By Gary. In the southwest part of Guimaras island, the area is called Nueva Valencia. In Nueva Valencia, there is a remote but beautiful village called Laktawan with bright sunlight, crystal clear sky, clean air and blue ocean. I had to admit that I fell in love with this place just when I got down the car and saw the sea glowing under the sun.
Actually I have never imagined that I would be here. Out of curiosity and passion, I want to know about how the people in the developing country truly live and if possible, maybe I can help them. As a coincidence, I heard of this program and enrolled in. But just other than that, I have no predetermined stances about the place where we are going and the people who we are going to meet. I just thought whatever I meet, I just adapt to it and live as a local. With this mindset, I came here and have experienced quite a different life from Hong Kong and Taiwan, my hometown till now.
In the intersection of the road from Laktawan to the town, there is where Gedaca family, my host family, lives. They are really nice and friendly people. Just at first time we met, they greeted us warmly. It is a big family that has 6 brothers, 4 sisters and many cute children. Since then, we have done so many things together after then.
We ate and chatted in the house, played games and saw the sunset on the beach, swam in the sea and sailed to visit the conservation spot and the lighthouse. The children are very cute and friendly, although we cannot communicate very fluently. The dishes here were very fresh and “namit”, which means delicious in Ilonggo. With only simple dressing, the fish and vegetables kept their original and natural contents. The sunset was beautiful, and the sea was very clean with coral reefs. Although I got a sunburn at the end of the journey to the conservation area and the lighthouse because I forgot to put on the sunscreen, I was still stunned by the beautiful scene with blue and bright sky, clean water and cool wind.
Furthermore, the Gedaca are fishermen. Almost every morning, they need to wake up at 3 am, sailing outside the bay and catch fish till about 9 am. Just two days ago, I fortunately came out with Elvis, Dexter and their “Tatay”, which means father in Ilonggo to catch fish. With my friend, Gordon, we left the coast at four thirty. The wind was a little cool, the sky has yet to be bright. With the engine pumping and the ship heading to the outer sea, they quietly but dexterously put the net and the flag for highlight into the sea. And then, we stop in the middle of the sea and wait for the fish to be caught. When we were waiting for the fish, they taught us to count from 1 to 10 in Ilonggo. It took us a little time to learn and memorize the numbers, but it feels good to learn the local language, even it is about numbers. As the sun rose, they started to pull the net back, and it is quite a beautiful scene to see the brothers and the father cooperating to pull the net back with an invisible rhythm and the sun shining in the blue sky with clear water. I have no intention to romanize the whole activity since it is actually tough to battle with the sea, and fishing is necessary for their living. But it was just so fascinating to see it in person.
From the journey to the conservation area and the experience of sailing out and catching fish, I truly observed what the harmony between nature and humans means. The people here treat the ocean as the Mother and respect her, not just want to exploit her as much as possible, or just get away from it as far as possible. Although also living in an island, most of the people in my hometown, Taiwan seem to forget how to get along with the ocean.
It was just a simple record of the homestay life I have experienced till now. I hope I can explore more and experience more.