I don’t know where to start, everything about our freediving course with Emil was fantastic – I would give 10 stars if I could!
Emil came by our hotel the night before to bring us our course material and from that moment on we knew we were in good hands. He took such good care of us, he really customized the course to our wishes and needs and did everything to make my girlfriend and I feel comfortable and safe in and outside the water. (He even improvised a nasal rinse for me since I was a little congested and had some problems to equalize.)
In other freediving schools in the Philippines you get two 90min classroom lessons and two 90min water sessions in the course of two days. Emil instead really gave us the time we needed and in the end we spent three full days freediving and learning with him and the course day ended, when we were exhausted (but stoked) after a long water session. He’s got so much love for this sport and the ocean and he really cares about you having a great time and making progress, without ever putting any pressure on you.
We’re so glad we went to Romblon, which was definitely one of our favourite islands in the Philippines and we’re so glad, we got to meet Emil. He’s a brilliant teacher, so much fun to hang out with (and share a beer with) and probably the nicest person we met in our 2 months in this beautiful country.
I genuinely miss this guy and whenever I’m back in that area I will take my next freediving course at Dumagat Freedive.
Thanks so much for everything – good luck for the search and see you soon, Emil!
~ Amélie & Georg, Austria
Translated from Swedish: “Freediving; An experience out of the ordinary and an instructor; Emil as having the greatest degree of commitment, professionalism, humility and knowledge gave us experiences and insights that we did not know existed. One of our eight great days in Romblon, we spent at Dumagat Freedive with Emil. He gave us the first insights and experiences in freediving’s precious art. He did it with panache. His peace, harmony and pedagogy impressed, and he got us, but we really do not understand how it happened, that the mental training and relaxation exercises to hold our breath for as long as we before thought would be totally impossible. After our exercises on land and on yoga mats, we spent several hours in the water. There, about 100 meters from the shore and at a buoy as a starting point, we made the descent one after the other. The feeling to dive down along the vertical rope is hard to describe. Even more indescribable feeling was that, after a number of attempts to reach ten meters deep and remain there for a while and then give yourself up to the surface again. Magical experience! Thanks Emil for your patience! See you again next year!”
~ Ann-Marie & Gunnar, Sweden
“We, four French 30-ish years old underwater passionates, spent 3 days with Emil in early May 2018. We all came with different levels of free diving experience, and different expectations: two of us had already been training for a year, one was a complete beginner, and I had some kind of empiric experience practicing spearfishing. Despite the very short time frame and heterogeneous audience, Emil managed to go beyond what we would have imagined. His natural confidence, extensive knowledge and strong professionalism enabled him to get the best from each of us.
After three open water sessions, we all managed to satisfy all the requirements for the SSI Level 1. Some of us even pushed their limits to amazing static chronos (4min40sec) and constant weight depths (25m), that they definitely wouldn’t have reached without Emil’s precious help and advices.
Moreover, the setting is as meaningful as perfect. A simple house on the coast line, integrated in its environment, at the end of the world, only one hundred meters away from the freedive spots. We almost felt like young Jedis undertaking an initiatory trip to meet Master Yoda.
We definitely recommend this amazing experience and wish all the best to Emil.”
~ Céline, Max, Carole & Guillaume, France
“Keeping your breath for as long as you can to go as deep as possible underwater could sound a bit stupid, but next to Emil it just feels right (kind of). He put me in so much confidence by his obvious experience and professionalism but also because he’s a super calm and patient motherfucker. I had no idea what I was getting into, Dumagat Freedive definitely changed my vision of underwater possibilities and opened a new world to me. Thanks Emil, you’re a fucking legend!”
~ Colin, Quebec
“I am pretty sure there are adventures or activities on this planet some people will say are insanely great and other people won’t get hyped or touched by at all. Traveling around 10 years visiting nearly 20 countries, I would 100% say this is the way things are working and that’s fine. But that was before we went to Romblon to do a freediving course at Dumagat Freedive. Actually it was so nice I really thought about not writing a review while hoping this wonderful place should stay the same till I go there again. But that wouldn’t be fair and everybody should know what a beautiful pearl is laying there in the center of the Philippines. I really think experiences like this will make the world a better place… you will know when you will go! So I made myself a TripAdvisor account just to tell you what’s up with Freediving, Romblon and Emil. Freediving is a way of diving which concentrates on the ability to connect your mind with your body to achieve a state of high relaxation and control. You will be able to do things you probably thought were impossible. And yes you are gonna be diving without an oxygen tank on your back. Romblon is a small island you can orbit via coastline street in about 2 hours and it is breathtakingly :) nice… On this colourful island you will hardly find a single person who is not smiling, in a friendly way. And if you stop, it won’t take long to have contact with the locals which means you will most often have a drink and a snack and perhaps a new friend. Emil ( the founder of Dumagat Freedive) has Filipino roots but also spent some years in the U.S studying, so the course will be optionally held in English. He is such a cool, relaxed, polite and funny guy, you could easily think he is a friend you are traveling with instead of him being your teacher. Actually we spent most of the time together cooking, meeting locals and having a drink, watching a movie or simply having a talk about whatever feels worth talking about. He as a person is really enjoyable, he as a diving teacher is simply the best I ever had by far! I had a couple since a started scuba years ago. Whatever you imagine a teacher should be like, he is. Whatever you imagine a teacher shouldn’t be like, he isn’t… The only thing which is below average are the prices per course Emil charges. What a great dude.. I never had any kind of homesickness, but yeah I miss that place. See you again for sure. You did an incredibly great Job…”
~ Janis & Lea, Germany
“We spent a total of 8 weeks in a row in the Philippines, but our week on Romblon island with Dumagat Freedive and Emil was one of the brightest shining highlights.
