole balut experience doesn’t really seem to appealing to me. But for most travellers it is one of the must-try foods whilst in the Philippines. Let me know what you guys think! Has anyone ever tried it?
Don’t get scared off by this Philippine food experience! There’s lots of other good dishes to try. Come on down to Liquid Dive Dumaguete, there’s a tasty Filipino dish on our lunch menu every day.

But if you want Balut, you are out of luck!

-Berlinda

Shore Diving

By | Dive Talk

Shore diving

When most people think about diving they picture themselves on a big boat on a sunny day cruising the tropical waters of the Philippines. I am going to paint you a different picture in this blog and I will convince you why shore diving is just as much fun!

At Liquid, we do quite a few shore dives around Dauin and to be honest I’m quite happy about that. Let’s start with the drive… Narciso, our well-trusted chauffeur, is a character! He jokes around with our staff and customers constantly but is very helpful. He drives us carefully up our dirt track to the main road. Then as soon as we pull off the road to go to the dive site, we drive through the Negros Oriental countryside. That means cows, chickens, farmers, water buffalos and kids playing and waving. So you get two in one: a countryside tour and a visit to the wonderfully weird aquatic world of Dauin.

Especially from an instructor’s perspective shore dives are quite easy and interesting. A fair amount of beginning divers experience sea sickness and going by land transportation just takes that completely out of the equation. Plus for most of our PADI Open Water Course students it is less daunting to walk into the ocean as opposed to jumping off a boat into the ‘abyss’. We try to give our students as many different experiences as possible, so shore diving in Dauin and diving from a boat at Apo Island are a popular combination. At first shore dives are a bit of a challenge because most divers are not accustomed to it. Even more experienced divers struggle a bit. Here are some tips to make your shore dive a little easier:

Dive guide

1. Do a buddy check! Remember the Begin With Review And Friend? As with any dive, go over your gear with your buddy and make sure everything is working properly. Don’t be that diver that just went into the water with their tank closed and their fins still on shore… And at the same time make sure your buddy, divemaster or instructor has everything as well 😉

2. Defog your mask and put it on whilst on shore or standing in ankle deep water. Also use your snorkel, especially when going through mild surf. Now you’ll be able to breathe and see, a very big advantage…

3. Now inflate your BCD! Even though you’re walking into the water at some point you will not be able to stand anymore. Some positive buoyancy can be quite useful then.

4. Walk out to waist deep water and put your fins on. Don’t let go of your one fin while putting on the other! You should be facing towards shore to make sure the waves are pushing you forward. This way you can brace yourself with your feet in case a wave catches you off guard. You wouldn’t want to be falling backward and now laying tank down on shore, not so easy to get up!

5. Now descend together with your PADI Divemaster or Instructor and enjoy your quest for the Dauin critters. Frogfish, seahorses, ghostpipefish, nudibranch and different kinds of octopi, we’ve got it all…

6. Instead of hanging in the blue for your safety stop, you can continue your hunt for critters whilst releasing some of that nitrogen you have absorbed. Swim along the bottom back to shore and ascend when you’re in shallow water.

7. Stand up again in waist deep water and reverse the procedure of point 4 for taking off your fins. Keep facing towards shore though!

8. Walk out slowly, time it well with the waves and store your equipment. Your adventure is almost done! Only thing that is left is the drive back to Liquid where that cold drink is just calling your name.

Come and join us

Berlinda

Speedos – Do or Don’t?

By | This & That

Speedos – Do or Don’t?

Speedos, the word brings up some pretty clear mental pictures.

Scuba BikiniAs a female diver, I have the luxury of slipping my wetsuit over either my skin tight swim suit or barely there (back in the day) bikini. It is comfy, easy and I feel like I am only wearing my suit. After the dive I then get to peel off my wetsuit and am ready to strut (again back in the day) around the dive boat/shop/beach in my teeny tiny bikini without a care in the world. So why is it so different for men!

