Diocese of Naval
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In a land area of 1,170.8 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers the new province of Biliran and Five (5) parishes in the north-western part of Leyte.

Biliran is one of the smallest provinces in the Philippines and it is located in the Eastern Visayas region. An island province, Biliran lies just a few kilometers north of the island of Leyte. Its capital is Naval and for a time, Biliran was part of the province of Leyte until it became independent in 1992.

Situated in the heart of the Philippines, Biliran Island is 1,115 kilometers southwest of Manila. It is part of the Eastern Visayas Region or Region VIII.

Biliran has a total land area of 55,542 hectares, approximately 60 percent (33,192 ha.) is considered alienable and disposable while the remaining (22,350 ha.) is made of forestland. The land is utilized as follows: 33,263 ha. agricultural; 339.01 ha. residential; 4.76 ha. commercial; 0.48 ha. industrial and 18,581.75 ha. forestland. The rest are idle lands.

The main island is mountainous with very narrow coastal areas. Only the municipalities of Naval and Caibiran have wide plains suitable for agriculture. Mount Suiro, which has an elevation of 1,300 meters is the highest point on the island.

Population

As of yearend 2009 the total population of the diocese is 258,375 of which 88.53 percent are Catholics or 228,754.

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.

Language

Cebuano, spoken by 57.79 percent of the population, and Waray-waray by 40.80 percent, are the major dialects spoken in the island. The towns facing the mainland of Leyte and Samar speak Waray-waray, whereas the towns near Cebu speak the Cebuano dialects. Filipino/Tagalog and English are also spoken and understood by most of the inhabitants.

History

Suffragan of Palo
Created Diocese: Nov. 29, 1988
Erected: March 8, 1989
Comprises the new province of Biliran and five (5) parishes in the northwestern part of Leyte
Titular: Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary

The Diocese of Naval was created on Nov. 29, 1988, sliced off the mother diocese of Palo in the province of Leyte. It comprises the entire island of Biliran and four municipalities at the northwestern tip of the island of Leyte. It is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Palo.

The island of Biliran is a sub-province of Leyte, situated off its northwestern coast, bounded on the north and northeast by the Samar Sea, on the west by the Visayan Sea, and on the south by Casiguran Bay. The island is characterized by rolling hills, and its town-parishes along the shorelines are forever bathed by the sapphire-blue waters of the surrounding seas.

In historical significance, the sub-province of Biliran shares much with the island province of Leyte and Samar: the landing of the first Spanish expedition of Magellan in 1521; the early Christianization by the Augustinians and the Franciscans; and the landing of General Douglas MacArthur to fulfill his pledge to return to the Philippines.

Some of the parishes in Leyte, including those of Biliran, were founded almost two centuries ago. That of the town of Leyte was established in 1800, Biliran in 1828, Naval itself in 1843. These were all taken over by the diocesan clergy when the Spanish priests had to leave the country during the Philippine Revolution of 1896.

Ecclesiastically, Leyte was originally under the jurisdiction of Cebu until 1910. From 1910 to 1937 it fell under the jurisdiction of the diocese of Calbayog (Samar). In 1937 Leyte was separated into the new Diocese of Palo. And in 1988, Naval was separated from the now Archdiocese of Palo, whose population had grown to over a million and a half.

The programs and services implemented in the parishes of the diocese are in continuance of those of the Archdiocese of Palo. These programs are geared toward the formation of Basic Ecclesial Communities, with the decrees and statutes of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines as implementing guidelines.

Political

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.

Transportation

There are passenger ferries/cargo ships (Naval-Cebu) and shuttle vans/buses (Naval-Ormoc; Naval-Tacloban/Manila).

Major Carriers serve direct Manila-Tacloban flight twice a day. From Tacloban City, aircon shuttle vans and ordinary fare buses are available

Nearest international airport, also serves direct flight from Manila. From Cebu City, fast crafts are available daily to Ormoc City, where aircon shuttle vans connect the trip to Naval. Direct voyage to Naval is available 3 times a week.

