Wednesday, March 29, 2006


This happened a long time ago, it started in late 1995 to be exact, and our friendship lasted for three years, in the sense that three years later I left the island where he was living. I blogged before that I worked for an environmental NGO in the Visayas and I was assigned in one of the islands in the central Philippines, and this is where I met him. Kanoy is his real name, and if you have a friend that lives on one of the islands near Cebu – asked them and the likelihood that they know a Kanoy is possible.

I first meet him, while I was sitting on a bench by the sea, watching the waves, and the fishermen boats docking, and hauling their catch for the day. He sat beside me and asked me; do you drink tuba? I said yes, and so he left me for a minute and came back carrying a half gallon of tuba and coke and some peanuts. While we were drinking I was aware that he had an agenda, being a community worker, I am fast at sensing these kinds of approaches. He asked me if I can help him go to Manila to find work in a factory, and I told him I don’t think it is a good idea. Life in Manila is harsh and difficult for people like him.

Kanoy (17 yrs old in 1995) is the second child in a family of 8, I think. His family used to live in a 3 meter by 4 meter hut, whose floor was made of bamboo, and the wall and roof was made of nipa. His father was a fisherman, and so was he. When I met him, he had a 3 meter long paddled canoe and a "pana" to spear fish. His daily income in good days reaches 120 pesos, and in bad days, nothing but fish good for a single meal. Although he only reaches grade 2 and finds it difficult to write his name, he could count money so well, and fast.

I told him; just stay here in the island and go into business, since self employment and business is the reason why most people are rich, wag ka nang lumayo pa hehehe. And so, one day he approached me again and suggested that I provide him with a capital because he was planning to buy and sell abalone shells. Well…you guessed it right, I provided him with 1000 pesos as a capital. But three days later he returned giving me 300 pesos as my share of the profit, and 300 more three days later, and another 300, 3 to 4 days later. From this partnership, I received 300 pesos every three to four days over a period of several months! Hehehe. Just fantastic, the capital was returned to me probably 10 times over hehehe. And one day, I told him, he can keep the capital and business to himself, since he has paid me enough already. Nakonsensya din ako, hehehe.

His abalone buy and sell business was enough to feed him and his family, but Kanoy decided to expand his business and he approached me again, this time for a bigger capital. He planned to go into groupers (lapu lapu) fattening business in fish cages. And so, I provided him the 15T capital he needed; and four months later he gave me 30T as my share of the profit. The cages become two, then three… and the money just flowed to his pocket and mine, hehe.

One sunny day I heard he was panicking because the plastic bag he buried inside their house was missing. So, I questioned him what was in the plastic bag that made him panic. He confided it was his savings for the past several months, hehehe. I told him to put it in a bank, and he said he does not know how to deposit the money, and he has forgotten how to write his name. So I ended up teaching him how to write his name, I brought him to the rural bank and showed him how to deposit his money, and how to make a withdrawal.

I sold my share of the cages to him when I left the island in1999 to work somewhere else.


Five years later, in October 2004, I went to Cebu for some errands, and I meet an acquaintance from the island and he told me that Kanoy has a cell phone. A cellphone? Now that's something from a poor grade 2 fisherman, hehehe. I got the number and called him.

He wanted to see me, and so I told him that I am in Cebu, and if he wanted to see me, he should bring me a crate of cooked and preserved crabs, so as to discourage him from meeting me. This was because I was in a hurry of going home. But several hours later, he appeared in the hotel where I was staying with a cartoon of crabs, hehehe. And he invited me to visit the island, which I refused. But he insisted, telling me that he won't take no for an answer, and he would go with me where ever I am going (lakas ng loob, mukhang may pamasahe kasi) until I go with him; and so I relented.

After about half a day of sea travel we arrived in the island. I realized why he was insisting for my visit, after I saw his grandiose two floor mansion, complete with tiled floors, and an underground/basement. He even has a varnished nipa hut for his guests. He also constructed a bungalow for his parents, and he has now two children from a teacher who has an MS degree. And of course, he has now more businesses and a few motorized boats. He evolved into a fish buyer/capitalist in the island. The reason why he insisted for my visit was probably to show me his success. The seed planted was now fully grown.

All I can say to myself was…wow!


In honor of my visit, he grilled a two foot long lapulapu from one of his cages, so I can taste the fruit of his labors, hehehe. Syempre kasama na beer doon at pagkain. I can tell the man was very proud of me, and was very happy to see me. His wife, whom I met for the first time during this visit, already knows me well, hehehe. All his family was there to greet me.

During this visit, I walked around the island to see if there had been many changes and to meet some of my old acquaintances, and along the way I met Elvie, an officer of a village association, and I told her, "datu naman lagi si Kanoy" and she quickly replied "tungod nimo". Me? I don’t know.


Kanoy told me that he learned many things from me, such as the value of hard work, honesty, courage, integrity, and planning. At kong ano ano pa, I was not aware that he would learn these things from me, hindi ko naman sya tinuruan intentionally at hindi naman ako teacher. I realized that it was possible for him to learn these things from our frequent conversation on various things, and from my actions/character, and from our inuman while and when, I was living in the island.

The truth is; I don’t know if Kanoy became rich because of me, he was hard working and he had a very ambitious personality. All I did was believe in him. He would have been rich with or without me, even though, probably, the whole village in the island, I was told, believed otherwise, and so does Kanoy.


PS: I planted many Mahogany trees at the back of the village school at malalaki na sila during my visit. Also, Kanoy followed my advice (among the many advices) to marry a teacher to compensate for his lack of education, hehehe, as he told me.


Good luck Kanoy.