HAVING seen the devastation humans have wreaked on marine life, it was a pleasant dive in Tagbaobo, Island Garden City of Samal last Saturday, the last day of my two-week sabbatical. The corals down there seem to be singing in sheer happiness.
Errrr… label me weird, as I’ve long been labeled, but the quiet of the underwater where you hear nothing but your Darth Vader-ish breathing and occasional sound of a pumpboat or your companion’s muffled hoot or tank-banging to get your attention makes me ‘hear’ voices. No, not the schizophrenic “Kill! Kill! Kill!” type. Just a subconscious awareness brought to the fore of what on land would seem the quiet underwater world. There’s the eerie feeling while flipping past dead coral rubbles, the heart-banging quiet of a shipwreck, and the happy thoughts of a coral garden.
In Tagbaobo, the corals were not just emanating happy thoughts, they were emitting colors so wonderful, you could imagine them singing in endless chorus. Thus, when Mecai spotted a large lobster hiding in a dark crevice in the coral rocks, I imagined Sebastian singing, “Darling it’s better, Down where it’s wetter, Take it from me !!!!”
I’d have belted out in duet, but with an air regulator stuck in my mouth, all I could do was run the song over and over again in my head.
Generose owns the place where we bummed our lunch in and from whom we smooched a ride as well. It’s a long, bumpy ride across Samal, my dears… get off the ferry boat, ride out, turn left, go through the Kinawitnon road to shorten the trip to Penaplata, go past Penaplata and keep an eye on the left side of the road where there is a waiting shed that is unusually big (like 5 meters by five meters big), turn left and then just keep on turning right for every crossroad you get to (I counted two, but I wasn’t really paying much attention), follow the road even as it goes down, down, down… and then motor on until you see the sign welcoming you to Tagbaobo; that’s past barangays Tagbay and Aumbay and one other barangay I forgot the name of.
She said the waters off their property is a sanctuary and that they’ve been actively keeping watch against poachers – mostly from Davao City who are brazen enough to challenge those who implement the law. “Ano pala yang sanctuary ninyo, gold?” the poachers reportedly said when told to fish outside the sanctuary. Errr… yes… they’re not poachers for nothing.
But with residents realizing how important it is to set aside certain portions of their municipal waters for marine life to proliferate and authorities grim and determined to implement the law, poachers should soon be converted to environmentally-aware fishers… Hopefully.
In the meantime, I sang and flipped my fins happily as we stalked fishes and critters and I oooooh-ed and aaahhh-ed at the long stretch of corals at the peak of their health.
… When the sardine
Begin the beguine
It’s music to me
What do they got? A lot of sand
We got a hot crustacean band
Each little clam here
know how to jam here
Under the sea…
Each little slug here
Cuttin’ a rug here
Under the sea…
Each little snail here
Know how to wail here
That’s why it’s hotter
Under the water
Ya we in luck here
Down in the muck here
Under the sea!!!!