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Baling , A Community Fishing Method | The Life in the Countryside of Cantilan, Surigao del Sur





A group of men laying down the nets not far from the shore
Eating sea foods  is  one of the best things I love do just a bit closer to traveling . But I have to pay respect to the people responsible for making these marine resources available to public consumption. And this is when the unsung heroes of our society comes in , the dedicated fishermen that mostly at the bottom of the chain being bypassed by the services from the government.

There are many established ways of harvesting the God given marine resources but most of them are  destructive in nature.  One for example is the destructive bottom trawling used by the giant  corporations,  Muro-ami, cyanide fishing , coral fishing and so many on the line.

It is not until I made a short visit to the town of Cantilan where I witnessed another sustainable means of fishing.  Upon waking up very early in the coastal bay of Baybay, Cantilan, I accidentally witnessed the communal fishing method in Cantilan  known as Baling, a community activity that involves  men and women of the nearby  barangay using huge nets set into the water to catch marine fishes. 


The slow pulling process takes an hour until the nets are ashore
The process starts at dawn where fishermen lay down the huge nets at the nearby shore leaving it there for hours until noon. A group of fishermen then slowly recover the nets by pulling the long bundle of threads supported by a strap worn on the waist  of all the volunteers  including the  women. 

The method was painstaking and requires patience as the "pulling" process takes time that requires lots of energy and uniformity. The fishermen have to do it slowly because of the resistance of  the sea current, giant waves  and  the great weight  load of the net .

Alternately, the fishermen have to go in front of another upon reaching the sandy shore to retain the momentum of the pulling.
The strap placed on the waist of the participants during the pulling process
After an hour or two, the net will come ashore with all the trapped marine resources on it. The participants will collect the harvest and shall be categorized whether it is good for selling or just for household consumption. The people who participated with the process will have their equal shares. There is also a recorder and market representative in charge of selling the fishes of good quality  to the buyers waiting patiently along the coast to be sold at the local market. The earnings then shall be divided equally among the major participants of the Baling.


Baling isn’t done daily as the locals know the carrying capacity of the sea. They know better that the sea needs time to replenish its  resources . This form of bayanihan is a proof that our population can survive and be productive with common efforts. 

Catch is classified based on quality for selling to the local market
It’s just sad that this tradition can  hardly be seen now a days as giant corporations take the greater part of the sea. If we could only work hand and hand and set aside our personal and greedy interests, the world will be a better and peaceful ans sustainable environment  to be handed on to the next generations.

15 comments :

  1. Saw this kind of fishing method in Tondaligan beach in Dagupan, Pangasinan. Baling pala tawag dito, now I know.

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  2. Sadly, "bayanihan", team or community effort that I've learn to live with when I was still young has slowly been supplanted with the West's idea of personal effort where the bravest, smartest, richest (those possessing other superlative skills) triumph over those without; paving the way to a doctrine of "matira ang matibay"; leading to personal greed and selfishness and leaving behind the benefits of peaceful, loving co-existence is a community.

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  3. nice photos and stories as always. just got curious, isn't this method of fishing banned by bfar? d ba eto yung fine net mesh or beach seine or dragnet? or hindi eto yun. it looks familiar sa akin having been to a fishery school. lol :)

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  4. nick they are not using fine mesh nets . take a look at the 3rd photo

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  5. banak (sea mullet) pala nahuhuli nila

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  6. It is very nice to see fisherman doing their thing while fishing together to catch fish. The last time I've seen something like this was way back in 2008. How I wish I could see it again.

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  7. It's nice that they fish as a community. I was trying to imagine how they do it while reading your post and it must be a nice scene seeing them working in unison and patiently for the fishing activity.

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  8. this way of catching fish is also a way of bayanihan. if you look at theme working together trying to pull the rope down to the seashore.

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  9. This makes me miss Davao even more. I hope to go back there soon. :)

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  10. Rochkirstin SantosMarch 21, 2013 at 9:35 PM

    I have experienced fishing once and I have learned that it's really not an easy task. Fishermen wait for hours to get the fish and there's skill in there!

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  11. i experienced Baling when I was a child. we were living then near the sea and so I was curious of how they got those fishes. It was cold and exciting. Thanks for sharing it.

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  12. We do have fishing net and boat and I love the experience.

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  13. Love to go to Mindanao and Experience its wilderness :)

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  14. Sorry but this method of fishing is banned! Maybe that is why you don't see it often or anymore. It is very destructive as the fine beach seines carch everything on its path - baby/small fish and pregnant fish, it destroys the corals and sea grass which are homes of the fish. If continued, there will be no more fish to catch and is unsustainable. This is why sometimes pulling the net is so hard because they also get caught with the corals and break them in the process. I would not call it bayanihan at all if it results in the destruction of the community's fishery and marine resources

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  15. i guess you referring to trawling. this is not trawling and it is not done in coral reefs, if you read it correctly, the location is on the sandy beach not on corals. this is not banned. kindly read ordinances of BFAR. This is the traditional method. You might want to review what is banned, destructive and what is allowed! Please check your facts they might be lost in translation.

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