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    2011.08.26 16:42

    2002-05 Cagayan Tournament

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    • ?
      admin 2011.08.30 21:48

      Getting high on high seas
      By Lito A. Tacujan (The Philippine Star) Updated May 02, 2002 12:00 AM


      The fascination of game fishing – a primordial quest to land the Big One – seems to escape a lot of people.

      For how explain the ordeal of driving 12 hours non-stop, criss-crossing the regions and braving a chance meeting with a unit of the NPA, bad roads, creaking wooden bridges, to reach a fishing ground at the uppermost tip of Luzon where the Pacific meets the South China Sea.

      And barely taking a breather, would set out again for the high seas, enduring the sun at its meanest at summer and waves of three-storey high to catch a predator of the deep which you mount to be looked at and the flesh given away to feed the coastal town folks.

      It’s a passion so seated it borders to a streak of machismo and ‘masochismo’. They also boast of this uncanny trait of reading the moods of the tide and an old fisherman’s gut-feel that the fish will come with the advent of a new or a full moon.

      That’s how Manila media men perceived this sort of madness the day they traced the angler’s route to San Vicente in Sta. Ana, Cagayan.

      The event was a media fishing day, trawl fishing actually, organized by Vic Vic Villavicencio, a master angler and the top honcho of Triple V and Kamayan food chain.

      "Don’t miss this one," he said.

      But instead of the long trek, the media guys went to the airport for that short PAL flight to Tuguegarao and met one of the fishing buddies (actually a guide-cum-mentor ) from the Philippine Game Fishing Foundation (PGFF). He was Bengy Toda and one look at his shock of salt-and-pepper hair and matching luxuriant beard of more than a year and you know he had constantly gone to the sea.

      There were actually five veteran anglers who came for the occasion. Aside from Toda, there were Rey Buencamino, the PGFF president, David Gonzales, a businessman and acknowledged by his peers as the No. 1 bass angler in the country, Cholo Santos and Benedict Lim. Since there were six two-man teams, the sixth angler-buddy was Vic Vic’s local boat hand named Pidok.

      For fun and thrill, there were small ante and bragging rights staked for the event and when Inquirer’s Jun Engracia suggested that a Marlin boated wins all the bets, Vic Vic threw a conspiratorial look at the anglers and smiled.

      Less than six hours later they found out. A Marlin is as rare as hard-nosed journalists in the high seas. And worst, they got their first shock of the sea. They came back two hours bedraggled, nauseated and the stench of vomit clinging on their shirts. They’re ready to pack and go home.

      Of all the days this sweltering summer month where the waters were mirror-calm, that Thursday morning came with the sea at its menacing mood, whipping 10-foot swells, 20 feet near Baua Point, pounding the six bancas with outriggers, tossing them on the winds and sending them crashing on straight-drop with a loud thud. Walls of roaring gray waves enveloped the wide-eyed city slickers.

      There were mortal thoughts of the Andrea Gail sailing into the teeth of the Perfect Storm.

      "This is unusual this time of the year," said Dave Gonzales, angling pal of this writer and teener son Sam.

      And yet in this severe condition, Mando, the boatman, stayed on his feet on the engine board in search of a shoal of fish while Boson, the baiter, was busy impaling live ‘Borador’ or flying fish, into the hooks of our three rods.

      At the end of the day, there were, lo and behold, seven magnificent Dorados landed. Many more were caught by the other boats.

      We actually hit a shoal off the Parola side of the San Vicente coast, near Escarpada Pt., and fought and fought dorados of varying sizes and ferocity.

      No sooner had we bagged one than the reels of Dave’s high-tech gear would scream again like hell, ripping out lines after lines.There was a triple strike at one point.

      We would tighten the drag and pump and reel in and Boson would wait at the deck with the gaff and in one swift motion, pierced the fish. He would bring it up and deliver furious blows with an ice pick to the head until the fish was dead.

      "We have to do it or run the risk of the fish ripping open the hull with its tail. Dorados are the toughest fish, pound-for-pound," said Dave.

      We sailed home to Vic Vic’s summer place aching all over, with my right side numbed with pain. We had seven dorados but no sailfish.

      Filipino anglers have long maintained that the ocean floor off San Vicente offers spectacular habitat for rich marine life and the fishing grounds here could hold their own against those in Kona in Hawaii, where they had an annual bill-fishing and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

      "San Vicente is the last frontier (of fishing) here and it also protects itself since from November to January nobody would venture out because the seas are high and vicious and that gives the fish the time to spawn, replenish and recuperate," he said.

