As the whole country cheer for the first human and first Filipino to dive deep in the 3rd Deepest spot in the world, Brooke’s Point born Microbial Oceanographer Dr. Florence Onda is still at high in the moment, being chosen to be one to explore Emden deep in the Philippine Trench.
Onda believes that one of the major factors that made him to be part of the project by Caladan Oceanic, is him being a Palaweño who is raised and grew up living near the sea shore since young, right in the poblacion town port of Brookes Point, he witnessed and experienced a lot observing and monitoring the life of his kababayan whom he called “Taong Dagat” and he is proud to be one of it.
“Taong Dagat ako, it’s like coming home, mga taong dagat naman ang mga Palaweño,” Onda said during a zoom interview last March 20.
He clarified that he didn’t apply for this, he was clueless until now why he is part of it and he doesn’t want to know, what’s important is, it is a recognition not only for him but for the country and as a Filipino. He declared that he is not getting any salary or allowance in joining this historical trip.
“Hindi ako nag-apply, ‘di ko na rin inalam ba’t ako napili, because I am a Filipino scientist and this is a recognition of Filipinos,” Onda explain.
Onda is tentatively scheduled to ride the submarine or DSSV Pressure Drop at the morning of March 23, Tuesday and based on his orientation from the team, he was among the first batch of Aquanots to explore the deep for 10 to 12 hours, he will only dive once during the duration of the exploration.
“ ‘Di ko alam ang nararamdaman ko, I’m excited, hanggang ngayon ‘di pa nagsi-sink in na magdi-dive ako, may kaunting pressure kasi ang buong Pilipinas excited,” Onda added.
According to Capt. Staurt Buckle of the Caladan Oceanic, it takes 10 years for his team to study and analyse the said exploration, he didn’t divulge the cost of the exploration but he assured they are using a lot of latest technology in these project. There are 19 Filipinos over all that is part of the team.
Buckle explain their main objectives in going down the Emdem Deep, first is to set record that no one does as of now, second is to see what’s in there down below particularly of plastic waste that have resurface if there is, and have a study on the lifestyles of humans that affects life at the sea.
After the historic trip, Onda announced that he will be back in Palawan for another expedition at the West Philippine Sea in a project by Department of Environment and Natural Resources, he already visited WPS in 2019 and he stand clearly that is part of Palawan, and the Philippines as well.
Onda is a Professor at the University of the Philippines- Marine Science Institute, he finished his Doctorate study at Universite Laval in Quebec, Marine Biotechnology at UP Diliman Campus, Marine Microbial Ecology at UP Baguio, secondary studies at Sacred Heart of Jesus and Brookes Point Central School for elementary degree.
One thing he learned in this latest exploration of him, is not to stop dreaming even at the time of pandemic.
“Kahit tumigil ang mundo sa pandemya, hindi tayo tumigil na mangarap,” Onda said.