The following is a Guest Post from none other than my dad. This is part 3 of 4.
If you missed part 1, read it here
Part 3 – Batangas/Tingloy Island …
An Aquarium In The Sea
Bancas, Rice Fields and Fishing Techniques: Life on the Sea Coast
A road trip of about 2 ½ hours south of Manila brought us to Anilao, an area of Mabini where we boarded a large banca for a 45 minute ride to Maricaban Island. The island landmass is approx. 14 sq. miles with Tingoy being the name of the island community that spreads out over its entire length and breadth.
From small, single or medium sized double outrigger canoes used for fishing and short distant travel up and down the coast to double outrigger or double hulled (catamaran) midsize ferry boats travelling between islands, the Banca is acknowledged as ‘the tsar of the blue sea’.
The banana-shaped sea vessel made of marine plywood and painted with numerous coats of epoxy paint can be paddle driven or by small outboard however the larger variety are propelled by inboard engines. Although the bamboo outriggers or katig add stability to the ride in tropical waters, try not to move too quickly inside the ‘single’ as it may capsize. It is important for young boys to develop their banca skills early as it is a necessary mode of transportation for island dwellers.
Our accommodation was in this seaside nepa hut built next to the water looking south over the Verde Island Passage. Water lapping the shore outside the open-air window, cocks crowing with the sunrise (or earlier!), and sleeping on bamboo beds surrounded by mosquito netting deeply impressed upon me how sad it is that I waited six decades to leave the North American continent.
A walk along the shore reveals sections that have many decades ago been prepared with cemented sections that provide safe passage for villagers as they walk along the coastline at high tide. The children living along the coast traverse these walkways daily on their way to an inland school. This stairway at one time provided an access to the upper level of inland dwellers, schools and churches.
Standing on the shore outside our nipa hut, I was amazed to see a variety of tropical fish swim by in the clear blue water. It must be like having your own aquarium outside in the yard. With one main difference…
Being a people whose survival depends in large part on what their homeland yields, these fish can provide a fresh meal for locals. I guess if we kept trout in our aquariums back home we might be reluctant to have them for dinner too. These were caught by a young local girl with a roll of baited fishing line in hand that needed only to be tossed out about 7 or 8 feet from shore. Yes, I did enjoy an afternoon snack.
A five minute walk from our nipa hut along the sea-shore brought us to the main house you see in the distance. We crossed the rice field and followed the road that leads to the other side of the island. As is common throughout the Philippines, rice supplies the needs of the people here and abroad. The pump house you see at the bottom of the picture supplies water to ditches that completely encircle each rectangular section of the field.
Planting rice does not seem to be easy work, it reminds me of the tree planters in the Canadian forests. There is a movement toward mechanized planting in some countries. However, here in the Philippines it is still done manually. Perhaps the English version of this traditional Filipino song tells the story.
Planting rice is never fun / Bent from morn till the end of sun / Cannot stand and cannot sit / Cannot rest for a little bit
Map of Tingloy, Maricaban Island, Batangas Philippines