Friday, March 30, 2018

A French cruise ship visits Cuatro Islas

A group of tourists coming from L'Austral cruise ship as they come ashore on the cream-white shore of Himokilan island. (Photo credit to Anabel Mabale)

Look. The islands that I helped promote in this blog (the first blog site ever dedicated to Cuatro Islas and our hometown, Inopacan) is now fast becoming a tourist attraction. What used to be a sleepy and never-heard-before islets are now making waves of tourist visits. My slogan then was:


It seems like the world is listening to it, and here they are now finding the four dots in our map of clean and very clear seas and cream-white sands.

The French cruise ship, L'Austral when it visited Himokilan island of Cuatro islas.  (Photo credit to Anabel Mabale)

An Italian-made French cruise ship L'Austral of Mata Utu, France visited Himokilan island of CUATRO ISLAS on March 28, 2018 where the tourists are welcomed with native foods and entertained by the Hindanganons (people of Hindang) with their presentation of colorfully dressed folk dances. It was, because Himokilan island is under the political territory of Hindang. Only the other 3 islands (Apid, Mahaba, and Digyo) are under the municipality or Inopacan. Combined, these four small islands is called CUATRO ISLAS (four islands).

It was reported in March 31 last year in the Manila Times that according to the Tourism department of Region8, for the first time the historical islands of Leyte and Southern Leyte will be visited by high-end expedition cruise ships four times in a single year—March, May, June and October. So wait for the next visiting cruise ships in our islands. Like the Hidanganons, may the LGU of Inopacan will take its turn to showcase our native delicacies and historical as well as cultural values, to include the legendary Inong pak-an, aside from the factual historical political facts.

Along its route, the cruise ship would also visit  other tourist-attracting and historical islands in other parts of Leyte.

A view of Himokilan island from the upper deck of the L'Austral (Photo credit to Anabel Mabale)
L'Austral is a cruise ship operated by the French cruise line company Compagnie du Ponant. It is the sister vessel of Le Boréal and Le Soléal, being the same weight, length and breadth, along with having 132 cabins and suites for 264 passengers and 140 crew members like the other two ships. L'Austral was built in 2010 at Fincantieri's Ancona shipyard, Italy. L'Austral was put into service on April 20, 2011 (Wikepedia).

The tourists while being entertained by the Hindanganons. (Photo credit to Anabel Mabale)


Because summer time is perfect time to visit and explore Cuatro Islas.

I just learned last month from my recent visit to a friend, Dr. Macario Tiu (Doc Mac) of Ateneo de Davao University in Davao City, that after Pigaffeta and Magellan first came to an island in Leyte they then took a route that happened to end in Cuatro Islas where they were served by the islanders with seafood and roasted "kabog" (big fruit bats). Doc Mac could not figure then where exactly the island is situated. It was a timely visit for I was able to help him locate the shoe-shaped island of Cuatro Islas now mistakenly labeled as the Himuquitan in the Google map (Apid is also mislabeled  as Apit. Why? This must be corrected). In our discussion, I affirmed to him that the Panaon strait of between the tip of mainland Southern Leyte and  Liloan island could serve as cruise passage for a fleet of galleons because that narrow passage is very much navigable. I also found in my research that it was in that spot of Liloan island where expedition cast their anchors before the galleon boarded by Pigafetta proceeded to the western seas of Leyte and made account of their short visit in Cuatro Islas.

A community map of present-day Himokilan island. (Photo credit to Anabel Mabale)

Historical records showed that Hindang, Leyte was the mother town of what used to be a barrio called Kanamokan (now Inopacan) that was then hard to reach being remote and that folks would have to cross along the way the sitio of Bontok in Brgy. Bulacan, Hindang, Leyte that was then surrounded with a river of deep brackish waters, before you could reach Kanamokan proper.  Bontok is known to have many caves that housed too many bats, snakes, monkeys, and other wild animals. In pre-war era, one of the caves was told be occupied by a very kind "diwata" (fairy) who used to lend kitchen wares, cooking implements, and even wedding gown and groom's dress to would be couple. What the folks had to do was to visit the cave and while at the entrance, they have to speak out loud the things they wished to borrow and come back the next day to collect the items. Eventually, the diwata stopped lending things when some of the borrowed items got broken and some failed to return things they borrowed.

Along the coast (bordering the boundary between the present-day Hindang and Inopacan) there is another cave called Bay sa has that is famous to all Inopacnons because it was where a giant snake-like serpent used to live. The name bay sa has (now Baysahas, one word) is from Boholano words, which means the "house of snake." The cave is near the Himokilan island.

There are more to tell in my ongoing writings and research.

Salamat sa pagbisita.
Balik-balik lang.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Inopacan becomes a national model for food security

Market day at the Taboan of Inopacan

Small Leyte town to be national model for rural development

This article is a reprint from BusinessMirror.
Photos by Edgie Polistico

INOPACAN, a Leyte town that’s now being aided in planting jackfruit, dipterocarps and tilapia raising may become a national model for being small, but is “food secure”, owing to a “ridge to reef” ecosystem-based rural development.

