SUMMER is the peak season when schools of glistening kalamputi are drawn to the drumming of the wooden boats and the glare of the bright lights.
A mix of newly spawned fish species, kalamputi are silver white fishes that can either be sardines (“tamban” or “tuloy” or “mangsi”), bullet tuna (“tulingan”), red tail (“pulag ikog”) and silver side (“bolinao” or “turnos”).
In early evenings during the summer months and some months toward the end of the year, more than 25 small pumpboats and “barotos” (wooden boats with bamboo outriggers that either run on a single propeller engine or on just wooden paddles) converge right in our beachfront in the southern town of Oslob for about two hours.
Like tribesmen beating their drums during a festival, these fishermen start beating their wooden boats to draw the kalamputi close to their boats, ready to lunge on their prey. Backed by super bright lights powered by 12-volt car batteries on board their boats, the fishermen wait in bated breath to lure more schools of the gleaming fish fry to the net. The brighter the lights, the more schools of fish are drawn to the net. And when that moment comes, kilos of shimmering kalamputi are trapped and harvested from the surface seawater.
Kalamputi are ideal for “ginamos” (salted fermented fish) and best for “torta” (fish omelette) too. Of course, “kinilaw” (fish ceviche cured with spiced coconut vinegar) will be a treat for those waiting ashore! And yes, the whale sharks here in Oslob are merrier during this kalamputi season.
Argentinian Gonzalo Araujo, director of Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines, said that whale sharks feed on small fishes, krill or plankton. No wonder it is easy to spot the whale sharks just a few meters from our beach shoreline.
So the drum beating sounds continue, blending with nature’s roaring sounds of the waves... ‘tis the season for KALAMPUTI!!!