My Tia informed me that she would be visiting the place where they buy Bangus fingerlings in Tigbauan. Since she know that I’m ignorant about so many things about country living she tagged me along.
The Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center is a 40 hectare research complex. This is where all the bangus in her Dumangas farm came from. She does not mind traveling far. “They have the best stock”, she said.
The SEAFDC is an intergovernmental group dedicated to the promotion of sustainable fish farming. Established in Thailand in 1967 their technical facilities are: Training Development (Thailand), Marine Fisheries (Singapore), Aquaculture (Philippines) and Marine Fishery Development and Management (Malaysia).
For 10 bucks one could get a tour of “Fishworld”, a virtual museum of aquatic specimens. Its a great place to visit.
But what really got my attention was the area where they keep and breed Bangus. It was an impressive facility with several large tanks. They also breed other variety of fishes but the biggest containers are dedicated to the national fish.
Those in charge are graduates from state universities. Like this kind young lady supervising the milkfish breeding section, she recently graduated from Mindanao State of University. She took up Fisheries, a four year course specializing in breeding and research. She toured us around. Showed us the various stages of how Bangus are bred. The work that goes behind the scenes was no easy task.
Seeing the giant Bangus, the size of an adult tuna (or maybe even bigger), was an awesome sight. I didn’t know that they could grow that big. These giant breeders produce eggs. Later, once the eggs hatch and become pygmy milkfishes, they are sold as fingerlings to fish farmers for a peso. They were much cheaper before according to my Tia.
From sabalu’s to the tiny fry’s – To see these small creatures, a stick with a circular white plastic attached to it must be submerged in the water. The miniature almost invisible bangus would then be visible when they swim on top or near the white board.
On our way to SEAFDC we pass by the church of Tigbauan (San Juan Sahagun). One of the most interesting church in the island. We never got inside. It was close. I have to be contented seeing the outside.
Heritage people talks about its churriquesque designs. Deeply inspired by the Spanish baroque style named after the Catalan sculptor, José Benito de Churriguera. The style is rare and not widespread. Making Tigbauan church one of the only few churriquesque that made it outside Spain and Latin America.
The church is a treasure chest of Tigbauan history. The carvings on the church had incorporated various indigenous themes. Indigenization took place not only in customs but in architecture as well – and this is true all over the country.
The town’s shore was also the site where the US and Filipino forces from Lingayen landed. This was part of MacArthur’s liberation plan for Panay. I’m not sure if there’s a memorial or anything of that sort where the forces landed but there’s an NHI marker about a kilometer away from the church dedicated to the “Liberation” of Panay.
I should drop by again, one of these days.
Perhaps the most important contribution of the town and this wonderful church was providing space for the first Jesuit school (exclusively for the boys) by Pedro Chirino SJ. The year was 1592.