“Sometimes, the most mundane people bring the most joy to our hearts.”
Have you ever come across videos of live-action mermaids with their beautiful tails? There’s just something so mesmerizing about them that heals our inner child. Beauty and Grace are two words we can use to describe tank mermaids. However, there is more to them than just the surface.
Cebu also has its tank mermaid— CebuanaSirena or Mermaid Mariae. Mermaid Mariae went viral on Tiktok as she showed a day in the life of a tank mermaid at Cebu Ocean Park. But what does it take to become a tank mermaid? Mermaid Mariae was able to tell us exactly what.
Meet Naomi, aka Mermaid Mariae
Naomi is behind the trending Mermaid Mariae. She was born and raised in Cebu and has been swimming since she was three. Naomi is part of the Bakhaw Adventure Team, a group of free divers in Cebu. Mermaiding is Naomi’s side hustle, and according to her, it takes all the energy she has to balance her time as a mermaid and having a full-time job.
When asked what she likes most about mermaiding, Mermaid Mariae expressed how heartwarming it is to see people of all ages smile. How their eyes shine as if seeing the mermaids are healing their inner child.
A Little Girl’s Dream Turned Reality
Ever since Naomi was a kid, she had always been comfortable in the water. Her mom was a swimming instructor, and she taught Naomi how to swim. Moreover, Naomi dreamed of being a mermaid as a kid, which she brought up until adulthood.
During the pandemic, Naomi had to find a new hobby. She and her partner joined a freediving class in Moalboal. Eventually, they joined the Bakhaw Adventure Team, which established mermaiding in Cebu. The group partnered with Cebu Ocean Park, and that’s when Naomi’s career as a mermaid kicked off.
She and her co-mermaid went to Bali, Indonesia, to get certified as mermaids. Yes, you read that right. They had to do a 3-day training, lecture, pool training, and open water training. They also had to be physically fit in order to become certified.
What Does it Really Take to Do Mermaiding?
Gone are the days when people thought mermaiding is “langoy-langoy lang.”
According to Naomi, mermaiding is physically demanding. It is something that requires training such as breath hold and learning how to be graceful underwater. Even the mermaid tails are quite heavy as well.
“Mermaiding is a hobby and passion, but it also became a career. Even if kapoy, dili gyud nako ma feel nga kapoy. It’s more of a challenge to train myself harder.” –Naomi, Mermaid Mariae.
Real-Life Disney Princess
Naomi might as well be a real-life Disney princess because she also has a heart of Gold. She and her diving group, the Bakhaw Adventure Team, arrange the “Heart Meal Project” every year, when they cook for homeless people. Not only that, but they also have advocacies such as marine conservation.
You Can Be a Mermaid, too!
Yes, you can become a mermaid too! Mermaid Mariae says that as long as you are comfortable in the water and are willing to train, you can become a mermaid; Even kids can practice.
If you want to start your mermaiding journey, Mermaid Mariae emphasizes the importance of finding a community you can connect and swim with. The number one rule to mermaiding is never to dive alone, so find like-minded people and train with them. Most importantly, enjoy the journey.
Naomi, aka Mermaid Mariae, reminds us that even ordinary Cebuanos can become an instrument of happiness and hope to everyone.
About “The Cebuano”
The Cebuano is a special Sugbo.ph feature where we showcase ordinary Cebuanos with extraordinary and inspiring stories. This is a platform where people’s real-life accounts are shared in the hopes of inspiring and motivating others.
The Cebuano shares raw and genuine tales of Sugboanons as they navigate life in Cebu. And YOU can also be part of The Cebuano.
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