Life with the sea tribe: Fascinating pictures show how Filipino islanders blend ancient tradition with the modern world


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Categories: On The Water

Using floating balsas and wearing goggles to see underwater, the men lure octopuses from the depths before hooking them on to a jig to capture them

After gaining their trust Maentz was allowed to accompany some Tagbanua octopus fishermen heading out on their early morning harvest. 

Using floating balsas and wearing goggles to see underwater, the men lure octopuses from the depths before hooking it on to a jig to capture it. 

The fishermen stay out in the ocean for most of the day, and return in the afternoon with their catches, to sell on the mainland Coron. 

In order to navigate around their watery landscape, bamboo rafts are used to transport goodS short distances, and wooden bridges are constructed over rocks.  

A lot of the seafood caught is packaged and sent off to Coron town where it will be sent to Manila or other cities. Pictured is a Tagbanua man cleaning his shark catch

A makeshift path connecting two homes in the Tagbanua community. As the terrain of Coron Island is mostly tall limestone karst rock, building paths is often somewhat of a challenge

It is likely the Tagbanua originated from Borneo, but now there are several tribes that exist on mainland Palawan or on Coron Island and the surroundings lands

Despite facing economic challenges, the tribe are an example of indigenous tribes claiming in their ancestral rights.

In 1998, Coron Island and its surrounding waters were declared an ancestral domain for the Tagbanua and now collect a fee from every visitor. 

Typically this costs around $2.50 per visit, and bearing in mind it is tax free, it can be an strong source of income for the tribes. 

If boats anchor near a beach, visitors also have to pay a small fee to the family who own the land. 

Luring tourists from all over the world, picturesque Coron Island features stunning lakes such as Kayangan and the Twin Lagoons, but there are places on the island that are off limits to the public because they're sacred burial grounds for the Tagbanua.


After gaining their trust Maentz was allowed to accompany some Tagbanua fishermen heading out on their early morning harvest

From gathering seaweed and sea cucumbers, to spearfishing, net fishing and octopus fishing, there is a role for all to play in the community

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