Now You Know: CANG-ISOK – SIQUIJOR’S OLDEST KNOWN HOUSE

Cang-Isok House is known as the oldest surviving house in the province1 of Siquijor2, in the Central Visayas3 Region (Region4 VII)5 of the Philippines. This historical attraction is located in coastal Barangay6 Libo, in the municipality7 of Enrique Villanueva8.

Cang-Isok can be loosely translated as “the house of Isok”, but no one can tell me who Isok was, or even exactly how old this house is.

This house was built by Mariano Tejano, a Spaniard, in the 1800s. This could be the reason why it is also called the Tejano House. Perhaps, the living descendants of the Tejano family can shed more light regarding the history of this house and relate it to the municipal and provincial tourism offices for proper documentation.

Cang-Isok_House-SiquijorCang‑Isok house, Enrique Villanueva, Franz Miko Verzon – Own work, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siquijor#/media/File:Cang-Isok_House.jpg

As you can see in the picture, this house is all alone in the area, not well preserved, and has survived decades of exposure to the sea and changing weather.

It was built using molave9 for the walls and floors, and is located near the shoreline, on stilts to withstand high tides. The original roof was made of nipa10 but iron sheets have replaced some parts. The traditional wooden-capiz11 windows were used all over the house. Bamboo was also used to construct parts of this house.

The information was related to me during my trip to this island province1. Unfortunately, I was not able to stop and personally see this house, but the next time I do visit Siquijor, I will include this in my list of destinations.

I am calling on the government institutions responsible for the preservation of a precious structure like this house. Can it qualify as a National Cultural Treasure? If so, then this almost two-century house (if it were true that it was built in the 1800s) should be restored and preserved as soon as possible. The local government of Siquijor could officially communicate with the proper national authorities and agencies with supporting documents to substantiate their urgent claim for preservation.

You can read related posts about my Siquijor tour: TAKE A TARZAN-LIKE DIVE AT CAMBUGAHAY FALLS, SIQUIJOR!, SERENE AND SPONTANEOUS SALAGDOONG BEACH, SIQUIJORPALITON BEACH: THE LITTLE BORACAY OF SIQUIJOR, GET BEWITCHED AT HAPITANAN, SIQUIJOR, Now You Know – SIQUIJOR: ITS LEGEND, HISTORY, TRADITIONS, AND BELIEFS, ENCHANTING 400-YEAR-OLD BALETE TREE AND FISH SPA, SIQUIJOR, and SAN ISIDRO LABRADOR PARISH CHURCH AND CONVENT, SIQUIJOR.

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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

1A province is the primary administrative and political division in the Philippines. It is the second-level administrative sub-division of a region4. There are 81 provinces (called “lalawigan”) in the Philippines. Each province is governed by an elected legislature called the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and by an elected governor. Remember, a province in the Philippines is divided into cities12 and municipalities7 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays6, formerly called barrios. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Provinces of the Philippines.”13 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE PROVINCES IN THE PHILIPPINES?

2Siquijor is an island province1 of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas3 Region (Region4 VII)5, blessed with white sand beaches, diving and snorkeling sites, waterfalls, century old churches, caves, unique culture, and hospitable Siquijodnons. It has 6 municipalities7: Enrique Villanueva, Larena, Lazi, Maria, San Juan, and Siquijor (the capital, and yes, it has the same name as the province). It is called the Mystical Island and Healing Paradise because even before the Spaniards discovered the island, the locals practiced mystical traditions and held festivals that focus on healing rituals where incantations are sung, while the old folks make potions out of herbs, roots, insects, and tree barks. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Siquijor.”14 It was dubbed as the “Marine Paradise of Central Visayas5” after it was proclaimed a marine reserve15 and tourist destination in 1978 by Proclamation No. 1810. In line with this, the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) was charged with converting it into a principal tourist zone.16

3Visayas is one of the 3 major geographical divisions of the Philippines. It covers 3 administrative regions4: Central Visayas5, Eastern Visayas and Western Visayas. It consists of 6 major islands (Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Negros, Panay and Samar), mostly surrounded by the Visayan Sea, and is composed of 16 provinces1, according to Wikipedia page “Visayas”.17 Visayas is located at the middle part of the country; the 2 other geographical divisions of the Philippines are Luzon (in the northern part) and Mindanao (in the southern part).

4A region is the first-order administrative division in the Philippines. There are 17 regions in the Philippines, based on geographical, cultural and ethnological characteristics. It is further subdivided in provinces1, composed of cities12 and municipalities7 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays6. The regions were initially identified in 1972, through Presidential Decree No. 1 of President Ferdinand Marcos. Since then, other regions have been created and some provinces have been “transferred” to another region. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”18 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE THE REGIONS OF THE PHILIPPINES?

5Central Visayas (Region VII) of the Philippines is a Philippine region4 located in the island group of Visayas3, with Cebu City as its regional center. It has 7 local government units19 (LGUs): Bohol, Cebu, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor2. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”18 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE THE REGIONS OF THE PHILIPPINES?

