Friday, July 20, 2012

Sayao caves, fishes and a tidal garden story

On the way back from trekking and taking a dip in Sayao Falls, we had planned to take a look at a nearby cave that residents there talk about. They say the cave, as well as many other caves and caverns there, are frequented by locals who collect swallow's nests, one of the most expensive edible products in the market, that are turned into bird's nest soup. They also talk about rock formations inside the caves and, based on their account, seemed quite interesting enough to see. A man was approached by our guide to assist us, he being quite familiar with the cave, but he said: 'Bukas ng umaga na laang kita pumunta, may tao doon pag hapon.' Tao, of course, refers to the feared unseen entity who must not be offended. Another one blurted: 'delikado dun dahil may malaking ahas.'

But people tell me that the nest collectors find it best to harvest them at night. Something then also tells me that even if we came back the next morning, we'd only hear of new situations, so we just politely thanked them, next time na laang po.
Scary-looking sea predators

Going directly to the beach to while the hours away, we saw a fishing boat with two men waving their hands and heading for shore.They've been fishing in the waters of Tayabas Bay between southern Quezon and Marinduque and had apparently caught many big fishes. Above, a pindangga is sandwiched between two payangitan, the longest one measuring more than five feet.

The five-foot-long pindangga.

A rompe/barracuda beside another pindangga.

The fishermen were quite pleased with their catch. We paid Php 180 for a pindangga that weighed more than two kilos. Our host said we were lucky because the other fishermen were able to catch just enough for their own families' consumption. The lady of the house sliced the fish into serving sizes, cooked it in coconut milk mixed with luyang dilaw, tumeric, salt and vinegar and it was really, really good - yellow colored saucy adobong pindangga.

Sayao's coastal village.

The Sayao estuary lined with mangroves is located on the east side of the beach facing north.  A number of informal and permanent settlers have occupied this beach area (above). But keeping a clean environment, particularly, keeping their beach clean is a concept that apparently, has not seeped into their minds. Plastic and all kinds of rubbish are just left scattered ashore. Have they ever engaged themselves in the coastal clean-up of their own beach, one could ask, and certainly get differing answers. Why not, one might ask again, to more differing answers.

An amiable barangay kagawad who understood our concern eventually promised to spearhead a weekly coastal cleanup starting this week. That was nice. But remember you are mainly doing it for yourselves, not for anyone else, we had to stress. The man perfectly understood and was even moved to share with us a simple episode that probably exemplified the predominant thinking there.
A 10-year old boy' tidal garden

A boy's tidal garden

The barangay kagawad saw that I took pictures of some transplanted mangrove seedlings (above) not very far from the estuary, but where no other mangroves stood. Did you know that it's just a small 10-year-old boy who planted those mangroves there, he asked us. No one had asked that boy to do that, he said, he just did it by himself. Then some neighborhood fishermen voiced their opinion, the kagawad said, that it wasn't right to plant there, that those mangroves would never grow there anyway, that it's such a waste of time, that those plants would just be run over by bancas going ashore, that in fact those mangroves, if they survive, would only serve to limit the space where their boats could move more freely.

The boy learned about the complaints, the next thing he did was to install a few long sticks to mark his unique dream tidal garden, just so any thinking boatman would not cross it and not destroy what he was creating.

The grown-ups' voices were repeated thereafter, the same arguments, but this time, the kagawad found an opportunity to express his own voice telling the big guys: 'Pabayaan na lamang natin siya at suportahan na lamang ang kanyang ginawa'. (Let's just leave him alone, and just support what he has done).

They have listened so far, and nothing more has been heard from the grown-ups since then, the considerate kagawad said.

The boy's transplanted mangrove seedlings. 

We look forward to the day when their leafy arms, too, could pray.

Some children taking advantage of the low tide to play in the sand

I got curious just to see the boy, passed by a nipa and bamboo shack a few meters away, where he and his family were supposed to be living. There was no door to the shack, one could see everything inside and there was not much of anything. l saw a boy cooking a pot of rice and the mother, heavy with child behind him, was also busy talking. 

I walked away quietly, went back to the beach and just watched the Sayao Bay sunset..

but thinking, they, the young, could probably do it better in this instance, slowly sharing, showing love of nature to many grown-ups.

Susong Dalaga Hill

Susong Dalaga Hill
Susong Dalaga Hill from Bagtasan isthmus

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