That afternoon, I rowed to Debangan island, about five minutes from Casian (in Fr. Oniot’s estimate, but it took me more than 20 minutes). The name is reportedly a softening of what used to be the Libangan (R and R grounds) for the fishermen. It’s a habitat for the pawikan. I had not seen them in an earlier visit; I was determined not to leave Casian without sighting them.
Debangan Island; on the foreground, the baroto on which I came paddling
Turned out that I had looked for them in the wrong place; this time, I had more than 20 sightings, especially in the passageway of the current between the two islands. Unused to human presence, they keep a shy distance away and would submerge when you approach. For perhaps half an hour, I just softly paddled around the area, hoping that one would pop its head close to the boat. It was dusk when I returned, contented, to the convent
20 May, Saturday
Fr. Joel celebrated his 25th anniversary of priestly ordination in San Isidro Labrador Parish, Casian Island. The support of the parishioners was amazing. Since yesterday afternoon, they had been coming from different islands, bringing the meat and food they would prepare during the night for today. The men of Calampisao brought two butchered pigs; two women from Silanga peeled and cooked cassava; parishioners from Casian prepared the two goats, etc. It was a show of force of people involvement.
Parishioners from Calampisao brought butchered pigs they themselves would cook
Preparing the food at the convent ground floor
Preparing the cassava
These men had been cooking the whole night. The next morning found them still at it.
More parishioners from the islands arrive to join Fr. Notnot’s jubilee celebration
Fr. Notnot’s classmate, Fr. Emilio Quilatan, current dean of studies at Recoletos Formation Center and holder of a doctorate degree in Church History from the Gregorian University, came all the way from Luzon and gave a hearty homily.
The parish youth tribute the celebrant with a dance number after the mass
Lunch was served for everybody at the Barangay Hall.
Coinciding with Fr. Notnot’s celebration, the governor of Palawan (Jose Alvarez), the congressman of the northern district (his nephew) and the mayor of Taytay (Mayor Salvame) held a Baragatan sa Barangay in the parish, featuring a 50-strong medical-dental mission, rice distribution (in reusable dry bags), and entertainment, including a videoke contest. They stopped the loud music during the mass, which the said government officials also attended.
Baragatan sa Barangay
Palawan Provincial Governor talks to the people
Rice in reusable dry bags is distributed at the Baragatan
Before the 10 a.m. mass, I had time to visit again the Amianan beach, at the other side island, where I had the 400-meter beach practically all for myself. With pictures of the beach – the reader provides their own adjectives – I end this journal of Viatoar 2017.