Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Flashing Back A Year Ago: On Assignment to Camotes for Rare Philippines

Sunrise boat and dogs on Santiago Bay, Camotes Islands, Cebu
The ongoing pandemic and the uncertainty about a lot of things -- jobs, lives, fates -- has become rich breeding ground for reminiscing and introspection.  Same time last year, there was no hint whatsoever of the coming storm that is Covid-19.  People were traveling freely, coming and going to places.  In between photo assignments for Rare Philippines, I was even fortunate to piggyback on a friend's coverage of the Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival with a side trip to Gunung Mulu in Sarawak, Malaysia.  Who would've thought things would play out so vastly different in a year's time?

Anyway, I clearly remembered the details of this photo assignment to Camotes Islands for Rare Philippines almost a year ago.  It was providential that the Cebu governor and her entourage filled up the accommodations in Tudela so we ended up staying a hour's drive away to a resort in Santiago with an expansive view of the bay.  Two mornings we were there, I wake up at 5:30am and greet the friendly dogs of the nearby eating places/resorts/recreational gear rental shops.  If there were people gleaning for shellfish in the shallows, I would be talking to one or two.  Part of the bay is after all a protected marine sanctuary so it's interesting to know if what NGOs like Rare Philippines is doing is having an impact on a faraway fishing community.

Mangrove kingfisher
The fine sand stretches far out the cove; the lone banca still on near-mirror-like still waters, the silence every now and then disturbed only by the trill of birds including the mangrove kingfishers who venture to the shore or the shallows for their early morning fill of fish.  

 As is usual (at least for me) in places like these, when we came back to have dinner in a Sutukil (sugba-tinola-kilawin eatery) after our assignment proper, the dogs welcomed me back like I wasn't gone at all.


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