Food & Travel

The Travelling Table: The Daklis

By franco on 16 April, 2008

The Travelling Table: Currimao Fishing

In the heat of the Daklis: Reeling in the catch

It’s our last full day in Ilocos Norte.

A and I have decided that we would spend the day enjoying our resort, Sitio Remedios. We would enjoy the beach, get a massage, catch up on our reading and of course, stuff our faces silly. Essentially, we would take in everything that makes Sitio Remedios such an amazing destination.

While we were tucking into our mid-afternoon snack of mangoes and a myriad of rices cakes like Impalatao, Linapet and Bingkat (our fourth meal of the day), something by the seaside catches our eye. A line of men, women and even children begins to form, tugging on a rope of red. Upon closer inspection, what seemed to be a rope has become a wide, scarlet-colored, nylon fishing net.

The line of people grows even longer. The heaving is steady and coordinated, punctuated by shouts of ohs and ahhs. There is excitement in the air and it is infectious.

The Travelling Table: The Daklis

From top left, clockwise

The long, red line, Sorting the catch,
Fish in a basket, Staking their claims

They call it the Daklis.

During the week, the men of Currimao will set out a large fishing net in the early morning. Spreading it out in as wide an area as possible. The net is guarded by a lone fisherman who sits on a raft attach to the apex of net. He sits, waits and watches while the hot morning sun beats down.

Years of experience have taught these fisher folk when to reel in their catch. And that moment has now arrived. Without missing a step, the men grab hold of thick ropes attached to the net and begin to pull. As they tug, they shout in unison. This is not only for encouragement but also to maintain the coordination of their movements so as not to damage their straining nets filled the sea’s bounty.

As the net slowly comes closer to shore, the women take their place in the line of fishermen and start to heave. The net inches forward. Little boys and girls laugh in anticipation, wiggle their way the ropes and try to help out. A fiesta-like atmosphere is now in full swing.

The pulling becomes urgent and begins to quicken.

The Travelling Table: The Daklis

From top left, clockwise

Weighing the day’s efforts, Picking up the strays,

Taking account of the shares, Getting ready for tomorrow

After what seems an eternity, a silver flicker appears on the water. The flicker slowly grows into explosion of activity as fish of all shapes, colors and size struggle to break free. To no avail. There is a sudden sudden surge as men and women gather around the catch and begin to divide up the spoils. First to go, the much larger fish: the Dorado, Caballes and Sindingan, bought up by our triumphant host who declares, “Here’s dinner!” Next, the smaller fish like the abundant Munamom are divided among the women who sort, measure and haul off their share to the market. The owner of the fishing net takes notes of what is owed and negotiates with arriving middlemen.

While the adults do business, some children have grand time picking up the stray fish left behind. They play, holding their catch in their hands or creating little ponds in the sand. Older boys and girls watch and learn from the adults, knowing that they will have their turn soon enough.

As the day comes to an end, the frenzied activity dies down. The lone fisherman who had spent his day vigilantly watching at sea, now untangles the net, spreads it on the shore and prepares it for the next Daklis.

Many thanks to Rene Guatlo for letting us pick his brain.




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  • APRIL 18, 2008 11:09 AM

    karen said...

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  • APRIL 20, 2008 2:24 PM

    Cooking said...

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  • APRIL 21, 2008 6:26 AM

    christine said...

    What an amazing experience! That's something you don't get to see everyday. Your quiet time at the resort turned out to be quite eventful after all. :)

  • APRIL 21, 2008 7:18 AM

    Franco said...

    Hi Karen,

    Will be in touch.

    Hi cooking,

    Thanks. Good luck with your blog.;)

    Hi Nena,

    Really an amazing experience. Sadly, a friend of mine told me that kind of fishing is illegal because of this indiscriminate nature of the netting method used. :(