Monday, June 1, 2015

Notes from Tañon Strait, Day 2: Sharing Virgin Island with Ethel Booba, Marketing for Dried Fish in Madridejos, Sunsetting in Lawis

Talk about a tropical getaway - Virgin island off Bantayan Island
Day two on Santa Fe started with seeing the dawn break on the horizon accompanied by a friendly dog.  It would be much later that we'll find out that the folks here go out to sea late, around 9-10am.  Which explains why there was not much fishing action to shoot at sunrise.  Getting my feet soaked shooting the locals scouring the shallows for shells on Bantayan Island the night before made my right big toe swollen.  It will keep me from swimming all trip long but not from wandering about and shooting.

We would be spending the middle of the day on Virgin island, about 30 minutes by pumpboat from here.  Maybe the name fooled me a bit, leading me into thinking it was an uninhabited island.  It was not.  It was, however, a white patch that stood out from a rather overcast day coming from the sea.  By mid-afternoon, the sun shone and made the white sand blindingly white.  While the rest of the Oceana team snorkeled the clear, turquoise waters, I roamed around and chased a dog to the other side of the beach where the boats moor and no tourist wander to, save me, Cris (Yabes) and fellow photographer and best buddy, Ferdz aka Ironwulf.
Divan by the sea.  How inviting indeed!
All that wonderful water and I can't even take a dip.  Still, it was nice hanging around in a rented cabana by the beach, singing along to a reggae playlist broadcast by the small restaurant further inland while admiring the handiwork that went into the cabana.  Hmmm, ingenious use of a wooden chopping board to mount a ceiling fan; a sawali (native woven material) ceiling to keep the heat contained; a curtain of seashells that sing in the breeze and invite one to give in to the afternoon sandman.   Then, there was glorious lunch of seafood, sugbang baboy (grilled pork) washed down by cold Coke.  Ah, the simple joys of life.   Yas, Oceana's communications head, noted that we were cabana-neighbors with local celebrity, Ethel Booba, but as with everybody here, we were just caught up in the moment soaking the sun and the sea breeze rather unmindful of the others.
Preparing the nets for a day of fishing • Santa Fe, Bantayan Island
We came back to Anika Resort for a bit of rest and for the team to grab a shower before heading to Madridejos market.  I personally enjoy going to the wet market and talk to the sellers as I've grown up in a similar setting.  You really get insights you can't get anywhere else.  Besides, buying goods here helps the local folks rather than getting stuff from the bigger stores. I gave in and bought dried sapsap (pony fish) which is a childhood favorite for cooking during breakfast in the morning.  The tocinong isda (fish cured with saltpeter) was intriguing.  The fish tempura cooking in the outdoor stalls was tempting though I had to reserve my appetite for that when we get to Dumaguete.   To stave off hunger, I ended up buying puffed rice balls while Cris and Yas bought their stash of fresh fruits.  
Sunset and selfie-takers at the parola
For the sunset, we wandered to Lawis, on the northwestern coast of the island.  An extensive part of the reef was exposed at low tide and promenaders wander freely from the edge of the bridge viewpoint right to the small lighthouse for a selfie moment.  Skirting around the exposed sea urchins, I waited for the sun to set while eavesdropping on the conversations of the waves of selfie-takers on the parola.  I understand Cebuano fairly well and find it amusing they were trying to cajole me into taking their picture.

It was a delight to see the kids scouring the shallows for small fish and shellfish, a scene replayed over and over again in different places but wonderful to see nonetheless.  I liken it to capturing a bit of the sea's bounty and the remains of the sunset in a bottle or plastic bag for taking home to their parents.

We started the day scanning the sea and concluded it scanning the market  and the coast for the sea's bounty.  It's but a glimpse on life on the islands and how the richness of the sea impacts life inland.
Lawis girl and her bottle of sunshine
Note: This is 2nd in a series of account posts of a 6-day photo assignment for Oceana Philippines. Visit their website at for more information on how you can help spread the love for our oceans and seas. Oceana is dedicated to helping protect and restore the world's oceans on a global scale.  In the Philippines, Oceana is seeking to restore the health, richness, and abundance of our local oceans by ensuring sustainable fisheries and vibrant marine ecosystems.

Read Part 1 of this series: Notes from Tañon Strait Day 1: A Ful Moon to Send Us on Our Way


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