Easter Chronicles|Fish Tales: Day 5&6

Day 5: April 13, 2006
Not used to waiting, my patience was being tested. Still no catch, I was getting restless. Instead of daydreaming about big catches, the endless blue made me mentally wander off to the nether regions. As much as one respects the sea, sometimes, it can't help but play tricks on your head. Well, I brought the perfect book for that day. Alain de Botton's Consolations of Philosophy. I picked the book up years before while at Heathrow on a quick stopover after a tearful adieu in Milan with someone who was never meant to be.

Here's an excerpt of the Amazon review---"consolation for a broken heart in Schopenhauer, consolation for inadequacy in Montaigne. Epicurus, usually associated with a love of luxury, is a solace for those of us without much money--and de Botton learns from him that "objects mimic in a material dimension what we require in a psychological one." Enough said.
We ventured further to the ocean this time near the payao (a local term for FAD -Fish Attracting Device). It is a blue water artificial reef composed of an anchor, line and coconut leaves just below the water surface. Looks like it's the place to be as we saw a group of boats here.

 Whew, finally got the skunk out of the boat with the first fish caught!

The sea must have felt our anguish because we caught 15 skipjack tuna that morning! My arms ached from reeling them in but oh, it was such a good ache and the adrenaline rush was addictive.

On the way back to Pilar, we felt a tug and realized that something bit into our bait. Guess the salfish and I took each other by surprise. It was not a long fight but it was good. It took the last ounce of my strength but well worth it. Good things come unexpectedly and to those who wait with bait.

 We asked him to sashimi our catch

30 kilo sailfish

payao or FAD (Fish Attracting Device)
Sated and still fresh from the morning high, we went back out to the payao or FAD that afternoon and caught eight more. Similar to the morning scene, it was like the designated social spot in the middle of the ocean with everyone gathered about.
 The colors of the sky as it progressed into the evening were beyond gorgeous.

Capped our day with a marvelous sunset and the rising full moon. The sea was calm and our journey back to Pilar was illuminated by the moon. I laid down, looked up the magnificent sky to thank God who I really felt was in the details at that particular moment.

Day 6: April 14, 2006

Siargao is also the surfing destination in the Philippines and we passed by Cloud 9 which has a worldwide reputation for thick hollow tubes. This right-breaking reef wave discovered by traveling surfers in the late 80s was named and made famous by American photographer, John S. Callahan. He published the first major feature on Siargao Island in Surfer magazine in March 1993. Callahan has put the island on the international map and has drawn thousands of surfers and tourists to Siargao.It now hosts the the annual Siargao Cup, a domestic and international surfing competition. 

The sea was glassy as we headed for Pansukian, the exclusive resort in the area, owned by Nicolas Rambeau. Nicolas is a bon vivant of many interests. Aside from having a museum grade shell collection, he also taught me how to cook foie gras when we  cooked for the former Philippine president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in another island in the Pacific. But that's another story for the books.....  

Pansukian was purchased by the outdoor furniture company Dedon and is now called, what else, but Dedon Island. They are currently working with Jean-Marie Massaud, to make it a Dedon playground. The small resort's homey yet exclusively luxe vibe is what attracted many disciminating guests worldwide then. I wonder what it will be like after the makeover.

If you want a quiet and pristine getaway,this is the place to connect with yourself and nature. It was the perfect setting for Good Friday. I read the scriptures as the birds chirped. At dusk, we lounged on a Dedon daybed by the shore with a fine bottle of bubbly as we waited for the moonrise. Lovely smiles and warm whispers....

Easter Chronicles|Fish Tales: Day 3&4

Day 3: April 11, 2006

View Fish Tales Day 3 in a larger map
We ventured down to Bucas Grande for a day cruise. Lush mushroom shaped limestone rocks sprout from shimmering aquamarine, turquoise and emerald waters. I truly wasn't prepared for the unimaginable splendour beyond.

They are very similar to the Rock Islands of Palau, Micronesia but what makes Sohoton Ecotourism Park a protected landscape and seascape are its sandy coves, islets and lagoons, long stretches of sugar fine beaches, exotic flora, fauna, and wildlife that inhabit the area. These include tarsiers, two kinds of hornbills, the serpent and white-breasted eagles, green sea turtles, and 19 kinds of fruit bats.
The park has 13 inland lakes but
the pièce de résistance is Sohoton Cove.
Entry to the hidden lagoon is ONLY
during low tide and by paddleboat.
Our guide took us in and out of this cove.
Each visit is only limited to two hours
or the entry is flooded when the tide comes in.
There is no other way out in this particular area of the park.
time's telltale signs
The Horseshoe, a stalactite landmark,
is the only way to recognize the Cove
among the many identical ragged cliffs and islets.
couldn't help but marvel and luxuriate in its beauty

There was so much to absorb, interesting characteristics only nature can pull off. 
My photos don't even do it justice.

