Record-holding divers, mermaids at PHL Dive Expo

International and local dive experts and world record holders will gather for the first ever Philippine Dive Expo (PHIDEX), slated Sept. 20-22, at Conrad Hotel, Mall of Asia complex, Pasay City.

Organized by the Department of Tourism under the leadership of Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat, Phidex will feature world-class divers, marine conservationists, environmentalists, and international dive buyers, influencers and underwater photographers and videographers who will share their expertise, present innovative ideas, network with leading dive operators and lend their knowledge about sustainable diving practices with key stakeholders in the Philippines.

Two of the guests who will deliver talks are Guinness World Record holders Faisal Jawad Hashim from Kuwait, and Ahmed Gabr from Egypt.

Scuba diver Faisal Jawad Hashim has the fastest 10-kilometer scuba dive in the world at 5 hours and 24 minutes, a feat especially astounding considering he is a paraplegic. Hashim publicly talks about his condition to motivate people and raise awareness about taking care of the environment.

Ahmed Gabr, on the other hand has made the deepest dive at an astounding 332.35 meters deep (1,090.4 feet). This is a double record, one for Deepest SCUBA Dive, and another for Deepest SCUBA Dive in Sea Water. He achieved this feat in Dahab, Egypt in September 2014.

Two more speakers, Odessa Bugarin (Philippines) and Yolanda Yao (China), are professional mermaids and certified instructors. Bugarin holds four national records in competitive freediving, while Yao has starred in the first ever all underwater mini-movie ‘Mermaid’s Fantasy.’

Mermaiding as a sport requires the use of special fins that encompass the thighs down to the toes. Professional mermaids, or occasionally water ballerinas, require special diving and breathing training, which is why many experts consider Mermaiding an extreme sport.

The expo will also tackle issues relevant to the Philippines such as Sustainable Marine Tourism, paneled by diving instructor and foodie Valentine Thomas (Canada), ad mogul Prahlad Kakar (India), dive marketing and management expert Roni Ben-Aharon (Philippines), conservationist and SCUBA instructor Shannon Fuller (USA), and PADI instructor Conny Jepson (Sweden).

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