A BRIEF PROFILE OF THE MUNICIPALITY OF SULAT,
PROVINCE OF EASTERN SAMAR, PHILIPPINES
Sulat upholds her identity as one of the oldest settlements in Eastern Samar. Her early settlers were fisherfolks, which built-up along the east bank at the mouth of the Sulat River. In those early times, they used a creek, which freely flowed into the sea, as a passage during rough and inclement weather. The waterways were called suslatan, which was later shortened into the name Sulat. The fishing village had gradually evolved into a town. As early as the 1700's the Spanish colonization spread to Sulat and mold the people to the Catholic belief. The Jesuit missionaries built the foundation of its first church with hard labor and expert masonry way back in 1768. The church complex includes mini-fortress of massive rock walls and towers with cannons, which the Spanish called the muralla. Remnants of these structures can still be seen today, enclosing the entire Roman Catholic Church, a stone-throw away from the municipal building. A community organization rose, with the natives' deeply rooted faith and culture of colonial subservience and a vast base of land and sea resources which made the community viable and its growth assured. Sulat became a Municipality by virtue of Philippine Commission Act No. 1558, enacted on October 31, 1906.
Location and Basic Information
The Municipality of Sulat is centrally located along the eastern bend of Samar Island. It is approximately 36 kilometers north of Borongan, the capital town of the province and lies 153 kilometers on the overland route (via Buray junction) to Tacloban City, the region's main urban center.
t is bounded on the east by the vast Pacific Ocean,
on the south by the Municipality of San Julian, on the
west by the Municipality of Hinabangan of Western
Samar, and on the north by the Municipality of Taft.
Being located on the central bend of Estern Samar
highlights Sulat as a virtual link of communication and
commerce from north to south of the province.
Sulat is composed of 18 barangays, seven of which are located in the poblacion area and eleven on the outside. There are six coastal barangays: Barangays Del Remedio (Candaracol), San Francisco (Lobo), Baybay, Sto. Nino, San Isidro (Maytigbao) and the island barangay of San Vicente (Puro). Four barangays are located along the river banks: Barangay A-et, Mabini and Kandalakit perch upstreams, with barangay San Juan nestled on the fork at some distance downstream, around four kilometers from Sulat town proper where the river exits. Kagbuburak River serves the other barangays. Barangays Santo Tomas and San Mateo, on the other hand, can be both reached via feeder roads and creeks leading to their own locations It is endowed with natural beauty so profoundly demonstrated in the lush forest and fine white sand beaches, potential tourist destinations comparable to other places in the country. Most importantly, Sulat is blessed with God-fearing and religious people: hence, the place is peaceful and ideal to live in. Per police records, crime rate is significantly low, and at present, there are neither records nor incidences of either communist insurgence or terrorist activity in the area.
Level land constitute 70%. The slopes constitute 20% and undulating terrain 10%. Interiors are the highest points, devoted to
perrenial plants and forest reserves. The low flat areas
spread along the national highway where population
The Municipality embraces a total land area of
16,622 hectares (166.22 sq. m.) of which 6,130
(36.88%) is devoted to agriculture. Its public forestland
consists of 7,908 hectares; mangrooves, 132 hectares;
alienable and disposable lands of 6,742 hectares of
which 74% are utilized for agricultural production.
The year 2000 census of popultion reports a total of 15,348 living in 3,085 households. It has a population density of 85 people per square kilometer. The annual population growth rate is only 0.28 percent. Of the 18 barangays in the municipality, nine registered a declining population while the other 50% recorded a very significant increase. For the period 1995-2000, Sulat registered an increase in populationof only 183. At present, there are ten (10) educational institutions in the entire Municipality: 3 secondary schools (2- government; 1- private), and seven (7) complete elementary schools, including the Sulat Data from the PRA revealed that in 1999, an estimated 8,638 persons constituted Sulat's working population (61%), 6,62 (77%) of these could be considered the labor force population. Estimated employed persons total 5,920. Of the total employed population, more than two-thirds are in agriculture and fisheries. The rest are employed in other sectors.
To serve the health and medical needs of the Sulatnons, the municipality one main Health Center, with lying-in clinic complete with facilities. A physician, a nurse, a medical technologist, four midwives, a sanitary inspector and a dentist (radiation area) man the main RHU. There are also eight (8) barangay health stations, with
personnel complement of midwife designated to the area,
barabgay health workers and trained hilots.
The CY 2000 municipal health statistics showed a crude
birth rate of 44.5% rate per 1,000 population; a crude death
rate of 2.2% per 1,000 population; an infant mortality rate of 0 per 1,000 live births; and a maternal mortalityrate of 0 per 1,000 live births.
Total number of household with sanitary toilets is 2,371 (83%).
