It is already 5:30 in the morning and I mustn’t be late. The summer sun is already high and bright in the sky but I still hope to catch and meet the hardworking fisherfolk of Currimao, Ilocos Norte as they come home from a hard night’s work from the ocean.
I arrived at the beach and so far I have only encountered a few families who like me, have decided to come early to the beach for some early morning sun and sea. I was jealous of them as they came armed with their power breakfast of rice, fried fish, probably some left-over yummy Ilocos pinakbet and of course, coffee to warm the stomach.
Soon enough, a boat with two fishermen arrived and docked smoothly in the seashore reminding me of a red rocket finding its berth in the sand. I felt the camaraderie among the men waiting in the seashore for the two fishermen who just arrived. They rushed to the new arrivals to help them lift and park their boat at the boat parking area.
Apparently, I was not the only one waiting for these two to arrive and excited to see the freshest catch of the day.
I slowly made my way towards the fishermen, curious what I will find in their nets or containers containing the fresh catch of the day. And the fisherman proudly revealed to me his hard night’s work contained in the plastic bag.
Before I could answer, a man coming from one of the cottages for rent came over and expressed interest in buying every thing in his plastic bag. Secretly I was very happy that this man from the cottages bought everything as I only had P150.00 in my pocket. I can just imagine the many delicious ways they can prepare all these fresh fish for his family’s brunch: “sugba, paksiw, tola, kilaw.” Yumm. I’m getting hungry thinking about it.
And yet I cannot help but think about how much work, time and effort was put by Manong Mangingisda into catching this small bag of fish to earn him P375.00 (about 8$US). I began to wonder how he will feed his family and if this amount is enough to buy other family needs. Does he have another work during the day to help augment his meager income as a fisherman? If so, how many hours of sleep does he have before he starts his second job? I know of one fisherman who ventures as a “habal-habal” motorcycle driver during the day to add to his income while he heads to the ocean to fish during the dark side of night. Many questions of concern kept going through my head but I can’t forget the pride and smiles of joy that Manong Mangingisda put in his work despite the small income he earns. I mean how many of us still have that? When was the last time we woke up with joy and excitement for our work to start that day?
The sun was starting to bite my skin so I slowly made my way back to where my breakfast was waiting for me. On my walk back to the cottage, I saw another fisherman busy mending his torn nets on the seashore before he goes fishing that evening.
I don’t know why but all these sight by the sea warms my heart. Perhaps because I am reminded of how others have remained very gracious with Life and the Universe despite the difficulties they are experiencing; because I am reminded to always count my blessings and focus less on what is lacking. This is the wisdom I have gained today by meeting the fisherfolk of Currimao, Ilocos Norte. There are countless nuggets of wisdom in every corner of our day. We just have to stay alert and open to see it!