Squid Game in the Philippines

squid legs hang from theo's mouth

Last Updated on June 3, 2023 by Ellen

Squid Game is currently a Netflix smash hit – likely their most popular production ever. 

Although I’ve never seen the show (we no longer have a Netflix account), I am aware of the series and the storyline behind the dark, dystopian drama.

Here in Malay, Aklan on the island of Panay in the Philippines, I am involved in a sort of squid game, too.  Thankfully, this one has nothing to do with twisted, deadly children’s games. 

Mine is literally about squid – the sea creature; catching them, sharing them, cooking them, consuming them.

Bobby P., Theo, and a squid.

Squid game in the Philippines

Truthfully, there is some violence and death involved in my squid game. 

But the result is nothing more than seen in the photo above; a fresh squid in a pan held by myself and my Filipino friend Bobby P.

Just minutes before that pic was taken, I watched as ink was repeatedly sprayed into Bobby’s face. Moments later, after a dramatic underwater struggle, he callously netted the hideous cephalopod that had accosted him.

Soon the creature would be deceased. After that — cooked up and chowed down.

Such is the routine at the fish trap we have helped construct and maintain during a COVID-19 inspired pause in our ongoing early-retired travel adventure.

The contraption consists of dozens of tree trunks anchored in the shallow sea bed in a carefully-placed, funnel type of configuration.

These posts are then slung with nets which encourage fish and other bounty from the sea to enter an inescapable ‘holding pen’.

These next pics show the trap/pen and more of the ‘aftermath’ – a breakfast of fresh squid soup prepared by Bobby’s wife, Beth. Mmmmmmm.

The trap has been in operation for months now. Squid of all sizes are probably the most common catch. And Bobby has regularly given us samples of the daily harvest. In fact, I’ve never eaten so much squid, so often, in all my life. 

Best of all, the trap provides sustenance for Bobby’s family and more. Whenever there is extra, it is freely shared with neighbors and friends.

All of it is much needed and appreciated protein during this time of economic struggle as the local tourist economy remains depressed due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

In fact, Bobby is only playing this squid game because his lifelong, successful, tourism-driven, textile fabrication business is on hold. Indeed, both he and I would rather he was too busy to be catching and cooking squid.

In a way, the actual squid game – the real drama – is the bigger picture struggle by the Philippines and other SE Asian and developing countries against the virus and its economic fallout.

Various preparations of squid dishes.

Winning the game

With a little luck, the trap will continue to function and feed as needed – and provide delicious dishes like those pictured above.
Fortunately, so far in 2021, this area of the Philippines has avoided any severe typhoon conditions which can easily destroy even the strongest in-water fish pen.

Even better, my buddy Bobby reports that he recently received a large order for fabricated product – the first in a year.

Hopefully, the stormy seas of the virus crisis will continue to calm worldwide and my personal squid game will end. Bobby will be back in business. And if I have a taste for squid, l’ll be happy to buy it at the market.

As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer.

Life is NOW!

Thanks for reading, “Squid Game in the Philippines.”

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