The energy requirement of Sulat is supplied by the Eastern Samar Electric Cooperative (ESAMELCO) which sources its powers from the NAPOCOR, through the Togonan Geothermal Plant in Leyte. Fifteen (15) of the 18 barangays are presently energized by ESAMELCO. However, the three up-stream barangays have their own solar power energy, which serves the community, under the solar infrastructure progrm. Late in October 2002, sources from the ESAMELCO revealed that works are in progress to finally provide electricity to Barangays A-et, Mabini ESAMELCO charges commercial and residential consumers of electricity with average PhP4.50 per kilowatt-hour, one of the highest in Eastern Visayas. There are moves, however, to lower the exhorbitant power rates through presidential intervention.
Sulat is blessed with a great tributary, the Sulat River. Water is abundant in Sulat, but is not fully utilized. The source of the great Sulat River is the Hakgang natural spring; it has a capacity of 10,695 liters per second that can be tapped for irrigation, potable water system and for industrial purposes as well. Sulat's potential water resource could also sustain the potable water needs of nearby towns like Taft and San Julian, and can sufficiently extend its water pipes to the southern barangays of Can-avid and the north part of Borongan. At present, about 23% of the hoseholds are being served by the level I water system (deep wells, jetmatic pumps, etc.); 41% by level II systems (communal faucets); and only 16% by level III water connections (individual household connections), which represents only about half of the households in the poblacion.
Sulat is accesible by all forms of land transport.
For short distance routes, the most preferred vehicle
is the motorized tricycle, but for travel within the
poblacion area, the most common conveyance is the
pedicab or the sikad-saikad. For long distance trips )Catbalogan or Tacloban), preference is for the buses, mini-buses and most recently, air conditioned private commuter vans. With the much improved road networks (concreteor concrete-asphalt highways), two Metro-Manila-based companies (Eagle Star and Pantranco) now ply the Guiuan-Borongan-Manila route, providing regular transportation to the entire province.
Upstream barangays of A-et, Mabini and Kandalakit are presently not connected by road networks but can be reached on foot by trails and by banca or motorboat during high tide. The other fourteen (14) barangays are all accesible by land travel, generally through the sturdy and reliable tricycle; in some areas though, the fare is double the regular rates because of the rough roads. The island barangay San Vicente may be reached by motorboat; the terminal for these motorboats is at the San Isidro-San Vicente waiting shed.
Although Sulat has no radio stations, it receives radio signals from two radio stations in the capital towns of Borongan and radio transmission from Tacloban, Cebu, Metro Manila and other key cities. The seven poblacion-barangays and four other barangays outside the town proper (Del Remedio, Sto. Tomas, San Vicente and San Isidro) have access to cable TV provided by private operators. A public telephone calling station now operates in the poblacion, which offers both domestic and long distance facility, although it caters to a limited number of clients due to its lone trunk line. This year, however, a private telephone company (ISLACOM, a wholly owned subsidiary of Globelines), started to operate a WWL (Wireless Local Loop) facility in Sulat. Already there are over sixty household-subscribers in Sulat. Furthermore, a handful of the local residents patronize the SmartLink service, telephone via satellite; this is a more expensive form of communication as the subscriber is also being charged for incoming calls. The town still has an operational telegraph station, and most of the people still enjoy and patronize the service of the conventional Post Office. All barangays are connected by two-way radio facility, (ICOM hand-held radios), however, it presently needs rehabilitation to improve its signal and most hand-held units need repair.
Banking and Lending Services
There is only one bank operating in the municipality, the Rural Bank of Catbalogan, Sulat Branch. Due to its seemingly limited resources, the bank has suspended its lending services; however there are a lot of unregistered creditors in the locality which provides fast character loans at 10 to 20 percent interest, compounded monthly.
Sulat's economy is predominantly agriculture. About 36.88% of its total land area is utilized for agricultural production. Land cultivated to rice constitutes 1,504 hectares. However, due to the absense of irrigation facilities, limited access to farm equipments, farm inputs and most harvest facilities, rice production has remained low. Out of the total 1,504 potentially irrigable rice fields, only 20 hectares is irrigated at present, which accounts for the very low rice production. The average harvest of palay per hectare for rainfed ricelands is forty cavans, and 55 cavans for irrigated land. Coco land constitutes 4,056 hectares; copra production in 2000totaled only to 12,766/yr. (3,191.5/qtr.) per three-month harvest. Corn land also intercropped with legumes, root crops and fruit trees constitutes 140 hectares; palawan land cover 78.64 hectares; nipa areas, 30.87 hectares; and, others of unspicified use, 174.476 hectares.
Other Potential Revenue Earners
Sulat is strategically located in the central bend of the province making it accesible to both its south and north end. The municipality has been identified by the Provincial Development Council (PDC) of Eastern Samar as one of only two economic zones (the other town is Guiuan) in the province due to the presense of an international port at Sitio Can-aybon in BarangayDel Remedio. The Marinduque Mining and Industrial Corporation (MMIC) used said port of international standard as a loading point for copper concentrate. Its pier could accomodate ships of up to 16,000 tonnages. Furthermore, one of Sulat's beautiful white sandy beaches located in Makati Island near the island Barangay San Vicente is being considered by the Department of Tourism (DOT) for development into a world-class resort.
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