Aircon shuttle vans/buses serve the Naval - Tacloban City and Naval - Ormoc City routes. Naval - Manila route is served by several major bus lines.

Shipping lines provide direct voyage from Naval to Cebu City. Ordinary fare, tourist and cabin accommodations are available.

The fastest way to get to Biliran is to book a flight to Tacloban (TAC). Buses ply the Tacloban to Naval route.

The habal-habal (motorcycle) is the most common mode of transportation as most of the roads outside the main highway are rough and rougher. There are also several buses that make the cross-country trip from naval to the eastern coastal town of Caibiran.

Economy

According to the 2000 Census, the annual per capita income (in Philippines Pesos) of Biliran is 19,276 or USD442 as of October 2010.

The economy of Biliran is largely into fishing. Most of its towns, especially Naval and Biliran, have excellent seaports. There are 95 hectares of brackish water fishponds which produce prawns, shrimps and milkfish. Another 30 hectares of seawater are suitable for seaweed farming and 10 more hectares for fishcage culture.

Being mountainous, Biliran can support various agricultural crops. The warm lowlands are conducive to palay (rice) production and other tropical crops. The cool highlands are favorable to high-value crops such as cutflowers and varieties of vegetable traditionally grown in Baguio City or Tagaytay City.
The inhabitants also engage in hunting, lumber, and manufacturing. The principal raw material produced is copra and coconut oil. Processed goods include white clay ceramics, dried fish, raw gulaman, and citronella oil.

The untapped natural resources of the island include geothermal power and the abundant sulfur and gypsum deposits.

Biliran's economy can be classified as predominantly agricultural having a total agricultural hectarage of 33,263 ha. or roughly 60 percent of the total land area of the province. In 1996, approximately 153,093.48 mt of various agricultural products valued at P918,560,880 were produced from these areas.

Palay is planted to 6,673.55 ha. by 4,521 farmers. Of the total area devoted to rice, 6,569.43 ha are lowland and 104.12 ha are upland. Total palay production is 49,739.72 mt per year for two cropping seasons. Average production per cropping is 80 cavans per hectare. Postharvest facilities available include: 77 rice mills, 15 warehouses and two mechanical dryers. The construction of a new irrigation system is underway and is implemented by the provincial government to support the rice industry.

An area of 202.57 ha. is devoted to corn production which has an average production capacity of 1.0 mt/ha. Postharvest facilities available are two units of corn grinder.

Coconut is widely planted in the province which covers an area of 22,195.60 ha. involving around 20,634 full time and part time farmers.

Total copra production in 1995 was estimated at 28,107 mt. With a conservative assumption of P7.00/kg of copra, the production value of this crop was estimated to be P196,749,000.00 for the said year.

There are around 80 copra consolidators (of various sizes) who play a major role in this industry. Likewise, coconut lumber as by-product is an alternative source of lumber for the province with 23 total registered coco-lumber processors and 11 coco-lumber dealers. Production of locally grown vegetables (e.g. eggplant, carrots, cabbage, pechay) totaled 125.90 mt in 1995 which was planted to an area of 58.60 ha.

Rootcrop production totaled 4,061 mt which covered a planting area of 616.29 ha. Some rootcrops grown in the area are camote, cassava, ubi, and gabi.

Some 125.075 ha are planted to various fruit trees (e.g. bananas, jackfruit, guavas) in the province. Average production is 5 mt/ha or a total production of 628.75 mt. Banana is a major fruit grown in the province. Assorted varieties of bananas are planted either along roads, inter-cropped with coconut or found growing in the wild. Total area covered by this crop is 3,109.54 ha. Dominantly produced banana is the Cardava variety. An estimated harvest of three (3) trucoloads are being shipped to Metro Manila every week.

The province has an inventory of 2,665 heads of cattle; 4,940 carabaos; 21,762 hogs; 2,170 goats; 45,369 chicken; and 5,719 ducks. No commercial raisers of these animals exist in the province. All are classified as backyard raisers.

