Cuyo, Palawan


Manamoc Island


Map of Palawan with Cuyo highlighted

Location within the Philippines

Coordinates: 10°51′N 121°01′E / 10.850°N 121.017°E / 10.850; 121.017Coordinates: 10°51′N 121°01′E / 10.850°N 121.017°E / 10.850; 121.017
Country Philippines
Region MIMAROPA (Region IV-B)
Province Palawan
Congr. district 1st district
Barangays 17
  Mayor Andrew L. Ong
  Total 84.95 km2 (32.80 sq mi)
Population (2010)[3]
  Total 21,847
  Density 260/km2 (670/sq mi)
Time zone PST (UTC+8)
Zip Code 5318
Dialing code 48

Cuyo is a fourth class municipality in the province of Palawan, Philippines. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 21,847 people.[3] Its territory includes the western half of Cuyo Island, as well as Bisucay, Caponayan, Cauayan, Imalaguan, Lubid, Manamoc, Pamalican, Pandan, Round, and Quiminatin islands, all part of the Cuyo Archipelago.

Cuyo is the oldest town in Palawan which has a culture of its own and was preserved for more than 350 years. During the Spanish colonization of the Philippines, Cuyo became the second capital of Palawan from 1873 to 1903.[4]

From the sea, Cuyo Island's first visible landmark is a lighthouse by the pier. Many of the streets leading to the town have already been cemented but the town has preserved the Hispanic plaza-iglesia structures. Dominating the town centre is Cuyo's 1860 church, convent, and fort built by the Spanish and finished in 1680. Nearby stands a schoolhouse, and a monument of national hero Jose Rizal.

The municipality is served by Cuyo Airport in the neighboring municipality of Magsaysay.


Cuyo Archipelago, with elevations (in feet).

Cuyo Island is the largest island of the Cuyo Archipelago, about 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) long, 7.5 kilometres (4.7 mi) wide, and with an area of 57 square kilometres (22 sq mi).[5] It is under the jurisdiction of the municipalities of Cuyo and Magsaysay. The poblacion of Cuyo is home to a Spanish fort, which shelters a church and a convent in its high stone walls..


Cuyo is politically subdivided into 17 barangays.[2] In 1956, sitio Danawan was elevated into a barrio.[6]

  • Balading
  • Bancal (Pob.)
  • Cabigsing (Pob.)
  • Caburian
  • Caponayan
  • Catadman (Pob.)
  • Funda
  • Lagaoriao (Pob.)
  • Lubid
  • Manamoc
  • Maringian
  • Lungsod (Pob.)
  • Pawa
  • San Carlos
  • Suba
  • Tenga-tenga (Pob.)
  • Tocadan (Pob.)


Chinese traders were the first to discover Cuyo island and introduced the trade and barter system in the locality.

Later Chief Matuod of Malay origin arrived in big bancas called "sakayan" and formed settlements on the island of Cuyo. A Malay Mohamedan of the name Datu Magbanua later also settled on Cuyo. Datu Magbanua's leadership was so great and powerful that even chieftains from other islands recognized his rule. The Malays brought with them their dances, and when blended with native dance, the "Soriano", it became known as the "pondo-pondo" one of the most popular folk dances even up to the present.

During the leadership of Datu Magbanua, three Chinese Mandarines arrived on the island and settled also on Cuyo. The Chinese discovered gold deposits in Mt. Aguado and introduced gold mining, smith working, pottery, and other handicrafts. The natives of Cuyo became suspicious of their presence and were able to drive them out. They sailed to Ilongilong (today known as Iloilo) and formed another settlement called "Parian".

In 1622, Count San Augustin together with five Spanish missionaries colonized the island named by them as Cuyo and introduced Christianity. The friendly character of the people proved to be a blessing to the Spaniards who did not find difficulties in converting the population of Cuyo Island to Christianity. They were immediately able to baptize 500 Cuyonos.

