Northern Samar is a province of the Philippines located in the Eastern Visayas region. Its capital is Catarman and is located at the northern portion of the island of Samar. Bordering the province to the south are the provinces of Western Samar and Eastern Samar. To the northwest, across the San Bernardino Strait is Sorsogon; to the east is the Philippine Sea and to the west is Samar Sea.
Map of the Philippines with Northern Samar highlighted
Northern Samar is one of the three provinces comprising Samar Island (the other two are Western Samar and Eastern Samar provinces). It is bounded by the Pacific Ocean on the east, the San Bernardino Strait on the north, Samar Sea on the west, and the Samar and Eastern Samar provinces on the south. It ranks thirty-seventh (37th) in size among the 80 provinces of the Philippines and accounts for practically 1.2 percent of the total land area of the country. It is located at the eastern edge of the Archipelago with an area of 369,293 hectares. About 52 percent of the total land area is covered by forest and 42 percent is classified as alienable and disposable.
In 1614, the Jesuits established a mission residence in Palapag among the Ibabao populace. These missionaries stayed until the late 17th century when they were expelled from the Philippines and were replaced by the Franciscans.
As the San Bernardino Strait was along the route of the Spanish galleons plying between Manila and Acapulco, Mexico, a royal port was established in Palapag where the richly laden Manila galleons were protected from unfavorable winds and troubled seas.
In the early year of the 16th century, shipbuilders were drafted from Palapag to the Cavite shipyards for the construction of galleons and vessels for the conservation of defense of the island. It was also at this time that these recruits ignited the Sumoroy insurrection, which signaled a general uprising against Spain in the Visayas and Mindanao. The insurrection simultaneously flared northward to Albay and southward to the northern coasts of Mindanao and then Cebu. It took over a year before the Spaniards were able to subdue the rebellion.
Later in 1898, when the Americans landed on the beach of Catarman, they organized a revolutionary army led by General Vicente Lukban who fought the invaders armed with cannons and rifles with only bolos and "paltiks". Although defeated, they, however, continued to harass the Americans through guerilla warfare.
During World War II, the people of Northern Samar organized a platoon of volunteers supported by voluntary contributions. The contingent became a part of the Philippine National Guards in Manila. The province also helped the government by purchasing a considerable amount of bonds floated to finance the National Commission for Independence, then organized by Manuel L. Quezon after a coalition of the Nacionalista and Democrata parties was formed.
Congressmen Eladio T. Balite (1st Dist. Samar), Fernando R. Veloso (2nd Dist. Samar), and Felipe J. Abrigo (3rd Dist. Samar), authored Republic Act 4221 which was approved by Congress in 1963. The law, ratified in a plebiscite on June 19, 1965, divided Samar into three, namely, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar and (Western) Samar. The first provincial officials of Northern Samar were elected on November 14, 1967 and on January 1, 1968, they officially assumed office.
The communities of this province are predominantly Catholic. Other religious groups are Members Church of God International (Ang Dating Daan), Iglesia ni Cristo, Philippine Independent Church (Aglipayan), Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and other Christian sects. A small number of population are Muslim.
Northern Samar has a lot of tourism potentials that are still undiscovered and unknown by many tourists. You can find famous old churches, beautiful falls, rivers, caves, virgin forests, beaches, and other secret places.
Three of these “secret” places are the island Municipalities of Biri, Capul and Dalupiri Island (San Antonio), all off the coast of Northern Samar.
Remote and desolate, and definitely off the normal tourist track, forgotten Northern Samar evokes powerful images.
Among the last frontiers in the country, its rugged coastline of limestone cliffs along the Pacific Ocean is a historical landmark. During the Spanish colonial era, Samar island was the first Philippine landfall seen by the Manila galleons as they approached the end of their long voyage from Acapulco.
Entering the waters of the Philippine archipelago, the galleons called at the fortified island of Capul off Samar, offered thanks for a safe crossing at the Jesuit church, and then negotiated the rough waters of narrow San Bernardino Strait toward Manila, their final destination.
Capul also became the last stop on Philippine soil of the departing galleons before the long, often treacherous trans-Pacific sail to Acapulco in Mexico.