WITH a lighted cigarette in hand, Barangay Bonbon trisikad driver Loloy Jadulan walked to the shore one misty Monday morning, June 8, and enjoy at the sight and feel of the vast Macajalar Bay of Cagayan de Oro.
As quick as he made two more hurried pops before throwing the cigar butt to the sand was as fast as he pulled his shirt off and took a splash to the seawaters that he loves second to none for he was part of it since his early teen.
"Sa dagat ko nagdako kay mangingisda gyod ko sa una ulahi na kanang akong pag drive sa sikad (I'm really a fisherman before turning into sikad driver)," Loloy says for a start in a chance encounter with this writer who was swimming slightly ahead of him.
From being cool, the now 39-year-old Jadulan -- who remains single and contented -- suddenly turned resentful and melancholic when the conversation touched on the sweeping domination of big commercial boats in the municipal waters of Cagayan de Oro and the province of Misamis Oriental.
"Sila ang tinuod nga kawatan. Nibawi lang 'mi kay ang gagmay nga isda ilabi na ang tamban para na sa amo nga mga gagmay'ng mananagat. Mao gani nga gagmay ang mata sa among pukot kay amo na'ng tamban (They're really the real culprit. We only try to get even because small fishes are supposedly intended for us. The reason why our net is designed with tiny holes because it's made exclusive for tamban)," Jadulan starts fuming.
He looked up far to the sea pointing his finger to where the so-called "sensoro" and "tapay-tapay" (big fishing vessels) are navigating at night and thriving with big volume of fish catch, including the small ones.
"Dagko lang unta nga isda ilang kuhaon ang tamban sa gagmay'ng mananagat na lang para patas (The government should tell them to only go for the big ones for the fishing race to be fair)."
In the advent of "manapawan" or the shrewd practice of inserting ordinary net to big players' oval-wide fishing net, small-time fishermen are being accused of literally stealing fish from them.
"No match man 'mi sa ila, makisingit na lang sa ilang grasya (And that's because we're no match to them. We just have a share of their blessings)," then said a certain Adie from Zone 3 Baybay of said barangay.
Jadulan said "manapawan" or "ambak pare (deep diving)" in the middle of the sea is such a daunting task you can be injured or even meet a tragic end.
The presence of the reddish snake-like looking "salabay" is another trouble.
Jadulan said it is not poisonous but when it rubs your body, you would feel uncomfortable as the itch is unbearable and your skin would turn red.
The stoning from the crew of sensoro is the usual danger others would even resort to bullets against the undettered "mananapaw."
"Tinuod na sa una adunay namatay tungod sa pagpamato naay isa ka mananagat nibalos pagsindi og dinamita. Naa say napusilan namatay gihapon (It's true one was killed in the past when a fisherman retaliated by throwing a dinamita near the boat of stone thrower (mamatohay). Another was also killed from bullet wound in a separate incident)."
One fateful night, Jandulan said he was hit by a stone in the forehead and was bathed in his own blood.
"Layo kaayong ospital may gani akong gitambalan sa gasolina ni-undang ang tulo sa dugo (I was worried because we're too far from hospital I was only relieved when the blood stops coming when I used gasoline as treatment)," Jadulan recalled.
What prompted him, however, to stop fishing some three years ago was when his cousin and fishing buddy, Kiki died from illness.
"We're really partner and we never quarreled. We have great moments at sea. After his death, things were never the same," Jadulan said in vernacular.
While back-to-fishing musician Marvin Pagalan considered "barakuda" (a grown-up "rompi") as the most feared sea monster it could fly and turn in one's direction for a fatal attack, fellow fisherman Kokoy Baal said the whale shark they fondly called "taluki" is still the winner you would scamper at the mere sight of it.
"Hapit ko napunggit paghunat og lupad mora mapeldi nako si Michael Phelps adtong tungora sa kasutoy sa akong langoy (Once i was almost hit by a flying barakuda. To survive, i beat the greatest swimmer Michael Phelps at my speed during that time," Pagaran said of his barakuda encounter.
He loves to call it "rompi de kwadrado" for its seemingly locked steely teeth.
"Pagbuka sa baba hait kaayo'g ngipon katulo mi-abay dako pa sa among baroto. Ayha pa nawala among nerbiyos nga nakapaharorot nakauli mi'g ahat sa daplin (The teeth were so sharp and scary when it opened its mouth and it's bigger than our boat. Only when we sped up and reached the shore that we feel safe)," Baal said of his whale shark experience.
Whatever, the pursuit of ending the night productive in the hunt of sardines fish (herrings) is what goad them all in the reckless sea adventure now in the company of the "unfriendly" sensoro operators.
"We never considered them really as mananagat. We fish to have some foods in the table. They wipe out small fishes purely for business matter. Karon ila 'ming tawagon og kawatan mobalos pud 'mi sa ila'g insulto (We could insult them back for calling us a thief)," Jadulan said.
Rich tamban harvest by sensoro had its price dropping from as high as P120 to P20 per kilo some four weeks ago in barangay Bonbon.
Two weeks later, the price gets lower at P10 per kilo or P20 for three kilos in Luyong Bonbon, Opol town where some sensoro operators reside.
"Di malikayan ma overstock kay sa sensoro nga kompleto sa fish radar ug lighting device para attract sa isda pati gagmay malaras (Over supply of fishes can't be avoided in the presence of the well-equipped. commercial vessels with guiding light to attract even small species from underneath the sea surface. They could really wipe them)," Kokoy's father, Ernan Baal told SunStar Cagayan de Oro in an early interview.
"Di lalim kapoy risgo ang pagpanagat unya gamay ra kita namo kay mobarato pag ayo tungod sa dagko nga commercial fishing boats (It's not easy to risk life going night fishing. It's bone tiring yet we only earn a little because of sensoro and tapay tapay)," he added.