THE price of sardines fish dramatically dropping to an all-time low of P20 per kilo on Friday, May 29, is an obvious indication that "tamban season" is still perfectly abundant and may linger for long in the Macajalar bay of Cagayan de Oro.
"Grabe ka barato tungod sa daghang kuha kalata lang. Swerte ang mamalitay karon kay tag-baynte ra kilo pakapinan pa gyod (It's so cheaper becaus the catch is abundant some would just go to waste. The costumers are lucky for they can have it at only P20 per kilo. The retailer would be generous to even add some more)," said fisherman Dodie Paasa, 40, whose three-foam catch at night will be sold by his mother, Nang Dada, in the morning along the school premises of Zone 5, Barangay Bonbon.
"Tulo 'mi sa baroto pero tulo ka foams nga kuha, okay na kaayo sa amo nga grasya. Dili 'mi gapalabi (We're not greedy, three foams would be just enough)," Dodie would tell his neighbors.
At least two fishing boats from Zone 4 Baybay docked with 13 to 17 foams of tamban catch, which is a great advantage to the labor part.
Before the traditionally-gifted peak month of May, the poor man's choice of tamban fish that is delicious for "kinilaw," "pinirito" and "sinugba," will just be a handful in the seaside barangay's display area that fish vendors would sell it to as high as P120 per kilo.
"Wala kay makita sa foam kay balde-balde ang kuha adtong time nga nihit kaayo (Sardines fish would be nary in foam sight as the catch is only good for small basins)," shared Nang Dada's youngest son Epay.
In the past two weeks, 32-year-old Richel Baal said instead of risking at night out in the deep blue sea, he would just wake up early in the morning to team up with the group's chief errand boy Lando doing labor for 100 up to 200 foams of fresh tamban.
They would then split P600 up to P1,000 each of earnings in back-breaking labor job.
"But Nong Lando would earn more kay hatagan siya'g tag-lima ka kilo sa mga papart nga suki. Maka one foam sab siya kon mabaligya tiba-tiba (Some close contacts among fishing fellows would share their blessings for additional income)," Baal said in vernacular.
From P7,000 to P9,000, each foam of tamban fish just settled at P4,000 to P5,000 on Wednesday, depending on timetable as early buyers tend to get a good price.
"Mao lang sab gyod ang disadvantage kon ting-tamban kay barato kaayo looy ang mamaligyaay (That's the only disadvantage in the advent of tamban season. The cheaper price is not favorable to small-time fishing vendors)," opined boat owner Egor del Puerto.
Local fisherfolk expect the rich season to last until June.
"Pero naa sab time sa una nga from May, niabot gyod sa December nga abunda ang kuha. Karon nga panahon sa Covid, ampo namo nga tibuok tuig na unta kining grasya ni Lord para makatigom-tigom (There was a time that we enjoy a whole-year-round of abundant catch. We could only pray that the blessings will continue for us to overcome the difficulty brought by the coronavirus pandemic)," Baal said.