Being a Fisherman in the Philippines: A Heavy Burden

Recently, I accompanied Rina Miller who led a small trip with Irish Dagami, Jairus Tumamak (Tahanan personnel) and Mayel Sanico (Tahanan volunteer) to a rural fishing community on a small island in Eastern Samar. Magaan (“light in weight” in the Waray-Waray language) is the name of the small community, comprised of 150 families. Magaan is about 1.5 hour boat ride from the nearest city and often times it’s difficult to get the needed supplies as transporting goods always adds to the price of things. The community is very hospitable; people smile and greet you warmly as you walk around the neighborhood. However, despite its name, the plight of this community is anything but “light in weight.”

As we walked through the streets of Magaan, we were reminded of the people with whom Jesus spent his time visiting, educating and giving hope. Peter, Andrew, James and John, disciples of Jesus, were fishermen from a fishing community next to the sea of Galilee (Matt. 4:18-22). In the Philippines, fishermen are some of the poorest of the poor. The average monthly income for a fisherman in the Philippines is roughly $3 a day after paying for materials and fees (1). That’s on a good day.

  Tahanan ministry personnel spent the morning working to clear trash and brush at the village's elementary school as a small way to bless the community.

Tahanan ministry personnel spent the morning working to clear trash and brush at the village's elementary school as a small way to bless the community.

Our team was able to bless the local elementary school by picking up trash and reordering the outdoor areas surrounding the school campus on Magaan. The teachers were kind and appreciative of the service. As Rina sat and talked with them, they shared that their biggest needs were chalk for teaching and paper for students to write on, which is such a basic component to a classroom setting.

Rina encouraged the team to remember the lesson found in Luke 10 that Jesus teaches his disciples; they are the resource and God wants to use them to bless others. In that passage, Jesus sends his disciples out to bring healing and the good news of the kingdom of God to different communities in the region. Since that time, our team has been able to return with similar care twice in this specific community. The interns that the Millers are investing into are seeing that learning the BIble is helping them develop a heart willing to serve and the skills necessary to do so.

  Clark Miller and Jairus Tumamak fish with the Fisherman Folks Association nearby Tahanan, learning not only about this particular group's occupation but also the cultural practices shared among them.

Clark Miller and Jairus Tumamak fish with the Fisherman Folks Association nearby Tahanan, learning not only about this particular group's occupation but also the cultural practices shared among them.

Back on the island of Leyte and next to our hub location, there is another community of fishermen: the Fisherman Folks Association. G.O.D. Int’l employee, Clark Miller, has worked with the association and has learned of the burden the group carries in their work and lifestyle

The plight of these two fishermen communities weighs heavy on our hearts as a team. Continue to pray as our interns learn and grow in their knowledge of the Word and their ability to bless fishing communities like Magaan. We know that the plight of the fisherman concerned Jesus. In the same way, we want to educate and empower these communities.

 

(1) Bersales, Lisa Grace. “2016 Occupational Wages Survey (OWS).” Philippine Statistics Authority, Producer(s) Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics - Department of Labor and Employment, 15 Sept. 2017, psa.gov.ph/content/2016-occupational-wages-survey-ows.