Fishing is the primary livelihood of the Sama Dilaut or the sea gypsies of the southern Philippines. Aside from their knowledge of ethnoastronomy, they also design different fishing tools such as traps, nets, and spears, indicating the depth of their understanding of marine animal behavior.
Today, the National Museum of the Philippines features the Sama Dilaut fishing traps.
Bubu is the general term for fish traps, while Togong is the specific name for crab traps. The designs, sizes, and shapes of it vary according to its function.
Bubu is made of bamboo strips tied with thin rattan strips, forming a cage-like design. It is woven with open spaces and a reverse-opening valve, attached with four stones on its corners to serve as sinkers. The trap is released into the seawater and recovered after three to seven days. There are no buoys or poles to indicate the location of the traps to avoid theft. They look at a specified point on the main island to mark their coordinates. Also, they use a bamboo pole with a metal hook on one end when retrieving the released traps.
These collections form part of Intersecting Currents: The Sama and the Sulu Sea exhibition of the National Museum of the Philippines at Fort Pilar, Zamboanga City, to be launched soon!