The small Pamilacan Island is located right in the heart of the Sea of Bohol. It’s name is derived from the word “pilak”, which is a large hooked device used by islanders to capture whale sharks, other large whales and manta rays. The island is made up of coral and fossilized seashells that apparently can still be seen on the island’s rocky hill. It also served as the watch station of incoming intruders such as pirates and other conquerors of the Spanish colony during the early times.
The island is home to a small fishing community that has hunted dolphins, whale sharks, whales and manta rays for many years. However, the practice was stopped due to the strict enforcement of marine life preservation laws in the country. Today, the island is home to over 200 families that adorned their homes with bones and jaws of all kinds of marine animals, which only makes the island even more interesting to local and foreign tourists.
The most interesting aspect of the Pamilacan Island is that it is still well-visited by whales and dolphins. It has been known to be a jump-off area for at least seven different species of marine mammals such as the sperm whales and Bryde’s whales. Boats that were initially used for whale hunting called canters were then modified to fit a different, more marine-friendly activity: whale watching. These boats are about 15 to 20 meters long and can accommodate to up to seven passengers. Skilled spotters who remain excellent guides of the sea accompany aspirant whale watchers. The best time to go whale watching is during the months of March until July during the onset of the rainy season. Resident dolphins and small whales are said to be found all year round but tours depend highly on sea and weather conditions.
Proof of the island being a watch station can be seen in a 200-year-old Spanish fort located at the northeastern side of the island. Aside from the abundant marine life and white sand beaches of the island, this Spanish fort is another must-see attraction. Triangular in shape, the fort is made up of rubber and sliced coral blocks that line its windows and portals. Round buttresses support all three corners of the structure. A triangular pillar in the center indicates that the fort must have had a second floor made of wood that deteriorated through time. There is no known date for construction of the fort but most locals say that it was constructed during the 19th Century due to a cross that once stood near the fort and had a 1800s date carved on it. The said cross is currently located in a chapel nearby. The fort is also said to have been part of the network including other forts and towers at the towns of Baclayon, Tagbilaran, Panglao and Loay.
The Bohol Sea that surrounds the Pamilacan Island is a breeding ground to mysterious and beautiful creatures of the sea, as well as an abundant marine sanctuary endowed with white sandy beaches. The island itself surely presents both historical significance and breath-taking magnificence to many of its excited and adventurous visitors.