Matanglawin turns three! And this time, the adventure for knowledge takes Kuya Kim to Sorsogon to search for the largest fish in the world. Along the way he encounters interesting animals and locals such as the Guinness Book of World Record holder for eating chilis: the Sili King himself!
Ever heard of a fish as big as a bus with eyes as big as golf balls and a mouth with a width that’s almost as tall as a 12-year-old child?
Kuya Kim has, and for Matanglawin’s third year anniversary, he grabs his camera and dons on his favorite hat to head off to Donsol, Sorsogon where it’s said that the largest fish in the world can be found.
This fish is so large that it can give Jonah’s Big Fish a run for its money at a weight of 34 tons or the same weight as 17 cars combined!
But it’s no easy task when even the people in the market keep mistaking it for other animals.
“Ano po ba ‘yong itsura ng hayop na kung tawagin ay tawiki?” Kuya Kim asks.
“Tawiki? Ang alam namin pawikan hindi tawiki,” an old lady replies.
“Paniki siguro. Hindi tawiki,” other people in the crowd say, trying to get closer to Kuya Kim.
“Butiki raw,” a child answers.
“Taniki?” another man tries his luck when Kuya Kim asks him.
The only one who nearly got it right was a man who ventured to say that it was a fish. Then again, if the fish the man knew was only a foot long, surely it’s not the huge fish Kuya Kim is looking for!
Kuya Kim’s search takes him deeper and deeper into the Bicol region.
The Bicol region is composed of the provinces of Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Albay, Masbate and Sorsogon. To get an idea of how large this region is, just imagine if you multiply the size of Quezon City a hundred times, it would still fit in Bicol! And among its treasures is the famous cone-shaped volcano, Mt. Mayon.
But that’s not the only treasure Bicol holds because among the animals that can be found in Albay Parks and Wildlife is the longest snake in the world and an animal straight out of the cartoon, the Lion King!
Reticulated pythons and Burmese pythons are among the longest reptiles on earth.
Snakes are among Kuya Kim’s favorite animals so it’s no surprise if he gets down on all fours near a snake or pick a reticulated python and demonstrate how to properly support it on one’s shoulders while avoiding strangulation by not crossing the snake’s body over one’s neck.
“Alam niyo bang kasing haba ng tatlong kotse ang naitalang pinakamahabang reticulated python? Ito ay natagpuan sa Sulawesi Island ng Indonesia na kasalukuyang may hawak ng Guinness World Record. Sa laki [nito], kayang-kaya nitong lumunok ng isang buong tupa!”
But if there’s an animal on this snake’s menu, the Philippine Warty Pig– which belongs to the same family as Pumba the Warthog from Lion King- certainly won’t be on it.
Males have longer tusks than females, but what is striking about these animals are the spiky black hairs on its back and its straight tail- very unlike domesticated pigs that are light in color with curly tails.
Aside from the Trivia King meeting an animal from the Lion King, there is another king in Bicol and he is not someone you’ll want to mess with unless you’re ready for a very hot experience. Meet, Bert Gonzales, Guinness World Record holder for eating 350 chilis in just three minutes for 10 years!
Can Kuya Kim take on his challenge to eat one of the hottest foods Bicol is most known for?
The crowd watches eagerly but after a bite or two, Kuya Kim concedes and admits defeat.
Now it’s Kuya Kim’s turn to challenge the Sili King: “Kaya mo bang ulitin ang record mo at kainin ang isang kilong sili sa loob ng tatlong minuto?”
The Sili King not only takes on the challenge, he also chooses to eat the smaller and hotter chilis over the the larger and less spicy ones!
But wait, why are chilis hot in the first place?
Chilis are hot because of a substance called capsaicin. Capsaicin is a fat-soluble substance, which means that its molecules only stick to fatty foods- that is why no matter how much you drink water, it doesn’t go away!
But when you drink milk, which has a lot of natural fat molecules in it, the capsaicin sticks to the milk and the hot sensation in your mouth is relieved.
Can Mang Bert do his record-setting sili-eating again?
It was a great try but this time around, Mang Bert will just have to try again. However, he’s still the undisputed Sili King!
From his meeting with the Sili King, Kuya Kim continues his journey to find the biggest fish, and what better way to travel than on a carabao-sled? From a lot of sili, Kuya Kim finds next some pili.
Pili is a plant endemic to Sorsogon. And contrary to the belief of many, pili is not just a nut, but a fruit as well whose flesh tastes a bit like green mangoes as Kuya Kim found out. What’s more interesting though- more interesting than the fact that there are male and female pili trees- is that the sap or resin from pili trees is flammable!
Aside from being used as some sort of lighter fluid, pili sap can be used as a varnish, printing ink, insect repellant and even incense.
As Kuya Kim nears to finding what he’s looking for, he drops by Port Pilar which sits on an estuary. An estuary is where saltwater and freshwater meet and where a lot of nutrients from the water are deposited, which means that a lot of sea creatures come to estauries to eat.
Kuya Kim saw this as an opportunity to try out one of the local jobs: fishing with a drag net.
“Habang hinahanap natin ang tawiki meron akong nakitang structure na panghuli ng isda ng mga taga sorsogon at ang tawag dito ay salambaw, silipin natin,” Kuya Km says, climbing the bamboo structure sitting right smack in the middle of the water.
The bamboo used is different from other kinds used on other bamboo structures. Marurugi bamboo has smaller hole cavities so it prevents water from coming in and it’s made of much sturdier stuff.
“Ang salambaw ay napakalaking bag o net. Meron net sa gitna, makikita natin ang gitna nito meron net sa ilalim at sa gitna nito ay may ilaw,” Kuya Kim points out.
“Nag-aattract ng mga isda at nilalapitan ng isda ang ilaw kapag gabi na. At kapag huhulihin nila yung isda, iikutin nila na parang manibela,” Kuya Kim turns the wooden wheel, which slowly lifts the net, “at ang tawag diyan ay bilingan.”
The net only lies four feet underwater, not very deep, but enough to catch fish. However, because Kuya Kim did this during the day, he only caught one small fish!
But why fish during the night when it’s dark?
It used to be that fishermen wore gas-lit headlamps, but because these were dangerous, they went for battery-operated ones instead. The secret is that the light from these headlamps look like the light coming from the sun. Phytoplankton that fish eat, are attracted to the sun so they go where the light is. So when the fish see the light, it’s the same as ringing a dinner bell!
With this in mind, Kuya Kim just knows that he’s nearer to his goal because despite the huge size of the fish he’s looking for, this gentle giant also eats phytoplankton. But can he find this fish while on a speedboat?
A smaller boat passes by and catches his fancy, but when he gets on, it nearly tips over! What’s more, the boater is even bailing or removing water that’s getting inside! Can this boat really take him to the giant fish?
Find out in the next part of Kuya Kim’s journey, and like he says, “I love this job!” April 3, 2011
Original article can be found here.