Still not ‘herring’

Sira-sira Store

MY AUNT Tita Blitte keeps telling me that people do not want to hear what does not tickle their ears. Even if they hear the truth, they will deny it or brush it off. For example, we were watching “Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho (KMJS)” one Sunday evening. We sat on edge of our seats as Soho’s team investigated the mysterious ship plying the sea in Lazi, Siquijor.

The urban legend called tayog-tayog has kept Siquijodnons in perplexity for years. The ghost ship or fairy ship appears between midnight and 1 a.m. One fisherman claims he saw aliens known as engkantos onboard a ship. Engkanto literally means “the enchanted one.” It refers to mythical beings that inhabit the land and the sea. They have fair skin and pale hair color. Maybe the English equivalent is fairy or water/forest nymph.

To the cut the story short (I know most of you have watched the Soho show), “KMJS” found out that it was a real ship that crossed the sea. The M/V Filipinas Iligan of Cokaliong Shipping Lines travels the Ozamis–Cebu route and vice versa route around Lazi. Another ship that plies the route is Trans Asia 1. Even then, some residents resisted the truth and rather believed the legend of “other beings” encroaching human boundaries.

“That means they are still not ‘herring’ the truth,” said Pannon, my precocious nephew.

“Herring? You mean ‘hearing,’ Pannon?” my Uncle Gustave corrected.

“It’s herring, a fish belonging to the sardine family, my teacher said. We discussed the fishing industry of Lake Taal. Teacher said the tawilis or sardinella population is dwindling. If nothing is done to regulate the fishing system, this endemic fish will become extinct like the dodo.”

Cebu has no word equivalent for tawilis since the fish is only found in the fresh waters of Taal. Cebuanos do have tamban and tuloy to refer to sardines that come from the sea.

“I heard that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature recently proclaimed the tawilis as endangered,” my Aunt Tita Blittle said.

“GMA 7 had a feature on tawilis. A 70-year-old fisherman did not believe the tawilis was in danger. He said he still had ample catch. Another fisherman admitted compared to many years ago and today, he had lesser catch,” Uncle Gustave said.

“How come adults are hard of ‘herring,’ Lola Blitte?” Pannon asked.

It was a difficult question. “People would rather hear something that tickles their ears,” she replied.

“Lola Blitte, I worry. Will the tawilis be still be in Taal Lake when I grown up?”

It was a difficult question. Maybe the government can answer it by educating the fishermen, creating an “off-season fishing” for tawilis and people refraining from buying small tawilis.

It takes a whole village to raise a child. It also takes a whole country to save the tawilis.


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