So I was on a trip to Bicol to make arrangements ensuring that the field work and research to be conducted among the Agta indigenous cultural communities (ICCs) would be legal. After the meetings and the papers have been signed, the people of the community decided to show us the Lake Danao. From what I could see, it is a pretty big lake, but not much else was of interest. Until I walked to the shore and saw this small boat. Why was I so fascinated with this boat? Well, it is basically made from the trunk of a tree, carved by hand. The boat could usually hold one or two people but not much more. Then I realized, the lake in itself was not the story, it was not what they wanted me to see. They wanted me to see the lake as they saw it. As the place which prompted them to continue carving out small boats (canoes) by hand. As the place that continues to be a thriving freshwater ecosystem with a rich biodiversity because of the lack of pollutants that come out from modern boats that use a motor. That this is the lake where they come and appreciate the bounty that nature has given them. More than that, sitting by the shoreline and listening to their stories, I learned that the lake is also an area of myth and wonder. That there is a possibility of a snakelike water creature that can awaken and bring calamity or fortune to the community. That while it is a lake that gives them much fortune, it can also bring the opposite.
I will come back to this community soon enough to start my actual field work, and I can’t wait to see what’s next! 🙂