/ 19 March 2021

A SCIENTIST from the University of the Philippines is poised to make history as the first Filipino to reach the 3rd deepest spot on Earth, the UP Marine Science Institute said on Thursday.

Dr. Deo Florence Onda, a Microbial oceanographer, was invited by the organization Caladan Oceanic to join the Emden Deep Expedition that will explore the Philippine Trench on March 22 to 28, 2021.

“Dr. Onda will be joined in the descent by Mr. Victor Vescovo, the current record holder of the deepest manned descent in the Marianas Trench in 2019,” UP-MSI said in a statement.

Onda is the deputy director for research of the UP-MSI.

“Mr. Vescovo is also the main sponsor of Caladan Oceanic, which is a private organization that has been setting records for deepest manned descents in the world’s deepest trenches, with the most recent one in the Marianas in 2019,” it added.

UP-MSI lauded this as a “major record-setting scientific and historic achievement.”

“Deep sea expeditions like this one are equivalent to the first early flights into outer space, thus it would be a major record-setting scientific and historic achievement. To date, most of these records are held by foreign scientists or explorers,” UP-MSI said.

“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 added.

It said part of the goal is to wave the Philippine flag in the Emden Deep during its record-setting voyage.

“Dr. Onda, as the sole Filipino researcher representing the country, will also be given a unique opportunity to be exposed to state-of-the-art vessels capable of deep-sea activities, which can enrich our experiences and knowledge as the Philippines builds its own National Academic Research Fleet, an ongoing national project funded by the Philippine Government,” it said.

The activity, which is in coordination with the Philippine government through the Department of Foreign Affairs, is considered a non-Marine Scientific Research undertaking.