The forest lands include 25,796 ha. located in five watersheds. Around 548 ha. is considered virgin forest. Forest production consists of natural and plantation forest. Denuded forests that need reforestation activities cover an area of 14,907 ha.

Municipal fishery accounted for 1,721.64 mt of fish produced in 1995. There are 104.7 ha of brackish water fishponds available of which 59.06 are developed. Total fishpond production was 97.5 mt of prawns, shrimps and milkfish. The number of commercial and municipal fishing boats are 35 and 448, respectively, while there are 562 motorized and 1,518 non-motorized bancas.

There are 11 deep-sea fishing operators with an annual catch of 432.22 mt. Around 30 ha. of sea water are suitable for seaweed farming and another 10 ha for fishcage culture.

Some of the tourist destination in Biliran are Agta beach, Iyusan rice terraces, Biliran volcano, Tigbaw falls, Mainit hot spring, Nasunugan watch tower, Tingkasan bat cave and Banderrahan beach.

Telecommunication

All the 8 municipalities have post offices. RCPI and PT & T provide telegraph-services. Eight (8) Municipal Telephone Public Office (MTPO) enable domestic calls from each municipality. BayanTel and PLDT calling offices provide fax transfer and long distance telephone calls. MTPO-Naval now accepts international calls. One LBC office operates in Naval, Biliran. The province has access also to national and regional dailies, aside from its own monthly government publication.

DYNV-TV of National Broadcasting Network and DYBI-TV of Associated Broadcasting Company operate in the area.

DYSF-FM of Manila Broadcasting Company is the only radio station in the area.

Topography

Biliran's topography ranges from slightly flat to gently rolling terrain. It has coastal lowland with mountainous interior except for the municipalities of Naval and Caibiran, which have wider plains and rolling terrain approximately 7 kilometers from the coast. Mountain ranges occupy the major portion of the island municipality of Maripipi.

Located near the eastern coast, Biliran Island does not experience a prolonged dry season. It has very pronounced rainfall, 500mm during December which subsides in January, and minimum rainfall of 150 mm in April.

Biliran is an island province located on the eastern part of the Visayas group of island. The province belongs to Region VIII, the Eastern Visayas Region. It lies with the geographic coordinates between latitude 11° 28'00'' to 11° 50'00'' and longitude 124°37'00''. It is bounded on the south by Caragara Bay, Samar Sea on the east, North by the Visayas Sea and the strait of Biliran on the West.

It has eight municipalities namely: Naval - the capital town, Almeria, Kawayan, Culaba, Caibiran, Cabucgayan, Biliran and Maripipi. It has 132 barangays. Seven of its municipalities are classified as coastal while the eight, Maripipi, is an island municipality. The province is represented in the Philippine Congress as a lone district.

All the municipalities except Maripipi are located on Biliran Island while Maripipi is an island municipality located to the northwest. The largest is Naval, the capital. The smallest is Maripipi.

Education

Literacy rate (simple literacy) of Biliran is 90.80 percent.

Of the household population 5 years old and over, 48.9 percent had attended or finished elementary education and 24.9 percent had reached high school. The proportion of academic degree holders was 6.9 percent, but this was 4.1 percentage points higher than its proportion in 2000.

Culture

Bagasumbol Festival
Bagasumbol Festival is celebrated every September in Naval. Also known as "Halad sa Birhen," the occasion honors the town's patroness, Nuestra Señora Virgen del Rosario.

Buktay Festival
October 9, every year local folks in Cabucgayan celebrate the Buktay Festival. The event is a way of gratitude for a bumper harvest of bukgay shell. The town is named after these marine organisms that are abundant in Cabucgayan.

Marian consecration event set in Cubao

Marian consecration event set in Cubao A seminar titled “The New Era: Glorious Reign of Christ The King” will be facilitated by Father Romerico “Omer” Prieto at the Diocese of Cubao’s Chancery Building during the day.