Newly opened AECID-supported Dive Center in Basilan promises opportunities for women
Photo (L to R): WBA LGU employees and CMAS-certified divers Sarah Miguel Tahajid and Gernie Tadjah-Ladjaalam take their turns demonstrating how the newly procured compressor machine for the WBA Dive Center works.
CMAS-certified divers from local government units within the Western Basilan Alliance (WBA) gathered this week in Maluso town in Basilan for a training package aimed at building their capacity to operate and sustain the WBA Dive Center.
Envisioned as a social enterprise, the dive center is one of the components of the Modeling Inter-LGU Alliance in Basilan (MILAB) project implemented by the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) in partnership with the Basilan provincial government and selected municipal governments that comprise the WBA.
This week’s training is in line with efforts to sustain the competence of the WBA’s CMAS-certified divers and promote sustainable tourism through a wide and exciting range of activities in pre-identified dive sites, said Noor Saada, MILAB project manager.
CMAS stands for Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques. In English it is known as the World Underwater Federation, and uses the French acronym CMAS in its logo. Recognized internationally, CMAS offers several training programs, such as recreational diving, snorkeling, specialty diving, technical diving and leadership diving with specialty grades.
Sarah Miguel Tahajid, one of the CMAS-certified divers assigned to operate the WBA Dive Center, said she is ecstatic to be part of this engagement and looks forward to setting her eyes on tourism gems just waiting to be discovered. Even a native-born like her has not fully explored the many spectacular spots within WBA.
Another female participant and CMAS-certified diver, Gernie Tadjah-Ladjaalam, said she feels lucky to be part of the initiative. According to her, the dive center is a rare but timely opportunity to train and develop a local pool of skilled personnel, including women employees.
Being a woman and part of the process builds up her competence – that she can be at par with her male colleagues, she said. Diving, historically, has always been for men – especially in remote places like Basilan. With Sarah’s and Gernie’s participation, they now believe that women can be divers, too.
Sarah and Gernie are participating in a two-week training package under the WBA Dive Center. During this period, they will hone their skills on proper set-up, maintenance, utilization and storage of equipment; snorkeling, free diving and introduction to SCUBA – one of the services the dive center will offer; proper identification of dive sites; proper care of dive equipment to be procured through the MILAB project; and crafting menu, tariff and promotional materials for the dive center.
The insights and learnings from the training will be written into an operations manual which will be used to guide the services and staff interactions with the dive center’s clients.
The first inter-LGU cooperation in Basilan province, WBA is supported by Cooperación Española (AECID) through the IAG-implemented MILAB project.