Jump to content

Our (not so boring) Simple Life on a Tiny Private Island in Mindanao


Recommended Posts

JamesMusslewhite

   So what has life been like for both my wife and myself, living on a tiny 8-hector private island  on the outer-edge of of a mangrove forest? In a nutshell, not boring and amazingly roomy. We are literally the last (only) electric-meter of the last power pole in the line. There is no water-well or freshwater source on the island. But we have adapted to any hardship (been a few) and have come to love living this (not so boring) lifestyle.

   So how did we come from life living between a 2-story rental in Surigao City proper and our little 6-hector coconut farm, to living tiny island life? Well is a 12 year tale of unforeseeable consequences, circumstances and little nudges by Karma and an angle or two. And if I had a chance to do it all over? Then I would probably still be here on this tiny island, just with better internet and underwater. So where to start? I guess a couple of months before I had ever heard of tiny Tangjanonan Island.

  • Like 6
  • Thanks 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 30
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • JamesMusslewhite

    23

  • cvgtpc1

    2

  • Dafey

    1

  • Ozepete

    1

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

First though this odd tale requires a little back-story to fully appreciate and under the overall layering of unforeseeable consequences, circumstances and little nudges by Karma and an angle or two. 

For one to tell a rich well rounded tale about a companion or couple, most choose starting from the beginning.  Mine began as a lowly Corporal, on a beautiful island in the Pacific, during a miserable

So what has life been like for both my wife and myself, living on a tiny 8-hector private island  on the outer-edge of of a mangrove forest? In a nutshell, not boring and amazingly roomy. We are liter

Posted Images

JamesMusslewhite

     This image was taken long before I first ever stepped onto the tiny island.There is a long odd backstory. Some believe it is inhabited by the enchanted, some believe it is cursed, while others haunted. It was a graveyard to the unwanted, diseased an unaccepted. An open barter's market long before Spanish coin and a Moro slaver's holding spot where those stolen were held waiting their Sultan's slave ships to carry them away to never return. Many a tear and blood, desperation and sorry most lost to time, but the seasons still come and go with a majestic timeless beaut and grace. I often wonder what long forgotten secretes do the ancient mangroves tell, seeping up from the ashes and dust where they dwell. Often we can almost hear a whisper or a sigh, enough to make one wonder if the Nephilim of the trees still cry?

167034660_FacilityIsland-Master1.thumb.jpg.99590ef99cc00bace9c652f5a269e72c.jpg

   Thinking back six years the time has past fast, almost like yesterday when first looked out over these waters.

400526888_LookingoutfromShore.thumb.jpg.ce19445c98eec8fc803a18edc483b67a.jpg

  The island is only 8-hectors in size, but narrow and long like a fat noodle.

1879285828_LobsterHatcheryFacility.jpg.4623cf2a457214542151b2f4dad2c8d1.jpg

Dense deep-water mangrove forest on one side, and open water on the other with a vibrant ecology.

13226861_10207096770717517_4551355582148515574_n.thumb.jpg.96a0e857be95c7545dc2e07e8d83fea5.jpg

with a 1-hector saltwater pond just behind our house

1058727771_BacksideoftheSaltwaterPond.thumb.jpg.14683ae7f818bd36b05e4e8ba25aa2cc.jpg

and an amazing lady by my side.

1626345292_Wifebytheshore2.thumb.jpg.f80c4bacdbea4b101951072a090f9343.jpg

   I think I can fill quite a few pages of interesting topics on this thread.

 

  • Like 6
Link to post
Share on other sites
JamesMusslewhite

   Here everyday life seems like a new episode of ‘Gilligan’s Island’ where I seem determine to obliviously bungled into mastiff, while my ‘Prof. MaryAnn’ always seeming to save the day with intuitive- Intuition and ‘jungle-engineering’.  Just minus the ‘laugh tract’ and coconut cream pies, I’m more of a ‘chocolate cake’ kind of guy myself.  Where unexpected natives show up, never actually resolving issues, but always wanting you in their cooking pots.

   So I chose these photos as they are of my favorite haunts and running-grounds. When I mention my own areas of the Philippines (Surigao and Dinagat Island) you can have a true understanding of my neck-of-the-woods. 

