In a land area of 4,339.6 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers the civil province of Eastern Samar. Eastern Samar is a rough hilly province, which occupies the eastern portion of Samar Island. On its north is Northern Samar; on the east, the Philippine Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean; on the west by Samar; and on the south by the Leyte Gulf. It is the first area in the Philippines sighted by Magellan on March 16, 1521. Magellan's crew called the islands, Zamal. The Spaniards anchored at the tiny island of Homonhon.
Eastern Samar is a province of the Philippines located in the Eastern Visayas region. Its capital is the City of Borongan.
Eastern Visayas is composed of the islands of Samar, Leyte, Biliran and the smaller outlying islands. In terms of political divisions, it is made up of six provinces, namely Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Samar, Biliran, Leyte, and Southern Leyte.
The mountain ranges that traverse the islands of Samar, Leyte, and Biliran have influenced the development of dialectal varieties of Waray and distinct speech communities.
Eastern Samar has 22 municipalities, with a total of 597 barangays (villages).
As of yearend 2009 the total population of the diocese is 560,020 of which 98 percent are Catholics.
The early people in the Visayas region were Austronesians and Negritos who migrated to the islands about 6,000 to 30,000 years ago. These early settlers were animist tribal groups. In the 12th century, settlers from the collapsing empires of Srivijaya, Majapahit and Brunei, led by the chieftain Datu Puti and his tribes, settled in the island of Panay and its surrounding islands. By the 14th century, Arab traders and their followers, venturing into the Malay Archipelago, converted some of these tribal groups into Muslims. These tribes practiced a mixture of Islam and Animism beliefs. There is also some evidence of trade among other Asian people. The Visayans were thought to have kept close diplomatic relations with Malaysia and Indonesian kingdoms since the tribal groups of Cebu were able to converse with Enrique of Malacca using the Malay language when the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in 1521.
The local inhabitants call themselves Waray and speak a dialect which is called Waray - Waray, considered one of the major dialects used in the Philippines. Other languages spoken are Tagalog, which is the base language of Pilipino, the national language. English is also widely spoken, and is the medium of instruction in schools and used in business transactions and government official communications.
The language largely spoken in Samar is the Lineyte-Samarnon Visayan language popularly called Waray. Warays inhabit the entire Samar mainland and about 25% of Northern Leyte with almost every town having its own dialect derived from theWaray mother tongue. Boholano and Cebuano speaking people are found in some areas in northwestern and northeastern Leyte to the entire western and southern Leyte. In some islands, also in Samar are Cebuano and Boholano migrants specifically in the island municipalities of San Vicente and parts of San Antonio in Northern Samar and Almagro in Western Samar. In one island through of Capul at the tip of Northern Samar, the people speak Abaknon a Samar-related language. According to the town's oral history, their ancestors were from Balabac, a group of islands in South of Palawan. They left the island and traveled by sea with their leader Abak because they refused domination by the Moros.
DIOCESE OF BORONGAN
Suffragan of Palo
Created: Oct. 22, 1960
Erected: April 11, 1961
Comprises: the Civil Province of Eastern Samar
Titular: The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, September 8
On April 10, 1910, Pope Pius X separated Samar and Leyte from the Diocese of Cebu, and formed them into one diocese, with Calbayog as its episcopal see.
On Oct. 22, 1960 Pope John XXIII created the Diocese of Borongan, installing Most Reverend Vicente Reyes, D.D., then, the Auxiliary Bishop of Manila, as the First Residential Bishop of Borongan.
On June 19, 1965, the island of Samar was politically divided and the province of Eastern Samar was born. On Dec. 5, 1974 Pope Paul VI established the Diocese of Catarman. Thus the island of Samar now has three dioceses, following its political division: that of Calbayog for Western Samar, that of Catarman for Northern Samar, and that of Borongan for Eastern Samar.
The Diocese of Borongan is divided into three regions, each consisting of 2 vicariates. The diocese covers 32 parishes in 22 municipalities and 4 barrios, ministered to by 84 diocesan and 5 religious priests. Borongan, the capital town of the province is also the seat of the episcopal see.
In many ways the Diocese of Borongan is really a Church of the poor, by the poor, and for the poor. Many parishes do not have enough resources to maintain decent daily sustenance in their rectories. The people are generous, but their contributions remain meager.
The diocese is now seeing the flourishing of faith communities. The Basic Ecclesial Communities are being introduced. Present-day challenges to the faith include that of Fundamentalism and Pentecostalism. But these challenges are being met by the diocesan priests and the faith communities.
