Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Capul Island the historic and once forgotten island.

Historical Capul

The island that sits in the middle of the west entrance of San Bernardino Strait was originally named Abak after the name of the chieftain of a group of people that migrated from the Sulu Archipelago. 

These migrants brought with them one of the eight rarest dialects in the country. The island is now called Capul from the word Acapulco, a trading port in Mexico during the Spanish coonial era. During the Spanish era, it became a freguent stop-over for galleons that came in and out of the Philippines during the Acapulco Galleon Trade.

About Capul 

Capul is one of 24 municipalities of Northern Samar. It is an island municipality situated off the western tip of the province. It is a 5th class municipality that has a land area of 35 sq. km. Is is shaped like a grain of rice with lenght measuring approximately 14 kilometers and 5 kilometers in its widest section. It is bounded by Matnog town of Sorsogon on the north,  by San Bernardino Strait on the north and northeast, by Allen, Samar on the northeast, by Dalupiri Island on the east, by Samar Sea on the south, and by Naranjo Island on the west. 

Spanish Galleon Trade route from Manila to San Bernardino Strait on 
their long voyage to Acapulco, Mexico via the Pacific Ocean,

Capul is a 5th class island municipality in the province of Samar, Philippines. Prior to founding as a town, Capul island itself with its lighthouse built on the island, serve as a guidepost for  the Acapulco (Mexico) - Manila Galleon trade vessels passing through the treacherous waters of San Bernardino Strait.

This map shows the inland route to and fro Manila to San Bernardino Strait.

It also served as the capital of Samar from 1848 to 1853. The name Capul came from the word Acapulo, an old trading port in Mexico. Capu is the only town in the province of Northern Samar with distinct dialect "Inabaknon" instead of Waray-Waray, the native language spoken by the locals of Samar Island.

Spanish Galleon Trade route from Manila to San Bernardino Strait on 
their long voyage to Acapulco, Mexico via the Pacific Ocean.

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View of Capul Island from Ticao Pass ( view from northwest)

Capul Lighthouse

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View of Capul Island from Capul Pass  ( view from south and southeast of the island )

East part of Capul Island - in the vicinity of the main town of Capul.

Northeast part of Capul island

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The church of Capul during the Spanih colonial period, is dedicated to St. Ignatius of Loyola and it surrounded by a square fort with bulwarks of dissimilar designs. The church structur was actually the third that built on the site. The first two structures, made of hard wood and nipa roofs, were razed when Moro pirates plundered the island in 1615 and 1768.

In 1781, Fr. Mariano Valero, a Spanish architect-priest led the restoration of the church and built the stonewall fortress similar to that in Intramuros, Manila that would fortify it against Moro attacks.

Indigenous Language

Capul has a different language from the rest of Northern Samar and the rest of the Eastern Visayas. The native language in the island municipality is Inabaknon. Inabaknon has been classified by linguist as Sama language related to the Sama language of Sulu Archipelago, rather than a Visayan language. Nonetheless the Capul people understand the Waray language, as spoken by the majorityof the people in Northern Samar.

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Foreign Tourist have Fun in Capul

Tacloban City, Feb. 19, 2015 - Armed with their cameras, the foreign tourist took pictures of the swarm of smiling natives welcoming them to the island town of Capul in Northern Samar on the morning of February 18, 2015.  A large sign with the words  " Dayuma Kam " hangs on the shore - native's way of saying "Welcome"

According to Ms. Josette G. Doctor, provincial tourism officer of Northern Samar, a total of 84 foreign tourist came ashore from the ship to go around Capul town.

These foreigners were among those on board the cruise ship " Caledonian Sky", which is on a 21-day expedition in the Philippines under Zegrahmn Expedition.

In Capul, the guest were given a guided tour on historic places and shown the rich culture and livelihood of the people of Capul. During their brief stay, the guest interacted with the locals and gamely rode the habal-habal, the town means of transportation where they have to back-ride a single motorcycle, as they go from one place to another.

They were also treated to an array of local delicacies, hear folk songs and witnessed a folk dance sung and performed by the locals. They likewise witnessed how the natives weave baskets and make nipa shingles, which are among the peoples's means of livelihood, and how they wash clothes at a communal laundry area called Banadero, still using wooden paddle.

On Facebook, Department of Tourism regional director Karen Tiopes recently posted :

"Zegrahm Expedition cruise ship shore excursion: CAPUL, NORTHERN SAMAR:

Till this very day, the local folks do their laundry at the BANADERO. And yes they still use the palo-palo.

Thw womenfolks sang traditional Capulnon songs to the amusement of our guests. No washing machine here, so one of the guests washed his shirt the way the Capulnons do, drawing cheers from the locals."

On another post, Tiopes said:

So long, farewell !

It felt good to know that we somehow touched your lives. As one of you said: "Your smiles .. you people always smile. We don't usually smile. But now that we got to know you, we are learning to smile."

Zegrahm Expedition promised to bring more guest to Capul next year."

"The people of Capul posses a rich cultural heritage including a language unique to this small island.

After a short walk to the 17th-century fortress, enjoy a performance of dance and songs set to folk music. A stroll past the 18th-century church takes you to a coconut farm. The main industry of the locals, learn how coconut is processed. Sample traditional dishes and fresh local produce. Afterward head to the nearby sandy beach to swim, snorkel, or simply relax." Zeghram, the cruise ship company, said on its website last year.

