Sea in our life

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By Erma M. Cuizon

Sun.Star Essay

Saturday, April 26, 2014

ONE summer, my friends and I went to Siquijor for a good swim (and a waddle in the water for me who can't swim). When it was time for us to leave the island, we missed the sea craft we were supposed to take from Siquijor to Dumaguete City.

There were small outrigger boats (bangka) at the Larena port, so we jumped into one with two hulls which was good only for four people with the paddler among us doing the waves. We were carried by the boatman to the canoe on his shoulder because the boat couldn't go ashore any farther in the shallow coast.

After the trip, we were expected to join friends in Negros from where we would take a bigger seacraft trip to the Cebu port. From Siquijor in our crossing to Negros, the waves were big but gentle and it was like I was
alone surrounded by water while the shore was far and miles away. The sight always makes you pray in hush.


But the sea could swallow us in a bad weather. In the mythical world early in time, there were beliefs and impressions about the sea as a strange, huge water monster. Some places in the world knew nothing of the sea and its gentle coolness in the skin under the sunlight.

There’s even attraction in the image of the sea as you watch it from the shore at twilight when the world behind the horizon lights up while the coast starts.

I had an evening fishing trip in a small boat when there was just another friend, the Siquijodnon host and the paddler as company in the sea world at night fall. Then it was time for us to go ashore. The wind grew colder but we were still some minutes far from the coast. The fisherman, using a
dipper (kabo), put some water into the boat and told us to cover ourselves with the water and go a bit under to keep from chilling in the cold, wet air. After a while, we paddled back to the shore where some friends waited for us while cooking supper at the coast.

Can you imagine how many more people are out to sea this summer instead of to some mountains up somewhere for their beauty of height and fan leafed fullness? The sea has a lure. In vehicles going south to Talisay beach in the ‘70s, I saw people driving along us in the national road, looking happily expectant.

In the car beside us, I saw two guys already in swim wear and all set for a sea experience. You say “summer” and the thought of the sea comes around.

Compare this with the personal discovery of a friend. Living in Nebraska, the friend once told me she knew a neighbor who hadn’t seen the sea in reality besides in the movies.

I can imagine how the sea was seen by inland people, like in Australia, the Americas and Europe where they were scared of distant shores in the early centuries. Most of the world was still afraid of the sea, the waves seen as “bouts of fever” disturbing the waters.

Then the fear of the sea monster was overcome when the maritime trade was born in India and Southeast Asia while Europe started building overseas colonies way beyond its boundaries. This, even as countries after the Cold War also fought for supremacy in naval power.

Before the building of war ships, there was the paddle boat (much longer than the local bangka) used like military ships during the Song Dynasty. Not mechanized, its power was from the strength of 20 humans paddling 20 paddle wheels adding up to a crew of 300.

But today there is still the sea in blissful summer, a break for everyone, even if it’s also business, like sea resorts and coastal hotels are business. But the sea continues to encompass life at one look, spreading over in waves and waves of cool summer sea water. (

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 27, 2014.


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