‘Pinoy Aquaman’ conquers seas, becomes hero for environment
Ingermar Patino Macarine was 8 years old when he first dreamed of swimming across the Surigao Strait.
He not only did that. He also set at least four records, earning him the moniker “Pinoy Aquaman.”
“I love the seas,” said Macarine, election officer of Tubigon town, Bohol province. “I never feared swimming in the open water. I think my life is very connected with water,” he said.
Macarine was 8 years old when he learned to swim in the coastal town of Placer, Surigao del Norte province.
Since then, he spent most of his childhood life swimming.
He recalled he was swimming with friends when he first thought of swimming at the Surigao Strait between Bohol Sea and the Leyte Gulf.
He realized his dream on Dec. 30, 2013, when he became the first person to swim from Basul Island to Lipata, in Surigao City.
Macarine said it was unforgettable, not only because it was his first swim in open water but it was also because it was his first time to swim against strong current.
“Three of my companions gave up. I was the only one who successfully crossed it,” he said.
Open-ocean swimming is among the toughest sporting disciplines in the world, Macarine said.
It is safe too as long as the swimmer has an escort, preferably a navigator or an expert lifeguard, he said.
Macarine said he followed the Marathon Swimming Federation (MSF) rules, a set of standards and guidelines on undertaking a solo, unassisted open-water marathon swim.
He swims alone but is escorted by a support crew on a boat. His brief stops, as short as 30 seconds, are for energy drink breaks.
Although with an escort, Macarine said open-water swimmers needed to be focused.
Among the distractions he would encounter at sea are painful—jellyfish stings.
When the swim becomes difficult, Macarine turns to the heavens and prays.
His favorite verse in the Bible, Psalm 23, could best describe Macarine’s prayer mode:
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me…
Macarine said he also drew inspiration from his wife, Raquel, and children Lance, 6 and Colyn, 4. Each time he swims, Macarine knows he should be able to return to his family who is waiting for him.
Before each swim, Macarine said he read the Bible and prayed.
Macarine has since conquered the seas, not just in the Philippines but also in the United States.
He was the first Filipino to finish the 1-km Lucky Lake Swim in Lake Lane, Orlando, Florida, in March 2014.
He was acknowledged as the first Filipino to swim the 2.7-km distance between Alcatraz Island Penitentiary and San Francisco City in April 2014.
He was also the first man to conquer the Babuyan Channel by swimming from Palaui Island to mainland Sta. Ana town in Cagayan Valley on June 15, 2014. He was able to cross the channel, a distance of about 7.2 km, in 2 hours.
He was also the first man to swim from Sta. Fe town on Bantayan Island to San Remigio in mainland Cebu, covering the distance of 19.99 km, which took him about seven hours and 45 minutes.
He was also the first man to attempt to swim from the Visayas to Mindanao—from San Ricardo town, Southern Leyte, to Surigao City—in May 2014. Although the swim was unsuccessful because of rough waters, he set a personal record of swimming 23 kilometers in five and half hours.
But his toughest challenge was his swim from Pamilacan Island to Baclayon town in Bohol on Jan. 31.
The grueling 14-km journey was completed in five hours and 59 minutes.
Macarine said strong currents kept pushing him off course so he had to change direction at least 14 times.
“I had no choice but to use backstroke. The current changed several times and I had really a very hard time swimming against the current,” said Macarine.
In 2015, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) named Macarine one of the Heroes of the Environment.
“I am so happy that I can inspire more people to care more for the marine environment,” he said.
At 39, Macarine said he wanted to do his part to promote clean seas.
“I want our children to enjoy clean seas and beaches. That is my advocacy,” he said.
But Macarine is not about to sit on his laurels.
On Aug. 9, he will attempt to become the first Filipino to cross the 35-km English Channel that separates the United Kingdom and France.
The swim is aimed at celebrating international friendship and raising awareness of climate change and global warming, an advocacy of the First Filipino International Movement.
Macarine said the English Channel was considered the “Mount Everest” of open water swims.
To conquer it will require physical and mental strength and sheer will and courage, attributes that Macarine doesn’t lack.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.