Brief History of Eastern Samar
Based on geologic findings, during the ice ages or Pleistocene period (2 million years - 8,000 B.C), the islands of Mindoro, Luzon, and Mindanao were connected as one big island through the islands of Samar, Leyte and Bohol.
Diggings in Sohoton Caves in Basey, Samar showed stone flake tools dated 8550 B.C. Other diggings along the Basey River revealed other stone flakes used until the 13th century.
Recent Philippine history also places these two islands prominently.
The island of Homonhon in Guiuan Eastern Samar was first sighted by Magellan in his voyage to the orient, one that led to his death in the hands of the men of Lapulapu in Mactan, Cebu.
In the next expedition (1565) headed by Ruy Lopez de Villalobos, Leyte and Samar were ruled as one province under the jurisdiction of Cebu. Samar and Leyte were separated as provinces in 1768.
The San Bernardino Strait between Samar and Luzon was a gateway for the Spanish Galleon. Royal Port was established in Palapag Northern Samar to protect galleons from winds and stormy seas. In 1649, shipbuilders were drafted to Cavite shipyards to build galleons and other vessels. In the same year, the recruits led by Sumuroy of Samar staged a revolt which was one of the earliest recorded revolt against Spain.
The 1900's also saw a victory of the locals against the American forces when the people of Balangiga staged a successful raid against the Company C of the American battalion stationed in Balangiga, Samar. The Americans retaliated and killed at least 60,000 Samarnons including civilians.
During World War II, Leyte and Samar figured prominently as battlefields.
Eastern Samar became an independent province by virtue of Republic Act No. 4221 which Congress approved on June 19, 1965 dividing the then existing old province of Samar into three separate provinces, namely; Northern Samar, Western Samar (subsequently renamed Samar) and Eastern Samar. A plebiscite held simultaneously with the November 1965 general elections upheld the conversion of Eastern Samar into a separate province.
In 1967 the newly created province elected its first set of officials and on Jan. 2, 1968, the provincial board had its inaugural session in the Borongan Town Hall which served as the temporary provincial capitol. Eight months later, the formal inauguration of the new province of Eastern Samar took place.
Before its existence as an independent province, places which now form part of Eastern Samar played important roles in the history of our country.
It was in Eastern Samar where Ferdinand Magellan landed in Homonhon Island in the town of Guiuan on March 16, 1521, in what is now officially recognized as the discovery of the Philippines by the Western World. Magellan called the place Zamal.
Sustained contact with Western civilization occurred as early as 1596. Jesuit missionaries worked their way from the western coast of the island of Samar and established mission centers in what is now Eastern Samar territory.
On Sept. 28, 1901, Filipino rebels in the town of Balangiga attacked and almost wiped out American troops billeted in the municipal building and church convent. Now known in history books as the "Balangiga Massacre Day," the incident triggered a ruthless pacification campaign by US forces aimed at turning the entire island of Samar into a "howling wilderness." It was during this campaign that American soldiers took the Balangiga Bells from the Balangiga church as war trophies. The bells remain on display at Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
On Oct. 17, 1944, US Army rangers landed on the island of Suluan in Guiuan where they fought their first battle on Philippine territory three days before Gen. Douglas MacArthur stormed the beaches of Leyte.
A Philippine province is headed by a Governor. A Provincial Council (Sangguniang Panlalawigan) is composed of a Vice Governor (Presiding Officer) and Provincial Board Members. A Philippine city or municipality is headed by a Mayor. A City Council (Sangguniang Panlungsod) or Municipal Council (Sangguniang Bayan) is composed of a Vice Mayor (Presiding Officer) and City or Municipal Councilors. A barangay is headed by a Barangay Captain, who is also the presiding officer of the barangay council. The Barangay Council is composed of seven (7) Barangay Kagawads. A similar unit called a Youth Council (Sangguniang Kabataan) is headed by an SK Chairperson with a similar rank to a Barangay Captain. The council is composed of SK Members.
It used to take days of hiking or riding riverboats to travel outside of the province, but concrete roads that now connect Eastern Samar to adjacent Samar province and other places in the country have made journeys shorter and less taxing. The concrete national and provincial roads, as well as farm-to-market roads, have made the government's delivery of basic services to many areas much easier.
