Getting a Taste of Tranquility in Capul Island

CAPUL, NORTHERN SAMAR, PHILIPPINES — What do you enjoy that calms you down? For many people, they would answer this with a hobby. Many will also talk about taking a nap, a bath, or reading a book, or maybe even having sex. As for me, it is calming enough just to stare aimlessly at no particular things. Wouldn’t it get better if I stared at the sight of nature?

 

Capul is an island municipality in the province of Northern Samar. It is located in the treacherous waters of the San Bernardino Strait, with the Dalupirit Island (San Antonio, N. Samar) and Naranjo Islands (San Vicente, N. Samar) on its sides. The present name of the island was derived from “Acapulco,” its previous name. The island is commemorated for its significance as a guidepost for the Acapulco (in Mexico) − Manila galleon trade in the 1600s. Its much older name is Abak. Capul Island briefly served as the capital of Samar from 1848 to 1852. Presently, Capul is a very rural town hidden from the usual traveler’s route.

Coming from Bobon after my visit to Lulugayan Falls, I have chased the clock for the 11:00am boat trip in Looc Port in the town of Allen. Since the sun was not that aggressive, I have opted to “topload” on the jeepney. After alighting, I was surprised to be charge only with P20 for the fare. I didn’t know if it was because of a misunderstanding or the cost for the topload was lower compared to the passengers inside. Porters in Allen however told me that no boat bound to Capul is currently in Looc Port. The boat, just this day, was in the adjacent town of Victoria. I didn’t get the reason behind. Anyways, I was still early and the schedule of the trip in Victoria is at 12:00nn. So, I packed a light lunch and hopped on boat while dragging my sprained foot. Passengers are not so plenty in numbers so the boat actually left the port at around 12:30pm. Travel time took about an hour. Boat fee is PhP50.

 

Capul Island

The simple port of Capul Island

Capul Island

 

 

CAPUL CHURCH

Upon reaching the port in Capul  Island, I have walked a few meters towards the old and historic Capul Church (Parish of St. Ignatius Loyola).

 

Capul Church

Capul Church standing strong at 400+ years old

Capul Church

 

 

After contracting a habal-habal driver, Manong Joel, I had asked him to drop me first at Capul Island Beach Resort before starting the trip. A fan room costs P500/day. Reminder though: electricity in the island is only available from 4:00pm to 12:00mn.

 

CAPUL ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE

Capul Island Lighthouse, or Faro de Isla Capul, was constructed in 1896 and is situated on the northernmost tip of the island (Titoog Point). It stands at 39 ft on top of a hill overlooking the narrow passage of San Bernardino strait that separates the island from the port of Matnog (in the province of Sorsogon) in the larger island of Luzon. I was the only person that day so the place became a perfect spot for a muni-muni session. The place was so serene at that moment that it took me a few hours just appreciating the place and the view. Tranquil indeed. The lighthouse was locked for repair so I was not able to get inside. The keeper’s house was mostly in ruins.

 

Capul Island Lighthouse

Capul Island Lighthouse

Faro de Isla Capul

Capul Island Lighthouse

Capul Island

Capul Island

Capul Island

Capul Island

 

 

BIGFOOT ROCK FORMATION

Just below the hill & cliff is the Bigfoot rock formation. I couldn’t find which of these rocks was the “foot” though and since the driver didn’t accompany me in exploring the hill and the shore, I have no one to confirm where specifically in this formation the foot is. The waves are ferocious and I took a few moments to take photos of the waves hitting the boulders. The reef below is healthy too.

 

Capul Island

 

 

GETTING A HILOT MASSAGE

During the habal-habal ride, I have noticed several signages of “Hilot Available Here.” Perfect for my aching foot (acquired from my adventure in Bobon earlier in the day)! I have asked Manong Joel to find me the best hilot masseur he know. We came by the house of Aling Nida, whom told me a lot of stories about the dialect of the Capul locals, the Bicol region where we both originated from, and her son’s basketball misfortunes.

 

Capul Island

 

After the massage, the pain diminished but was still there. It was like a recurring heartache. You’ll think it was gone but once you push it a little, you’ll know that there was still residual pain.

 

 

CANCELLED HIKE TO MT. SIBER

A hike to Mt. Siber, the highest point in Capul Island (287+ meters above sea level), is one of my goals for this birthday trip, as it offers the best view of Capul and the nearby islands. Almost running out of time, we hurried to go near the municipal hall (perpendicular to the old church) to visit the tourism office. However, they discouraged me to hike because of the condition of my foot and the time constraint. The hike upwards should only normally be about 1-1.5 hour. With my condition, they said I might miss the sunset while at the summit. I felt heartbroken once again. I remembered all of the heartaches that you gave me.