Let’s talk board shorts versus wetsuits a fight the wetsuit will always win! Not being a man, I can only watch as my male counterparts struggle with pulling their wetsuits up over their baggy board shorts. The hands are constantly pulling the wetsuit up while desperately trying to stop the board shorts from bunching up. The hand slide is the next step – quite bizarre to watch and rather worrying if you do not know exactly what is happening – essentially the wetsuit is now up to the waist and now the hands are being jammed down the front of the suit and look like they are rubbing up and down – the leg area people! What they are actually trying to do is to grab the bottom of their board shorts and pull them down towards the knees. Not an easy feat when you are wearing a tight neoprene suit. It also looks funny, takes forever and must feel uncomfortable, meanwhile after 2 minutes I am suited and booted and waiting to jump in the water and start the dive.

SpeedoSolution = speedos!! Yup I said it; men should invest in either a pair of speedos or those tight little shorts that mainly European men tend to go for (?) The speedo is essentially the male bikini. It is tight and easy to slip a wetsuit over. No fussing, no pulling, no time involved and you are ready to jump in and start your dive along with your female buddy.

After the dive is where the issues lie!! For a female it is perfectly acceptable for us to wander around in our skimpy bikinis or swim suits with normally no complaints from our male counter parts. So why is it so unacceptable for men to do the same in speedos! For a very simple reason – unless you are Michael Phelps for the love of god cover up!!! No one wants to see it…….and you know what I mean by it…..

Speedo StrutThere is an accepted time frame of around 2-4 minutes (I have done the research) where a male diver has the time to rip off his wetsuit and quickly (normally self-consciously) head straight towards their dry gear and don their nice baggy board shorts. At this point they can now relax and strut their stuff knowing they are fully covered and not offending anyone in the vicinity!

Maybe this all stems from being married to a Canadian. Most North American men (sorry to generalize here) tend to err more towards the surfer style of baggy board shorts rather than European men (again I apologize for stereotyping) who tend to love wearing the skimpiest, tightest speedos they can possible find and let’s face it most men who are seen wearing these love to strut their stuff!!

Zoe

Diving with a stick

By | Dive Talk

Diving with a stick

NikonosDo you go diving with a stick? Personally I don’t as I really do not see the point unless I have a camera and intend to use the stick as a measuring device. This is originally what ‘dive sticks’ were designed for, a tool for underwater photographers to gauge the distance of their topic. But then this was back in the old days of film, not digital cameras; when maybe 1 out of every 20 divers had a camera; instead of now a days when 1 out of every 20 divers does not have a digital camera; that let’s face it they really do not know how to use. In fact they should probably leave it at home and practice on their buoyancy skills instead.

Oh hang on that’s where the stick comes in!!

diving with a stickWhat first started off as a probe for experienced divers with cameras has now become a crutch for less experienced divers with and without cameras! We see it all the time when diving; the dangling stick that as soon as a diver wishes to stop and look at something is taken in hand and unceremoniously jammed into the nearest object whether it be sand, rock, hard coral or soft coral, all so the diver can stop for a few seconds and look at the pretty nemo fish!!

Not to go on a rant here but honestly why do you need the stick to stop and look at something! I get it if you are in strong currents then maybe having a stick can be useful especially if you are not so experienced. But knowing where it is acceptable to place the stick in these circumstances is another issue. During a relatively gentle dive, there really is no need for anyone to need a stick. Try using your buoyancy instead – after all this really is the only skill a diver needs for recreational diving – so by using a stick to assist these divers are basically saying they cannot be bothered to learn the one skill that makes diving what it is.

Breathe in breath out a good mantra for above and below the ocean. But when you are trying to stop and look at something this is when your breathing itself becomes a skill, after all this is buoyancy! If you do not understand this simple premise then I suggest you contact your local dive shop and ask to do the Peak Performance Buoyancy Specialty – I can guarantee that course does not include a stick!

Pygmy Seahorse StickNow let’s talk a little about the other stick wielding atrocity we witness underwater- moving marine life! Just because it is a metal stick does not mean it will not hurt the teeny tiny pygmy sea horse you are now essentially ramming with a giant metal probe so he looks at you while you blind him with your camera flashes!! There is a reason seahorses and other critters tend turn their backs on divers – they do not like us!! We are big noisy, cumbersome, hurtful and usually blind everything we see. If I were a sea horse I would also turn my back and I would be rather annoyed if someone then started ramming with a giant metal probe!

Some divers tell me they like their sticks as it is a good signaling device, I understand this but does it really need to be two feet long! I use my thumb ring as a signaling device underwater and it makes just as much noise as a giant metal stick!

