In the afternoon of our first day in Claveria, we decided to visit Taggat Lagoon. This was the place which really caught my attention first time seeing it under the heavy rain and gray sky during our Lakbay Norte tour. I was excited to see it again in better light condition this time around. We took a tricycle from the Claveria town center (P70 whole tricycle) then got in Taggat Lagoon with an entrance of P10. It was a wonderful afternoon of beautiful light and curious eyes as we walk into the picturesque cove.
It felt like we just crashed in uninvited in a home of strangers as we went in the cove. It was an afternoon when people have started to settle down, put down their work tools, folding up their nets and carrying their boats to shore. Of course there were the curious looks but soon people warmed up to our presence as we started shooting around. Even kids started to follow us and smile impishly in front of our cameras.
Then I noticed people gathering slowly in numbers on the shore. I approached cautiously observing what was happening. A few kids were carrying some plates along with them with excited smiles. Is there an outreach happening? Or a feeding program? Then I got to center of it all where a few people were giving food from large cauldrons on a boat. And while I was standing there wondering what’s happening, somebody handed me a plate full of ginataang ( a warm semi-sweet dessert with glutinous rice balls, chunks of banana and sweet potato swimming on thick coconut milk). “Kain po tayo! (Let’s eat sir!)” I was surprised and asked “Ano po meron? (May I ask what’s here?)”
“Meron pong Parambolan sir! (There is a Parambolan sir!)”
“Ano po yun? (What’s that?)” I inquisitively asked.
It turns out a Parambolan is sort of a blessing ritual for the boat we were gathering around to. The boat was newly built and it will have its inaugural sail early morning the next day. And as tradition, they would celebrate with sharing as many food to the people around the boat. The word “rambolan” in tagalog is colloquial term to having a chaotic crowd gathering or a mob. This blessing somehow mimics how a school of fish would chaotically scamper around for food. So this ritual would hopefully attract the same crowd of fish when it sails.
I happily gorged on the ginataang while exchanging stories with the people there. We met Helen Eva and Mang Bong, the owners and managers of the fish buying station there. They shared a lot of stories about the place and how they were helping out the local community there. In the evening they insisted we join them for dinner.
It was a surprise to see the fresh catch they prepared. There were mini-curachas which is the first time I’ve seen. I always thought Curacha can only be eaten in the south coast of Zamboanga but they have the small ones here in abundance. Then there’s the fresh larger dilis here, a large chunk of grilled tulingan and red rice from Fuga Island in Babuyanes. This was certainly a memorable meal that can certainly beat out any fine dining out there even if we were eating on a hut beside the sea.
We said our thanks and good byes to Mam Eva and Sir Bong. We rode back to town with full and satisfied tummies. It was our first day in Claveria and we were welcomed deeply by the hospitality of the Cagayan people in Claveria.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.