MANILA, Sept. 7, 2011— The government has recently declared a 400 hundred-year old Catholic Church in Northern Samar as historical landmark.
Joining the list of the country’s historical sites was the Fuerza de Capul Parish Church in Capul town upon the approval of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).
The Capul Church is the fourth in Samar Island to gain the declaration. The others include the churches in the towns of Guiuan in Eastern Samar, and Catubig and Palapag in Northern Samar.
The Church is also in the tentative list of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) world heritage.
UNESCO seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.
Capul church was built during the Spanish Colonial period, dedicated to St. Ignatius of Loyola and is surrounded by a square fort with bulwarks of dissimilar designs. The present structure was actually the third that was built on the site.
It was in 1606 when the original structure, made of hard wood and nipa roofs, was constructed. However, it was destroyed when Moro pirates plundered the island in 1615. That same year, a church made of stone was erected with walls to fortify the island from Moro raids.
In 1781, Fr. Mariano Valero, a Spanish architect-priest, led the restoration of the church and built the stonewall fortress similar to that in Intramuros, Manila.
History tells that the name of this island was a shortened “Acapulco”, according to the Philippine Information Office – Northern Samar.
In the late 16th century the San Bernardino Strait along the northern coast of Samar island was an important part of the Galleon trade route.
Acapulco Island (now called Capul Island) was the last stop of the galleon ships from Manila before they head out to Acapulco, Mexico.
The location and proximity of the island to the Pacific Ocean were found to be practically useful during the Galleon Trade. Boats that are about to leave the Philippines (from Manila and Butuan City) would only start the long voyage when the current was flowing outward through the San Bernardino Strait.
The Manila-Acapulco Trade flourished, especially when the Spanish, Mexican and Peruvian households kept a high demand for the abaca, beeswax and agricultural produce from the Philippines.
Although Capul is an island municipality of Northern Samar, it has a distinct language from the rest of the province and Eastern Visayas. The native language is called “Inabaknon.” [CBCPNews]