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Full Circle

Day 97: General Santos City to Zamboanga

Michael Palin - Full CircleThe fly in the ointment is a radical and violent Muslim group whose leader Abu Baker Janjalani has a price of one and a half million pesos on his head. His base is in Basilan Island, and his group is dangerous.

We steam into Zamboanga on a tide of warnings but no overt signs of trouble. A fleet of stick-like fishing boats follows the ferry in to harbour. In them are local islanders - 'water gypsies' my friend calls them. Their children call out for coins to be thrown into the water and they dive in and grab them before they hit the bottom, stuffing as many as they can into their mouths before returning to the surface. They are incredibly fast and agile but by the age of ten many of them have become deaf from the effects of water pressure.

Ashore in mid-morning at ten. Crowds, noise and almost intolerable heat. Well, it is nearly Christmas.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 97
  • Country/sea: Philippines
  • Place: Zamboanga
  • Book page no: 140

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