6A barangay in the Philippines is the smallest administrative division in the Philippines, headed by a barangay captain, aided by a Sangguniang Barangay (Barangay Council). It is the native Filipino term for a district or village. It was formerly called a barrio. In a metropolitan area, a barangay is an inner city neighborhood, a suburb, or a suburban neighborhood. The word barangay originated from the term “balangay”, a kind of boat used by a group of Austronesian people who migrated to the Philippines. A number of barangays grouped together is called a district. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Barangay.”20

7A municipality is a small, single urban administrative division, or local government unit (LGU)19, in the Philippines which has corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by law. It is a unit under a province1, subdivided into barangays6, and is called town, or bayan. In the Philippines, a municipality is headed by a mayor, a vice mayor and members of the Sangguniang Bayan (legislative branch). It can enact local policies and laws, enforce them, and govern its jurisdictions. It can enter into contracts and other transactions through its elected and appointed officials, and can tax as well. It enforces all local and national laws. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Municipalities of the Philippines.”21

8Enrique Villanueva is a coastal municipality7 of the province1 of Siquijor2, in Central Visayas5. It was formerly a barangay6 of Larena (another municipality) and was called Talingting, after the local term for the abundant fish caught there, called Talingtingon. It is the smallest municipality of the province in terms of population, with 14 barangays. It was named after a former (1916-1925) governor of the province of Negros Oriental, Enrique Cayetano Teves Villanueva, who was responsible of upgrading it as a municipality. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia pages “Enrique Villanueva”22 and “Governor of Negros Oriental”23. Aside from Cang-Isok house, it is also known for the following destinations: Tulapos Marine Sanctuary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish Church, and the Bitaug, Isa, Napayong and Olave Caves. Check out Lilibeth’s Pan de Bisaya.

9Molave is a large Philippine timber tree (Vitex parviflora), known for its dense, durable, yellow wood. It was once used extensively in furniture, boats, etc. as a valuable construction material, but due to habitat loss and overharvesting, it is now classified as endangered by the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Vitex parviflora.”24

10Nipa, nipa palm, mangrove palm, or Nypa fruticans, is a species of palm native to the coastlines and estuarine habitats of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Its long feathery leaves are used as roof material for thatched houses or dwellings, as well as in many types of basketry and thatching. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Nypa fruticans.”25

11Capiz, or kapis, is the shell of the windowpane oyster (Placuna placenta), an edible, bivalve marine mollusk in the family of Placunidae. It is durable and translucent so it is used as a glass substitute for windows, and even decorative items like chandeliers and lampshades. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Windowpane oyster”.26

12A city is the local government unit19 in the Philippines headed by a mayor elected by popular vote. A vice mayor serves as the presiding officer of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (city council), which acts as the city’s legislative body. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines.”27 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?

13“Provinces of the Philippines,” accessed July 17, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provinces_of_the_Philippines

14“Siquijor,”accessed March 2, 2019, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siquijor

15A marine reserve is a type of marine protected area (MPA)28 that has legal protection against fishing or development, according to Wikipedia page “Marine reserve”.29  The removal or destruction of natural and cultural resources in prohibited. It is created for a variety of purposes: to protect the spawning grounds of certain species, and as an outdoor laboratory that allows scientists to compare the undisturbed areas of a reserve to those impacted by human activities.30

16https://dumagueteinfo.com/category/visayas/

17“Visayas,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visayas

18“Regions of the Philippines,” accessed July 17, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regions_of_the_Philippines

19A local government unit (LGU) in the Philippines is divided into 3 levels: provinces1 and independent cities31; component cities32 and municipalities7; and, barangays6, according to Wikipedia page “Local government in the Philippines”.33

20“Barangay,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barangay

21“Municipalities of the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Municipalities_of_the_Philippines

22 “Enrique Villanueva,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enrique_Villanueva

23“Governor of Negros Oriental,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Governor_of_Negros_Oriental

24“Vitex parviflora,” accessed March 8, 2019, https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Vitex_parviflora

25“Nypa fruticans,” accessed March 8, 2019, https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Nypa_fruticans

26“Windowpane oyster,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windowpane_oyster

27“Cities of the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cities_of_the_Philippines

28A marine protected area (MPA) is a protected area of estuaries, lakes, oceans or seas where a government has placed limits on human activity.30 The government restricts human activity for a conservation purpose, typically to protect natural or cultural resources. It can be a wildlife refuge to research facilities. It is protected by local, state, territorial, native, regional, national, or international authorities and differ substantially among and between nations, due to limitations on development, fishing practices, fishing seasons and catch limits, moorings and bans on removing disrupting marine life.34

29“Marine reserve,” accessed March 2, 2019, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_reserve

30https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/marine-reserve/

31An independent city is a type of city12 in the Philippines which is administratively and legally not subject to a province1 so it does not share its tax revenues with any province. The national government and its agencies serve such a city through sub-offices of the region4 it belongs to. It is subdivided into 2: highly urbanized city35 or independent component city36. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”27

32A component city is a type of city12 in the Philippines which does not meet the requirements of a highly urbanized city35. It is under the jurisdiction of a province1. If such a city is located along the boundaries of 2 or more provinces, it shall be considered part of the province of which it used to be a municipality7. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”27

33“Local government in the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_government_in_the_Philippines

34“Marine protected area,” accessed March 2, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_protected_area

35A highly urbanized city (HUC) is a type of city12 in the Philippines with a minimum population of 200,000 as certified by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), and with the latest annual income of at least 50 million pesos, according to Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”.27 There are currently 33 such cities in the Philippines (see link Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?).

36An independent component city (ICC) is a type of city12 in the Philippines which is autonomous from the province3 in which it is geographically located and has a charter that explicitly prohibits its residents to vote for provincial officials (unless allowed to do so). It does not meet the requirements of a highly urbanized city35. There are 5 such cities in the country: Cotabato, Dagupan, Naga, Ormoc, and Santiago. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”27