Driven by the idea to boost our snorkel adventures we decided spice up our holidays with something challenging, a freedive course. We picked Dumagat Freedive because it had the best reviews and the island Romblon itself seemed to be off the beaten tracks.
Emil taught us everything we needed to successfully complete the SSI Level 1 Freedive Course: breathing techniques, equipment, finning, streamlining, relaxation, freediving physiology, equalisation techniques and much more. For the course, Dumagat Freedive provided all the study materials, lots of fun, fins, wetsuits and if you need as well masks.
Emil is a very very good and dedicated freedive instructor. We always felt safe and comfy with him. His humour always keeps a smile in your face and his patience but encouraging style ensures maximum success and a pleasant experience. Thanks again Dumagat Freedive for enriching our life with new sensations! Level 2 is in planning!”
~ Miriam & David, Germany
“Upon the suggestion of a common friend, I decided to check out Dumagat Freedive during a trip to (beautiful, peaceful) Romblon late last year; didn’t really have plans to do freediving prior; but still checked out the place and spoke with Emil a bit, and decided then and there to at least go for the introductory course. Definitely.no.regrets. Emil’s probably one of the best instructors I’ve had — I love how chill he is, and considering I have some anxiety issues when in open water (and with no scuba gear or at least fins on), I quickly learned to relax, breathe properly, and have lots of fun at the same time! It rained quite hard at one point, and I really loved the contrast of being underwater and all its serenity versus surfacing to heavy pounding rain. Saw one of the resident sea turtles as well, which was def a treat! If heading to Romblon, I’d definitely suggest to spend at least a few days in this part of the island and not just stay in town for the whole duration. And do consider taking a course with Dumagat if you’re even the least bit interested in exploring unspoilt nature — you won’t regret it! and you’ll get to meet a pretty fun bunch as well! My only disappointment was that I didn’t have more days in the island to do a proper course. But hey, it’s one of many reasons to go back!”
~ Alexandra, Philippines
“… Firstly, awesome guys, and they didn’t try to sell anything to us at all, so were off to a good start. Secondly, they had literally the perfect thing for us: their ‘Discover Freediving’ morning or afternoon course. After a brief chat about what it would involve, we decided to go for it. Next day we did the course…. It was by far, the best decision we could have made, and was actually I think one of my highlights of our 5 month round-world trip! The guys are so sound yet professional, and Emil was such a clear, calming, patient teacher. I won’t go into too much detail about the course content, but basically on the shore, among many other things, we learnt all about how to breathe before and after the dives, and how to deal with the urges to breath when the CO2 builds up; then in the water we put it all into practice (and even were privileged enough to do it alongside Sylvain while he did his own personal training – involving 60m+ dives!). The whole time Emil was talking us through everything, encouraging us, telling us where we could improve, and was even diving down with us on every dive (for safety, and presumably so he could assess our progress). After the ‘official’ training, Emil stayed out with us in the water for as long as we wanted while we practiced everything we had just learnt, giving tips and/or encouragement when we asked/needed it. Back on shore I was on cloud 9 and we hung around for a good while eating cake in the amazing beach/forest setting with the guys and kind of part debriefed, part shared our new-found enthusiasm for the sport, and part just talked nonsense! Anyway, gotta stop typing now! All in all it was really a great experience and I couldn’t recommend it higher. We probably would have done further training if we had more time and a higher budget.”
~ Hannah & Jack, U.K.
“I had some freediving experience before, so a friend recommended me to go to Romblon and dive with Emil. I did the SSI level 1 and asked Emil to focus on safety & blackouts. And so he did with excellence. Not only does he reveal the best freediver in you, but he also affects you on a personal level. He gets to the core of what freediving is about. Every day we had not only training dives, but so much fun dives, it’s great! The location is just perfect, and the gear is excellent. I stayed at Totoy’s place (great food and drinks!), and that made the whole experience even better. I feel that I’ve made some real friends there. I can’t wait to go back to resume freediving.”
“I had never done freediving nor scuba diving before and I was afraid of being underwater. Hard job for Emil, the teacher at Dumagat Freedive. In the end, I spent more than three weeks at this wonderful place, diving almost everyday and overcame my fear of the water. Emil is such a professional and patient teacher with his heart in the right place. Hope I can come back some time.”
~ Elena, Germany
“A couple of weeks of training in heaven – Romblon, Philippines – have wrought results. A new personal best in freediving. Depth: 46.6m FIM 2:06min. With this post I’d like to thank resident jedi master of this remote island – Emil Lars of Dumagat Freedive. Truly one of the best instructors of any sport or discipline that I ever had the pleasure to meet.”