TRAVELOGUE: THE SUMMER I MET A SHORELESS FISHERMAN – Last Part

Fishermen’s ingenuity
Fishermen’s ingenuity. You can’t keep a steady lamp in a windy shore.
So to keep the oil lamp glinting, the fishermen planted them inside
a bottomless bottle.

Read PART 1 of the story here.
Read PART 2 of the story here.
Read PART 3 of the story here.

It’s my prayer that one day a scholar will come up with a book filled with mystic stories and great legends that trailed off this island they call – The Island of Fire. I thought maybe one day, I’ll do it. (Why not?) 

In full summer gear, we’re all mighty ready to ride around the island. The entire landmass of Siquijor can be rounded, using the circumferential road, for about an hour and a half via single motorcycle or easy rides that can be hired around. There’s a flat rate for the island tour that the Department of Tourism has set, so there’s no worry about tourists being taken advantaged of in terms of tour tariff. 

Our sightseeing went searingly fine, summers are usually extra hot but we’ve prepared for it. We did our round to have a good time and not our urban usual – to get on time. You’ll be surprised to know that for a province with fifth, fourth, third class municipalities categorized under it; people can afford to build splendid big houses and rest houses by the sea. Well, I was told, they’re built partly by foreign counterparts, like locals having alien husbands or locals working as OFW and sending money home to build it. 

The following day, I woke up from my afternoon nap feeling hungry and thirsty. I went out to the resort restaurant and scanned the menu. I ordered rice and ‘kinilaw’, it’s a local raw fish delicacy drench in vinegar, spices and seasonings. I always have a plate or two of this raw dish back in Davao but the Siquijor version has a little twist in it. They used grated Sineguelas (Spanish Plum) bark to zest in the mix. So the flavor came out to have a little hint of ‘aplud’ taste (ascerbic) that purged out the ‘lansa’ of the fish.

Forgive my moderated indulgence; God, I finished two cups of rice and a helping of Rocky Road for dessert. Feeling heavy, I decided to take a little walk far out of the resort. This island has zero crime rate recorded, so it’s safe to roam around even when you’re alone. Only that sometimes you meet along peculiar and wonderful people that will purport your weird and wild imagination that they might be casting spells and black magic to vulnerable and lonesome strollers like me, in which as we all know, this island has been so culturally prominent to allegedly doing so. 

 photo Unspoiled-San-Juan-Beach-line.jpg 

Few minutes later, playing along with my foot the white sugar-like sand in the shoreline, I saw a thin man sitting in a banqueto. His arms and face skin were wrinkled and has a color burnt by the unforgiving sun of constant call to the sea. He was wearing a green tattered camisa de chino and was seated along a generous heap of lucid fishing nets. In his hands were a slim slab of customized bamboo needle and a spool of nylon thread the size of the ones used in the fishing nets. He was silently and intently plaiting the torn parts of the fishing nets. 


 photo Bobo-Fish-cages.jpg 

“Good afternoon, Manong”,

I greeted. He smiled. A genuine and toothy smile that reached his eyes. He asked me where I am headed. 

“I’m just walking around, what are you doing?” 

“You’re new here, a tourist.” he said it in a tone he was so sure I was. Locals here practically knew each other, so unfamiliar faces like mine can easily be judged as visiting someone. 

“Not a tourist really, I was born here 42 years ago and I’m paying homage to my birthplace. I’m staying at the resort.” I answered casually pointing at where I came from. He eased and smiled again. We began talking like we’ve known each for so long, him asking who my forebears were and me asking what life would be like now having all these luxury resorts around. 

 “Do you own that fishing boat?” I asked pointing to the berthed boat not far from us. 

“Yes, I do and I’m not sure where to dock that the moment construction of the new resort will start riling here.” He said sadly and as a matter-of-factly. 

“You mean, this place where you’re staying is not yours?” I asked puzzled? 

“Yes, I sold it, I thought it was the best offer and now that we have used the money, I don’t know what will happen to us and where we are going to move?” 

I went silent for a long while; I went sticking in the sand looking blankly out to the sea. This was exactly what my godmother was talking about. For now, I can only sympathize with profound contriteness having played a little role in breeding this leisure industry and on the side write this story. 

I can only pray that his pain of deliberately losing his legacy will be compensated by God knows what provision that will ensure his family's survival in the days to come. I’m just hoping his story reaches the self-seeking shores of those who grab and would be grabber of not just pristine coasts in favor of luxury but lives and livelihood that turned this fisherman and the others he represent, shoreless. 

But judging how development moves so fast these days, I doubt if this could be ascertained. The pains of development can be felt all over us, it's inevitable, it's where our civilization is headed and they're here to stay. It’s just a matter of time that these perilous orbs will come bursting and marring our world. Look around you the next time you go on a trip.

-end- 

Thank you for reading

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