COMBINATION OF historical sites and pristine beaches draw people to the unique island of Capul.
The island in the northwest part of Northern Samar was formerly called "Abak," after an ancient ruler from Java whose constituents were the first settlers on the island. It was changed to "Capul" (short for Acapulco) in the late 16th century, mainly because San Bernardino Strait was a frequent route or stopover of the galleon trade ships coming from Acapulco, Mexico to conduct barter trade or for ship repairs during the Spanish era.
The island appears like a grain of rice in the map, having a land area of 35 square kilometers. It is bounded by the San Bernardino Strait, which opens the eastern sea gate to the Pacific Ocean. It has a population of 12,070 spread through 12 barangays. Its principal industry is coconut farming. The lowland areas produce rice and other crops. Marine products also abound during the peak season.
Even for Samareños, Capul is truly enchanting as this is the only place in Northern Samar that speaks a dialect called "Abaknon." (Waray is the main dialect spoken in the entire Samar Island.)
This unique linguistic peculiarity alone should be enough to consider this historical island as a tourist zone. Yet there are much more in store for tourists who visit Capul.
The Capul church, built by the Spaniards in the 16th century, signifies the birth of Christianity on the island. This structure has an 11-meter high belfry that is still intact.
The church structure was actually the third that was built. The first two structures, made of hard wood and nipa roofs, were razed when Moro pirates plundered the island in 1615 and 1768. In 1781, a Spanish architect-priest led the restoration of the church and built a stonewall fortress similar to that in Intramuros, Manila. A stone watchtower overlooking the town harbor was also erected to serve as a sentry or warning system and a refuge for indigents during Moro raids.
The lighthouse in Capul is another historical landmark on the island built in 1896. It served as a beacon that enabled ships or navigators to enter and pass through the treacherous San Bernardino Strait from the Pacific Ocean heading towards the ports of Manila or the Visayas. The 40-foot tower commands a panoramic view of the San Bernardino Strait extending towards the Pacific Ocean. The Naranjos Island and the province of Masbate can be seen from the south and Bulusan Volcano and the outline of Southern Luzon from the north.
A few meters downwards from the base of the lighthouse are three circular Japanese World War II gun emplacements.
About 200 meters away from the lighthouse, down below the shorelines, is a deep giant footprint-shaped pool surrounded with rock. As the legend goes, the other pair of the footprint can be seen in the island of Cabacugan. The Big Foot is also a perfect site for family picnics or just plain sightseeing.
Caves, rock formations
Capul also boasts of a beautiful cave called "Bito" situated in Barangay Sawang. This cave houses gigantic stalactite and stalagmite formations, which spelunkers would surely love to explore. Rumors among islanders have it that there have been several sightings at the cave of a giant python as big as a coconut tree.
At the Southern point of this island is a natural rock formation shaped like a rudder. Used as a diving board, it towers several feet high against a mighty cliff. Around it are white sand beaches and crystal blue-green waters with undersea coral gardens. It boasts of countless colorful and rape species of tropical fish and shells that snorkel enthusiasts and scuba divers would love to see and explore.
The local government of Capul is awaiting the passage of House Bill No. 1533 declaring Northern Samar an ecotourism zone that would most likely lead to the development of the island.