Mermaids are one of the most fascinating creatures in folklore and fantasy stories. Most girls growing up have probably pretended to be a mermaid, like the heroine in Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid or one of the mermaids in Peter Pan’s Neverland.
Filipinos seem very fond of mermaids too because of Dyesebel, a comic book character created by illustrator Mars Ravelo, who has been popularized in many local movie and television series.
It’s not everyday that you get to meet a real-life mermaid, and I consider myself lucky that I’ve traveled with one! Ida Noelle is a “writer by profession, artist by passion, and mermaid by midnight.” As an aquatic performer, she has performed in Manila Ocean Park, “moonlighted as a mermaid” for local TV shows like Mutya and Aryana, and performs synchronized swimming, underwater ballet and aquatic dance shows for Splash Dance Aqua Shows.
Her work often takes her to various waterscapes around the country, where she’s happy to let her tail out and bring some magic into this world. Check out my short interview with real-life mermaid Ida.
Where is your favorite weekened getaway for swimming and mermaiding?
For weekend underwater breaks I often go to Anilao, Batangas because it’s near. If Palawan was nearer and cheaper to get to, I’d definitely be going there more often.
As a real-life mermaid, what are your travel essentials for your underwater adventures?
I always bring my bikini, goggles and nose clip when I want to explore underwater. I prefer using a nose clip because it helps me to hold my breath longer while I explore as far and as deep as I can underwater. Oh and I always bring a sarong and sunblock.
Where’s the best place in the Philippines that you have gone to on your mermaid adventures?
First place that comes to mind is the Enchanted River in Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur where the water is pristine blue and there’s an underwater cave! The place is magically beautiful and mysterious – perfect mermaid environment A very close second runner up would be the Crowning Glory Reef in Culion, Palawan.
These reefs have been undisturbed for almost 100 years and are absolutely breathtaking. I’ve never seen anything quite like it! In fact, Culion Island and the waters that surround it are probably the most naturally beautiful places I’ve ever been to. And special mention also goes to the Anuplig waterfalls at the Adams trail in Ilocos Norte. There is a hidden cave behind the falls with a beautiful view for those brave enough to cross the ice cold waters. I also really enjoyed Iligan because of all the pretty waterfalls they have there!
What are the challenges of being a mermaid?
To be honest, there are not a lot of challenges when it comes to being a mermaid It’s just having fun in the water so that hardly ever gets too complicated. At times it does get a little disheartening though when people don’t believe in such things as mermaids, or when evil pirates try to capture us.
Where is your dream destination?
There are a couple dream destinations I have. I’d like to swim in the waters of Israel, Greece and Malta. I’m definitely drawn to the Meditteranean. I think I’d also like to try going outer space and experience mermaiding in zero gravity.
Any tips for those who want become an aquatic performer/ mermaid too?
First tip would obviously be to learn how to swim, or at least become very comfortable in deep water (I can teach you!) Once you’re comfortable in the water, just play and spend as much time in it as possible. It’s the only guaranteed way that you can develop the skills and grace to move underwater. I found that it also helps to go swimming with friends and make up your own dances in the water which is a fun way to improve your aquatic movement. I cannot reiterate enough that it all boils down to just having fun in the water!
“This experience has taught me that I don’t need to take my job or even myself too seriously. When it came to looking for work, I never thought I would find it in a tank. But I am glad that the Mermaid Kingdom found me and eventually, I found another (more fun!) part of myself in it.” — Ida, My Life as a Mermaid
Mermaids are real, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.