It was as it was the first time I visited Navotas City’s fish port some years back. The sky was heavily overcast and the heavens threatened to spill down cats and dogs. Like the first time, I was with a group of photographers. And like the first time, we were undaunted by the weather. Even with the promise of wet cameras, we went ahead to the largest seafood market in Metro Manila.
A board similar to movie marquees indicated we were almost at Navotas City’s fish port. Instead of movies going to be shown, it instead announces which bays are affected by red tides. I was unfamiliar with the areas listed; I simply hoped that the crisply fried fish I happily ate for breakfast were not from those waters.
After securing our permits, we were given the go ahead and was even assigned a guide to help and guard us around the port. I’m not sure if one can simply walk in and take photos inside, but we were a big group, like fifteen-people strong big, so I guess permits were worked out in advance.
There’s also a security concern when shooting at the Navotas Port. I distinctly recall an incident during my first visit; I was taking photos of some of the kids playing around (which won me a nod at the SKWWPW by the way) when my camera was almost literally taken out of my hand by a certain vagrant in the area.
There were also not a few incidents of pickpockets in the port itself, the fish vendors being the victims. Care and alertness should be exercised when visiting.
After a brief briefing, we all went in and dove into basins after basins of sea bounties. I’m no market person, so I really cannot name the gaping multitude of fishes filling pails and all sorts of plastic containers in the port even if my life depended on it.
Heck I wouldn’t know I was looking at a galungong if it wasn’t all fried and crispy.
So I tried to chatter up the vendors along the port. Asking the names of that weird looking fish and that strange shrimp, which was no shrimp at all it turned out. It was a prawn, a tiger prawn to be exact. How to differentiate it for the normal non-tiger ones? The stripes on its back, the friendly seller relates to me.
Uncooked seafood 101 for me.
There are peculiar looking fishes, and then there are the really bizarre ones. Take the super delicious curacha, which can almost compare to that of the more expensive lobsters. Uncooked, it looks like a strange cross between a cockroach and a crab. It just looks so… alien, for lack of a better description.
Our group arrived a bit late so we didn’t catch the initial barrage of seafood being dumped in the port during the early hours of the morning. But still, there’s so much to see and photograph. The bulungan sessions, where a group of resellers outbid each other for the freshly arrived bounties by whispering their price to the seller, were already few and far between however.
Adjacent to the fish drop-off shed is the waters of Navotas City. It’s still part of Manila Bay and as you can probably guess, it’s as polluted as heck. I was however relieved to find that it wasn’t as full of floating garbage as was the first time I saw it a few years back.
The Navotas fish port is not a beautiful place; it is wet, slippery and ranks very much of the sea. It’s not a place where a tourist may want to wander; in fact it’s not the safest place to be walking about. But it’s still interesting to visit such raw places once in a while, to see the other side of the sunny bright green parks, to get down and dirty, or should I say fishy? You come in smelling of expensive perfumes, you come out smelling like sushi; and it ain’t a bad experience at all.
Navotas Fish Port
Address: Lapu-Lapu Ave., North Bay Blvd., Navotas City
Open Hours: Open 24 Hours
GPS Coordinates: 14° 38' 31.69", 120° 57' 3.97"
View Location on Google Maps: Click Here