The Dead Sea
“There is nothing more enticing, disenchanting, and enslaving than the life at sea”. – Joseph Conrad-
I spent my childhood days at sea hunting for fish, crabs, octopus, and other marine products. Sea has been part of my life.
I used to think things will not change. But what I think is against the law of nature, for change has always been part of the cycle of life.
My father is a certified fisherman in our barangay, (Brgy. Villa, Lavezares, N. Samar). He has been an expert fisherman. He could swim even the deepest sea in our place without the aid of compressor. When I was a kid, I used to accompany him to go fishing at night. I would drive the banca, while my father was searching for fish, lobster, squid, octupos, and the like beneath the sea. Guided by the petromax which served as our light, my father would stay under the sea water for many minutes hunting for a big catch. After few minutes, my father would float with a catch placed in his bow and arrow, locally known as “pana”. Happiness would fill my heart every time I would see my father catch a big lobster. Lobster during my childhood days was worth Php300.00 per kilo, enough for our allowances and family expenses. My father would also catch small shark, my favorite fish “danoy”, and many more.
Every time we did not have viand for our evening meal, my father used to ask me to accompany him to catch fish at sea, and after an hour, we would return home our pail was full of fish called “balawis’. My mother would then boil water to cook the fish caught, still fresh and moving. We call it “tinula”.
After class hours, I would proceed at sea hunting for crabs using my bow and arrow. Crabs, just like humans, could also confuse you. Once they would detect that I was coming, they would emerge from their hide out and would run in different directions. After an hour or so of sea adventure, I would go home with plenty of crabs, enough for our evening meal.
My father, now 65, laments the fact that our sea is already unkind to him. He would spend hours at sea looking for fish, but no fish is being caught. He would spend two liters of gas for his petromax in hours of search for fish, but he would catch nothing.
He would go fishing not really as forced livelihood, but as a way of refreshing his memories in a once generous and kind sea. It is also a form of exercise on his part. At 65, my father is very strong and healthy. He would be at sea to thank its kindness and generosity, that despite the hardships of life, he was able to have a son, who is a lawyer. Though my father is unlettered, he pushed me so hard so that I can read the letters of the world.
Had my father been a government employee, he would have been reaping his pension and retirement benefits now. But he is not. However, what he has been reaping now are the beautiful memories of sea adventure- its abundance, kindness and generosity.
The abundance of our sea remains just part of my childhood memories.
By: Atty. Ricardo E. Amos
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