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I was surprised when I learned about the daily routine of 5 housekeeping trainees who all came from the islet of Moamboc in the municipality of Bantayan, Cebu. It may just be an exaggerated tale, and for me to really know if the story is true, I have to experience it to find it out!
And so I did.
Renebie Nepangue is 19 years old and 3rd from the eldest of ten siblings. He is a fisherman like his father. He started fishing at a very young age and because of starting spear fishing too early, he lost the hearing of his left ear. When asked about having any problem hearing his trainer, he shyly replied, “Sometimes I can’t hear her, I just watch her lips when she talks and then I understand.”
He dreams that his training on housekeeping will pave the way for him to find a better fortune away from the sea so that he can help his parents and send his younger siblings to school.
Arvin Nepangue is 21 years old. He is the 6th of seven siblings. He is a fisherman like his father. His mother is a plain housewife but sometimes joins her husband in fishing. I asked Arvin why he joined the housekeeping training. He replied that he just wanted to be the last fisherman in the family. He didn’t want his future children to be like him.
Maria Salome Sevilleno is 34, married to a fisherman and has 3 children. She joined the training to be of help to her husband. After receiving her week-long worth of stipend she went home to the islet and brought nothing for her family. When asked why, she just replied, “This will be for the allowances of my two girls who are studying in a government funded high school in the mainland Bantayan.” She is hoping in finding a job in one of the resorts in Bantayan. She added that she would let her children finish school so that they would have better lives.
Elena Despabiladero is 32 years old, married to a fisherman and has 2 little boys. She is also into fishing and is a Barangay health worker of the islet, a ₱800 per month job. She lamented that she and her husband find no more future in the fluctuating harvest from the sea. Equipped with the learning she gained from the training, she plans to work abroad just to give her children a brighter future. I asked if it wouldn’t be painful for her to leave her two kids if she worked abroad, she replied that it would be for them anyway.
Alvin Amodia is 18 years old. His father is a fisherman. He is the 6th from the eldest of nine siblings. He joined the training hoping that he will not end up being a fisherman for a lifetime just like those who came before him.
During high tides, to sail on a motorized boat from the mainland Bantayan to the islet of Moamboc will just take 25 to 30 minutes.
But things change on low tides. Bantayan has a wide and shallow tidal flats that will make it impossible to use a boat to reach an islet and the only available accessibility is by walking from the mainland to the nearby islets including the islet of Moamboc.
Because of their willingness to learn and dream of making their lives better, they take a 3-hour walk every day and sometimes the 2-hour paddling on low tides.
Sometimes they ride a subiran (small boat), moving it with the use of tukon (bamboo pole). They usually leave at 4 o’clock in the morning and arriving in mainland Bantayan at 6 am. After the training, they leave the island at 5 pm and arriving in Moamboc at 8 pm.
There was a time when they miscalculated the coming of tides and in the midst of their walking back home, the sea current came with the high tide. They had to swim back home using the lights from their houses as their beacon. The hardship of their daily ordeal is never seen on their cheerful faces when they are with their co-trainees during training.