Last year I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to swim with Whale Sharks, in what was once a small fishing village now catapulted into the spotlight with the sudden arrival of these enormous beasts. Two tons and twenty feet long with a gaping mouth the size of an open car boot, that could easily have accommodated Jonah, and yet it glides through the waters with the grace and charm of a ballerina. Mesmerising. A few days later I swam with sardines; equally captivating. The shoal moves as one; close-packed as if already aware of their destiny. The shoal twists and turns with the movement of the sea or in response to the arrival of predators, its appearance is reminiscent of the DNA double helix. It was a glimpse at the wonder of God’s creation and its harmony, a real privilege.
Back on land, things were less orderly. Gold fever gripped the Town as visitors flooded in. The prices were elevated and quality of services plummeted. The fisherman after building new homes and getting new vehicles already, were loaded with wads of cash that would pique a senator’s interest. After the morning’s work taking the visitors out in their boats, the afternoons were spent in drinking sessions, high stakes gambling and any other pursuit money can buy.
Systems were quickly put in place to harvest cash from visitors who were herded into queues to pay the fees for boats, snorkels etc. Foreigners were charged double price (except residents), and on discovering that I was a resident and therefore was to pay the normal fee, the cashier slammed the register impatiently with a look that told me that this incredible blessing this town had received with the arrival of the Whale Sharks must surely come to an end as mysteriously as it began. Not because of Karma, nor divine wrath at what they were becoming, no, it must come to an end out of love for them.
Many times. the blessings God gives His children, become His worst enemy if they are not received with humility and gratitude and so some misfortune must come to correct their behaviour again.
There was an odd feeling to the place that I couldn’t quite put my finger on for ages until I remembered a story about Auschwitz. So much evil was committed in that concentration camp that even to this day the birds who live in the area don’t sing. They must be feeling it. And then it clicked, this was the only town I ever saw in the Philippines where Filipinos don’t smile! Greed robs people of Joy.