Filipino fishermen in the making

Our beach here in San Remigio (Cebu) is a typical fisherfolks’ beach where most of the local men and women make a living from fishing. As I observe, I’m very impressed by how the skill of fishing is taught to the next generation at a very early age.

Every day we see local fishermen arrive with their catch and then leave to fish some more. These Filipino fishermen live at a small fishermen village not far from where we live. On low tide the fishermen- and women usually search for sea urchins, seashells, and crabs. It’s only on high tide when they go out to the sea to catch fish. They either sell their catch at the local wet market, or let the women go door to door to sell them to housewives and/or homemakers.

But what fascinates me the most is watching the new generations—or better yet, the pre-new generation—practising their skills in fishing. Having growing up by the sea; being raised up by fishermen and women, these young kids show impressive skills when it comes to first attempts at fishing. The only tools they have are either some little nets, or some spears, or most of the times, their bare hands. But they do catch tiny fish, seahorses, and crabs. Most, if not all, of their “catch” may not be big enough to be prepared for dinner, but still, they’re big enough to make a successful fishing day for a 5 year old. The proud smile on their face after catching a tiny fish is priceless.

I guess it runs in their genes because it comes so naturally. Silently watching the fish, then approaching, pointing the tiny bamboo spear towards the fish and…boom… there you go. Quick and efficient. These children are preparing to one day step into the footsteps of their parents and support their family from fishing. My only hope is that these children will also have the opportunity to go to school, because many families send their very young children already out fishing even at elementary school age.

Arthur told me, that he and his uncles used to do the same thing as young children on the beach in San Remigio. “Hunting” with little spears made out of bamboo. Survival training at its best. But for him and his uncles, it was just for fun, not as means of survival.

Us, we love to support these local fishermen. We are such big “customers”. When they approach with their boats on our beach, from a long night out at sea, we often buy their fresh catch right there on the beach. It couldn’t get anymore fresh (and healthy!) than that. Usually, the catch is still alive and is being brought right into our dirty kitchen. Having such fresh and also very cheap fresh fish is something I truly enjoy.