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At first, diving instructor Eric Montes had this fear for his career as well as his family’s future after tragedy struck his group during a diving session last weekend in Batangas.
The 39-year-old Montes was in charge of a group of divers that had their usual underwater adventure in Anilao when one of them, Agnes Maria San Pedro, went missing until her body was found the following day at the bottom of their dive site.
“I’m still in the business of acquiring new people, new divers. That’s how I grow and basically that’s how I get most of my sustainable income,” said Montes. “Even alam ko na malinis ang conscience ko and that I planned everything. Pero people wouldn’t know and that I’m still a product of this accident.”
Despite his fears though, Montes doesn’t see any negative effects on the diving industry, noting that what happened to Agnes was a rarity.
“All equipment naman sa diving is halos perfect na. The technology ng diving industry is fail-proof basta properly maintained and new,” said Montes.
What keeps Montes overcome his fear is the continuous pouring of support from friends, most importantly from the same group that encountered the tragedy that befell San Pedro.
“At first I thought I’d lose my confidence in teaching and diving but that did not happen,” said Montes. “Actually I’m more inspired now and I guess my passion can overcome any adversity.”
While he values his friends’ support, Montes said the reaction he got from Agnes’ parents is what makes him a bit relieved from the consequences that have bugged him since the accident occurred.
“I was expecting the worse pero they’re angels. In my entire life, ito na yata ang mga pinakamabait na taong na-encounter ko,” said Montes. “Gusto ko murahin nila ako. Sapakin nila ako. Tatanggapin ko lahat. Pero nung tinawagan ko, of course they cried pero they never blamed me.”
Montes knows how big of a loss Agnes is to his family with the kind of experience he and his friends got from the late diver.
He said their group has formed a special bond that is so good it makes it very hard for all of them to miss one member during a specific dive. “Tawag nga namin Manang kasi para siyang ate ng lahat. Walang arte. Very matured, intelligent and kind,” Montes said.
“Agnes and the rest of the group, I can see that they love our camaraderie. Kung isa walang pera, sagot ng iba basta magkasama lang.”
Meantime, Montes hopes to honor Agnes in the most appropriate way by immortalizing her memory based on her passion for the marine life. “The reefs there are thriving. It is located near the Verde passage which is the center of marine biodiversity. I plan to talk with all diving professionals and convince them to name the site after Agnes,” said Montes.
Agnes was laid to rest yesterday at the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City. (DENNIS PRINCIPE)