For Marketman, the biggest advantage of being on an island in the middle of abundant seas was the incredible amounts of freshly caught seafood. I realize I was coveting the exact creatures that the divers around me wanted to view swimming in their natural habitat. But I am sure if the fish were smart enough, they would eat the divers up in a flash, rather than wading through billions of gallons of seawater munching on minute bits of plankton or worse, human waste products. So it is a quirk of nature that in this case, we are the hunter and the fish are our breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Most of the families on the island of Malapascua rely on tourism related revenues to sustain their families. They work in the resorts, they sell trinkets, and they fish, hoping to sell some of their premium fish to tourists or restaurants in resorts. The small bancas land at one end of the island (a half hour walk from our hotel) and the ladies carry the catch to the hotels, hoping to find buyers. At 6 a.m. on a Friday morning, there weren’t too many tourists out on the beach, so I had first pick. :)
Besides the talakitok, they also had a large kubotan or cuttlefish, and perhaps 10 kilos of less premium “rock fishes.” If only I had access to my own kitchen and or a stash of basic ingredients… I would have been in seventh heaven. But the eating had to be paced, so a single talakitok was the prize for the first day’s breakfast.
An hour later, we enjoyed the simplest of tinowas or soups with gentle flavorings of green onions, onions, tomatoes, lemongrass, and some savoy cabbage together with the freshly caught and cleaned fish. I know this may sound bland to some of you, but it was perfect. The fish was reef fresh, the soup gentle on the palate. A huge helping of rice each and four of us were completely satisfied with this meal.
And just as we finished our soup, another ambulant vendor walked by, carrying this fantastic looking 2-3 kilo lapu-lapu (still alive and gasping for water… even wonder about that… humans gasp for air, do fish gasp for water?) that she was selling for PHP100 a kilo! Gluttony would have been to purchase it and have it fried right then and there. Again, this fish would easily command PHP350 a kilo in the city, but we resisted the urge and figured there were a lot more fish to be had on this short vacation on Malapascua…