1738771746_GoogleMapofFacility.thumb.jpg.b7f176cd6b31a237e55b0d4a8b9b7072.jpg

   This the Northern-tip of the big Island of Mindanao Island and Southern-tip of Dinagat Islands. This Surigao City and Dinagat.

1059157776_LocalMapofthisRegion.jpg.0db77a87a9f5c3d3ba15a0a2ed5aa1a0.jpg

so when you hear me mention 'head-waters of Surigao Straights' this is where I am talking about.

1255537549_GoogleMapsofFacility3.thumb.jpg.562274d7868b4adf25b9f531a8468fcb.jpg

and this is what we personally refer to as our local 'Scrounging Zone', and is the primary area where we catch our daily/nightly viddles. My wive calls it her 'corner store'. There are other viddle collection spots (other island's beaches) where we collect various critters and grasses. This is because raising lobster requires a wide variety of divers specie types. They are solely 'live-feeders' and refuse/ignore eating carcasses and spoilage. So what we collect to feed them, we also collect for our own table. And Bubba, those sea-bugs eat highest on the hog. For my wife 'scrounging' has become both an art form and an adventure. 

670373808_OurDinagatIslandFarm.jpg.66b8685b4822f76dd6b8a29304fbfb03.jpg

   This photo is an areal image of our Dinagat Island farm, and they say, an image is worth a thousand words. I believe it is always better to 'show you', than to 'snow you'. So through them I hope you can have a better mental picture of my little odd existence, and possibly find it easier to follow my rantings of an eccentric madman.

 

 

  • Like 6
Link to post
Share on other sites
JamesMusslewhite

   So with the boring backstory of how I met my soul mate, why I tired and chose walking away from a rat-race enslavement existence, rarely see our farm, for a life of glorious solitude and seclusion. Such that a pandemic has had little effect, on our day-by-day existence. From a dedicated horticulturist to a fanatical eccentric aquaculturist was an easy transition for me. I have always been conservationist a heart, with a deep-seated love for nature. The owner of this island has always been plagued by those pilfering and exploiting an ever dwindling ecology the resources of this island. And he is trying to have the island officially declared a sanctuary, but always an uphill battle. Millions of small-minded ‘Juan Tomads’ always seeking the easiest path, ‘hoorah for me, and the hell with everyone else, robbing and destroying for a mere few fast peso. Bleeding the very futures from their generations without a care or reason, like locus and jackals. This topic will surely come up from time to time in following posts to come.

   Even as a young kid, later as an adult on the Gulf-coast waters of Texas and Louisiana region; the need for conservation was paramount to insure a healthy vibrant environment and ecosystem. So when the wife and I see an injured or stranded animal we simply must try to save and protect them. Whether it is a bird or sea-turtle, that is what is called being a good steward, it is a shame that so many merely choose to do otherwise.

022.thumb.jpg.1e727863904b62ee25cfe6dcbda900cd.jpg

(wife's sister holding a rescued bird being released on our farm - wife taking the photo)

012.jpg.87c1d4ed2312f27bf9e32a357efb4c6f.jpg

   A sea turtle being readied to be lowered into our boat at our little Dinagat Island lobster pole-hut facility. Local fishermen (even though to fish turtle is a punishable crime) were trying to catch this lady. We just happen to be boating by, and instead of diving, she swam directly towards our boat. It was as if she knew we would protect her. My brother in-law simply lifted her up onto the boat. We took her to the hut and placed her into one of the nets. There she was fed well and even swam and played with his children for several days (very gentle al creatures). And when we were sure the fishermen were out of the area, she was loaded back onto the boat where she was taken to be safely back to be released back into the wild just before dusk. The rest is in the hands of the, we were merely being a good steward. 

   This video though has a rather sad ending, for such and unexpected happy event. Days after this was taken perhaps the last know specimens of this aquatic plant species of this type species, was pulled up by it's roots for a birthday treat for a low-lifer's drunkard's party. The classic 'quintessential case in point', to this tale...