      In fact, they have zealously guarded that frontier against dynamite fishing with members of the PGFF coordinating with the navy and the Coast Guards to arrest the greedy culprits.

      We set out again at dawn the following day and sought out the sailfish. Our borador baits have been depleted and we could not find any from local fishermen at the ground, so Dave pulled out neon-colored skirts, looking like hula skirts, and rapala. We would catch five Dorados but no sailfish.

      Toward midday on the less rough waters by the lighthouse, there was a nudge on the left line and Mando, the boatman, whipped the boat at full rev and Dave dropped more lines and in an instance the rod bent to near breaking point. He pulled it out and gave it to me.

      "Susay, (sailfish)," Mando said.

      It was a shattering strike. In that critical moment, the mighty fish dove to the bottom and the fight began. You felt like being wedged between walls, nothing seemed to move and every ounce of energy was oozing out in tremendous pressure. The 30-pound line wouldn’t budge. The beast was winning the tug-of-war.

      Five. Ten. Twenty minutes passed , then suddenly the line slackened and Dave took the rod and reeled in. In that instance, and with some sinking feeling, one knew he had lost the fight.

      "He’s gone," he said.

      The winds were like a balm on our tired bodies as we headed for home. Only the chug-chug of the engine could be heard, otherwise there was some uneasy silence. There was a pain somewhere that was less excruciating, more numbing. Probably this was what it’s all about, a passion nurtured more on a sense of loss and angst and a yearning to take in some more. It was not so much the quest but the struggle, aware that literally a thin line separates sheer joy from utter despair.

      "Maybe the fish is sending a message. Maybe he wants you back," said Dave.

      I looked back at the misty grey waters and the receding ranges of San Vicente as the question percolated through the mind. Shall I go back and endure the same ordeal?

      Only time and, yes, a sailfish will tell.

    • ?
      admin 2011.11.10 19:37

      Circumnavigating the globe.

      Philippine Daily Inquirer

      | May 16, 2002


      Byline: Vic Vic Villavicencio

      SOME people climb mountains. Others explore the ocean's depths. Then there are those who get their highs from riding towering waves, or testing their bodies and mental skills against the often unpredictable moods of the sea. Sportsmen all.

      For sportsman Ernesto "Judes" Echauz, there was racing on cars where he distinguished himself as a smart navigator. He also made his mark in sport fishing, setting some local records, and steering the country's premier fishing association, the then Philippine Game Fishing Association to what is now the Philippine Game Fishing Foundation, with its own base and facilities in Santa Ana, Cagayan, during his terms as its president.

      His next contributions in the country's sporting world now centers on sailing-where his racing and sport fishing skills are also somehow involved.

      Sailing enthusiast or not, the reader may be aware of a racing yacht called Subic Centennial. This 46-footer syndicated sailing yacht, with Judes Echauz as its skipper, has won countless major sailing events in Asia, among them the Raja Muda Regatta in Malaysia, the King's Cup in Phuket, Thailand; the Singapore Straits Regatta, or the South East Asia Perpetual Cup Series Lipton Challenge Cup for 1997-1998. The Subic Centennial also won the China Sea Race in 1998, the President's Cup Regatta in the Philippines for 1999 and 2000, and the China Sea Inshore series in Subic. It was overall champion under international handicap of the Manila Yacht Club the past three years.

      For Judes Echauz, there had to be more worlds to conquer. And so was born the idea of circumnavigating the globe on the Subic Centennial.

      And so it was on Jan. 3, 2002, the Subic Centennial set sail out of Subic Bay Yacht Club on an intended 20,000-mile non-stop journey that would take about four months, manned by a seven-man, all-Filipino crew.

      A local sailing record was set for a total distance 542 nautical miles navigated in 3 days and 2 hours at an average speed of 7.35 knots, from Subic to the exit point south of Siargao Island.

      It was also a Philippine sailing record for the Subic Centennial to have covered 4,100 nautical miles to Suva, Fiji in 28 days and 16 hours at an average speed of 6 knots.

      Expected treacherous weather in Cape Horn which was along the route forced the team to make a hard decision. They would just have to make a hard decision. They would just have to make another attempt in early November this year so that they would be in the Cape Horn seas at the height of summer when conditions would be more favorable to score a success.

      Of one thing we are certain, if there is a Filipino sailing yacht, and a Filipino skipper, that will successfully circumnavigate the globe, it will be the Subic Centennial, skippered by Judes Echauz, daring and perfectionist sportsman and president of Standard Insurance Company.


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