The Philippines,  Travel Stories & Inspiration

Making a difference through Scuba Diving

Scuba diving is not my calling.

These words were in loop in my mind when I failed on my first attempt at scuba diving. And that what I believed that moment I had to go up the boat where my friend Kris was sitting pretty, taking pictures and waiting for us. I honestly felt ashamed of myself for failing to do one the best water sports on earth that I’ve been dreaming to do one day in my life. Back in my class online, I’d always tell myself that I love the ocean. When I tried scuba diving in the pool, I felt amazing and thought of trying to do it in open water one day. That day arrived, but I failed.

Scuba for Change and Stairway foundation

On February 18, my blogger friends and I went to Puerto Galera for a mission—to help and change lives. My friend, Lara, organized a fund raising activity (still ongoing). The earnings will be donated to Stairway Foundation.  The activity also aims to promote Scuba for Change, a diving center that offers lessons, from basic to advance, which helps you earn a diving license. Half of their profit goes to Stairway Foundation which was founded by Lars C. Jorgensen and Monica D. Ray in 1990 to help street children, or abused children. Lars is from Denmark and Monica, from America.

We were given the chance to visit the foundation and interact with the locals. When I was listening to the story of how it all started, I was touched. I felt the love and compassion of the founders. It had been a while since I visited a foundation in Manila where I celebrated my 28th birthday.

Stairway Foundation has the following programs:

– Advocacy and Capacity Building

– Treatment of Sexually Abused Children

– Residential Family Home

– Community Assistance Program

– Youth for Change Program

– Volunteer and Placement Program

For more information, please visit

Inside the foundation, we got the chance to see the children. As of now, 10 children live in the comforts of the foundation. According to the administrator, they’re not strict towards the children. They don’t lock them away from the real world. They’re free to perform things and activities even outside the foundation provided that they will be accompanied by any of the people in charge. Beach time is at 3 pm. They also have music and painting lessons. They look happy as evidenced by their beautiful smiles. We walked around the foundation, although taking photos of children is prohibited.

Open Water Scuba Diving

Two days wasn’t enough and each day was fully packed. The second day was the moment we had all been waiting for. We headed to Tamaraw Beach Resort where the scuba diving will be held. It’s a beach front hotel where Scuba for Change is located. We practiced first in the pool. I experienced it before at Selah Garden Hotel. Our scuba instructors Gracian, Julienne  and Rosemarie were skilful. Instructor Rosemarie was supervising my breathing exercise which I failed when I went to the surface and inhaled for air like a fish. While Gracian and Juliene taught me the rest of the lesson. Rosemarie gently taught me the basics on how to do it properly. I couldn’t hide how amazed I was while she was in front of me. She was absolutely skillful and graceful even underwater. I closely watched her every move especially her hand gestures as she was demonstrating what to do. I swear she’s the sexiest scuba instructor I’ve ever met and she’s a humble woman with a serious and alluring personality.

As we went underwater for the real action, though, I failed. I got disappointed, but I’d love to thank my instructors for guiding me and boosting my confidence. Even if I didn’t see the wonderful life underwater, I’m quite grateful for the opportunity.

We went home with great memories and life-altering activities. It’s not only about promoting scuba diving; it’s something that we’d love to do for the community and the people.

We thank our sponsors who willingly joined us and made the first part of our journey of changing children’s lives possible; Captain’s Greg’s hotel who gave us free accommodation; and Monkeyspeak Coffee a supplier that produces coffee solution, such as coffee capsule, coffee machine, and electric milk frother/warmer, for helping us stay awake with latte and cappuccino. Big thanks to the owner, Mr.Victor Birman  , for having us over at his lovely home and for preparing our barbecue dinner and unlimited drinks. I swear, the barbecue was one of the best!

You can also join us and be part of this life changing activity. Each ticket costs PHP100. See more details below.

Grand Prize: Open Water or Advanced Open Water PADI certification. Grand draw will be on 29th April, 2017.

 Consolation Prizes:

2 x – 4 Boat Dive Package

3 x – 2 Boat Dive Package

“Let’s make a difference. Let’s scuba for change to create positive and lasting legacies.” 

Photo used above credit to Fly Motion

Born, raised, and forever loyal to the Philippines. Catherine is a teacher and a BA in Mass Communication graduate who loves anything child-friendly. She loves writing in her diary every day and is in love with beaches, books, Safari, and Tokyo. Her ultimate dream destinations are Madagascar, Mongolia, and Hawaii. Check out her van camping adventures in Europe at


  • erica

    I’ve never tried scuba diving before but it would be nice if I do it for a cause for the first time. Puerto Galera is not so far from Manila so I think it’s a perfect place to go. Thank you for this guide. I’d know what to do when I get there! 🙂

  • Marge

    It’s okay if you weren’t able to do it the first time. But when we return, try it again. Who knows, this time you may be able to enjoy it. I know that it can be nerve wracking but trust me when I say that once you go underwater, you will definitely love what you will see. You enjoyed the snorkeling when we went to Galera the first time, more than I did actually. So I am sure that when you get to see the fish and the corals up close, you will love the experience.

  • The Travel Ninjas

    We’ve been hearing about the Scuba for Change place. It sounds really awesome. We volunteered at a similar place in Miami that taught physically challenged kids to scuba. We love that they donate proceeds to the Stairway Foundation. We would definitely drive with them.

  • Mikee Pascual

    I was also there last month! I loved how Stairway Foundation takes care of the children; the ates and kuyas teach them about academics, carpentry, livelihood, good manners and right conduct, and anything that could contribute to the betterment of their life. Their environment reminded me of Gawad Kalinga communities where every little thing just makes you want to live simply. Also, I could attest that Gracian and Julienne are really well-skilled and proficient in their chosen fields; they took us to the equally beautiful underwater world of Puerto Galera effortlessly. Congrats still for trying scuba diving out and for braving what’s ahead of you! You can always try again! 🙂

  • Fabio

    It is amazing what you guys are doing for help the Stairway Foundation.
    Thanks life that you found a skillful instructor that help you out and even you didn’t see the amazing wildlife at least you learn a lot! You should keep going to scuba. I never tried but want to do it soon, maybe in Philippines 😀

  • Suruchi

    I have never tried Scuba Diving but so want to try it. I feel it ok to fail at times because that gives you the another strong reason to try again for it. And it is really amazing how you went for a social cause which takes care of children.

  • Catherine Mendoza

    That’s right. thanks Suruchi! Failure is part of life. And I really like this event because at least half of the profit will be given to the children of the foundation. It’s touching.

  • Sandy N Vyjay

    The Stairway foundation is doing a commendable job and the world needs more of this from people and NGO’s from across the world. Scuba diving is in itself a thrilling and enjoyable activity. If a cause is linked with it, apart from the fun, it also adds a sense of purpose to the entire activity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *