By Bob Adupe
The recent typhoon (Bebeng) hit the streets of Calabanga and poured enormous flood water on our living rooms. The storm also drained out about one thousand tilapia fingerlings me and my kumpadre seeded on the portion of the creek at the back of our house we purposely protected in the hope of testing how the fish will fare in our locality.
How we were able to get a thousand tilapia fingerlings went this way. It all began when I visited my neighbor and Kumpadre Noel one night. He related that the next day he will attend a seminar in tilapia farming in Bula town. I volunteered myself in joining which after confirmation from the barangay chairman generously allowed me to join the group. The chairman opted to accept enthusiasts other than barangay officials thereby boosting the number of attendees.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Regional Office 5 gave an open invitation to barangay officials for a one-day learning orientation at the Regional Freshwater Fisheries Center in barangay Fabrica in Bula, Camarines Sur.
We were eleven in the delegation, the very first from our town to attend this kind of seminar which could help participants understand the salient facts about fish (tilapia) production in the local areas. The group was composed by barangay chairman Salvador Malate, kagawads (Corazon Tordilla, Domingo Borja, Ruben Salao), barangay secretary Joaquin de la Cruz, sangguniang kabataan member Adonis Aguilar III, four members of tanods (Carling Barrogo, Noe Paa, Cesar Casili and Jigs Cordero) and myself.
We traveled about one and one half hour to reach the place. The area was so wide and has the complete facilities and structure to use and conduct in the development and study of freshwater fish. We rested awhile under a nipa hut for a few minutes and consumed our packed snacks. We knew beforehand that the orientation was free and we have to provide for our own snacks and lunch.
The seminar proper started at about 9:00 o’clock A.M. with the singing of the national anthem and an opening prayer. Training technical assistant Andres C. Camacho and one of the 3 speakers acknowledged our presence including others who came from other provinces within the region: Camarines Norte, Albay and Sorsogon. A total of 44 attendees were present.
The facility is the biggest in the entire Luzon, we were informed, it can accomodate and ready to cater to seminarians coming all the way from northern Luzon down to the Bicol region. It’s main objective is to extend support and assistance to freshwater fish farmers, more specifically those engaged in the tilapia (common name for nearly a hundred species of cichlid fish from the tilapiine cichlid tribe) culture. The personnel are geared at sharing technical information on how to gain (be productive) at a shorter time of (fish) stocking.
I learned there are four types of tilapia in the country. The initial stock of thirty five fingerlings came from Thailand way back in the 1950’s. It was brought to the Philippines for further study and test on whether the specie is suited to local climate for propagation/ culture. And the rest is a footnote to the progress of tilapia raising history in the country.
Interesting and really educational topics on feeding habits, temperature tolerance, water quality, site selection for pond raising, construction tips of ponds, stocking and more were discussed. Participants’ questions were answered in between the topics, too. The lectures were delivered in Biclish (a combination of Bicol and English) which catched the enthusiasm of all attendees. By the way, there was only one fan in the room which was quite not enough to ventilate the area.
We had a 27-minute film showing of the different species of tilapia and hito (pangasius). We toured the facility afterwards which included observing tilapia in various stages of growth from frys to adult, displayed in experimental cages. The area exhibits various stocking techniques, too.
During our lunch break we were on excursion mood because of the surrounding, the taste of adobo, gulay na natong, pansit, hamburger and refreshments making us feel more excited. Mr. Camacho joined our group including four other attendees.
Each participant was given 500 tilapia frys (3 to 5 days old) sealed in a plastic filled with oxygen. It was so the fingerlings will not suffer shock during the travel from the source to destination. We were informed the frys will survive 14 hours inside the plastic sheet, though, which we paid for P16.00 only. I presumed all of us were glad for the free frys and the technology transfer, everyone were eager going back home dreaming of a backyard tilapia fishpond. I thought of seeding the frys on the creek my kumpadre and me will reclaim and protect.
Fast forward today, I couldn’t believe how the flood washed our plans in an instant. But then, we can start all over again and be prepared next time. The center sell frys for P0.50 apiece. Just an afterthought, I wondered how many of the 5,500 frys given to our barangay will survive on the waterways of our town.