In Datu Blah Sinsuat town, residents celebrate shoreline harvest of skipjack tuna

DATU BLAH SINSUAT, Maguindanao (MindaNews / 17 May) – Residents knew as soon as they saw a flock of birds follow a school of fish, that a blessing was coming.

It was “siba” time once again.

Mayor Datu Marshall Sinsuat, son of a village royalty chieftain and veteran fisherman in this coastal town of Maguindanao, said it meant residents had to act fast, get their nets and start surround the school of fish coming to the shoreline.

“Siba” means the arrival of skipjack tuna closer to the shoreline as they follow small fish species like bolinao and tamban.

Skipjack Tuna, locally known as Langalak or Tulingan harvested during a the “Siba” or arrival of these fish near the shoreline of Barangay Matuber in Datu Blah,Maguindanao Photo courtesy of John De Leon

On Thursday, May 14,  residents in this coastal town were surprised to see hundreds of skipjack tuna, known in the locality as “Langalak” or Tulingan near the shore.

Their immediate reaction was to organize the people,  encircle the Tulingans and capture them using fish nets.

“It was like a festival of fish catching, hours of bayanihan,  some were preparing kinilaw or grilling a fresh catch while others were busy working to gather the tons of Tulingan offshore”,  Major John De Leon, the town police chief said.

De Leon admitted to having been surprised by what he witnessed.

But Mayor Sinsuat said “Siba” has been a tradition in the area, even during the time of his late father, Datu Unting.

Usually, after the community’s harvest of Langalak, every resident who extended help could get his share.

According to local traders in Barangay Matuber where the “Siba” took place, around 4,000 pieces of Langalak were harvested, worth a million pesos. .

A regular kilo of Tulingan or Langalak could weight a minimum of five kilos and sold at around a hundred peso per kilo.

“This is a blessing from God now that we observe the fasting month of Ramadan and the hardship of fishermen to go far the deep sea ocean because of the bad weather brought by Typhoon Ambo lately,” Sinsuat said.

Datu Blah Sinsuat coastline where the local government is building a bay walk and night market area. MindaNews photo by FERDINANDH CABRERA

Datu Blah Sinsuat town is pushing to become an eco-tourism destination now that it is accessible by land from Cotabato City.

“Unlike before,  the only means to reach here is to sail on big boats.

The town has a white sand area called “Puracay” in Barangay Pura – is name patterned after Boracay —  and several t dolphins and whale sharks are spotted in this part of the Moro Gulf. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera / MindaNews)