 Here are a couple of images from the Philippine tourism website:

My reverie was interrupted by a swift whoosh and a cry of pain that strongly echoed.
The FBF accidentally hooked himself with a fishing lure.
On tenterhooks, I frantically searched our first aid kit for something to macgyverize with. The hospital is in Socorro, 40 minutes away, by water. Thankfully, Steve Brown (bless him!) , had a 'trout hook remover' in his kit that he didn't even know he had. I conveniently moved away and let the men handle the 'situation'. I was only useful for hydrogen peroxide and neosporin dabbing.
After that little episode,  we took it easy in the afternoon 
and explored the outline of Bucas Grande as we trolled.
a precociously sweet boy
Play a film fantasy and you'll find the perfect setting...

Blue Lagoon
Lord of the Flies
From Here to Eternity
The Beach
Combed the shore and put these together
over some Pinot Grigio.
On our way back, we refueled at Dapa before heading home to Pilar.
Unforgettable smiles that tug at your heart strings.

Day 4: April 12, 2006
We started out at 9ish and trolled the ocean again. We spotted Junior Gonzales on his Kingfisher. Junior is Pilar's living fishing legend and he was playing guide that day to the famed jeweller Hans Brumann. It was fascinating to see him fight and reel in his dream catch and first sailfish. He struggled with it for about half an hour until it landed. Junior must possess the secret language of the sea since he was with us too when I caught my only two sailfish.

On this bright and beautiful day, I soaked up more sun while waiting for some fish to come around. Got antsy so I mindlessly read Sophie Kinsella's, Can You Keep A Secret? as we trolled and trolled....and trolled.
We stopped by Daco Island to say hello to Bong Castillo's son, Shoji and his friend, Michael, who were with the other men. They left very early in the morning and stopped here for lunch and siesta before another afternoon fishing run.

Sayo, Shoji, Michael and Co.
Sayo and his lovely family
I met Sayo on my first visit to Siargao. He has accompanied us a good number of times out in the ocean. We went drift fishing together once. Drift fishing takes place from a boat that is not anchored but is drifting with the wind and current. There were 4 of us on this outrigger boat from sundown to sunrise. Let me digress a bit here.
Drift fishing the way the locals do was in my bucket list. The FBF and Bong didn't think I would survive and kept asking me right before we left if I was sure since there was no turning back until the next morning. Ever since we visited Siargao, I was charmed and intrigued by the simple life of fishing folk. I felt that if they do it everyday, at least, I could try and see what it was like. We found a spot in an hour, got settled, ate a simple dinner of rice and fish by the glow of the kerosene lamp. We chatted, sat in silence, smoked, and took turns catnapping. Lulled by the sea and darkness and a slight chill, it was meditative. The liberating suspension of not knowing where we were once it got dark, where we were headed, and what was under the deep allowed a sweet surrender that I've never experienced. It was like that for many hours except for the frenetic squid fishing when we realized not a single fish was biting. As the sun slowly crept up in the morning, the men instinctively knew where we were and immediately pointed to the direction of Pilar, our base. How they do it without a GPS amazes me when it's all a sea of blue. We didn't catch some tuna but we had pounds and pounds of squid that Sayo happily sold at the market. The experience strengthened one of the lessons that my yoga guru, Tulsi, has been trying to impress upon me. That it's ok to detach, let go, not take control, and go with the flow. Words that are always easier said than done.
Sayo's dear wife served us these freshly picked coconuts
with makeshift scoops.

While at Daco, we did a quick house tour of our friends, Billy and Marlene Mondoñedo's, gorgeous contemporary island home. Designed by top Philippine architect Ed Calma, it took about two years to build the house partly due to the logistical challenge.

My favorite part of the house is this bamboo loggia hung with
antique Japanese glass fishing floats/buoys.
We stopped by Pansukian Resort to get some wine.
When one can't catch any fish,
might as well drink like a fish!
Later that night after dinner, we went on a moonlit cruise along the mangroves.

to be continued....

Day 1&2 here