THE town of Basey in Samar province is known for its natural beauty. The town is home to some of the world’s wondrous caverns, subterranean rivers, waterfalls, unique limestone formations and its intricately woven mats or “banigs.”
The word “banig” has become synonymous with Basey. Its beautiful designs and varied colors attract the hundreds of visitors to the municipality who buy the product as their favorite “pasalubong”.
Basey, originated from the word “baysay” which means beauty. Basey is one of the oldest municipalities in the country. It was originally created as a “pueblo” in the 26th century through Royal Spanish Proclamation.
Basey is geographically located at the Southwestern part of Samar Province, Eastern Visayas Region.
It is bounded by the towns of Sta. Rita and Pinabacdao, Samar in the north, Borongan and Maydolong, Eastern Samar and Marabut, Samar in the east and San Pedro Bay on the south which separates it from Tacloban City, the regional capital.
It has a total land area of 513 square kilometers, making it the largest municipality of Samar. It is composed of 15 barangays.
Basey registered a total population of 48,389 in the 2007 Census of Population. Its population density of 94 persons per square kilometer is the eleventh lowest density among the 25 municipalities of the province. Majority of the people speak Waray dialect.
Basey’s climate is generally cool and invigorating due to the cool breeze emanating from the forest area. There is no dry season but a very pronounced maximum rain period that occurs from December to January.
Based on the latest income classification, Basey is classified as First Class municipality. It registered an Average Annual Income of P58.7 million from 2004-2007. In 2008, its Internal Revenue Allotment amounted to P74.0 million which translates to an IRA per capita of P1,510.
Mat weaving is the municipality’s prime industry. It provides a living to around 60% of the population. The women of Basey weave a variety of intricately designed mats from sedge grass locally known as “tikog”.
For one, the Banig Souvenir Shop located in New San Agustin village sell products that include wall decors, room dividers, ceiling panels, furniture matting, place mats, throw pillows and fancy bags.
The locals of Basey have been weaving mats long before the Spaniards came and the tradition was handed down from many generations. There are at least four stores and numerous women’s group that sells banig-inspired products.
Basey also has a vast water resource where delectable lapu-lapu, crabs, lobsters, prawn and shrimps are caught along San Juanico Strait, San Pedro Bay and from the Cadac-an River also called the Golden River.
Its major agricultural products include palay, coconut, banana, rootcrops and vegetables.
In 2008, around 1,678 tourists visited Basey. More than fourfifths or 82.7% were domestic tourists.
Sohoton Natural Bridge and National Park Basey, takes pride of its 840 hectare National Park. It is located at Rawis of Brgy. Guirang. Fascinating geological features like caves, limestone boulders, rockholes, weathered rock formations, and underground rivers abound the area.
The most prominent assemblage in the park are the cathedral-like caves: Panhulugan Cave, Panhulugan Cave II, Sohoton Cave, and two smaller ones, Bugasan and Capitagan Caves.
The Sohoton Cave is a cathedral like dome with an entrance of a parabolic arch about 50 meters high. On its ceiling hangs various spiked-shaped crystalline stalactites while rustic and cavernous walls and stalagmites rises on its floor.
The Natural Bridge is an extraordinary huge arch-shaped rock that connects two mountain ridges spanning the Sohoton River.
The National Park is part of the Samar Island Natural Park (SINP) declared as a Protected Area under National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 442 dated August 13, 2003.
At Barangay Inuntan, 6 kayaks are available for rent. These will leisurely take tourists to Sohoton Cave, passing through the calm water stretch of the Golden River in just 20 minutes.
Other Places of Interest
One can also visit the 17th Century Church, Mt. Carmel Chapel (Buscada), and other caves like Saub, Rawis, and Yuni. Yuni Cave is, however, not open for public visit as it was being dominated by snakes and bats.
The feast of St. Michael is celebrated annually, every 29th of September. It highlights the Banigan-Kawayan Festival showcasing the municipality’s intricately woven mats and bamboo crafts.
Tacloban City is the jump-off point to Basey, which can be reached by boat or van in 45 minutes. From Basey, land or water transport can take you to the Sohoton Caves and Natural Bridge. (With reports from NSCB-8, LGU-Basey, DENR and DOT-8)