The provincial capital now boasts of a mall and other big commercial establishments, as well as a standard-class hotel and a private hospital. Guiuan, a coastal town located 110 km south of Borongan and 157 km away from Tacloban City, has also been bustling with activity, particularly in the town proper, since the opening in the late 1990s of the South Samar Coastal Road that cut land travel time to Guiuan by about two hours.
There are buses going direct to Metro Manila, while vans plying the Borongan-Tacloban route have regular trips every hour during daytime.
A World War II vintage airport is rehabilitated to make the place easily accessible by plane.
The province is linked to Metro Manila through the Philippine-Japan Highway. That Road Network traverses Western Samar to the ferry terminal. The main road network of the province runs through the major settlements and Samar. Buses of Silver Star Transport Line, Eagle Star Transit, and CUL Transport Line travel this route from Balangiga, Guiuan, where it branches west to Lawaan and Oras, and Borongan.
Motorized tricycles are the means of transportation in barangay roads. Public utility jeepneys are the means of transportation in municipalities within the province.
There are two existing airports, the Guiuan Airport and the Borongan Airport. But the most convenient airport is at Tacloban City, Leyte.
The region is humid, and has no definite wet and dry seasons. Frequent occurrences of typhoons have perennially disturbed the economy of the region but people seem to have adapted well enough.
As of December 2008, the annual per capita income (in Philippines Pesos) was 16,656 or USD387 (as of October 2010).
Growing of coconuts is the leading industry in the province. It is the third biggest coconut producer in Eastern Visayas. Others include cacao, rice, tobacco, root crops and corn. Fishing, cattle and poultry raising are also important industries.
Wet rice intensive cultivation, production of copra, and domestic fishing economy sustain the basic population. Fishing industry is particularly intensive in the southern part of the island. The Waray weave beautiful mats from palm fronds found in the vicinities of Basey in the southern tip of Samar.
Tourist attractions include islands, caves, beaches and diverse historical and natural attractions. Guiguan has several offshore islands which has fine clear beaches and rich marine life, including the island of Homonhon.
A high-end resort is developed in Calicoan, an island close to Guiuan proper that boasts of beautiful beaches and a surfing area.
Native wines are produced in the area, as in many places in the Philippines. The most common of these wines are tuba, extracted from the coconut palm, and pangasi, made from fermented rice.
Cellular phone services of Smart Communications and Globe Communications are available province wide.
There are 19 post offices in the province.
Cargo forwarders operating in the provinces are LBC, JRS Express, Aboitiz Cargo and Western Union.
There are three telephone companies: Innove Communications (Globelines), BayanTel, and the Telecommunications Office (TELOF).
The diocesan territory has two AM radio stations, the government-owned DYES Radyo ng Bayan and the Catholic Church-controlled DYVW and four FM stations.
There is no television station, but cable television services in the province are available in 21 municipalities.
Literacy rate (simple literacy) was 91.79 percent as of July 2009.
Historical documents written in 1907 by Visayan historian Pedro Alcántara Monteclaro in his book Maragtas tell the story of the ten chiefs (Datus) who escaped from the tyranny of Datu Makatunaw from Borneo and came to the islands of Panay. The chiefs and followers were said to be the ancestors of the Visayan people.
The documents were accepted by Filipino historians and found their way into the history of the Philippines. As a result, the arrival of Bornean tribal groups in the Visayas is celebrated in the festivals of the Ati-Atihan in Kalibo, Aklan and Binirayan in San José, Antique.
The culture is basically Visayan. The Waray-Waray are often stereotyped as brave warriors, as popularized in the tagline, "basta ang Waray, hindi uurong sa away" (Waray never back down from a fight.)
Farming and fishing are the main livelihood. In the entire cropping season, from land preparation up to post harvest, the farmers perform rituals invoking the nature spirits and ancestor spirits for a good harvest. This is also complemented by Christian customs as the recitation of novenas (9-day). Fisherfolk likewise ask permission from the water spirits for safety at sea and a good catch.
Their religious devotion is very evident in their celebrations like feasts honoring their patron saints. Fiestas are celebrated with prayer, food/drinking dance and music.
Many Waray-Waray traditions can be traced to pre-colonial times. For example, the Kuratsa dance is a very popular traditional dance of the Waray-Waray at many social gatherings, especially weddings. It is very common throughout Samar. The couple who dances the Kuratsa are showered with money by the people around them. The belief is that the more money showered upon them, the more blessings will come their way.
The literature of Eastern Visayas refers to the literature written in Waray and Cebuano by writers f