Next time you are out diving, just try leaving your stick back at the shop and spend a little time concentrating on your buoyancy skills – it’s not really that difficult – and the Yoda like feeling you get from being totally motionless an inch above the reef without aids (your stick) or using your hands to skull will remind you of how awesome diving can be!

Zoe

Living in Paradise

By | This & That

Living in paradise

People often tell me that I am living in paradise. And while I admit that there are many things that I love about living in the Philippines or any of the many tropical locations that I have been fortunate enough to call home. There is a flip side to that coin.

Instead of talking about all of the perks of living the dive lifestyle (and there’s a lot) I’d like to vent a bit about some of the disadvantages.

First up?

Sand in your bedsheets.

Princess and the PeaIt may sound great to live on the beach, but have you ever tried to sleep on the beach? It’s terrible. Sand gets everywhere. I sometimes feel like I’m living a modern day version of the princess and the pea. No matter how hard you try to clean your feet, there is invariably some stowaway grains of sand that make it between your bedsheets. Even the act of stripping the bed and shaking out the sheets doesn’t seem to be able to dispel the annoying bits of beach. It’s like they materialize out of thin air to disrupt your night-time routine.

I once lived in a hut where the shared bathroom was a short walk across beautiful white sand. I can tell you, the thought of getting out of bed to cross that stretch of sand brought on a nightly war between “I gotta go” and “I can hold it till morning”. Either way I was the one suffering.

It may feel amazing to go away on holiday and have the feel of sand between your toes, but there are times when enough is enough. I sometimes have dreams about lush carpet under my feet. I can’t remember how actual carpet feels underfoot anymore. Getting up in the night and walking across luxurious carpet and flicking the light switch on, sounds like a dream.

Which brings me to the second hitch in tropical living.

Power, or the lack of it.

At least, in any consistent sense.

Lights outIt is easy to take for granted the act of flicking a light switch and the light actually coming on. When I lived in Canada the power going out was a major event. It came around less than your birthday. But living in the tropics it is a constant event. Walk into a room and hit the light switch and there is sometimes a 50% chance it’s going to do anything.

I once spent 2 and a half months without power to my house. I can live without the TV or even the fridge. But there are some things that are nearly impossible to go without. A fan on you, while you sleep is high on that list. Then there are things that previously I never would have associated with the power going out. Little things, inconsequential things, like running water. With no power, there is no way to pump the water to the tank. With no water in the tank, there is no way to flush the toilet. Except by grabbing a bucket and walking down to the beach to fill it up and hauling it back to the house to pour down the toilet bowl. Of course to get to the bucket full you have to walk across that pesky sand again and now the problem is compounded.

Oh, the joys of living in paradise!

Daily commuteThere are countless things about living in paradise that can set a person over the edge. But at the end of the day, those are also the things that make it special and unique. If you embrace those differences and learn to live with them, make the most out of them, it can be a fantastic experience.

I know that I would have a lot more to gripe about if I was living the city life. Daily commutes to the office, smog, pollution, mortgages, and being surrounded by people who want nothing other than to get away from it all.

Instead I am living in the place where people go on their holiday. I’ll take a bit of sand in my bedsheets for that. I’d rather be living in paradise than working in the city.

Tim

Coral

By | Conservation, Dive Talk

Coral

There are many different types of divers out there. Some love diving on sandy slopes where they spend hours searching for tiny critters that you barely see with the naked eye. Others love jumping off a boat in the middle of the ocean and floating in the blue, waiting; hoping that something large and predatory swims by.  Then there are those that love the adrenaline of entering a wreck or cave not knowing what is around the next bend or down the next deck. Then there are divers like me who love nothing better than a gentle dive on a healthy coral reef. Luckily I have Apo Island in my backyard.

Apo Island Coral ReefMany divers laugh when I say this is my favorite type of dive, some shrug their shoulders and say ‘well it’s a little boring, but I guess coral is pretty’. For me, coral is not just stunning to look at with a vast array of colors, shapes and sizes, but it is an amazing animal to watch. Yes, that’s right I said animal.  Not many people or divers for that matter know this little interesting fact – coral is not a plant it is, in fact a living breathing animal, a marine invertebrate to be exact.

