"a caterpillar doesn't just grow into a butterfly. a caterpillar must undergo metamorphosis, and a cocoon is where a caterpillar risks it all: enters total chaos, undergoes total rebuilding, and is born to a new way of living. only in taking the risk of entering that inert cocoon can the caterpillar go from dormancy to potency, from ugliness to beauty."

Saturday, September 15, 2012

walking around basey in samar

"An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day."
--Henry David Thoreau

28th of august 2011
destination: basey, samar
"a quaint little town," according to one online resource
this is part 1 of a three-part series on basey, samar

we – yoni and i -- arrived early on a sunday morning in basey, samar. we included it as one of our stops during our 3-day leyte-samar tour because we were excited to see the caves and to experience our own sohoton natural bridge national park adventure. since we arrived early, we had time to walk around and learn more about the place first-hand with our own senses.

basey is one of the municipalities along the southwestern coast of samar in the eastern visayas region. it is a 30-to-45-minute trip by land from tacloban city with crossing the beautifully designed san juanico bridge as part of the roadtrip joys along the scenic countryside route.

where is basey, samar?
image source: google maps
(i provided the red label)

basey, despite the spelling and the supposedly implied ey sound for the ey vowel-consonant combination, is really pronounced as ba-sai as in ba-*sigh*.  the name originated from mabaysay or baysay, waray words for beautiful and beauty, respectively. the name is said to be in honor of bungansakit, a legendary beauty of the late 16th to early 17th century settlement in the area.  basey, while it is a deference to bungansakit, also represents the place, which was known then -- as it is known now -- for its natural beauty.

the 53, 272-hectare territory of basey covers coastal areas, inland plains, hills, mountains, & rivers and is home to fascinating caves, waterfalls, and extraordinary limestone formations. with its covered area, basey is the largest municipality in the province of samar. the geographic make-up of the place allows the population to engage mostly in agriculture and fishing for their livelihood.

basey is partially urban, mostly rural. the sunday morning local vibe that greeted yoni and me in the poblacion area of basey was warm and uncomplicated. people in the marketplace and those who were on the streets went about their morning activities in a hurried but still leisurely pace -- you know what i mean? let's just say that watching them was relaxing.

we walked along the roads of the poblacion and allowed our attention to be caught by the sights -- glimpses of countryside warmth and the serene basey municipal life. by the sidewalk, there was a modest-sized pig being roasted and two men watched over their lechon-in-progress. some pedicabs were on standby, their drivers waiting for passengers. like in other agricultural places, portions of the roads less traveled were utilized as driers for harvested palay grains.  a typical basey-tacloban-and-vice-versa van was parked and it probably wasn't scheduled for a trip that day.

walking around basey

the church of jesus christ of latter day saints in basey is the most unique church structure of mormons that i've ever seen. i'm used to seeing their churches all over the country and they always have wide lawns and basketball courts. their church in basey, however, is very different and could easily be mistaken for a very western-inspired modern-day residential building.

the church of jesus christ of latter day saints in basey

as we walked on, we passed by the signage for the local dating daan coordinating center there and got confused by the location -- it was on a corner and had curious surroundings.

ang dating daan coordinating center signage
which road to take? one roadside of that corner had cockfighting roosters
while the other roadside had a leashed pig :)

despite being already partially urban, basey has an undeniable old country feel. rightfully so. the place happens to be one of the oldest municipalities in the philippines. it was already recorded as a fluorishing settlement as early as 1591.

when you're in the poblacion area of basey and you happen to look up, the belltower of a very old church will most likely grab your attention. that structure is difficult to miss as it really dominates the area. the church sits on a top of a hill that overlooks san pedro bay. it's the st. michael the archangel parish, a coral church from the spanish colonial period. it is a distinct historical landmark of basey which has remnants of a fort as part of its surroundings on the hilltop.

the belltower of st. michael the archangel parish
a church from the spanish colonial period

yoni and i didn't miss our opportunity to examine the historical structure up close. we went up the stairs leading to the church and spent time looking around. it is a beautiful and interesting old structure, to say the least.

black and white | the st. michael the archangel church
a 17th century roman catholic church in basey, samar
the facade of the church masks its two-storey nature. the belfry
is located at the left wing of the church and provides a panoramic view of basey.

view of the belltower from the left-wing stairs
the bells are engraved with "basey" and date back to 1858

view of the old church's left entrance
as seen from the right entrance

interior of the st. michael the archangel parish | basey, samar

some old church details | st. michael the archangel parish

the national historical institute marker 
church of basey

the 1987 national historical institute marker for the church has this to say about it:
"a former parish of the jesuits under the diocese of cebu in 1591 and the dagami religious house in 1656. built with strong foundations by the jesuits in honor of st. michael the archangel. it was transferred to the care of the augustinians in 1768 and to the care of the franciscans in 1795 but assumption of their post and ministry did not happen until 1804. renovated and the belfry, stone convent, and walkway were constructed along with the cemetery and chapel by fr. domingo de madrid in 1845. destroyed by a typhoon in 1880. roofing was replaced with galvanized iron by fr. vicente gutierrez in 1894-1896. became a mission headquarters and center for doctrina christiana teachings. a fort during spanish period. meeting hall and where plays were staged during japanese occupation. evacuation camp during the liberation period."

just a short walk from the old church is the basey municipal tourism office, where arrangements can be conveniently made for the sohoton natural bridge national park adventure -- boatride, going to the caves, and the natural stone bridge tour included.

the basey municipal tourism office
open even on sundays :)

aside from being the stop of choice in the area for getting details on the caves and all the other attractions in samar, the basey municipal tourism office also has displays of basey mat products.

basey is not only known for wonderful caves and limestone formations, the place is also known for mat-weaving.

basey produced the world's longest mat in 2008. it was a two-something-kilometer long, one-meter wide mat made by the local weavers as part of their fiesta showcase. the guinness-worthy mat is no longer in the municipality because they donated it for the use of the ondoy victims in 2009.

weaving in basey is a way of life. it is a tradition that has been handed down from generations, even way before the coming of the spaniards. the mat or banig from basey are testaments to the discipline of the talented basaynons who industriously weave by hand thin pieces of dried sedge grass (Fimbristylis sp) locally known as tikog, which grow abundantly in the marshlands.

a basey mat product | a wall decor

a basey mat product | vintas

the resulting mat products are of good quality, very creatively designed, and often made bursting with vibrant colors so much so that their purpose goes beyond being sleeping mats. they are also used as materials for wall decors, bags, slippers, furniture matting, dividers, lampshades, etc.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...