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He kept pulling, but the anchor wouldn't budge. Annoyed, he pulled harder. He couldn't return to shore and it was growing dark. The water was growing choppier by the second, and ominous storm clouds were gathering above him. He had to dislodge the anchor, and quickly. So he slipped into the water and paddled furiously to the bottom. In the dim light, he could just make out a massive outline. He felt along its rough surface until he traced his hands to the bottom, underneath the object. Little did he know, he was about to find something that would change his life forever.
Dakila was a fisherman from the small fishing village on the shores of Puerto Princesa, and life was difficult. Early each morning he would smooth out his fishing lines and nets on the beach and push his dilapidated fishing boat out to sea, and every day he prayed that he would make a big catch -- big enough to feed his family and sell to tourists at the town's market. But Dakila's luck was about to change.
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After a particularly hard week, Dakila set out as usual. He hadn't caught anything in days, and he and his family had been eking out the last bag of rice. He had to catch something today, and even though there was a storm brewing, he simply couldn't afford to stay home. His livelihood depended on it. He said a quick prayer and pushed out to sea. He couldn't have known that he was about to find something far more valuable than fish.
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Dakila paddled far out to sea until he could barely see the shore. This was the best place to catch large game fish. He cast his net widely over the gleaming ocean and let it fall. Now, the waiting game began. He listened to the waves slap quietly against the side of the boat and was lulled into a deep sleep by gentle rocking. His head had been filled with too much worry to sleep at night, but the ocean's swell cast a spell on him and he could keep his eyes open no longer. When he opened them again, it was because of a roaring all around him.
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The storm had come, and the gentle swells had grown to a threatening size, pummelling the small boat from side to side like a plastic toy. Dakila moved quickly to pull his nets in and to raise the anchor so he could get back to shore, but it wouldn't move.
To his dismay, the boat was slowly filling with water. But this was just the beginning of the storm, and soon the dark clouds were directly above him. But what was caught on the anchor? -- he would have to swim underneath the boat to see.
He swam to the bottom in a blind panic to attempt to dislodge the anchor, but what he saw made his head spin. There, caught on the anchor at the bottom of the ocean, was a something colossal -- the biggest of its kind he had ever seen. The caught anchor was both a blessing and a curse to Dakila, although he didn't know it -- yet.
The clam must have weighed a staggering 500 pounds, but Dakila, with Adrenalin coursing through his veins, managed to lift it just enough to dislodge the anchor. But he couldn't return to the village empty-handed, so he went back up to the boat and retrieved a fishing spear.
The storm was intensifying, but Dakila was willing to risk it all to bring the tremendous find home. Plunging under the waves, he swam back down to the clam and tried to pry it open, using his spear as leverage. But he had no idea what this particular clam was hiding.
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With difficulty, he managed to pry the clam open, but what he saw inside left him reeling. Instead of flesh, there was something enormous and hard within its shell.
The water around him was darkening and churning, but he was so dumbfounded by his find that he immediately got to work to remove the object from the clam's mouth. Surely this was some kind of sign -- a gift from the sea that he had been meant to find. Only much later, when tragedy struck, would he know what it really was.
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When Dakila eventually staggered onto the shore, bedraggled and exhausted, his wife was waiting for him. Her eyes traveled from his empty nets to the strange rock in his hands, and she silently went inside their wooden home to boil the last cup of rice. But Dakila was thrilled with his find and rubbed its smooth surface compulsively. It soothed him. He decided to stow it carefully under his bed until one day, a devastating fire forced him to remove it -- 10 years later.
The flames had licked the house and devastated it completely. The fire started when a small candle had fallen over in the kitchen, and Dakila and his family were forced to stay with relatives. They had managed to retrieve their belongings from the blaze, and Dakila had run to his bedroom to save his precious good luck charm. He had rubbed its smooth surface for 10 years now, every morning before he went out to fish. And it had indeed seemed to bring him luck -- until now.
With nowhere to keep his precious sea charm, Dakila decided to hand it over to his aunt for safekeeping. Dakila's aunt also happened to be the tourism officer. When Aileen Cynthia Amurao saw the gem, she couldn't believe her eyes. This was no rock, this was a giant pearl -- possibly the biggest one ever found! and Dakila had kept the amazing find under his bed for a decade. She immediately got on the phone to verify the pearl's authenticity. But how much would this pearl be worth?
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“I was awestruck when I saw it just sitting on the dinner table,” Aileen Cynthia Amurao said in an interview later. “I told him it would be pointless to hide it as we do not know its value. Why don’t we put it on public display instead?” Amurao then started the process to find out what the colossal pearl would be worth and got on the phone to gemologists.
The gleaming pearl weighed an amazing 77 pounds and was over 26 inches long -- bigger than the previous record holder, which was just 14 pounds. The biggest pearl that had been discovered to date was the Pearl Of Lao Tzu, which is worth $35 million, but Dakila's pearl was more than triple its size, placing its possible value at a staggering $100 million!
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Dakila reluctantly agreed to place his good-luck pearl in his aunt's care, and she put it on display in the city hall of Puerto Princesa, the provincial capital. Photos were also posted on the government’s Facebook page, and they continue to astound netizens everywhere. "We believe Puerto Princesa is likely to earn another prestigious title and a record breaker for having the world's biggest natural giant pearl from a giant clam" the post reads. This is not the first time that an astonishingly large pearl has been found off the Palawan coast, however.
In the 1930's, another colossal pearl was found by a fisherman in the Philippines. It is known as the famed Pearl Of Lao Tzu, or Pearl Of Allah, and its story is the stuff of legend. The diver is said to have paid for the pearl with his life and drowned while retrieving it from the depths of the ocean. The giant clam, or Tridacna, was brought up to the surface by his fellow tribesman, and they scraped the meat out and uncovered the massive gem. Upon closer inspection, the tribe's chief saw the likeness of the Prophet Mohammed engraved into the pearl, and at 14 pounds, it was the largest pearl ever discovered. Until Dakila's.
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In 1939, a man named Wilburn Dowell Cobb visited the island and offered to buy the pearl, but the chief refused to sell it. He recounted the chief's words: “A pearl with the image of Mohammed, the Prophet of Allah, is earned by devotion, by sacrifice, not bought with money.” But when the chief fell ill with malaria and Cobb gave him medicine to cure it, he gave it to him as repayment.
Cobb then went back to New York and displayed the Pearl Of Allah in Ripley’s Believe It or Not on Broadway, where a man named Mr. Lee saw it and fell down weeping, proclaiming it to be the lost Pearl of Lao Tzu, and offered Cobb $35 million on the spot. But Cobb, like the chief before him, refused to part with it.
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Now, Dakila's pearl holds the title of the World's Largest Pearl, as it sits in the Puerto Princesa town hall, waiting to be appraised. "He didn't know how much it was worth and kept it tucked away at home as a simple good luck charm... we were amazed when he brought it to us. We now need help from gemologists to fully certify it. We're waiting for authentication from Gemologist Institute and other international authorities." Amurao explained.
"We will keep this here in the Philippines and I hope it will bring more tourists to the city," the officer of tourism added. Richard Ligad, Puerto Princesa city information officer, confirmed Amurao’s account and said that Dakila, the poor fisherman, could be in for a massive change in fortune. “He has not signed any deed of donation [to the city] so it remains his property,” Mr Ligad said.
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With any luck, Dakila's fortunes are about to change for the better, and all because of the "good luck" charm he found in the ocean and stowed away under his bed a decade ago. But it's not just Dakila who will reap the benefits -- the town will too. With more tourists flocking in to see the World's Biggest Pearl, the economy is sure to flourish.