Tara Abrina is a research officer at the University of the Philippines’ Marine Science Institute and also happens to be two-time Philippine national record holder and a freediving instructor at the Manumano Freedive Training Center.
In 2015, Tara Abrina had the pleasure of studying an award-winning coastal community in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay. Then a freedive assistant instructor and research assistant, Tara was inspired by the reef rangers of Ipil, not just because of their efforts for conserving their marine resources, but because of their immense kindness and social cohesion.
One year later, together with her friends from Reef Nomads Skindiving Tours and Manumano Freedive Training Center, Tara would return to Ipil to get the reef rangers certified as freedivers. They would use freediving in turn to get more people in the water with snorkelling tours, and cut costs during underwater surveys (which were normally done on SCUBA). This project was thus named Kapit Sisid (which loosely translates to ‘dive together’).
Today, Kapit Sisid is a growing network of freediving professionals and local marine conservation groups looking to learn from each other. It has trained four batches of conservationists around the Philippines so far, and has partnered with four multi-awarded freediving instructors. While freediving is a valuable skill for marine conservationists, Kapit Sisid has served as a venue where professional freedivers also learn about the marine environment straight from those who protect it.