An article about the expedition, which was posted on Zegrahm's website prior to the Philippine trip, said : 

"Zegrahm Expeditions, the world leader in small-ship cruising in small-ship cruising and overland adventures, is pleased to announce a brand-new itinerary to the Philippines in 2015. This 21-day expedition explores the most intriguing islands of the vast Philippine archipelago, offering a host of unique opportunities to expose travelers to the undiscovered gems that makes this country intriguing. 

Places in the Philippines included in Zegrahm's itinerary this year are Puerto Princesa, El Nido, St Paul's Natural Park, Coron, Sibuyan island, Donsol, Ticao island, Cagayan de Oro, Pamilacan island, Camiguin island, and Balicasag in Bohol

The tourist will also visit Limasawa island and another place in Southern Leyte.

Capul, which is composed of 12 villages and with a population of about 15,000, is located in the middle of the west entrance to San Bernardino Strait that divides Luzon and Samar islands.

Capul boasts of a century-old lighthouse that had served as a guidepost for the Acapulco-Manila galleon trade vessels during the Spanish era. Sailors then used to get water and other provisions from Capul before going on a long trip to Mexico. Is is said that the island's name came from the word Acapulco.

Centuries ago, a group of people from the south and settled on Capul island. They named the island "Abak" in honor of their ruler. Their language is called Inabaknon.

Today, their descendants still speak Inabaknon, a unique language that refused to be dominated by the Cebuano and Waray dialects of the neighboring islands and in the mainland.

In their brief stays, the foreign tourists seemed to have had enjoyed the fun in interacting with the people and witnessing their rich culture and unique way of life as well as having seen places of interest such as the town's ancient fortress church ad centuries-old lighthoused.

The visitors left Capul latter that same day - with smiles on their faces. ( VEN LABRO)

Foreign Tourist have fun in Capul

Zegrahm Expeditions
Small Cruise ship

Cruise Ship " Caledonian Sky "

Cruise Ship  " Caledonian Sky "

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Ancient fortress church of Capul, Northern Samar

CAPUL, Northern Samar—This ancient church in Capul town in Northern Samar has withstood the passage of time.

Although it remains a place of worship, the St. Ignatius de Loyola Church was once a place of refuge for natives from Moro marauders.

On Aug. 5, a marker mounted on the wall of the church edifice was officially unveiled by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), declaring it a historical site and recognizing it as a “good example of a fortress church during the Spanish era.”

“The marker actually is there to remind us of what transpired here during the Spanish times,” said Ludovico D. Badoy, NHCP executive director.

Capul, an island of 12 barangays, is a fifth-class municipality (annual income: P15 million-P25 million) with a total land area of 35 square kilometers. It is an hour-long boat ride from the mainland’s Allen town, 48 kilometers from the capital of Catarman.

Galleon trade

Originally, Capul was called Abak. According to folklore, its present name was derived from “Acapulco.”

During the galleon trade between Manila and Acapulco during the Spanish colonization, many boats would drop anchor at Capul, waiting for the current to flow outward to the Pacific Ocean before they start their long voyage to Acapulco in Mexico.

On Nov. 8, 1870, the island became a parish by decree of the Bishop of Cebu, in accordance with the Royal Decree on Nov. 12, 1874. It was under the administration of the Franciscan Order.

Even before the decree was issued, two churches of light materials had been built in Capul on separate occasions but were razed by Moro pirates who plundered the island in 1615 and 1768. Fr. Juan Isandi, who was assigned to Capul, was killed in the Moro attack of 1768.

In 1781, a Spanish architect-priest, Fr. Mariano Valero, led the restoration of the church and built a stonewall fortress around it in the shape of a cross. The church was known as “Fuerza de Capul.”
An 11-meter stone belfry was constructed at the left side of the church and a stone watchtower overlooking the sea was erected on top of a huge rock, about 150 meters away.

The tower sentinel would blow a “budyong” or conch to warn the people of danger like the coming of Moro pillagers. The people would then rush to the church to seek shelter, bringing along water and food provisions.

The windows and doors of the church, which were made of thick wood materials, would then be closed, and everybody would wait for the attack.

Others were also prepared to fight back. Those posted at the bastions on the left and right corners of the fortification were ready to fire cannons.


As the enemies came closer, some would open small windows and shoot at them. Two of the windows are still there at the rear of the building. Three others are five feet above the base of the deteriorating belfry.

Today, the building at the church courtyard at the right is already in ruins. The fortress wall, although dilapidated, still stands. At the left side is the parish priest’s residence.

As a historical site, the Capul church is protected by law and government funds can be used for its preservation and conservation, says Badoy of the NHCP.

In a speech during the unveiling ceremony, Gov. Paul Daza said the marker “is just one instance of reminding us how truly rich our history and culture is.”

“All of us, as Filipinos, should always be reminded of the true heritage and culture of our country,” he added.

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Other photos of Capul Island :

Related Stories :

Capul :  A once forgotten island.

Capul, Northern Samar,_Northern_Samar

Capul Island

View from San Bernardino Strait – of the coast of Sorsogon Province 
from Matnog Town to Prieto Diaz town.

Capul island, Dalupiri island, and San Bernardino Strait

Allen Samar - Villa Conchita Beach Resort

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Youtube Videos of Capul

Capul Paradise Island in Northern Samar

Capul Town Fiesta 2014

Capul, Northern Samar

Capul Fiesta ( Bon-ot vs Capul) Motorboat Racing

Island Hopping  (Capul to San Vicente Island)

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Youtube Videos of other Tourist Spots in the Philippines

Amanpulo - Pamalican Islands

Palawan - El Nido (2015)

Best of Coron, Palawan

Club Paradise in Palawan