A lot of PhotoUp team members love the ocean. As such, we have adopted freediving as one of our favorite activities. Several of us combined free diving with other hobbies such as photography for a more immersive experience.

Mishael, our Assistant Manager on PhotoUp’s PM shift, is one of our most avid free divers. He enjoys the sport as much as he enjoys taking fabulous photos underwater. The photos below are just some of the stunning underwater images he has taken.

It’s no surprise then that one of his recent photos got viral. The stunning viral photo, which featured Mishael wearing his school uniform while free diving , captured imagination of thousands, garnering more than 3,700 reactions, 300 comments, and 1,600 shares! That is very impressive!

In fact, it became so popular that Mishael got featured in Cebu Daily News (CDN), one of our local dailies. You can check out the feature here: At Home Under Water

Following this viral phenomenon, we exchanged a few words with Mishael.

1. What made you decide to go into free diving?

My friends persuaded me to try out the sport. I agreed, trying out snorkeling at first. It was then that I witnessed the amazing life underwater and fell in love with the sea. It sparked my enthusiasm so much so that I want to go deeper.

Also, the feeling of being one with the ocean when freediving is incomparable.

2. A lot of people are afraid of the deep blue. And rightfully so because it’s a wild, alien environment. How do you deal with that fear?

I used to be afraid of the ocean. The view beyond the trench where you can’t see coral or the seabed but just an endless blue made me feel that a huge sea monster would appear any minute and swallow me whole.

But when I started free diving and bore a fascination with the ocean, that fear was gradually replaced with feelings of acceptance and belonging. With proper training, I started becoming more relaxed underwater.

3. What makes freediving appealing to you?

Free diving is primarily a mental sport. You need to relax, but you also have to maintain your focus at the same time. For me, the sport is an escape from the busy world we live in.

It’s about self-awareness and the realization that we are part of a bigger world.

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4. How has freediving had an impact with your personal and professional life?

Free diving made a huge difference in my personal and professional life, most especially with my anxiety in times of stress. The sport taught me how to relax and ease up during stressful situations.

I was happy to share my freediving journey, and it was an opportunity to share my advocacy. I also like taking pictures of marine life and my dive buddies doing their thing. Through my photos, I hope to help people appreciate the wonders of the ocean and realize it is worth saving. Thus, you can understand how happy I felt when my photos went viral.

Speaking of saving the ocean, every dive should be considered as a cleanup dive. My buddies and I often retrieve pieces of trash we see floating around during our dives. We bring handmade mesh bags where we could put the rubbish in. My girlfriend takes the recyclables and places them inside eco-bricks. The rest goes to the trash bin.

I actively participate in beach cleanups, especially since PhotoUp, the real estate photo editing company that I work for, promotes such activities. We post photos and videos of these activities in social media to spread awareness about the ocean plastic pollution and to encourage people to reduce their plastic waste.

6. Any advice for new free divers out there?

Always remember the GOLDEN RULE: “Never dive alone.” Safety first! ‎Always dive with a buddy for safety and to share the fun experience with.

Finally, respect the ocean; when we dive, we are not in our realm. Never leave garbage behind. Don’t destroy corals, and don’t spook marine life.

Way to go, Mishael! Not only are you a great PhotoUp leader but you’re also a true sportsman, a source of inspiration, and an environmental advocate. Keep diving deep, Mishael!