“Kaya ko pala!”
An excited Agnes Maria San Pedro exclaimed just before their group jumped into the water Sunday at the Mainit Point diving site in Mabini, Batangas.
Agnes, a petite 35-year-old call center agent, was referring to the diving gear she was carrying on her back.
“Maski ako nagulat eh, knowing that she has scoliosis. I kept on telling her to sit down, but she stayed standing while we were on our way to the dive site,” recalled Bea Enguerra, who shared the bed with Agnes at Safety Stop resort.
Enguerra, 25, had struck a close friendship with Agnes whom she described as cheerful and full of life.
“We were all very excited because we never had the chance to go that deep in our previous dives,” she said.
Although the group ribbed Agnes about her absent love life, Enguerra said there were no indications that she was nursing personal problems.
“We talked about our future dives. In fact, the night before, Agnes slept soundly even without air-conditioning,” Enguerra recounted.
Agnes’ body was recovered Monday morning 30 meters under the sea, a day after she had gone missing.
Ironically, Enguerra said it was a perfect day for diving.
“I swear, in all my three years of diving, ‘yun ang pinakamagandang kundisyon,” she said.
Raymond Linsangan, another student diver in the group, said Agnes was too good a diver to make that mistake.
Gregory Sarmiento, Agnes’ dive buddy and an assistant dive instructor, had earlier told police that the victim ascended too fast and tried to warn her by banging his oxygen tank.
Linsangan, who started diving only this year, said Agnes had always reminded him about ascending properly.
“She was too good a diver to make that mistake,” he said.
A diver of five years, Agnes is also into running and mountaineering, according to Linsangan.
The group – all nine of them – reunited at Agnes’ wake Tuesday night and discussed what could have happened that fateful Sunday.
Aside from Enguerra, Sar-miento and Linsangan, the other members of the group are dive instructor Eric Montes, assistant instructor Armin John Cucueco, his brother Armin Brian, Dr. Marie Torralba, Patrick Bañas, and Iñigo Pimentel.
“Our theory is that Agnes may have been disoriented and panicked at the surface after ascending too fast. She may have been reaching for something, shifting the weight to the tank that pulled her down,” Linsa-ngan said.
Police investigators said that there was no indication that Agnes’ equipment malfunctioned and that there was enough air in the tank.
The accident halted the advance open water course that started with three dives last Saturday. The group was supposed to complete the course with three more dives the next day.
Despite the traumatic experience, Enguerra said she will continue diving.
“In fact, I left my gear in the resort to make sure I will return,” she said.
Agnes will be laid to rest on Saturday at the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina. Her two United States-based sisters are on their way to Manila to join their parents. (REY BANCOD)