Following Inggo the fish trap weaver in Bulusan (First part)

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Inggo hiking the mountain trail to the bamban patch.

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The bamban plant with thumb-sized stems –the source (no other natural substitute) of bobo fish trap materials.

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Stems of bamban ready to be split to the right measurement for the bobo fish trap weaving.

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Inggo demonstrating how to split the stem of the bamban.

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No need for a stick or tape measure. A ‘dangaw’ is the unit of measure used by weavers. It is the length of the stretched fingers from the tip of the thumb to tip of the small finger.

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A knife is practically the only tool needed.

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Inggo showing the split stems of the bamban. Looking on is Nora his wife and their youngest.

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The longest strip from the bamban material. Bamban strip is strong and sharp like a razor blade. Splitting the stems require utmost care and skill.

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Measuring the opening or mouth of the bobo fish trap.

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Laying down the strips for the ‘balay’ or the beginning weave.

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Counting the right number of bamban strips is extremely important. Weaving the bobo is like geometry at work. It must be mathematically accurate.

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Making the circular opening of the bobo fish trap.

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The ‘balay’ dictates the succeeding weaving steps hence the exacting number of bamban strips.

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Inggo securing the beginning weave of the balay by reinserting the strips at the edges.

From the mountainous part of a farm patch Inggo showed me the source of  his bamban materials for the fish traps he regularly used in his daily fishing trips offshore of Dancalan in Bulusan town.

The sequence of events is an actual documentation of a regular day in the life of a fisherfolk in Bulusan. In between shifts from his sea forays are weaving chores  of  this dependable bobo fish traps tested by generations of  ‘parabobo’ (artisanal fisherman utilizing mainly the bobo for fishing)  in Bulusan.

Not shy to share some anecdotes of his life while weaving the bobo he interpersed the weaving demonstration with stories of his fishing life.

“I have seen the many faces of death  in the sea but this is my lot in life to be a ‘parapadagat’ (a man who depends solely on the sea for survival. The term fisherman is a pale translation). I have to embrace it and in fact I am most  at home when I am in the open seas, ” related Inggo.

With continuation.

Photos: Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

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2 thoughts on “Following Inggo the fish trap weaver in Bulusan (First part)

    • Thank you, Elmer. The material is rich that is why. my aim really is to document a vanishing indigenous craft of fish trap weaving by recording the steps in the weaving process and positively identifying the species of the raw material.

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