Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Seaweed Gardens

Moving out of the Bikal wharf was nice and slow. At low tide, boat had to glide along slowly since there are many things to avoid including those floating plastic cellophanes. Do you know what those are? They serve as floaters for seaweed plantations! Seaweed what?! Ah well, it is a livelihood industry in the area. They grow seaweeds that would soon be dried and sold to buyers who in turn export them mainly to Japan. I think its called agar-agar. My boatman calls them seaweeds but the deck hand calls them “gulaman” – since it is one of the most common end products that the seaweeds are made into. Hmm, something new again for my lowly brain. And I call them seaweed gardens since they’re not that vast to be called plantations!

Why the floaters and why use plastic wrappers? (those are exactly the kinds of plastic used in making “ice-water” or “ice-tubig”). Boatman told me that the long lines (strings) used as ‘growing or clinging vine’ for the weeds must always be by the water’s surface, submerged just an inch or two. Weeds cannot be anchored for they’d be submerged deep during hightide and die. They cannot also be exposed fully to air for they’d dry up and wilt. Thus, the need for floaters to maintain them just at the desired level. And the “ice-water” plastic seems to be the cheapest and most ideal floater since you could easily add more if needed or just prick them to burst if the line is exposing the weeds too much. Plus, being shiny, they reflect more light at night so boatmen can easily spot and avoid the plantation. Hmm, complicatedly simple hehe!

Hey, I learned that toothpaste and make-up too are products that use these weeds as a main component! Now I remember, I have seen similar things during my trips to Mindanao, but it was only this time that I got a clearer explanation as to how those weeds are grown! Boatman further told me (if not lamented) that the weed growers just select an open space that they think ideal for growing and lay their strings and floaters out. So that boatmen must cope and learn how to avoid them, even if it means running through the waters in a maze-like fashion! Quite some learning again. And we were just pushing out of the shore! I just knew this was going to be a fantastic island hopping experience! Wouldn't have happened if I was taken-in and joined that greedy group - belat to them hahaha!

The unforgettable fishy story is next! Promise!


For a chronology of this trip's stories, click these numbers:
01   02   03   04   05   06   07   08   09   10   11   12   13   14   15
16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30

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