Talina, Caron, and Peggy in borrowed finery amuse our shipmates and our guests from Tawi-Tawi after the exhibition of traditional Muslim dances. Image courtesy of 2007: Exploring the Inner Space of the Celebes Sea.
October 8, 2007
Caron De Mars
Environment, Science, and Technology Officer
U.S. Embassy, Manila
In the early morning we sent a provision party into Tawi-Tawi to replenish our food supply, along with an ailing Presbitero crew member who had to fly back to Manila for treatment. We also sent in Mon and Mely Romero, critical liaisons for getting our municipal and provincial permits for Tawi-Tawi, to bring aboard public officials so that we could personally thank them.
Chief Scientist Larry Madin and I welcomed Tawi-Tawi provincial and Bangao municipal public servants and representatives from the Chamber of Commerce; the Chancellor of Southern Mindanao University and several of his vice chancellors; the Tawi-Tawi diving club; and the Rotary Club. Captain Jun Pascual gave the guests a tour of the ship and scientists explained some of the technologies employed by the team to investigate the great depths of the Celebes Sea.
All on board gathered in the mess room to hear short speeches of gratitude for allowing us to research the rich waters of the Celebes Sea, the heart of the “Coral Triangle,” the center of marine biodiversity in the world. Southern Mindanao University Chancellor Eddie Alih responded, welcoming the researcher and encouraging long-term collaboration.
The Tawi-Tawi government-sponsored dance troupe treated us to traditional Muslim dances of Southern Mindanao, performing in a cramped area on deck. They delighted us with lovely costumes and exotic hand-movements, accentuated with 4” long curved metallic fingernails. The dancers gracefully avoided the cranes, rubber boats, and winches as they danced on jars, balanced on bamboo sticks, and swung their umbrellas below the awnings. The troupe brought their own gold lamé-clad musicians, banging on copper bowls with metal sticks and beating small long coconut drums with their hands. The dancers dressed Peggy, Talina, and me in traditional dress, complete with our metal manicures for a fun photo op.
In the late afternoon we bade our visitors farewell and hastened back into deep water to deploy the ROV, assemble Emory’s back-up RopeCam, and resume our research.