The socioeconomic development at Inopacan, Leyte, is being approached in a different light by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca). Inopacan is a third-class municipality with a mere 20,000 population.

Instead of identifying development sites based on political classification, a Searca project is developing Inopacan from farm areas to forests and water bodies.

Nangka (jackfruit)
The project will focus more on the agro-ecological systems of a potential project site. It will be delineated based on predetermined ecosystem using the ridge-to-reef approach or landscape continuum.

This ecosystem-based concept follows Searca’s model, called Inclusive and Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development (ISARD).

ISARD said projects in poverty-stricken areas should enable “the poorest of the poor” in rural areas to get out of poverty, Searca Director Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit Jr. said.

A sweet and aromatic nangkang hinog (ripe jackfruit)

At the same time, these communities should contribute to conserving the environment.

The ISARD project in Leyte is in partnership with the Visayas State University, Visayas Consortium for Agriculture and Aquatic Resources Program and Inopacan’s local government unit.

The ridge-to-reef model raises the success potential of a poverty-alleviation project, as communities may be easily tapped for partnerships.

Young, unripe nangka (langka in Tagalog, jackfruit in English)  is often cooked as vegetable. 
Besides, use of all agricultural, rain forest and fishery resources will be maximized with the proximity of each factor of production (labor and raw materials, machines, land and management).

Demonstration farms have just been put up in the last quarter of 2016 at Inopacan. These are a vegetable farm, a tilapia fishpond and two jackfruit farms. The vegetable plot of 1,000 square meters was planted with okra, alugbati and eggplant.

Market day at the Taboan of Inopacan
A technology on low-cost protective cover was applied as developed in an Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research-funded project in order to protect the plants from continuous rain, which is prevalent in the areas.

The fishponds should regularly increase the income of Inopacan residents.

“The tilapia fishponds were built in sequence along a stream where crystal-clear water flowed from a nearby spring. Fingerlings were introduced from a hatchery project of the VSU supported by the district representative Rep. Jose Carlos Cari,” reported Prof. Rolando T. Bello, ISARD coordinator.

Since good drainage is needed for the excellent production of jackfruit, the jackfruit-demonstration farms were placed on sloping areas with increased elevation to allow for good drainage.

Also raised are livestock as hogs, native chicken, ducks and goats. Searca looks forward to helping expand the market of Inopacan for jackfruit since there is already an increased demand for processed jackfruit or langka from the nearby Leyte town Baybay.

VSU has earlier entered into agreements that would expand jackfruit markets. Its MOA with Technomart, Baybay City Vacuum Fried Jackfruit Processors (BCV-FJP) and the Green Meadows Dehydrated Jackfruit Processor (GM-DJP) will enable commercialization of jackfruit technology (vacuum fried and dehydrated jackruit).

The MOA allows BCV-FJP and GM-DJP to use VSU’s technologies in processing vacuum fried and dehydrated jackfruit.

Searca’s project is similarly addressing problems that came out based on the Participatory and Rapid Rural Appraisal. These are inadequate irrigation system, lack of arable and fertile open farms as coconut are planted in fertile areas, youth’s disinterest in farming and low farm-gate price.

Banana products are also eyed as an additional income for the community. Banana is a staple in Leyte. Prospects to sell banana outside Leyte is also there as banana is an ingredient for breakfast cereals, which has a growing market.

Inopacan residents are being assisted on processing bananas into fried chips.

Since Leyte has seen destruction due to Supertyphoon Yolanda, the Searca project is applying climate-change mitigation and adaptation strategies in Inopacan. Planting of rain-forest dipterocarp trees and other native tree species have started in order to arrest soil erosion and prevent natural disasters.

“This is part of Searca’s contribution to the post-Yolanda rehabilitation efforts in Leyte. A rain-forestation project will be implemented in the upland grassland areas. Targeted areas are the upland grassland of Barangay Linao for rain forestation, and Barangay Cabulisan for expanded vegetable production.” Several factors have been found to be key to making a development model successful. These must be found in the ISARD model—problem-solving orientation, community-based, presence of committed local institutions and leaders, and links to policy-making.

Tilapia fish
For one, the Inopacan project received assistance in various forms from different institutions. It got seedlings from the Department of Agriculture Abuyog Experiment Station in Abuyog, Leyte. It obtained a loan for these seedlings upon agreement by the growers and cooperators.
Under the ridge-to-reef concept, LGU partners are tapped when these are around a “watershed or micro watershed, lake ecosystem including its tributaries.” The concept also determines choice of beneficiaries based on landscape ecologies of upland, lowland, coastal and marine ecosystems, including ecozones.

SEARCA’s ISARD projects get small grants for technical assistance; institutional development and capacity building; knowledge management; and linkaging and networking support.

Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping and Experts Systems developed by ViCAARP will also be deployed to support the project and growers in their decision making processes.

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About Me

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Author of Philippine Food, Cooking, and Dining Dictionary. A lexicographer since the age of 14.  Filipino Linguist. Blogger with 11 blog sites. Researcher of food culture, pop culture, places, structures, transportations, churches and whatever interest him about the Philippines. Visual artist. Photographer. Traveler who had been to all four corners of the Philippine archipelago, and still setting more footprints. 

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