The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore. – Vincent Van Gogh
I’ve seen Pinoys in almost all trades and occupation imaginable in the Kingdom. From house helps and nannies tagging their wards in malls, agricultural workers while traveling on remote assignment, building maintenance people, skilled craftsmen, medical personnel and professionals in their respective field of expertise. But I never expected I’d met some Pinoy fishermen!
Most of them came from the same town in Batangas and doing the same job as fishermen in the Philippines before they came here. They’re independent, don’t have a Saudi “boss” and takes care of each others safety. They don’t have medical insurance, cash allowances or a regular monthly salary like the rest of us. What they have is a percentage of the catch they make of which a portion is given to their Saudi “sponsor” as his “share”, rental for using his boat and other expenses necessary to make their stay in the kingdom “legal”.
But there is a downside to this kind of agreement. Fishing in the Arabian Gulf is seasonal. There is a moratorium on fishing around the territorial waters of the kingdom to preserved and sustain the resources of the gulf. They avail of this by going home to the Philippines for vacation which last from three to five months a year. Quite a long R&R, if you ask me, especially if you don’t have any other means to augment your income and depending solely on your savings for your expenses. But judging from their outlook and their material possessions, they seem to be satisfied of what they have or where they are. I even suspect they earn more than our average Pinoy workers in the medical profession.
These brave souls never question that they are thousands of miles away from home or working in one of the most perilous occupation. To them, the sea is what fields are to farmers. They go there to reap their sustenance.
To each his own, ika nga!