 

 

  • Like 6
Link to post
Share on other sites
JamesMusslewhite

  When I was first invited by the island’s owner to this island is what initially laid the intention to layout the designs for the construction a of a mariculture hatchery. A couple of poorly timed earthquakes put those plans on hold four years ago. Which has led to us starting an on-island project (which will remain nameless). And the startup of another ongoing mariculture ‘grow-out’ project (subject of another ongoing thread). But of the projects, ever since first stepped onto this tiny island, which has attracted me most; is the 1-hector size saltwater pond behind our dirty-kitchen, and area around the new pole-hut.

241888741_IslandPond.thumb.jpg.79ad550affbb0085910b58757707a5f5.jpg

477102474_IslandAquacultureNetZone.thumb.jpg.33bef8c68b166bed5a26916a0b93c1cc.jpg

   Here we can place multiple net types and configurations where aquaculture pens can be constructed both inside and outside of the nets. And depending which specific specie types housed, their desired tailored habitat can be provided. Including those for seaweed types, shells, slugs, etc. The intention is to create small protected vegetation habitat zones, directly on the seafloor under the nets. While allowing desired fish food types to be raised directly above them. Creating a viable working sanctuary. Allowing safe zones in areas where current dwelling vegetation and corals types can thrive unmolested. It my nope that as these zones grow, they will be given government protections, and a regional specie relocation program could be established island-wide to protect endangered specie types. I firmly believe that all hatcheries and grow-out operations should be required to raising 70%-80% of their overall specie type stock consumption. It is my intention to exceed those numbers. Probably just a silly pipe-dream now, but at the rate of exploitation now? Maybe not for long.

   Start next post I will start talking about the seafaring smorgasbord or squidgy-wiggles we share with the darling sea-bugs at our table.

 

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
smokey

James i am happy u found ur place in life and hope u keep the sun shinning . For all we say about the turbulent life we left in the usa I will give credit to the way the  usa treats its veterans and their deposits give me freedom live worry free 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
JamesMusslewhite
4 hours ago, smokey said:

James i am happy u found ur place in life and hope u keep the sun shinning . For all we say about the turbulent life we left in the usa I will give credit to the way the  usa treats its veterans and their deposits give me freedom live worry free 

I admit I could be living an easier less stressful lifestyle here even still, but I seem to have an adversity to keep adding more upon my (already full) plate. Too many constantly evolving hobbies for my own good, probably an obsession really, some odd deep-seated need unbeknownst to myself. But I like what I do, and sincerely hope that my ramblings somehow has a positive effect to another expat, trying to find a new way to supplement there own. And take what I add and advance it to a whole new level. And if not, I'm still do my thing baby... :dance2:

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
Banacon

Always interesting to follow James. Back in montana, but missing my home and folks on small island off bohol. Came back cause VA required exams on agent orange claims, which went well. Yeah, 73 years old, claiming va disability, thought that was for veterans with more serious disabilities. Wife and I celebrated 25 years marriage and helped many siblings and parents. Not always agreeing with what men do over there, but lately seems ok. Just letting you know, proud of what you do, I will read more  after my nap...ha

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
JamesMusslewhite

   I grew up in a household of excellent ‘from-scratch’ deep southern cooks. And Houston was and still is a wide ethnically diverse community city, as is Southern Texas as a whole, populated with long-established large ethnic communities scattered throughout. I am always amazed by Northern twits wishing to associate South-Texans as literate fat rednecks who only eat burnt meat. When Houston actually has more restraints, museums, theater and culture than New York City, and most of us actually know how to drive and be respectful to their neighbors. So we are not practically impressed with New Yorkers and Californians.

   When my wife came to the US she could cook well and knew most traditional dishes, but she then watched and learned from my family. And I made a point of taking here to quality restraints in Houston, Austin and New Orleans allowing her to actually experience and understand the true textures, seasonings and flavors of those dishes. And being only a mere 50 miles from the Gulf Coast, fresh seafood where a regular part of our family diet.  

