Monday, May 18, 2009

the seaweed farms of Tibungco, Davao City

Visiting seaweed farms always shows me a slice of the lives of ordinary people at work. This is agriculture but not in land.

seaweed growing in the coast of Tibongco
seaweed growing in the coast of Tibungco, Davao City

In Davao City, one of the fast-growing sources of the seaweed cottonii is the coastal community of Tibungco. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of the people doing seaweed cultivation are Muslim. This demography is repeated many times over all throughout Mindanao particularly in the regions of Zamboanga and Sulu where seaweed first became popular. Over the years when people move around and resettle, they naturally bring with them the skills that helped carry them over economically.

stilt houses community in Tibongco
a group of stilt houses which we had to pass through to get to our boat

The take off point of this trip in Tibungco was Purok 16 Buhisan. A boat was pre-arranged to take us to the farms nearby and we had to pass through a small community of stilt houses. Traversing a labyrinth of footpaths of loose planks and bamboo never is easy but tripping over is not a option as I didn’t want to take a swim, especially when I have my dSLR camera with me.

Tibongko farmer with rows of seaweed being dried
a Tibungco farmer sitting in a farmhouse where seaweed are being dried

The boat ride was short and took us less than 10 minutes. Along the way, we zigzagged through long monolines of seaweed. The boatman was a farmer himself and was extra cautious not to cut or drag down any cultivation line.

approaching Tibungco
weaving through a sea full of seaweed farmlines

The farmhouses, which serve as depots for farm materials, as drying platforms for the fresh harvests and as temporary dwellings, are mushrooming around the coast, our contact assured us. There was a recent incidence several hectares of seaweed plantations being bought out by a company which needed the area to build a private wharf. I forgot whether it was a fish canning firm or something else but the farmers are a persistent lot and they merely brushed off the setback and moved their lines to the neighboring waters.

farmer tending the farm
a farmer tending his farm

boats at Tibongco
farmhouses and boats are necessities in seaweed farming

It will take awhile to see the volume really take off but time is on everyone’s side. Meantime, I heard that the neighboring island Samal had some potential so I planned to head up there too. More places to visit mean more pictures to take. I am not complaining.

Tibongco farmhouse (Samal at the background)
a Tibungco farmhouse with Samal Island at the background

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