IS­LAND OF CASIAN

Palawan Daily News - - Feature - By Abra­ham La­toza

Tay­tay -- Quite ef­fer­ves­cent ride with too many shak­ing, splash­ing sea wa­ters on my face whilst un­der the scorch­ing heat of the Sun, I man­aged to grab my cam­era to catch the view of the boat’s di­rec­tion.

Is­lands left and right, pass­ing through as to a gate from the movie Lord of the Ring, the cliffs and small cave on a rock, re­sem­bles a sight in Coron or El Nido, in the real or sur­real cin­e­matic taste.

We are head­ing north­east of Tay­tay Bay to the beau­ti­ful is­land called Casian.

It has a peak of 615 feet above sea level. The shore­line has not changed much after my last visit twenty years ago.

The col­or­ful ban­cas of dif­fer­ent sizes tightly an­chored and tied at the lo­cal dock yard, or on trees and poles break the monotony of a slow but peace­ful life of the lo­cal peo­ple of the is­land.

Domingo De la Pena has dropped the an­chor, the en­gine was off. An hour and a half jour­ney has ended. In front of us is the des­ti­na­tion: the place and its sto­ries. The back of the Church faces the sea and a huge Balete tree looms the left wing of God’s tem­ple.

Casian is­land lies 11*01”03.83 N 119*44”15.69 E in the area of Tay­tay the first Class town of Palawan.

It has a pop­u­la­tion of about more than 5,000 peo­ple in­clud­ing those re­sid­ing in the neigh­bor­ing is­lands and bar­rios of Sa­bang, De­ban­gan, Denit, Bi­nat­i­can, Si­langa, Cal­abug­tong and De­pla. Casian is the new home of the three Au­gus­tinian Recol­lects of the Prov­ince of St. Ezekiel Moreno since its ac­cep­tance as a mis­sion ter­ri­tory in 2009 un­der the new Pro­vin­cial Fr. Regino Ban­caya, OAR.

Im­me­di­ately after the elec­tion of the new Bishop of the Vi­cari­ate of Tay­tay Bp. Edgardo Ju­nich, DD, he in­vited the Recol­lects to vol­un­teer in the re­mote is­land with a grow­ing Catholic faith­ful.

The prepa­ra­tion of both oc­u­lar and for­mal visit en­abled the Church au­thor­i­ties and mis­sion­ar­ies to dis­cuss the han­dover of the mis­sion to the recol­lects in a cou­ple of years.

Fr. Efren Anez, OAR, Fr. Casimiro Sang­won Lee, OAR and Bro. Agustin Cu­la­ton, OAR who be­long to the Or­der of Au­gus­tinian Recol­lects who re­sponded to the Church call for mis­sion­ar­ies in this is­land.

The ori­gin of the name Casian, is away from the com­mon yet hi­lar­i­ous con­no­ta­tions like “ka­suyan” (cashew plan­ta­tion) or “cashyan” (that’s cash).

Ac­cord­ing to Mr. Per­petuo Valdez and his wife, a res­i­dent of the is­land, when Casian was dis­cov­ered in 1896 by Mar­i­ano Vil­la­gra­cia, Sr., the Tag­ban­uas the first in­hab­i­tants of the place who did not un­der­stand any sin­gle Span­ish word were asked where were they go­ing, an­swered by say­ing: “ka-siey-yan” (the place of siey –a lo­cal plant); a type of green grass with rounded stem that grows in la­goons found in lakes or la­goons of Casian. The is­land has three sep­a­rate la­goons of about two to three hectares wide where the “siey” plant grows.

Per­petuo Valdez nar­rates: “Mar­i­ano Vil­la­gra­cia, Sr –a Gover­nador Sillo based in Tay­tay used to visit Tay­tay by banca pow­ered by oars called “gay­ong in Cuyuno di­alect; the boat is driven by twenty five men from Cuyo is­land to Tay­tay.

He had sev­eral stop over; from Cuyo to Lu­bid is­land, to De­ban­gan and Casian be­fore pro­ceed­ing to Tay­tay. Dur­ing his fre­quent trips to Tay­tay, he then dis­cov­ered sev­eral places in the area. And one was this is­land of Casian. When they dis­em­barked in this place there were indige­nous in­hab­i­tants called the Tag­ban­uas.”

Valdez re­told that Casian was forested is­land with mostly Ipil and Bogo trees. One of those huge trees is still stand­ing though al­ready cropped up by Balete tree at this time just be­side the Church.

This new mis­sion place of the Reco­le­tos is a newly es­tab­lished par­ish of San Isidro Labrador erected in 2009 by Bishop Edgardo Juanich, DD of the Vi­cari­ate of Tay­tay.

THE CHAL­LENGE OF THE MIS­SION IN CASIAN

Known for its fish­ing ground, red tim­ber and agri­cul­tural prod­ucts, Casian has al­ready de­clined in its bounty and nat­u­ral riches due to the heart­less il­le­gal fish­ing ad­min­is­tered by a few lo­cal traders and res­i­dents of the is­land. It has af­fected greatly the small scale fisher folks who mostly de­pend on fish­ing as their liveli­hood.

The good num­ber of Catholics who do not come reg­u­larly to Mass is yet an­other chal­lenge. The sick call and other apos­to­late in cel­e­brat­ing the sacra­ments from is­land to is­land pose a one of a kind wit­ness­ing to reli­gious call­ing. Chang­ing sea­sons, rains and some­times storm and huge waves are parts and par­cel of the mis­sion­ar­ies’ oc­cu­pa­tional haz­ards ev­ery sin­gle day.

CASIAN HAS A NEW PAR­ISH PRI­EST!

In May 2018, Fr. Dion­i­sion Selma, OAR Prior Pro­vin­cial of St. Ezekiel Moreno Prov­ince as­signed Fr. Louie Gabi­nete, OAR to the com­mu­nity of Casian as their new Par­ish Pri­est and Prior of the mis­sion in Casian.

He was a for­mer mis­sion­ary to Sierra Leone West Africa for al­most six in­ter­rupted years. He is now of­fi­cially the new Prior and to­gether with him are Fr. Cris Gas­par,OAR and Fr. Char­lie Oro­bia, OAR as mem­bers of the mis­sion in the is­land of Casian.

ABUN­DANCE

The mis­sion­ar­ies do not have much. They don’t have elec­tric­ity dur­ing the day. No fridge to store their food; no pow­ered boat to ride on, no com­puter to en­code their Chron­i­cles, or let­ters, min­i­mal tele­phone net­work, no prin­ter what­so­ever.

How­ever they are rich in many ways. They en­joy much of the beauty of na­ture, Sun rise and Sun set, the chang­ing tides, white beaches, the view of the for­est, fresh fish, squids, lob­ster, clams, the per­fect van­tage point dur­ing full Moon, so much of the quiet and some­times roar­ing waves at night, the sweet-smelling cool breeze, and lovely smiles em­a­nat­ing from tan faces of lo­cal in­hab­i­tants who are young and old and al­ways teem­ing with hope. Casian is a hid­den Gar­den of Eden.

A par­adise to be pro­tected, it is!

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