There is an island called Pasil, in Dapitan, Philippines.
It’s right under the bridge that connects two major islands in Dapitan. Passing through that highway everytime we crossed to Dipolog, he and I would always look down over Pasil and marvel at how beautiful and mysterious the place was.
One day we rented a motorcycle from our neighbor and went on a joyride towards Pasil, a place marked by fisherfolk and fishing nets.
Have you ever seen anything like it? Chances are, you haven’t. Most fishing nets are thrown over deep waters in the middle of the sea. But Dapitan has a little something special. It boasts a bountiful sea, and shallow waters that stretch as far as the eye can see. So fishermen plant their nets near the shore, and still get plentiful catch.
Here’s a landscape view of the mysterious fishnet.
I had always wanted to see these bamboo nets up close. And this time I got the chance. We saw a fisherman tending to his net, and approached him to ask if we could take photos. Thankfully, he obliged. This is a photo of him inside his net.
I suppose it’s not clear how this net is structured to catch fish. Perhaps the picture below can offer a better explanation. That’s my boyfriend at the entrance of the net. The entrance is quite narrow, and fish swim through this entrance. Then the net goes zigzaggy, and the fish can no longer find their way out, and thus become “ensnared” in the big fishing net. Late in the afternoon, Manong Fisherman goes inside with a smaller net and gathers up his catch to sell in the markets nearby.
It’s very interesting, being that up close to the fishing net. There’s a lot to see. Many different kinds of fishes. The type you see only on your plate, but at that moment I was seeing them swimming in the ocean. Other sea life also get ensnared in the net, like this hermit crab crawling up a bamboo pole.
A lot of leaves also get caught inside the net, so it can get a bit dirty. And it’s up to Manong Fisherman to clean his net up.
We got to chat with him a little. Well, my boyfriend did. Because he speaks Visayan, while I can only speak Chavacano and Tagalog, neither of which are of any use in Dapitan. Fortunately, I can understand their language so I just listened and took photographs. Here he is laying his day’s catch on the sandy shore.
Most of what he has in his net are leaves and little pieces of trash. Manong Fisherman, it turns out, is not a native of Dapitan. He is from Ipil, a nearby province. Ipil is much nearer to my hometown of Zamboanga. So he must understand Chavacano, even if only a little bit. But I’m too shy and don’t speak up. (Always have been shy all my life. Some people mistake it for snobbishness.)
Finding out he’s from Ipil makes a little bit more sense. He looks Chinese and I have not seen many Chinese people in Dapitan. But there are many in Zamboanga, the local businessmen. It is a bit strange to see a Chinese looking fisherman.
Manong sifts through the day’s catch. He removes the fish that aren’t meant to be eaten, like the few pufferfish he caught. He also removes the small fishes and returns them to sea. He mentions he has a daughter, and she is working overseas. He sounds mighty proud of her. I wonder why then he fishes. But perhaps he enjoys the fishing rather than needs the income. I would like to think it’s like that. But of course we don’t ask.
Here are some of the fish he keeps. Mmm, looks good enough to grill.
(Click on all the pictures for bigger resolutions!)