Michael “Mike” Martillano
Owner (corporation) Eclipse Dive Center, Boracay
PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor with specialty ratings for Nitrox, deep dive, night dive.
2016-2019 President of BBASS (Boracay Business Administration of Scuba Shops Inc.).
2020 Vice President of BBASS
Mike has held the position of Vice President or President for the Boracay Business Administration of Scuba Shops Inc. since 2016. BBASS Environmental advocacies include Ocean-Bed Clean-ups, Crown of Thorns removals, maintenance of Dive Buoys, as well as assisting with maintenance of snorkeling and anchorage buoys. Members may also be called upon to assist with search and rescue missions.
3 things you focus on in your work: Diving is a specific industry so I have very distinct focus points.
Quality of Service – Making sure I have good and well maintained Equipment, so checking regularly. Ensuring standards and procedures of training are strictly followed
Attention to detail – this for me is getting to know and understand my students; how I may teach one can be very different to how I would teach another.
Safety – For me this is about familiarity with the dive sites on any given day in terms of how they react to weather and currents, and with my students; so we can agree on the dive sites appropriate for their skills or experience.
3 things that are important to me when I’m working:
Communication – you have to have the best communication with the people you work with. For co-coordinating day to day activities, maintenance of equipment but also during dives
Time-keeping – this is very important, especially in certain dive destinations, where you have to pay attention to the current and weather. Time-keeping is important for Instructors to follow, and our students.
Being physically and mentally fit – Not just me but my instructors too. Diving requires you to be fit and healthy. It is especially important for divers working on Boracay, where there are a lot of bars and parties; you have to have a balance. It’s vital to keep yourself physically fit for diving, for yourself and for your students.
My top tip for my Hospitality colleagues:
Put your best foot forward. The moment the guest meets up with you, be you’re absolute best. You are providing a service, an experience. This approach gives them the best time and also lessens the chance of complaints.
I have been a member of BBASS since 2012 but I’ve been diving a lot longer. I was the President of BBASS (Boracay Business Administration of Scuba Shops Inc.) from 2016, when the President stepped down half way through his term, and I stepped up. I was then elected President in 2017-2019. In 2020 I stepped down to the Vice-President position.
I was the President of BBASS during the closure of Boracay, when the island was under heavy scrutiny. I advocated hard for Boracay’s Marine environment to be included in the Rehabilitation Program. Initially it wasn’t included, other than the issue of making the water cleaner. I attended one meeting early on in the closure, and was then invited to lots of meetings. It was good to know that the Dive Tourism Community’s voice was heard.
During the closure I advocated strongly for the remaining divers on the island to be allowed to continue with the ocean clean ups and monitoring of the ocean bed. At the time there was a ban on boats and people using the water, other than a small stretch of water at Station 1. I had to approach the Security Committee of the island and negotiate with them to allow the remaining divers on the island to have access to the water. We had a major Crown of Thorns epidemic, at the time. It had started early in January and there was a massive epidemic of them across the Philippines. It was vital we had permission to enter the water to try to clear them, before they destroyed our corals and reefs.
BBASS has worked closely with the Boracay Inter-Agency Taskforce ever since, to set up various initiatives and advocacy projects. We have also conducted seminars for the Greenfins Foundation here; educating island stakeholders and water users. Topics include Why you shouldn’t drop Anchors, what fish shouldn’t be caught and why, not dropping trash in to the ocean and dry docking for repairs and not doing it whilst on the ocean. We also put signage, inspired by the Greenfins Foundation, all over the island and with DENR.
Every September is International Coastal Clean Up (ICC) month and all members participate. Officially BBASS organizes clean ups every quarter, but many members also carry out monthly clean-ups . And some divers practice it daily, always carrying a net bag, to educate the student divers on the importance of looking after the marine environment.
We maintain the Dive Buoys and help with snorkeling and Anchorage Buoys. We still sometimes see evidence of anchors having been dropped but it’s very few now. But in the past when it wasn’t followed, we would take photos and make reports of offenders. Visiting yachts is still an issue ; our dive buoys are not designed for yachts and many don’t know where to moor up. This is something we still need to address.
My biggest inspiration is to have Boracay recognized as the leading Sustainable Tourist Dive Destination in the Philippines.
What is unique here is that Boracay’s dive spots are all within 20 minutes of the beach, and an island full of hotels, spa’s, restaurants, bars and other activities. Unlike other Philippine Dive Destinations, which are really only geared up for Dive Tourism and often a great distance from the nearest hotels or attractions for non-divers.
Here tourists can visit with their families or friends and indulge their love of diving whilst the rest of their party chill out on the beach, have a massage or do their own activities. And they can all still meet up for lunch, or dinner afterwards. There’s no having to travel for 2 or 3 hours to get to their dive centre; everything is here within walking distance along a beautiful white beach. Plus we have a great range of dive sites for beginners and experienced divers.
What’s in your Future?
My main aim is to continue to provide a quality service. I’d like to see more locals becoming more environmentally aware and responsible for the island; to be Eco-Warriors. Not just on Boracay but across the Philippines and the World. To be aware of the impact that they have on the environment, and how they can minimize it.
More about The Boracay Business Administration of Scuba Shops Inc (BBASS):
The role of BBASS is to maintain the Boracay Dive Center Compliancey register and provide a forum for Dive Shops. BBASS used to oversee the set Dive Rates too but in 2019 decided to focus more on the islands environmental issues, continuing with the Ocean Bed clean-ups, maintaining the buoys at the dive sites and the Crown of Thorns removals.
BBASS also polices Standards and Procedures of member dive shops; equipment and training of BBASS members. They undertake an inspection of all shops at the start of the year, with PCSSD (Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving), Philippine Coast Guard and officers from the LGU, prior to endorsement for renewal of their business permits.
BBASS also does random inspections on the shops and personnel, throughout the year, checking instructors certifications are up to date, dive equipment is well maintained, recording procedures etc. BBASS decided these issues were more important to focus on, than setting the dive rates for Boracay, which wasn’t being followed anyway.
One of the requirements of BBASS is that every dive shop is required to participate in the BBASS environmental advocacy programs. Shops send personnel to join the ocean bed clean-up dives. Or, when they need to collect and remove Crown of Thorns. This is done with volunteer divers from the islands Dive Shops and various other island officials and groups.