As the Municipal Government of El Nido rebrands tours A, B, C & D into the “7 Wonders of El Nido,” one set of tour, History Islands in particular, needs a lot of explaining to guests and even tour operators. Though the islands are familiar with tour operators and most of the guests, the cluster name “History” is new. So, why are they called history islands?
History Islands tour refer to the islands of Lagen, Malapacao, Pinagbuyutan, Pungtod and Pinasil. Though, not all of them are visited during the tour and the last stop is 7 Commando Beach, touring around the area will give guests very good view of these islands.
Lagen Is. is the most important of them all since a very unique artifact, the Yawning Jar, is found in one of its caves in the Northeastern portion of the island. That cave is called Leta-Leta, that’s why the Yawning Jar was originally called Leta-Leta Jar. That treasured artifact was discovered by Dr. Robert Fox in 1965, the same scientist who discovered the famous Manunggul Jar of Quezon, Palawan. The Yawning Jar is currently being displayed at the National Museum of the Philippines.
Lagen Is. was also called Langen, a Cuyonon word for “joist.” The term was also an old Tagbanua term for a three-stone fire pit that the island resembles. The name Lagen and Langen was interchangeably used, and when a resort was constructed in the island, the name Lagen was chosen for marketing purposes. That resort was then named Lagen Island Resort and the residents got used to that name that Langen is no longer used today.
Malapacao Is., on the other hand, was a traditional burial site for the natives. There are several artifacts and human remains discovered in its caves. Experts say that the word Malapacao refer to a “Giant Footprint” which describes the shape of the island when viewed from above. The residents of Manlag also refers the word Malapacao to a Cuyonon phrase “Malapacan Cao” meaning, “Beware of being trampled upon.” The island has been a hiding place during Japanese occupation. They sleep in some of the caves but were very sober lest being “trampled upon” by invaders.
Meanwhile, Pinagbuyutan Is. does not only talk about history, it talks about local culture. Though there are also artifacts found in the island, the highlight of this place is the Bosyador’s guard house in the Northeastern part of the island. Bosyadors are local Balinsasayaw nest gatherers. Balinsasayaw or swiflet is a type of bird that produces edible nests that are being sold for Php 250,000 per kilo and are used as an ingredient for Nido Soup. Bosyadors risk their lives in order to make a living by climbing dangerous cliffs and by guarding the caves from thieves. The Bosyador’s guard house is a symbol of an age old tradition of nest gathering that became the reason why this place was renamed from Bacuit to El Nido in 1954.
May 12, 2021
-Arvin L. Acosta