 

 

SPRING, WATCHTOWER & WAR TUNNELS

Manong Joel brought me to the Bañadero Nature Spring, the local chief source of drinking water in Capul. Its name was derived from the Spanish word, banor, which means to take a bath. The historical significance of the spring started back during the Acapulco, Mexico − Manila, Philippines galleon trade, when Spanish crew would make brief stopovers during the Spanish colonization period.

It is a small covered court where you would see several hose releasing water. I think the hoses are directly connected to the spring that I didn’t actually see.

 

Capul Island

Capul Island

 

The relic of the Capul fort, or balwarte, stands on the hill overlooking the harbor. It was erected to serve as a sentry or warning system and as a refuge for the indigents during Moro raids in the past. Only the stone watchtower remains.

 

Capul Island
 

During the Japanese war in the mid-1900s, small war tunnels, locally termed by the locals as paksol (derived from “foxhole”), were created. There were two left in Capul.

 

Capul Island

Capul Island

The most decent shot my guide could afford

 

 

THE INABAKNON DIALECT

Unique in Capul is its local language: the Inabaknon (alternative names: Abaknon, Capuleño). The other nearby islands either speak Waray-waray, Cebuano or Bicol. Unlike the other indigenous languages of Eastern Visayas, Inabaknon is not classified as a Visayan language but rather grouped  with the Sama-Badjao language of Mindanao. No worries though as you will not feel alienated with the hospitality of the Capuleños. Their language is now a mixture of Inabaknon, Waray-waray, Cebuano, Bicol and Tagalog. They’ll speak to you in Tagalog if you can’t speak the language. Several useful phrases I have learned, which hopefully were correct:

  • mahalap nalong – good morning
  • amudto – noon
  • mahalap kuhap – good afternoon
  • mahalap sangom – good evening
  • balli /  agballi – to buy
  • kakan / agkakan – to eat
  • tal’ok – drink (beverage)
  • abadaw! – ouch!


A NIGHT OF SANGRIA

Back in the resort, I have asked Ate Belinda and Kuya Jhong, the caretakers of the resort, for their cooking services for my dinner. A simple chicken and sayote meal.

On the next door, I have met two Spanish-American peace corps volunteers that are on a short vacation. They’re Carolyn and Jason MacKenzie. Carolyn is working on an ecotourism project in Libmanan, Camarines Sur while Jason is improving the rehabilitation efforts for the Yolanda-stricken communities in Hernani, Samar. They thought I was a 20-year old looking for myself. Hehe. I felt young.

Jhong, the caretaker of Capul Beach Island Resort, do tourguiding services. Earlier in the morning, they went to a beach were they did snorkeling. According to Jason and Carolyn, the reefs were healthy. Maybe if I had come earlier, I would’ve went with them to that beach.

We shared a sumptuous dinner and after which prepared for the socials. Carolyn taught us how to make sangria. It is a Spanish-Portuguese beverage made from wine, chopped fruits, a sweetener and a small amount of added brandy. Since wine is hard to comeby in the area, she substituted it with tuba. The modified sangria we have drank consisted of tuba, real orange juice, Sprite, chopped apples, and Emperador brandy. We literally prepared a pail of sangria, as it was prepared on a clean pail. The chopped fruits need to get soaked for a time to achieve a better flavor.

We spent the night chatting with Belinda and Jhong before lights came out. Simple conversations like these made my birthday eve worthwhile. I wish Carolyn would remember to e-mail me a copy of our pictures. It was also Carolyn and Jason who said I should start telling my travel stories through blogs (even though I explicitly told them I am bad at feature writing).

 

In the morning, I had the chance to do my muni-muni routine on the beach front of the resort. The waves were calm. The morning breeze was gentle. The swing became my perfect muni-muni spot. Happy birthday, self!

 

Capul Island

Capul Island

 

 

We left the resort at 6:00am as the boat bound to mainland Samar leaves at around 6:30-7:00am. Jason and I went to the port bound for Victoria while Carolyn headed to the port bound for Matnog. Next stop: Biri Island!

 


The blogger endured the ferocious waves of San Bernandino Strait to visit the tranquil island town of Capul in Northern Samar on July 11-12, 2015.

This post is part of my Northern Samar Solo Birthday Backpacking series. Check out other posts for this series:

Powell Abogado

On weekdays, I wear a lab gown. On weekends, I hoist a backpack.

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