May 5, 2012
Pawikan Sanctuary at Old Poblacion
The Sea-Turtle and the Shark
by Melvin B. Tolson
Strange but true is the story
of the sea-turtle and the shark-
the instinctive drive of the weak to survive
in the oceanic dark.
riven by hunger
from abyss to shoal,
sometimes the shark swallows
the sea-turtle whole.
The sly reptilian marine
into the shell
of his undersea craft,
his leathery head and the rapacious claws
that can rip
a rhinoceros’ hide
a crocodile to fare-thee-well;
inside the shark,
the sea-turtle begins the churning seesaws
of his descent into pelagic hell;
then . . . then,
with ravenous jaws
that can cut sheet steel scrap,
the sea-turtle gnaws
. . . and gnaws . . . and gnaws . . .
his way in a way that appalls-
his way to freedom,
beyond the vomiting dark,
beyond the stomach walls
of the shark.
Shakespeare’s tragedies can’t surpass to the fact I had collected. Even if you integrate it with the literary movement called naturalism (often used by John Steinbeck’s tales), there is no story as sad as this. Pawikan’s (sea turtle) life story has been the most tragic story I’ve known, bar none.
A sea turtle can lay almost a hundred eggs. But the downside of it is only one child can survive. Others would get sick, captured, killed, and traded. Some would be piteous sufferers of global warming and water pollution.
The cubic container is merely their temporary house. We have to let them enter into the sea, their real world, where there is nobody who’s in charge in feeding them with tiny fishes. They have to look for their food, swim on their own, protect themselves from predators and nemesis, and survive. The sea is a harsh environment filled with threats, and natural enemies, exacerbated with the presence of evils in human form. I have to talk to them and say the truth. But it would just break their hearts into smithereens. Poor pawikans… They are fated to face adversaries. I acknowledge the efforts of BFAR for attempting to put light to the lives of pawikans, but does it have the teeth to eradicate such ignominious acts of humans?
I chose the biggest pawikan to assume that it is strong enough to fight against rough seasons. I hoped that it reached the age of responsibility, so it can take care of itself. I could have let him bring pepper spray, or stun gun. Such silly thoughts. I must stop treating them like humans.
I accompanied him to the shore where it would first touch the ground that will eventually be its battlefield. He swiftly flapped his legs, motioning me, “Let me go.” Oh boy, if you only knew what your future holds.
I freed him. He spread his legs, and felt the gentle caress of the sea. The turtle effortlessly moved away from us, with the help of the waves, taking him to the place where it belongs.
Sarangani Bay Fest is within reach! Do not hesitate to be one of the lucky tourists who shall encounter the Philippines’ renowned beach party. The event will be held at the beaches of Gumasa, on May 18-19, 2012. See you!
Photo courtesy: Alhsmar Sayago