Capul Island. Photo courtesy of J. Bajado
Capul Island. Photo courtesy of J. Bajado

CAPUL, Northern Samar– This tiny island in the northern tip of Northern Samar has been visited recently by foreign tourists on a cruise aboard Caledonian Sky of the Zegrahm Expedition for their overland adventures.

The cruise visit has ignited the curiosity of a group of friends that decided to visit the island this summer.

Capul island town can be reached by land for five hours to Allen as jump-off point and another one hour of boat ride.

As the group reached our destination, the long trip didn’t matter as we were met with warm smiles and greetings by its people.

Capul is a fifth class town, one of the islands in the Balicuatro Islas in Northern Samar province.

Wilmark Amazona, a travel blogger, said that in the many places he has been to, the people of Capul are different, because they are so warm and tourist-friendly.

Capul’s rich history is matched by its awesome scenery of green meadows, white beaches, rich foliage, coconut plantation, spring water, coves, rock formations and the list never stops.

Many tourists and scholars are attracted to its unique and indigenous dialect, the “Inabaknon” which has intrigued fellow Waray-Warays in the neighboring municipalities.

The Inabaknon is one of the eight unique dialects in the Philippines according to Summer Linguistics Institute. It is similar to Sama of Malaysia.

But of course, Capuleños as they are called, can speak Waray-Waray and Cebuano , the vernaculars of neighboring island municipalities.

The few Inabaknon words and phrases introduced to us by the very accommodating Capul Mayor Isidro Suan Bandal were “marangga” (beautiful); “awdian konta si kaam”(peace be with you); “makababayi kaw’ (you are pretty); “mahalap nalong” (good morning).

Habal-habal (a motorcycle) with one or two passengers, is the only mode of transportation in the island.

Amazona said the Inabaknon dialect fascinates him. He said learning it, would give him more understanding of their way of life and history.

Capul is blessed with beautiful beaches with crystal clear water, fine white sand like the Acapulco, Abak, Capul Island Beach and a lot more.

Abak beach was even rated as one of the top 20 beaches in the Philippines by some travel bloggers.

The name of Capul is derived from the name Acapulco, given by the Spaniards when it was discovered in 1590s. It has one of the few stone churches and fortress in the country.

History

In the 13th century, the followers of King Abak of Java, Indonesia and in honor of their deposed King, they named the island Abak.

They landed in this 3,500 sq. kilometer-island that borders the western end of treacherous waters of San Bernardino Strait.

The island’s name was later changed from Abak to Capul, a contraction from Acapulco, when the Manila-Acapulco trade flourished.

Father Gaspar Balerite, the historian of the Diocese of Northern Samar, said that during the 16th century, when Father Francisco Petrus was assigned in the island permanently in 1606, he constructed the first church which was made of hardwood and nipa but was razed to ashes in 1615, when Moro pirates plundered the island.

In the same year and same site, a permanent church was erected made of stones integrated with fortress wall to protect its residents from Moro raiders.

The church has an 11-meter high belfry and a stone watch tower.

The church situated in the town plaza is dedicated to honor St. Ignatius of Loyola, a soldier before he became a priest from Loyola in Cantabria, Spain.

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) under the Office of the President, unveiled the historical marker “Fuerza de Capul” on August 5, 2011.

The declaration as historical site and recognition from the government is considered significant and protected by law for its restoration and preservation according to Mayor Bandal.

Also on April 23, 1996, the late Papal Nuncio Vicenzo Moreni came to Capul to put a cross in front of the church marking its 400-years.

Just recently about almost a hundred foreign tourists on board Caledonian Sky dropped anchor in Capul and enjoyed the rustic ambiance and rich history of the place.

They went loco over coco, according to Eastern Visayas Regional Tourism Director Karina S. Tiopes when they were brought to a coconut plantation and witnessed how the coconuts were harvested and made into copra as part of their overland adventures.

They were made to ride a kangga, a buffalo-pulled sled made of wood or bamboo.

And treated to a culinary feast made from coconut meat and milk mixed with glutinous rice and a lot more. Broom making, coconut scrub, bags and other products were demonstrated to them.

There is a “Bañadero” where men and women wash their clothes. While the rest of the region is in dire need of water, Bañadero’s natural spring water flows abundantly that supplies the island with safe drinking natural water, also for bathing and washing.

In fact during the land excursion of the foreigners, few gamely washed their clothes in the bañadero.

Before the sun sets, we traversed to the narrow hilly side of San Luis village towards the picturesque Faro de la Isla de Capul (the Lighthouse of Capul).

The Parola as the Capuleños call it, is 143 feet above sea level. It has rich history having been built by the Spaniards in the 1800s that serves as a beacon and guideposts to vessels.

We went up the Parola and mesmerized by the San Bernardino Strait, the green meadows on the left side and white beaches on the right side that dotted the island.

An awesome sunset greets us that added color to the postcard pretty Capul.

The brief sojourn to Capul island has reinforced our belief that Eastern Visayas is a very beautiful region, a must see with its rich history coupled with natural attractions which our kababayans should not miss to visit first.

Capul is being marketed as part of overland adventures of cruise tourists by the local government unit and the Department of Tourism. The Sharp Travel, handler of Zegrahm expedition, has showed interest for another cruise ship to visit the island on March 2016.

How to get to Capul

Route from Tacloban: Vans are available every hour from 5 a.m. onwards at the Tacloban Bus Terminal going to Allen port, Northern Samar. Fare is PHP350. From Allen, a boat is bound for Capul every 12:00 noon. Only once a day trip. Fare is PHP150.

You can charter a boat at PHP3,000-up depends on the number of your group and if you don’t want to stay overnight in the island, but you will miss many sights. Boat bound out of Capul is at 6:45 a.m. daily.

Route from Manila: You can take the early morning from Manila to Catarman, the capital town of Northern Samar. Then take a jeep going to Allen.

Also you can take a flight going to Calbayog City from Manila. Then take a van to Allen Northern Samar which is about two hours to Allen.

In Capul island Beach Resort, room is PHP1,000 up. There are small lodging houses and homestay with rates for as low as PHP 200-up. BY VICKY ARNAIZ/PNA

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A travel and lifestyle writer based in Tacloban City, Vicky writes mainly for Philippine Daily Inquirer, Leyte Samar Daily Express, and Philippine News Agency