The first coral reefs were formed over 500 million years ago so technically corals are as old as dinosaurs and not yet extinct – although through global warming and general disregard for the reef we are doing a good job of trying! An individual coral is called a polyp, which is a small simple organism distantly related to jellyfish and anemones. They are formed mostly of a large stomach, with alien-like tentacles protruding. Corals tend not to be singular creatures. Instead, many polyps live together to form a coral colony – which we consider the basis of a reef.

day of the tentacleAs with most beautiful things underwater, coral is a carnivorous and a potentially rather deadly animal. Just ask any diver who has had an unfortunate encounter with a fire coral! During night time is when corals come alive and begin to hunt. Now I understand that watching corals hunt is not as interesting as watching a shark or large fish, however imagine if you were a plankton or small shrimp happily swimming by and then bam! An alien-like tentacle hits out at you from the lovely coral colony below. This innocent looking tentacle not only packs a whopping punch but also has a nasty little sting in it that temporarily stuns you allowing the coral to open its mouth and devour you alive! Bet that gives you a different perspective of coral.

No matter what type of diver you are there is a common rule amongst us which should be followed by all; the rule of look but do not touch any animal underwater. This rule is pushed on you from your first learning experience (well it should be if you have a good instructor). We all know that if you touch an underwater animal you can essentially kill them. Many underwater creatures have a special coating to their skin that protects them from germs and infections. When we touch them we dissolve this coating allowing germs from our skin and the ocean to penetrate through to the animal and create disease.

Coral is no exception, in fact as one of the largest animals in the ocean we really should learn to respect coral a lot more. How many times have you seen a snorkeler using the century old hard brain coral as a stand so they can take a break from swimming or the diver with the camera who is desperate to get the perfect photo of the frogfish, carelessly lying on a beautiful soft coral colony! You know what those polyps are doing at this time – screaming in agony as they are being crushed alive! As the coral song says ‘would you step on a cat – no you wouldn’t do that!’ So Coral Polypwhy do so many divers and snorkelers think it is acceptable to step, lie, touch, stand and generally beat up coral!

Coral does form the foundation of our reef systems, which in turn attracts the fish, the critters, the sharks, rays and all the other wonderful creatures so many divers are desperate to see. Without coral there will be no reefs, no fish, no sharks, no rays no nothing!! So maybe next time you go on a dive you should take a little time to appreciate one of the oldest living creatures in the ocean and remember it is not a plant but in fact a living breathing creature.

Zoe

The History of Negros

By | This & That

The History of Negros.

Why is it that I always end up with the blog topics that need some research and fact checking? The history of Negros Oriental is a topic that I will have to do some actual looking into.

But that’s the topic I was given to write a blog about for this week. So as the saying goes, when you are given lemons, learn to juggle. Or something like that.

Back in the day researching the history of Negros would have involved heading to the public library armed with my library card (they couldn’t just check the system), and a pocket full of change. The change wasn’t for snacks or any such thing, it was simply so that I could photocopy the relevant pages.

It was either pay for copies or sit at a desk and scribble down notes onto a notepad. Of course there were some disadvantages to the Xerox machine.

photocopyUsually there was only one in the whole place and you had to line up to get to it. Secondly depending on how big of a book you were trying to squeeze into the machine it had an effect on how well you could get a half decent copy. As most of the time it was an encyclopedia of sorts it was usually a sizable tome. Trying to flatten out the book and mash it down into the copier was a feat and a half. If done incorrectly you were left with half a page that was a perfect reproduction and the other half looked like a scrambled television channel.

No amount of squinting could make the page clear again and you would just have to plug more money into the machine and try again.

Of course things are much easier in this day and age. All it takes is a quick Google search. Right now I could type “History of Negros Oriental” into the search bar and my page would be filled with links to cold hard fact about Negros. Because everything that is written on the internet is just that, “cold hard facts”. Right? Of course not. That’s the problem how do I separate the wheat from the chaff? How do I know a site is reputable? Should I just stick with Wikipedia?

Dewey Decimal SystemAt least at the library there was usually only one or two books about whatever subject you were researching. And it was selected by someone for presumably being accurate and worthy of claiming it’s rightful place in the Dewey Decimal System card catalog.