In 1636 a powerful Muslim fleet under Datu Tagul raided Cuyo and other places in Palawan. In Cuyo the Muslims attacked the convent and the church and set the town on fire and took with them prisoners including a priest, Fr. Francisco de Jesus Maria. They then proceeded to Agutaya and Culion and wrought havoc and destruction on the helpless and defenceless civilians. Again their prized captive was another priest from Culion, Fr. Alonzo de San Augustin who was captured while saying mass. A Spanish naval flotilla of 6 vessels and 250 men under Capt. Nicolas Gonzales met the returning pirates with their loot and booty on December 21, 1636. Datu Tagul was killed, 300 of his men captured and 120 prisoners were liberated. The two captured priests were killed.

In 1957 the following sitios were converted to barrios: Emilod[7] and Balading.[8]


Population census of Cuyo
YearPop.±% p.a.
1990 15,294    
1995 16,694+1.65%
2000 18,257+1.94%
2007 20,040+1.29%
2010 21,847+3.19%
Source: National Statistics Office[3][9]

Cuyo Fort

During the early Spanish period, purposely to protect the Cuyonon from sporadic Moro attacks, Fort Cuyo was constructed and finished in 1680. The original complex of stone and mortar was a square with four bastions. The present complex, which occupies 1 hectare (2.5 acres), is a solid rectangular edifice with walls 10 metres (33 ft) high and 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) thick. It has a tall belfry and watchtowers; its cannons, which face the sea, are now fired only during town celebrations.[5] It is considered as one of the most ancient and unique forts in the Philippines. Unique in the sense that you can find the church, the convent and the Perpetual Adoration chapel all within the fort.

In 1762 one of the British ships that invaded Manila fired at the Cuyo fort but it was not damaged at all.[5] Another fort was started at Lucbuan seven kilometres away on the east side of Cuyo island, but it was never finished. In 1873, the capital of Paragua (present day Palawan) was transferred to Cuyo from Taytay.


Despite its long history Cuyo has held back the hands of time and preserved its rich cultural heritage preserved since more than 350 years.

The tipano band, a flute and drum ensemble, and the de kwerdas (string band), supply background music on important social occasions. They also accompany singers and render dance music like the pinundo-pundo. The tipano is reserved for the ati-ati, sinulog, and komedya.

Both ensembles use available instruments and instrumentalists. The tipano core is basically two drums and four to seven transverse mouth flutes with six finger-holes. One or two tipano "nga maite" (small flutes) and three or four tipano "nga mabael" (larger flutes) are played with a redublante (snare drum), bombo (big drum), and sometimes a pair of platilyo. The de kwerdas has two or three sabel, and occasionally a guitar, a bajo (six-stringed bass), a banjo, and a banduria. In Cuyunon music the "akompanimento" refers to the harmonic accompaniment-principal or "primera" to the first or highest voice, and "segunda" to the second.

The Cuyunon youth celebrate love with song during the post-harvest courting season. The Cancion, a popular serenade, is sung with the strumming of a five - or six-stringed guitar in the distinctive punctual manner. Parting is a familiar concern in Cuyunon love songs. Examples of love songs are "Napopongao Ako", "Ang Gegma", "Ploning", "Daragang Taga Cuyo", "Konsomision", "Ako Maski Bayan", "Tiis Manong Pido", "Nagpamasiar Ako", and "Komosta".

Cuyunon dances have evolved from native and Spanish influences. Among these are the Pastores (the Christmas dance of the sheppherds), the Chotis (from the German schothische), Lanceros de Cuyo (local French guadrille), Birginia (Virginia reel or square dance), Paraguanen (a romantic comic duet), and La Jota Paragua (a Castillan-type jota using bamboo castanets and manton). The island is known for the Mazurka de Cuyo, a social dance with characteristic mazurka steps. Another popular dance is the Pinundo-pundo, a stylish wedding dance marked by sudden pauses, its first two parts, featuring solo dances of the boy and the girl, are followed by the suring, a love play between the couple.

The Cuyunon have developed the art of merging song, dance, and drama. Cuyo's Sayaw is a colorful enactment of a story heightened by the music of a string band. It is presented by five pairs of youth arranged in two lines, fully costumed and made up, and bearing props like flowers, crowns, and even knives. After an introductory dance, the leading couple proceed to relate the tale, sometimes using verse. The topic may be anything, from everyday occurrences to special events like winning the sweepstakes. This story is then interpreted in dance and ended with a finale.

