Eldio A. Gulisan is 52, the imam of the Muslim community in the barangay poetically called Sagrada Seaside, in Sasa, Davao City. That means that he is respected as a religious leader—he is the man to whom the other Muslims in the mixed community go for guidance; on Fridays, he leads prayers and delivers sermons in the mosque.
Eldio’s father was imam before him, and the younger Gulisan was also chosen by community consensus, for his standing in Sagrada Seaside and for his knowledge of the Koran.
The imam is also a husband to his wife and father to nine children, six girls and three boys, whom he supports by his livelihood as a fisherman. The imam goes out every day—sometimes with a net to get schools of the smaller fish, sometimes with a speargun he jerry-rigged himself for the larger catch. When he lands something good, the catch goes to the market. He’ll get maybe P300 per kilo of lapu-lapu, which will buy something humbler (say, some cans of sardines) for their table. Sometimes the imam will go with his right-hand man, the guy we call Papa Kula, who’s widely known to be a daring and talented spearfisherman who’s acknowledged to be the best in the community. Papa Kula lands the big fish: he goes after large tanigue, which he draws in with a stunningly lifelike three-foot wooden lure that he fashioned himself; before it was outlawed, he’d regularly go after mako sharks, too.