2 – 4 May 2009

Tropical downpour!

Tropical downpour!

Typhoon Crising went past the Western side of Occidental Mindoro, causing a downpour in Taytay, Palawan. These were unusual times, the locals said. The town fiesta on May 1-4 had always been graced with sunny weather and Amihan (or northeast tradewinds) in the past. Now the rains dampened the festivities, with Habagat or southwest tradewinds coming a month too early. If this is not climate change, I don’t know how else to explain it.

Eloys, former WWF staff in Malampaya helps sort out the marine life.

Drenched Ely, former WWF field assistant from Malampaya, and Romeo help sort out the marine catch.

Even in the rain, in Barangay New Guinlo in Malampaya Sound, it was business as usual.

Calamares anyone?

Calamari, anyone?

Is Malampaya Sound still the "Fish Bowl" of the Philippines?

Is Malampaya Sound still the “Fish Bowl” of the Philippines?

Fish landing stations had shrimps, squid, and many types of fish – hasa-hasa, siganids, kitang, to name a few.

Shrimps at 275 pesos per kilogram from the source!

Shrimps at 275 pesos per kilogram from the source!

Again, we’ve been eating so well. Benjie, the research assistant of Mavic, cooked 2 kilograms of freshly caught prawns to perfection.

Massive amounts of plate-sized pink jellyfish, locally called labong labong, were everywhere in the sound. Mavic Matillano (WWF Project Manager) said with the presence of these jellyfish hosting juvenile mackerels meant there would be tons of this type of fish (hasa-hasa) come June, when they grow to be adults. The jellyfish are caught too by the locals. Their tentacles are cut off, and the top or bells sold for the Chinese market.

Beautiful capiz shells everywhere and no buyers!

Beautiful capiz shells all over the place, and no buyers!

There was an overflowing abundance of capiz shells everywhere. They were on the walk path, in people’s backyards, at the water’s edge, in storage rooms – everywhere! New Guinlo Barangay Captain Ricky Abes, who generously allowed us to stay in his house, said there was no market for capiz shells, which surprised us.

Eloys and Mavic thinking of ways to attract capiz buyers.

Ely and Mavic thinking of ways to attract capiz buyers.

Our furniture back in Cairns was made of old capiz windows recycled from torn-down old houses. We love our precious capiz cabinet and treat it with utmost care! It pained us to be walking on capiz, crunching and destroying the beautiful flat shells.

Surprising sunset!

Surprising sunset!

At sunset, the sky dramatically turned from dull grey (the color of the week) to bright red!

Twilight and it's time for fishing.

Twilight, and it’s time for fishing.

We were able to capture a fisherman going out to his fish trap with two kerosene lamps.

Early morning fish activity.

Early morning fish activity

We woke up at 5 the next morning, still to the sound of rain. There will be no dolphin photo activity with this weather. Instead, we saw early fishermen coming back from their fish corrals. Again, with beautiful kerosene lamps providing light, the community sorted out the evening’s catch.

Child's play.

Child’s play

Child's work.

Mud crabs for lunch?

Fun in the rain.

Fun run in the rain

Rains, strong winds, and children playing filled our hours. The streets were practically empty and flooded knee-deep. Everyone huddled together, not because of the rain but because of a much-awaited boxing fight of the Philippine’s very own No. 1 pound-for-pound world boxing champ, Manny Pacquiao. The community was glued to houses with television sets and generators for electricity. In two rounds, the fight against British boxer Ricky Hatton was over. It was so interesting to listen to an entire community cheer their hero.

Watching their local hero Pacman fight.

Watching their boxing hero Pacman fight in Las Vegas.