Yearly on August 28, Cuyo Island celebrates San Agustin's feast. On the eve of the fiesta, a cultural presentation featuring the traditional performing arts and sometimes a separate show of modern songs and dances may be presented. The feast day is begun with a morning mass (sometimes a High Mass officiated by the bishop ) and followed by the Ati-ati, a legacy of the Aklanon. Folk from the nearby islands board barotos (boats) to view the parade which recreates the confrontation of San Agustin and the native "savages". Participants portray the Aeta by darkening their bodies with soot and painting their faces with anyel (indigo). They don foot-high headgear of coconut ginit fiber adorned with chicken feathers, and decorate their costumes with coconut leaves. The men, clad in loin cloths, carry spears, bows and arrows, or bolo. The women, wearing patadyong and beaded necklaces, carry baskets with a tumpline

The participants form two lines, one of men and the other of women. The director signals the start of the singing by striking his cane on the ground. This is followed by a spontaneous dance characterized by sways, hops, jumps, and the jerking of weapons accompanied by chanting; the director also signals the end of the dance. The teniente (barrio head) and his family may recite a series of verses. The director is then approached by the last to recite, customarily the teniente's youngest child.

As the floats of San Agustin and other saints enter the church at the end of the procession, the participants kneel, prostrate themselves, or sing while performing skipping steps before the images. The merrymaking intensifies when the alakayo, a dancing clown, chases the ladies, stopping only when coins are thrown to him on the ground. The alakayo collects the coins with his mouth.

Meanwhile, the panapatan performance are staged in front of various houses for a fee. These are mostly excerpts of the komedya and ati-ati known as komedya sa kalye and ati-ati sa bukid, the performers of which use simpler clothing than in the more elaborate full-length performances. Ati-ati sa bukid is sung and danced to celebrate a fruitful harvest. Today it is usually danced by young boys wearing masks or indigo-painted faces.

Another pantomime, innocentes, recreates the descent of the "savages" from the hills to pay tribute to San Agustin. They are wearing coconut fibre masks and red striped shirts. The participants frolic and fence with sticks.

Komedya or moro-moro performances are larger (with some 50 actors) and more refined than the ati-ati. The clash between the Mustlims and the Christians is further dramatized by background music; commonly used tunes are the pasadoble, marchas, giyera, and kasal.

The same subject is portrayed by the sinulog. The Christians are identified by their black costumes, kampilan, and elongated shields; the Muslims by their red turbans and waistbands, and round shields. The participants may wear masks or paint their faces. Both groups, usually of six dancers each, sometimes perform to the beating of tin cans. Alternate steps of offense and defense, e.g., advancing and retreating, with corresponding movements of weapons, are followed by circular formations simulating scenes of strategy plotting.

Aguado Pilgrimage

Mt. Aguado features life-size Stations of the Way of the Cross constructed from the foot to the peak of the mountain. Cuyonon devotees, visitors and tourists make the annual pilgrimage to Mt. Aguado as part of the penitential rites done in Cuyo during the Holy Week particularly on Holy Thursday.


  1. "Municipalities". Quezon City, Philippines: Department of the Interior and Local Government. Archived from the original on 25 January 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  2. 1 2 "Province: PALAWAN". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: National Statistical Coordination Board. Archived from the original on 14 November 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  3. 1 2 3 "Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay: as of May 1, 2010" (PDF). 2010 Census of Population and Housing. National Statistics Office. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 November 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  4. Cuyo, Official Website of the Province of Palawan. Accessed November 9, 2012.
  5. 1 2 3 "Cuyo Island, Palawan, Philippines". Ako Cuyonon. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  6. "An Act Converting the Sitio of Danawan, Municipality of Cuyo, Province of Palawan, into a Barrio of Said Municipality". Retrieved 2011-04-12.
  7. "An Act Converting the Sitio of Emilod, Municipality of Cuyo, Province of Palawan, into a Barrio of Said Municipality". Retrieved 2011-04-12.
  8. "An Act Creating the Barrio of Balading in the Municipality of Cuyo, Province of Palawan". Retrieved 2011-04-12.
  9. "Province of Palawan". Municipality Population Data. LWUA Research Division. Retrieved 18 July 2013.

External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/3/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.