Forgotten Sea

I jogged last Monday and, for a change, steered clear of the Minglanilla Sports Complex and went straight ahead to the Minglanilla Fishport in Tulay. I had missed the sea and the view of the mountains from the shoreline.

As I jogged to the tip of the newly constructed wharf extension, I espied to my left seashell gatherers (it was a low tide morning) and to my right around ten boats floating languidly on the shallows. The scene reminded me of William Henry Scott’s “Barangay” and his summation of the description of Spanish chroniclers of pre-Spanish Philippines.

In the old days the sea was both a source of food and a wide highway, that is why the villages were mostly near the shorelines. Some shores were also the areas where Chinese and Arab merchants, or native traders selling goods from the Orient and the Middle East, exchange goods with the villagers.

When I was a child vacationing in Tudela in the Camotes group of islands, my Tiyo Eleazar one time asked me to accompany him to Barangay Matin-ao, which was some four kilometers from the Tudela poblacion. Instead of riding a bicycle, we got into his baroto and used it in our trip to and from Matin-ao.

Islands in the pre-Spanish days didn’t have roads or highways in the interior, and there was no indication that wheeled vehicles (karitons?) were extensively used for travel and movement of goods. The sea and boats provided that function.

I therefore find it unfortunate that this old setup has been forgotten by local government officials, especially in shoreline localities. They should have encouraged the use of small pumpboats or barotos for travel and movement of goods by providing small piers or landing areas so people and commodities won’t get wet once they are ashore.

Industrialized countries like Japan and the United States encourage government to get loans for infrastructure projects like roads, so people will be dependent on the motorized vehicles that they sell. In the process, they inculcated a road-dependent mindset, resulting in the people forgetting the function and importance of the sea.

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