Olanen, a fishing village in Bani

December 23, 2011 at 2:31 pm Leave a comment

By Yolanda Sotelo

BANI — It is three o’clock in the afternoon. At the shore of Olanen village in this western Pangasinan town, residents eagerly await the menfolk out at the South China Sea for several hours. Blue fishing boats blending with the color of the sea and the cloudless sky start arriving with their catch for the day.

“You will know if the fishermen had a big or little catch. Those with big catch stand proudly on the boat as they approach the shore. Those with little catch are either stooped or are sitting down, maybe ashamed or afraid or sad,” Tessie Bahian, 43, says.

Bahian is one of the buyers of the newly-caught fish which she brings to other towns’ markets. Everyday, in the morning and in the afternoon, she stays on the shore, waiting for the fishermen to dock.

These days, the harvest from the sea is good, with the fisher folks bringing back to the shore large fishes like tanigue, yellow fin tuna, buslugan and tambacol. Some months, the sea yields different kinds of fishes, Bahain says.

But there are species, like sea turtles, are prohibited for catching. Some shells too, like lobsters, can’t be gathered during spawning period, like in December.

Diomedes Napora, a fisherman, arrived with two others in one boat. They have around 100 kilos of yellow fin tuna “harvested” from the payaw (artificial reef) some 40 kilometers from the shore.

The “payaw” is privately owned but the owners do not mind sharing with the marginal fishermen whatever fishes are “seeking shelter” in the area, as long as they use only hook and line to capture the fishes, he says.

The fisher folk have their provisions during their stay at sea, like rice and condiments like vinegar and salt, to add into the freshly harvested fishes, Bahain says.

Right after the fishing boats arrived, several men help in docking the boats. Others just mill around as the fishes are weighted and transferred to containers. Some of the fishes are put in large Styrofoam boxes, covered with ice and poured with salty sea water, ready for transport to other markets.

But everyone in the fishing village would have something for dinner. Those unable to go to the sea are given some fishes for their next meal.

“It’s some kind of law here that fishermen share some of their catch to those unable to go to the sea. Next time around, those fishermen with good catch may also be unable to go fishing and will be given some fish,” Bahian says.

Unknown to some residents, Olanen had its share of history, Mayor Marcelo Navarro says. In the 1970s, boatmen escaping from the repressive Vietnam government arrived in the place and were warmly welcomed, he recalls.

But this afternoon, the residents busily transfer the fishes into containers, clean and dry dock the boats ready for the next trip to the sea.

Then the residents go back to the resettlement site- the Borobor ni Ayat, the resettlement site in the nearby hills put up by the local government and the Department of Social Works and Development.

The fishing village is once again quiet, until the next morning when the other batches of fishermen start arriving and the village becomes abuzz with activities once more.

Entry filed under: News.


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