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Filipino Scientist Conquers Third Deepest Spot on Earth

Here's why it matters.
by Ara Eugenio
Mar 23, 2021
Photo/s: DSSV Pressure Drop
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A Filipino scientist became one of the first humans to reach the third deepest spot on Earth, the Emden Deep, stirring nationalist pride.

Microbial oceanographer Deo Florence Onda of the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UP MSI) successfully made the 36-000 feet descent in a two-man expedition with American explorer Victor Vescovo.

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It is located inside the Philippines' EEZ or Exclusive Economic Zone.

"We've reached the Emden Deep. We've waved the Philippine Flag. We've set records. We have made history today. This is the Emden Deep of the PH trench. ATIN ITO!," Ondo shared news of the feat on Twitter, inside the DSSV (deep submersible support vessel) Pressure Drop that took them in the 10-hour journey to the deepest part of the Philippine Trench.  

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A photo of the two holding the Philippine flag was also shared by the the UP Marine Science Institute Tuesday afternoon. It was captured after their successful ascent back to the deep water's surface.

For Onda, the dive is particularly historic, as the oceanic feature is part of Philippine heritage. He believes his involvement in the voyage is part of a bigger context—the issue of Philippine sovereignty. 

"This one dive to the deep is one leap for the country and the world. We should be proud of this national heritage!," he posted earlier, before embarking on the expedition. 

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Vescovo is the founder of Caladan Oceanic, the private organization that invited Onda to join the expedition. He also holds the record for the deepest manned descent in the Mariana Trench in 2019. 

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The UP Marine Science Institute earlier said that the expedition is "major record-setting scientific and historic achievement."

“The Philippine Trench is a unique feature found within the EEZ of the Philippines, and it is only appropriate that a Filipino scientist be one of the first to hold this record in the Emden Deep,” it said. 

For Jay Batongbacal, director of the UP Institute of Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, the feat is even more symbolic as the country also recently marked the 5th centenary of Spain's expedition that first colonized the Philippines.

"The fact that Deo, a Filipino, will be among the first to descend into the Emden Deep, which is part of the Philippine Trench, makes it all the more symbolic on the occasion of the 500th year since Spanish contact with the inhabitants of the Philippine archipelago. It may have taken half a millennium, but it's a start, it's the Filipino's turn to explore," Batongbacal said in a Facebook post.

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