|Native name: |
Isla han Sulu-an
|Adjacent bodies of water|
|Region||Eastern Visayas Region VIII|
|Municipality||Guiuan, Eastern Samar|
Sulu-an is an island in the Philippines, in the province of Eastern Samar. It lies east of Leyte Gulf and west of Emden Deep. It is a territorial island of the municipality of Guiuan, Eastern Samar, comprising a barangay of the same name. The island was deemed as the first site of anchorage for Ferdinand Magellan's Spanish Armada.
On March 17, 1521, after 98 days of crossing the Pacific Ocean, Magellan's voyage dropped anchor on the island. Although Samar and Mindanao were their first land sightings from afar, Magellan's choice of anchoring on a much smaller island was meant as a security precaution as few people would have inhabited a small island such as Sulu-an. In Laurence Bergreen's book entitled Over the Edge of the World, details their landing as; "they headed to Sulu-an and dropped their anchor for a few hours of respite." They then next dropped anchor at Homonhon Island, where they spent a week with the natives, and finally proceeded to Limasawa, where the 1st ever Christian mass was held on March 31, 1521.
The name of Sulu-an Island is derived from the word 'sulo', the Waray-waray word for "torch" which the locals would have used during fishing at night. Sulu-an, therefore, means torch-bearing people in reference to the local fishermen. From afar, prior to landing, the Spanish Armada would have seen the torches the night before.
During World War II, Sulu-an played a vital role in the US forces' strategy, lead by General Douglas McArthur, to a successful campaign against the Japanese forces. On October 20, 1944, before the US launch the biggest battle in history, A team of soldiers was sent to Sulu-an Island to neutralize a group of Japanese soldiers to secure the arrival of the General's liberation forces.
Eastern Samar tends to be battered by tropical storms during Pacific typhoon season. Most times, 90% of a storm landfall is likely to be Sulu-an Island. On November 8, 2013, Sulu-an Island was the first victim of the Super typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda) before navigating to Guiuan which had a tremendous impact not only on the island's economy but also to the people's lives. International organizations created an overwhelming drive to help rehabilitate the people and their livelihood.
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Reference: The Star Philippines February 18, 2017