On December 12 last year Jesse, a friend of Dado, rose to the
bait of high fish prices and left for the 60 mile fishing
ground in a flotilla of seven bancas. They hadn't been fishing
long when the wind rose. "It came out of nowhere," Jesse said,
"One minute we were trolling and the next we were in a sea of
spray and foam." Jesse was thrown into the sea as his boat was
pitchpoled by a huge wave. Somehow his friends on another banca
saw him and dragged him aboard. They spent the rest of that
night trying to stay afloat. The next day only four of the
seven bancas returned. From the three boats lost that night,
Jesse was the sole survivor.
Today Jesse works as a guide, taking tourists to nearby resorts
and beaches. When asked if he would ever return to fishing his
answer is an abrupt, "No way! Tourists only."
Unlike the tourist boatmen, many fishermen wear the Basticol -
a brightly coloured hat with a jaunty brim and a fin-like blob
epoxied to the top. Made from plastic floats stolen from
Taiwanese fishing nets this highly prized hat gives protection
from the sun, acts as a spray dodger when pounding into heavy
seas, and provides a place to keep cigarettes and matches dry.
"Filipino ingenuity." says Dado.
Filipino ingenuity doesn't stop at hats. One fisherman subdued
a stubborn marlin that refused to come aboard by soaking a rag
in petrol and sliding it down the line on a sinker. Others have
found that fish can't tolerate alcohol. "Just haul him along
side and pour a spoonful of rum down his gills," says Dado,
"Makes him sleep real quick."
"A waste of good rum." quips Leo.
Another fisherman, afraid his line would break, sent his
partner down with another line to sink a second hook into a
tired but still stubborn fish. Not very sporting? No, but to
these fishermen sport has nothing to do with fishing. This is
the world where you either catch fish or your family starves.
Many believe anything is fair, including dynamite fishing.