   So when my family moves here to Surigao Ciry/Dinagat our diets actually did not change much. If I get a hankering for Mexican food, Italian, German, Asian, and others we merely seek out that which allows the making of a reasonable facsimile. There are of course those things (mainly seasonings) which are impossible to fine, but with a little innovation a improvisation a reasonable conquering can be created, at least enough to satisfy those most dogged hankerings.  This is only possible because from personal experiences she actually understands those dishes. Someone merely staring at a photo without those experiences, does not have a clue of the desired end-result. And fine-dines on Bourbon Street and high-end Asian restaurants of Houston were an inspiration for my wife, as to the seafood dishes she puts on our table.

   My wife and I basically just moved into a temporary work-camp dwelling. Typical coconut wood hutch with a nepa roof and was intended to only be used for a few  years at most. But for a isolated work-camp it was certainly comfortable enough, as six years later we are still comfortable enough for our simple lifestyle. The nepa later was replaced with tin which has been the only upgrade to the structure, but coconut wood does not age well and soon we will need to tare-down the wooden portions of the wooden walls and roof. But we are content to build over the top of the previous foundation, just raising the existing cement floor levels, and expand the front porch and adding a new screened side-porch area. But with luck that will still be a couple of years from now. This year we we are collecting the materials to renovate and expand our dirty-kitchen area, and finally start tearing-out raising and adding more garden space. Later intended projects are the addition of elevated fresh-water tanks for hydro-culture food production (with luck starting next year). The later additions being a large propane oven, and small traditional brick-oven(for breads and pizza), and an enclosed BBQ pit area where I can cook and smoke meats. Not big projects, but on our meager budget, we have to do things one tiny step at a time.

020.thumb.jpg.01bfc27cdb5898c7c4df4662eb2f236a.jpg

   Most top-end restaurants in the States merely dream of the freshness, diversity and variety of the critters we simply pluck from our little ‘corner market', or the variety of fish freshly caught live by our neighbors and literally delivered directly to our front gate.

032b1.thumb.jpg.98db50eb29d42ff4bfe3bc2dbede74bd.jpg

120.jpg.e4538c5b68dab974b60ac00f945b0b47.jpg

 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
JamesMusslewhite

  I will show you folks a few of our more favorite wiggly squiggles and fish that we catch in our local 'corner market'. Over the years here I have collected a volume of images and vids, which I have scattered throughout fifteen external harddrves. But to be trustful presently I frankly have neither the time or desire to dig into all of them for a mere handful of gems to post. Example: I have an image of a marlin caught less than less than 900 yards in front of the island. The image of the silver tuna that jumped in to our floating platform one night, or images the two species of wild lobster 'scallop' and 'slipper' which there has been a few. But as the thread continues, and I have the time to go through my many image files, I will post them on the thread at a later date. I primarily want to focus only on what the wife and me eat, as I know that is what members. I have another ongoing thread which will discuss everything we feed the sea-bugs eat (there diet list much larger), and besides redundancy is both boring and unnecessary. 

   So lets talk eats for a while, and show what these waters around Tangjanonan add to the table.

   Fresh squid is always welcome at my table. There are a lot of ways to fix them. My favorite is stuff-breaded baked in a cast-iron 'Dutch oven', with plenty of vegetables and fungi in the mix. Now add a side of pan-baked 'Italian eggplant' and I could eat myself short of a coma.

1b.thumb.jpg.973367952943b9600966c73c63b80391.jpg

We often catch octopus, shrimp and small fish; there are so many different ways to cook them. Coastal Pinoys and neighboring countries have concocted some interesting tasty traditional dishes using these.

17b.thumb.jpg.8421da93d7b7918848da1d107e6a0f64.jpg

'Sea cucumber' is also a favorite, and one of the species we are currently collecting the needed materials to raise in our saltwater pond out back of the house.

7b.thumb.jpg.2827aa490f3c0eeab409cfb4f01a0d0c.jpg

   And this 'DongSoy' and one only has to mention the word to a Pinoy to see how much they love them. They make an amazing soup, and their 'green poop' sells for over 1,000(php) and is a prizes food delicacy. Don't knock 'green poop'... This is another specie we will soon be raising in our pond.

4b.thumb.jpg.3522da8cdbf91f33d5849587c4fedbcd.jpg

And two other favorites are 'scallops' (image presently not available) and 'abalone'. Both I dearly love and will very soon to be raised inside our pond.

