Guiuan is a 2nd class municipality in the province of Eastern Samar, Philippines. As of year 2004, it has a population of 43,647 people in 7,618 households.
Guiuan is a significant part of the Philippine history. In the 16th century, when Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines, it is believed that he first landed on the island of Homonhon. It is probably because of this fact that the majority of the population of the town are devout Catholics and the town’s church, the Church of the Immaculate Conception, is one of the oldest in the country.
During the Second World War, Guiuan served as one of the Alliance’s bases. What’s left of the American occupation nowadays are just concrete slabs which once served as the foundations of a vast supply depot, and an air strip which now serves as the town’s own airport.
Besides the rich historical background, Guiuan boasts many beautiful scenic spots including white sand beaches. Being a coastal town in the Pacific side, the town is blessed with many beaches that are perfect for swimming and surfing.
Guiuan is widely known for two significant events in history 423 years apart. In 1521, Ferdinand Magellan first set foot on Philippine soil in Homonhon on his way to discover the Philippines for the Western World. In 1944, the American Forces landed on the island of Suluan where they fought their first battle in the Philippine territory three days before Gen. Mac Arthur stormed the beaches of Leyte.
The name of the town originated from its geographical location. The first settlers named the town “Guibang” when they discovered a sharp break in the mountain range (Tenigbang – partly chiseled off) which screens the town from the Pacific Ocean in the East. Subsequently, settlers modified its name to Guiuan.
The occurrence of World War II shook the town and people moved to the mountains to find comfort. In June 28, 1943, several Japanese soldiers set foot on Guiuan soil. Not as fearful and brutal as they were thought of by the local populace, a cordial relation soon existed between the conquered and the conquerors. Evacuees came down from the mountains and resumed a normal urban life.
Except for a few killings of suspected traitors by both Japanese, Filipino soldiers and local guerillas, not a drop of blood was shed needlessly. This made Guiuan one of the few places in the islands where World War II did not leave so many tragic memories.
The first sign of liberation of the town came on November 27, 1944 when a US Navy submarine chaser steamed the harbor for reconnaissance duty. On December 1, 1944 a fleet of LCTs, Liberty ships and barges poured into the Guiuan Bay to unload machines that was to transform Guiuan into one of the biggest Naval Base in the Far East that time.
Many years after the American Liberation, Guiuan has slowly progressed from a sleepy town to a bustling municipality.
On November 10, 1978, Proclamation No. 1801 was issued declaring Guiuan, Eastern Samar as a Tourist Zone and Marine Reserve under the administration and control of the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA).
Guiuan is situated on the province’s southeastern portion and is comprised mostly of island barangays. Bordered on the east of the Pacific and on the west by Leyte Gulf, it is rich in aquatic resources and marine life and is regarded as the best fishing belt in the Eastern Visayas. The town was declared as a tourist zone and marine reserve in 1978. One of the major draws to this clean and peaceful town is the centuries-old church of the Immaculate Conception with its magnificently carved wooden doors. Calicoan Island is gaining fame with its miles of the white sand beaches and a surfing area with challenging waves. The Surf Camp provides accommodation and services for visitors planning to spend for few days. Travelers with an interest in World War II sites must see the enormous runway built by Navy Seabees to serve as an Allied Forces Airbase, as well as the remnants of the US Naval Supply Depot in 1945.