Iconic diver and parachutist Francis Toribiong, who is known for his work in establishing the diving industry in Palau, began the first of a series of talks about his life and experience as a diver on Thursday, August 20.
The talk, open to all members of the community, was held at the Belau National Museum, and is set to continue every Thursday from 4pm to 5pm. The talk drew in locals of all ages.
Francis spoke about his traditional Palauan upbringing, and the “local knowledge” he was taught as a child which has since been almost lost.
“My father wasn’t very educated,” Francis said. “But he was a good observer. He could observe the birds and the tides and read them all as signs.”
He also shared and explained a series of traditional local proverbs, which he described as a verbal art form which allows people to communicate in a “direct but polite way”.
In describing his acquired knowledge and experience, Francis drew parallels to Mau Piailug, the master navigator from the Yapese island of Satawal who shared his navigational knowledge with Hawaii and the rest of the Pacific—an act which angered many of his fellow islanders who thought that the knowledge should be exclusively for Satawal.
“In Palau we have a saying: ‘When the breadfruit is standing, it’s mine. But when it falls to the ground, it belongs to anybody’. Mau thought that if he didn’t share this knowledge with the world, it would be lost. We should all be more open to sharing our experiences.”
Francis Toribiong’s biography, “The Diver Who Fell From the Sky”, was made available on Amazon this past June.

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