Friday, April 17, 2015

Immersion in Northern Samar (Capul Island)

The original plan was to go to Biliran Island on our third day, but it didn't happen. The travel from Allen, Samar to Biliran Province is approximately 8 hours and it would consume a lot of time. The night before the third day we had a light conversation with the caretaker (Eddie) of the resort (Villa Veronica) we're staying. He told us stories about the people and places in Northern Samar and mentioned Capul Island. While he was conversing with us I saw the lighthouse in Capul which can be seen from the resort, flickering in the darkness as if inviting me to come and visit it. Eddie's stories was impressive which made us changed our plans and instead go into the heart of Northern Samar and check it out.

San Antonio Island

Early in the morning we packed our things and headed to the town of Victoria, just 30-minute tricycle (three-wheeled passenger vehicle) ride from Allen and stopped at Victoria port to get a boat going to San Antonio Island (aka Dalupiri Island). We negotiated a boat ride with the operator to take us to Capul Island and back to San Antonio Island which will be our base camp for 2 days. We looked for a place to stay in San Antonio Island, ate brunch and at 10:30 am off we went to Capul Island which will take 30 minutes if the water current is calm and 1 hour if the current is not so good. We negotiated and haggled with the boat operator for the Capul Island tour and we had a deal at 2,300 pesos. 

Capul Island
The sea was calm while sailing but as we approach the island whirlpools suddenly came up not just one but several and a big swordfish leaped in the air as if a gesture that we are willingly permitted to come to the island. The boat docked and the locals came to us, all smiling then a man talked to us and asked if we are on tour, he lead us to his "habal-habal" (motorcycle). And wow the "habal-habal" can carry four passengers plus the driver and there's five of us in a single motorcycle! Well anyway, he took us to an old church (Roman Catholic), which is the one of the main attraction in the island.

St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish Church

The church of Capul was built during the Spanish era in honor of St. Ignatius de Loyola in 1781, the first church built on the same site on 1596 was made from hard wood and nipa roofs but was demolished by Moro pirates in 1615. And in 1781, Fr. Mariano Valero, restored the church and built a stone fortress to increase defense against Moro attacks. The architecture is a classic representation of  a church fortress during the Spanish period.

Another place of interest in the island is the Spanish lighthouse, Punta Capul, situated in the northwestern corner of Samar facing San Bernardino Strait. The lighthouse is a historical landmark built under the Spanish regime and was designed by Guillermo Brockman in 1896. The US Army Corps of Engineers completed the structure. This is the same lighthouse that I saw while we were in Allen, Samar and I am so lucky to come by knowing that it is located in a place which I wasn't expecting to go to and I was so delighted. Punta Capul will be my seventh old Spanish lighthouse that I have seen in the Philippines.

Punta Capul
And at the far end of the lighthouse is the view deck which unfolds the splendid view of San Bernardino Strait and Mt. Bulusan (boo-loo-sun). We were there on high noon, the scorching heat of the sun was burning and hurting my skin but the view numbed my senses as I saw the vastness of heaven and earth. The feeling was indescribable.

The view on the right side from where I am standing.

The view of the terrifying waves as it blows hard on the rocks at the end of the view deck.

Steep area, do not dive.

Capul is a small town in the heart of Northern Samar, its original name was Abak and the locals speaks Inabaknon. A unique dialect spoken only by the CapuleƱos, instead of Waray which is spoken by the natives of Samar. According to local folklore the name Capul was derived from Acapulco during the peak of Manila-Acapulco Galleon trade. The island serves as a shelter for ships looking forward to favorable winds and currents.

Chicken cooked in coconut milk, dinuguan, and sweet and sour fish.

Before I end I would like to thank the people of Capul Island for their warm reception, especially the driver of the motorcycle/tour guide, who cordially invited us to have lunch in his house. It's kind of extraordinary for us knowing that we are strangers, his invitation is just straight from the heart that it can't be denied. The barrio fiesta was going on that day and his wife served us delicious food in the manner that we are truly special to them. They lived a simple life, their house may only have few parts and features but their hearts are lavish.

1. There is a pump boat from Victoria, Samar just a few minutes away from Allen, going to San Antonio Island which takes 20 minutes and from there you can hire a boat going to Capul Island for a negotiated rent.
2. There is also a passenger boat in Allen Port which takes passengers to Capul Island which leaves in the afternoon and will go back to Allen Port the next day, so staying overnight is advised. There are homestays in the island, ask the locals and they will help you.
3. When in Capul Island there are "habal-habal" which takes tourists around the island.

1. Bring food and water.
2. Respect the locals and do not leave your garbage in the island.
3. Enjoy!

Thank you for reading.

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