6b.thumb.jpg.0d9c242f629e780f2eb222a96eac6129.jpg

more images to be add...

 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
JamesMusslewhite

So our list of delectable vittles continue...

5b.thumb.jpg.bbb95a760765f02d26fafca4b1271fd2.jpg

   These little jewels are 'cockles' and there two varieties of these clams with in a 30-minute boat ride from were we are now. This is the larger variety of the two and are often part of our diet, usually in soups, gravies, grilled or stir-fried. Very diverse as to dishes they can be prepared with or in, and quite favorable (though a bit chewy). 'Cockles' are excellent for 'Italian' and Cajun/Creole dishes, and we found through experimentation blend well with Tejas/Mexican dishes as well. We have (for a while) been seeding both 'cockle' varieties, here in and around the seaweeds and 'sandy zones' of our pond area.

8b.thumb.jpg.df926a494b162fe1364ab262690f953d.jpg

   Now here is a bad-boy I really like, the majestic 'blue' crab. So reminded me of the 'king blue' crabs I use to catch off the Texas City Dyke off the edge of Galveston. We (my parents would take me and my brother all-night crabbing and fishing off the pier, sometimes we filled more than a metal trashcan. Then stop at the shrimp-boats to purchase a couple of coolers of shrimps before heading back to Houston. Then we would stuff ourselves like royalty for the next 2-3 days. Good family times. Both my mom and stepfather died 12 weeks apart in 93, which be some of the reason why I live this life style. Perhaps to try to hold on to something long-lost but not yet forgotten.

9b.thumb.jpg.13a38b2d0702c610b9ee2bd27b68c4f7.jpg

and these are my second favorite crab specie, the 'mud crab' with a nice size and plenty of meat on the shell.

15b.thumb.jpg.376db6d924d073c28b7a33d016ac65fe.jpg

and this 'brown' beauty is the 3rd crab specie that I want to specifically raise solely for our own table. These three species (blue, mud and brown are on my list to raise in the nets this year. We are currently collecting the poles and nets for the needed 'grow-out' nets.

19b.thumb.jpg.d10b2eae6933c2a03bf266950ed01aa8.jpg

There are some quality crab species of crab in and around these waters and mangroves. And some less desirable crab species. So I can hold back my favorites and raise them to larger size, and just pluck the for for soups, gumbo and the likes. And do the same with shrimp, as there are several different species of shrimp.

More to come...

 

 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
JamesMusslewhite
13 hours ago, Banacon said:

Always interesting to follow James. Back in montana, but missing my home and folks on small island off bohol. Came back cause VA required exams on agent orange claims, which went well. Yeah, 73 years old, claiming va disability, thought that was for veterans with more serious disabilities. Wife and I celebrated 25 years marriage and helped many siblings and parents. Not always agreeing with what men do over there, but lately seems ok. Just letting you know, proud of what you do, I will read more  after my nap...ha

I added a few other posts for you after midnight when the site's image upload speed is more favorable.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
JamesMusslewhite

   So our list of delectable vittles continue...

20b.thumb.jpg.8ec42c037e48715804bf9fa5f01a8c82.jpg

This is common and highly desired shell critter called 'Sa-ang' and has a rather chewy texture but very tasty and highly prized by the locals, they are a staple which makes their way into our diet a few times a week.

10b.thumb.JPG.2e83b675ab31707ce8b2cdf2a83a0c6d.JPG

This is another cockle but found in the sands a few islands over from ours, called a 'blood clam' due to the reddish shell coloration, fat and tasty critters.

24b.thumb.jpg.8932f58302c603141c688093088fe037.jpg

   Eel and assorted fish caught here regularly off our shore.

11.jpg.2e004c7e0fe257455306b4d680682a52.jpg

   The local 'light boats' will pack together to literately rangle these jewels right up the edge of our shoreline, I have a few light videos of them fishing cor them. I am sure I will later be posting a video if this on this thread. They are a favorite of mine, especially when fries with battered-eggs.

13.thumb.jpg.267cc4cf42b604f896ecb7deb0b07591.jpg

   I love the variety of fish caught close off-shore of the island.

more images to be add...

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Guidelines. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..

Capture.JPG

I Understand...