Jul 23 2014

Typhoon brings hardship, unexpected blessing in Philippines

Filipino milkfish

Raquel, the younger sister of a sponsored child in the Philippines, carries a basket of milkfish.

Tristan John Cabrera, the communications liaison for Unbound in the Philippines, has been covering the effects of Typhoon Rammasun after it made its way across a large part of the country. Despite the destruction caused by the storm, there have also been unexpected blessings.

Filipino milkfish

Raquel, the younger sister of a sponsored child in the Philippines, carries a basket of milkfish.

By Tristan John Cabrera, communications liaison for Unbound in the Philippines

I have mixed emotions as I looked at a photo from our Antipolo program. Despite the struggles we face in the Philippines after Typhoon Rammasun hit last week, here is a blessing.

In the photo, a young girl holds about 4 kilos (more than 8 pounds) of milkfish from the Laguna Lake fish pens that overflowed because of heavy rains brought by the typhoon. The girl’s name is Raquel, and she is the younger sister of Rannie, one of the sponsored children in the Unbound Antipolo program.

Raquel tries to carry the milkfish home using a shallow basket. The milkfish is called bangus here in the Philippines, and it is our national fish.

The milkfish has a generally symmetrical and streamlined appearance, with a sizable forked caudal fin. It can grow to more than 5 feet long, but is most often about 3 feet in length. It has no teeth and generally feeds on algae and invertebrates.

Because the milkfish is notorious for being much bonier than other fish, deboned milkfish, called “boneless bangus” in the Philippines, has become popular in markets. The fish can be fried or cooked as hot “Sinigang na Bangus,” or what we call tamarind soup, which is good for this rainy and cold season.

For me, the best and easiest way to cook the fish is by marinating it with vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper and frying it.

Fishermen whose catches were too large after the pens overflowed gave their fish to people in need or sold them at the market for a much lower price.

While the overflowing pens mean lost income for families who earn their livelihoods from fishing, they also mean food for Raquel’s family and others affected by the typhoon.

Help families affected by Typhoon Rammasun by donating to Unbound’s Disaster Assistance.

Related links:
Typhoon impacts homes, livelihoods in Philippines
Typhoon makes landfall in Philippines

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