Sunday, February 15, 2009

Scenes from the Chinese pier • Bongao, Tawi-Tawi

It would've looked just like any of the Manila piers -- boats moored on the side, stores lining up the embankment, tricycles noisily ferrying incoming and outgoing passengers -- but the houses on stilts and the crescent moon of a mosque gave it away. Welcome to the Chinese pier in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi.  From what i gleaned, this is the other pier apart from the one where the fastcrafts and ferries from Zamboanga are docked.I n the daylight hours, it is a hub of commerce (fringed by coffee shops and market stalls) and transport (where the smaller crafts bound for simunul and the other nearby islands are docked). I'm wondering if this pier was named as such because like the one in Jolo, This place has become the receiving end of the exodus of thousands of Chinese residents in Manila who left because of the Spanish restrictions in the mid-1700s.Strip away the fact that we're in Tawi Tawi and one realize this place can be a scene in South Harbor, where young kids jostle with adult boatmen for ferrying passengers. As in Manila, kids are not spared from helping eke a living to help feed the family. The sky was overcast all afternoon and towards the late noon, precipitation fell and we had to run for cover in one of the agal-agal (seaweed) bodegas. The shrill blasts of the AM radio on the tricycles persisted through the squall. Boats kept waiting for last-minute passengers. children continued to loiter the busy alleys. rain or no rain, life sails on.


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