Possibly it was the librarian that made the selection? If there was another person in charge of library-ish things, I have never encountered them. Given that the librarian had the power to instantly silence a room without word ( a simple “shhh” would suffice) I can only assume they had the power to veto inaccurate text. I’m not sure of the specifics, but it didn’t just appear there without some kind of system of checks and balances.

But the internet, that is a whole different machine. Anyone can put something on it’s virtual shelves.

What does all of that have to do with the history of Negros Oriental? Not much actually. To be honest I’m just trying to delay my fact checking for a while longer. After all some things might be better to not know.

By not knowing the actual history of Negros Oriental I can dream up my own.

The imagination is a great thing. Why stifle it with facts, and dates, and other such nonsense?

Here are the facts as I know them. Negros is an island, actually it’s divided into two halves Occidental and Oriental.

Now I happen to know a smattering (yes, that’s a word, look it up) of Latin. Exactly how that came to be, I’m not sure. But I seem to possess slightly more than the average person. For a baseline I’m assuming most people got their knowledge of Latin from Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society.

Useless Superpower

In-flight flight

It’s not that I’m trying to puff up my chest or anything. Knowing Latin is like the superpower equivalent of being able to turn invisible, but only when no-one is looking or of being able to fly, but only while inside an airplane.

But lo and behold, I have found a small aircraft here with Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental, where I can flex my might, such as it is.

The terms Oriental and Occidental are like two sides of a coin. Oriental is derived from “Oriens” which simply means East. Given that, it’s not hard to surmise that Occidental means West, in Latin the word is “Occidens”. And with that our Latin lesson comes to a close, let’s take this plane in for a landing.

Oriens and Occidens or East and West, like I said two sides of a coin.

Incidentally can you think of another phrase that means the same as “like two sides of a coin”? I can’t. No, really, it’s harder than you think. Give it a try.

Let’s get back to my extensive history of Negros. As far as the topic of Negros goes I can only make some wild assumptions.

First off as an island, the first people to “discover” the island came by boat from the West (most likely it was the Spanish). That’s if I use a starting point of when someone from outside of Asia arrived on the island.

I think that is a fair starting point because I highly doubt that the inhabitants of the island named their own island Negros Oriental. I mean really. It had to be someone from outside of Asia.

Now I may start to touch on some racial nerves here, but really I am more focused on the linguistic side of things. After all, there are only a couple of things that I actually know to be factual here. One of them is that the island is named Negros or if you divide it up, “Negros Oriental” and “Negros Occidental”. It is also correct to flip those around and say “Oriental Negros” or “Occidental Negros”.

Given this linguistic edge I can continue with my assumptions. Whoever it was that arrived on Negros, they were from outside of Asia.

How do I know this?

Because who else would call the people Oriental? Another Asian nation most likely would not feel the need to classify the islanders as Asian (or as us Latin aficionados know it to mean Eastern). Now I’m saying Asian (instead of Oriental) because it’s a bit more politically correct in my mind. But at the time that Negros was “discovered”, the term was indeed Oriental.

murder on the orient expressThink of Agatha Christie and “Murder on the Orient Express”, that would lose some of its mystique if it was “Murder on the Asian Express”. That sounds more like a Fox News Special Report.

In any event the intrepid travelers that discovered Negros saw two things to categorize the people of the island. One was that they were some type of Oriental. The other…is a lumbering elephant in the room that I am afraid to get too close to. It has to do with the word Negros. Of course, I can only assume that this was a reference to the color of their skin.

The word negro literally translates to mean black. Spanish and Portuguese speaking people agree on this if not other things.

Again it comes from the Latin word “niger”, which comes dangerously close to a word that is best not spoken too loudly. Unless of course you happen to be a multi-million dollar recording artist, then it can be acceptable to use this particular word as often and loudly as possible. However, there is a stringent set of parameters that must be met first. Not just any recording artist can get away with it, just ask Justin Bieber.

Most likely the dark skin was the first thing that stood out. Hence the island as a whole is simply called Negros Island. The terms Oriental and Occidental probably came later, when the two sides of the island felt a need to differentiate themselves for some reason. Probably it had to do with politics or religion, they are both proven methods used to divide people around the world.

And that my friends, is the history of Negros, at least as much of it that I am interested in. If you don’t believe me just go check out Wikipedia.

Just don’t come back and spoil my fun with facts and dates and other such nonsense.

Tim

By the way there are more useless superpowers here