My first marriage failed after about 7 years of what I thought was a good marriage. I did provoke the beginning of the end by having an “affair”. Yes, I know if I had it to do over I would not do it, knew at the time it was wrong, did it anyway. Past is past. She wanted to forgive me, but deep in her heart she never trusted me ever again, leading to a lot of useless, pointless, completely unresolvable, arguments.
My feeling that as I had failed already in 2 marriages (one in the USA), I should not be married in the first place. Just develop a good life, living alone.
So I moved out onto the beach as a squatter.
This beach is south of Dipolog, Mindanao.
There is some debate about who is poorest, farmers or fisherman. Fishermen have a unpredictable income streams, but sometimes hit it rich. I remember during sardine season some friends of mine earned P50,000 in a single week. I also have seen those same guys earn nothing for 6 weeks. Farmers seem to never strike it rich, just plod along, constantly with demands for cash they can’t meet.
The two groups are often connected. Fishermen often send their kids to the farms to eat, when there is no food on the beach. They also give away their catch, sometimes 90% of it, always some of it, to virtually anybody who asks, kilo by kilo. I have no way to determine if there is some distant family relationship, or social protocol, that I could not observe or just an idea that poverty requires sharing in a cash poor economy, behind this charity.
Fishing peoples contend with a lot of transients. When people lose their spot in other places they can usually find a spot on the beach to erect a shelter. Driftwood for cooking. Perhaps a small income drying fish or pulling in a surf net. I would estimate the average income of a hard working young guy (transient) at about P300 a week.
Many outright criminals there, “hiding out” from some group of relatives or police.
This lady above was very kind to me. She had some English, was quick to explain something to me if I asked. Here she and her husband are preparing to fish with a long line. Each hook is baited with a short chunk of yarn, or squid if it is cheap, as it is lowered into the sea.
What did I do there? Just living takes up your time. With out running water or even a road to drive up to the house on, lots of time is used just collecting life’s basics. For me, mostly, it was a base of operations, someplace to return to. Someplace to store my washing machine and household items. I also had several close Filipino friends who watched out for me, nearby. Did a lot of socializing, as I always had discretionary cash, I could always generate a celebration at the karaoke. 6 guys well lubricated, constant music, a parade of passers by, from afternoon to midnight of party, cost? $10.
Of course I had fished in America. I felt I was a highly skilled fisherman too. I had access to the most sophisticated fishing tools, modern fishing pole and lures. After repeated attempts, I NEVER CAUGHT A SINGE FISH IN THE PHILIPPINES, by myself. Total skunk. I caught a few helping pull in shore nets (a 3 fathom net is pulled out from the beach directly into the sea then pulled back by manual labor on the beach, about 1.5 hours of very hard work). Went out a few times fishing for sardines and hipon (baby shrimps), mostly I just got in the way and vomited overboard.
Sure, I look at this picture and see adventure, a road ending in New York maybe, just paddle away. But also looking into this scene I start to feel the pain in my back from rowing, the sting of cold salt water in the cracks in my hands, wind burning my face, sun burning my feet… Maybe an ice tea under a coco is a better idea. 2 sugars, please.