by Jenette Fariola-Ruedas (ABS-CBN Tacloban)
The "Cuatro Islas" are one of the best places to visit in Leyte because of the white sand and clear water sea. Many tourists are drawn for the swimming and scuba diving. The four islets are composed of Himokilan (belonging to Hindang, Leyte), Mahaba, Apid and Digyo Island, the three belonging to Inopacan, Leyte.
We jumped off in Hindang, Leyte - 2 and a half hour away from Tacloban City. From there we got on a pump boat and travelled more than 30 minutes to reach Himokilan Island, the largest of the 4 islets.
Himokilan Island is a haven to the nut-cracking coconut crab locally known as "tatus". They call it a coconut-cracking crab because it is able to pry open a hardy coconut and eat its meat. This crustacean looks like a big spider with a hard-shell with large claws that the crab uses to open coconuts. "Tatus" are valued as an exotic food and considered an aphrodisiac and is sold at more or less Php200.00 per kilo.
"There are lot of people looking for tatus here, especially the foreigners." Honorato CerdiÃ±a, Himokilan, Barangay Captain said.
Unfortunately, "tatus" are now an endangered species. So the barangay officials created an ordinance to limit the catching and selling of this rare sea creature. "We have made an ordinance... We only have a certain time when we could catch them to sell." CerdiÃ±a added.
The tatus season is during the month of July and August. "They cannot sell tatus that less than 3 kilos." says Geliza Espinosa from the Institute of Tropical Ecology of Visayas State University (VSU) added. Tatus is best when cooked with coconut oil or "ginataan".