Thursday, May 17, 2007

Homonhon, the Island where Magellan first landed

In March 16, 1521 Ferdinand Magellan first landed in Homonhon when he discovered the Philippines. That event foerever earned Homonhon a place in history.
The island of Homonhon which is still a part of the town of Guiuan is a parish in itself under the titular of St. John the Baptist. It consists of 8 barangays of which Casugoran is the center where the parish church is situated. The other barangays to the north of Casugoran are Inapulangan, Habag, Kanawayon and Bitaugan. To the south are Culasi, Pagbabangnan and Cagusoan. There is a small island which is part of Inapulangan to the north-west part of Homonhon called Mantukonan.

Homonhon is not easily reached in some months during the year (usually December to April) because of the presence of treacherous currents called sibid which is found between the islands of Homonhon and Suluan. It was the first week of May when we went there and there was still the sibid. From afar we could see the swirling waves with its distinctive sound. The boatmen seeing this would make a long detour just to avoid the sibid otherwise if one is caught in the midst of this the boat would easily be torn to pieces.

There is a mining company present in Homonhon which is mining chromite. Three thousand hectares of forest were burned in order to start mining the chromite. The people of Homonhon are the ones hired to do the mining. The mining area is divided into the different barangays of Homonhon as their area for mining. The mining company would then buy from them the mines that have been dug up. As is usually the case with mining companies, the only benefit that the people of the place can get is that they get employed in mining the fields, but in terms of profit from the mine itself there is very little if there is at all. When the mining is over they are then left with barren and unproductive land coupled with the pollution from the tailings of the mines which goes into the sea.

The plaza with the church of Homonhon at the background.

The beach in Habag, Homonhon.

Signals for cellphone can only be found by the beach or up in the mountain. Texting has become a way of life even here in the island.

Children of Homonhon playing by the beach.

Ronnie, Rio and Elnor posing behind the coconut trees.

The parish church of Homonhon found in Casogoran is dedicated to St. John the Baptist.
Children are the ones occupying where the bells should have hung. But the belfry cables are so small that they cannot hold the bells. Hence the bells are hanging by the convento.

The church bell was minted in 1927.

One of the chapels in Homonhon
The Chapel of Pagbabangnan, one of the barangays in Homonhon
The red clay road in Homonhon. It gets slippery after a rainfall.

Three thousand hectares of forest were burned to give way to the chromite mining.

One of the pits where chromite is being mined.

Chromite mining is done by the hand with shovels. The people of Homonhon do the mining. The mining area is divided into the different barangays in Homonhon.

From the mountain, the mine is brought near the sea to be transferred to the ship which would haul them away.
The beach by Casogoran, the main barangay of Homonhon.
Casogoran Bay

In whatever beach he would go Ronnie would always have a picture of Joebz, his computer store marked on the sand.
The bottom of a glass bottle is washed ashore after having been used as a dynamite. They say that dynamite fishing is still rampant in the island, that is why fish is already scarce in the area.

Tarsiers are still found in the forests of Homonhon. Here a baby tarsier poses for the camera.
The site of Magellan landing in Homonhon in the part of the island called Cantilado.

On the shore in Cantilado where Magellan and his group made their landing in March 16, 1521.

Homonhon has a community hospital using solar power. There are electric generators in the barangays of Homonhon, except in the mainland of Casogoran where the hospital is found. For two years now the generator has not been repaired. Many private homes have their own generator set.