The beauty of the place is equally complemented by the friendliness and warmth of its people. They'd invite you to what they are doing or ask you to take their photos, and there was never an outstretched hand asking for payment. I fondly remember an afternoon while walking back to the resort when we got stopped every few meters by kids asking us to take their photos. And when we thought we are done, they'd run back to their house and call their siblings out for more photos.
|quaint afternoon in Gigante Norte|
Sand as fine as Boracay'sThe beach was not always like that, said Mang Nelson as he works on his crab nets. I chanced upon him one afternoon busily working while listening to his transistor radio. He did not seem to mind my intrusion.
|working on crab nets|
He fondly remembers the time as kid when the shores, just a few meters from where he is working, has sand as fine as Boracay's. If tourists have discovered the island before the scallops were discovered, there was a big chance the shores would have been "preserved".
Blue crabs,"kasag" in the local dialect, is in steady supply, with daily hauls steamed in the aftenoon, packed in stryo boxes, and ready for shipment the next day. The scallops on the otherhand are harvested on a 5-year cycle with 5-year rest period to allow the stocks grow. But when its the harvest season ... well you know what they say: "when it rains, it pours". Its scallops all day, all week, all month, all year.
Scallops capital of the Philippines
|family working on a batch|
The folks here are mighty proud of their scallops. Its these little brightly colored, fan-shaped shells that have enabled them to buy boats, build houses, and send their kids to school. It is the main source of livelihood in the island.
The divers get paid 15 pesos per kilo. Another group pry these bivalve mollusks open and extract the meat. They get another 15 pesos per kilo of extracted scallops. The meat is trimmed, leaving only that white and meaty part. The trimmers get 10-15 pesos per kilo. Wholesale buyers pay about 110 per kilo for the processed meat . The one who financed the harvest (usually the one who owns the boat) end up with about 40% of that after expenses. On a good week they can harvest a ton easy.
|trimming the meat|
The locals know they need to have a healthy batch for the next harvest season. If they over harvest, they'll compromise the next batch. They also make sure they harvest only the mature ones. If the meat is too small, buyers would reject it.
Out to dry
Life goes on in Bantigue island
Its a tough island life, but kids, no matter what condition they are in, are usually in a happier disposition most of us.