Friday, October 30, 2015

The Fisherfolk of Bantayan Island, Cebu

Sunrise commits itself to a cyclical responsibility for the world to see. 

Every early morning, its soft lights knife through thatched-roof homes of slumbering heads, gagged mouths, and motionless bodies, leaving no dust in a spectrum unmasked. Sunrise is the culmination of the death of night and the first sign of the birth of day, where two long-rivaling ends meet. It is a predictable phenomenon, which could mean many things to a billion different people. It could mean just another monotonous day for the uninspired, another dreaded day for the burned-out rat, another sunny day for the optimist. Or another sweat-it-all-out day for the hard worker who has mouths to feed.

In Santa Fe, one of only three municipalities on Bantayan Island, sunrise means another day to possess and thank the gifts of water. Unsurprisingly, as being islander locals, a lot of whom are fishermen. As early as five in the pastel-colored morning, fishermen end their fishing in deep waters. In a fascinating manner, they return and help each other by carrying ashore a banca (outrigger) in cadence, which goes to show the spirit of bayanihan (cooperation) still truly lives on. The toiling fisherfolk bring their past-midnight haul of bolinao (anchovies) to their anxious wives and drowsy children, where each member correspondingly untangles the fish out from the fishing net and puts them in a pail or bucket.

Apart from finding their fresh catch straight in wet markets, they also sell them as buwad (dried fish) prepared by themselves.

It is not uncommon to see fishing as a family affair on the resource-rich island.


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