Map of Camotes Islands
|Central Visayas, Philippines|
Long time ago, when the Spaniards arrive to Camotes Islands for the first time, they meet some native islanders who were farming, they ask about the island name. The native islanders think they were asking for what they were putting in their basket, so they answered "Camote"(sweet potato). After that the island got the name Camotes Islands.
Camotes is a group of four small islands namely: Poro, Ponson, Pacijan,and Tulang diot located near Bohol, Leyte, and Cebu, in Visayas central Philippines. Tudela and Poro are two municipalities of Poro island, Pilar is lone town of Ponson island, while San Francisco is the only town of Pacijan and Tulang diot. There are three different dialects each municipality for example in English: GOOD MORNING...the people of Poro with her citizens of seventen barangays says: MA-AZONG BUNTAG, Pilar says: MA-ADZONG BUNTAG, while San Francisco and Tudela says: MA-AYONG BUNTAG. People living here are very friendly and hospitality. Camotes is also called " The Island of Enchantment " because of its untouched natural beauty, and rich in culture. It is one of the famous destination of local and foreign tourists in Visayas, and other places where you could relax and forget the busy life in the city.
There are regular fast ferry trips from Cebu city to Poro, Camotes twice daily as well as local pump boats across to Danao. There is also light aircraft capable airfield at San Francisco for receiving charter flight from Cebu, and elsewhere.
Camotes islands are part of Danao city, province of Cebu.
In 1521, a few days after Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines for Spain, history dawned over Camotes islands. After the historic Mass in Mazaua (Limasawa) Leyte, the expedition’s official chronicler Pigafetta wrote on his journal that the flotilla of five ships dropped anchor on the coast of Polo (Poro), near Pozon (Ponson) and Ticobon (Pacijan) islands, to wait for Kolambu, the chieftain of Mazaua. The group then proceeded to Zubu (Cebu) where Magellan erected a wooden Cross to symbolize Spain’s Christianization in the Far East.
The Municipality of Poro was founded on December 15, 1701 but was given recognition by the Spanish Colonial government only on January 16, 1780 through the efforts of Pedro Estrera who was named the first Capitan of Poro as recognition of his leadership. The name Poro came from the Waray word “pulo”, meaning island. The early settlers of Poro came from Samar, and later, they were joined by others from Cebu, Bohol and Panay .
During the Spanish period, Poro was already a thriving community overseen by Jesuit Mission posts in Palompon, Leyte . A survey made by the Spanish authorities under Capitan General Gomez Perez Dasmariñas in Manila on May 31, 1591 revealed that the whole of Camote ( Camotes Island ) and Mactan (Mactan) had 287 tributes with a population of 1,148 inhabitants. By this time, periodic raids from marauding slave traders had become the constant threat to the growing populace.
The Alcalde mayor of Cebu thought that it was better for the natives to unify and defend themselves from the attacks. Poro at that time had two settlements: Maktang (now a sitio of Barangay Esperanza of Poro) and Tag-Anito (now the municipality of Tudela ). A conflict arose as to which settlement should become the seat of government. On the advise of Panganuron, an elder who lived on the banks of a river (now Barangay Libertad), the two settlements journeyed on foot towards each other at the break of day. They met on the site of what is now Poblacion, Poro, approximately eight kilometers from both settlements. On that day, inhabitants of the two settlements came to live together for the first time. They built a chapel on this site which later on was improved and became the parish church. The establishment of Poro brought about the creation of three more parishes in the Camotes Islands : Pilar (1859), San Francisco (1863) and Tudela (1898).
The Philippine Commission Act 952 was enacted on October 22, 1902 reverting back Camotes Islands of Cebu Province . Earlier the Spanish government has annexed Poro and the rest of Camotes Islands to Leyte because of geographical proximity. Perhaps Camotes was seen as nearer Cebu City , the seat of the Cebu Government, than Leyte’s set of government which is Tacloban City . Other events followed: five days after Camotes joined Cebu , Poro was annexed to Tudela, a former settlement of Poro. In 1909, it was re-established again as a municipality although the seat remained in Tudela until 1914 when the seat was transferred to Poro.
Porohanons are descended from generations of seafarers who came and tamed the restless sea the sea that in turn defined and shaped their lives. In the early days when the dry “Habagat” wind battered its shores and when the nippy air of the “Amihan” turned up, the island isolated itself from its neighbors. All activity is suspended; trade from other ports and news from the mainland temporarily came to a stop. Thus, once in a while, they lived a life of seclusion, waiting for the unkind weather to recede. Life then meant a cycle of frequent squalls and tranquil intervals.
A distinction that separates Porohanons from the rest of Camotes Islands is their sub dialect which is a combination of Cebuano, Waray, Boholano and Ilonggo. The patois is profusely spattered with the letter “z” and spoken with a thick accent. Dr. Resil Mojares, a Cebuano historian, said in an article that “at one point in time, the Camotes dialect was distinct from either Waray or Cebuano” until it evolved into a totally different sub dialect retaining older features which the Cebuano language has lost. Spoken alongside other dialects (like Cebuano, spoken by the other Camotes towns), and Tagalog (courtesy of television seta and tabloids), the Porohanon tongue is totally distinct and has survived through the years without any dilution at all.