Basey is a municipality in the province of Samar, Philippines. According to the census of 2000, it has a population of 43,809 people in 9,013 households.
The town’s name is pronounced “bAsay”, not “basEY. This mispronunciation was propagated by American soldiers in the early days of the American colonial period. There is no “ey” sound in Waray. Basay is from the Waray word “mabaysay,” meaning beautiful. Basay is said to be the Leyte’s capital during the American period. It is the current record holder of the world’s longest mat (“banig”), which is presented in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Basey is politically subdivided into 51 barangays.
Profile of Basey, Samar
Basey is located in the southwestern part of Samar. The nearest airport, located in Tacloban City, is about 28 kilometers along the Maharlika highway through the winding San Juanico bridge. The people of Basey are enganged mainly in agriculture, fishing, commerce, education and cottage industries, notably, mat-weaving. Tourism is becoming a viable source of revenue. Most of the residents belong to the Roman Catholic Church and the patron saint is Saint Michael the Archangel whose feast is celebrated every September 29th. The literacy rate is 90 percent. It is very common to meet someone who is tri-lingual; the predominant dialect is Waray, but most people are very conversant is both Pilipino and English. The area is about 53,300 hectares composed of coastal and inland plains, hills, mountains and rivers. Scattered around this verdant land are 51 barangays, each has its own mini-government directly connected to the municipal, provincial and national governments.
Some places of interest are the Sohoton Natural Bridge National Park, the Panhulugan, Saob and Rawis Caves, the 17th century Church, the Buscada/Mt. Carmel Chapel, Jinamoc Island, the Guintolian Tower, Balintawak Falls and the Golden River.
An invaluable piece of history flows with the great Kadak-an River. Its headstreams up the Sohoton Mountains down to the reefs and shoal where it abuts San Pedro Bay, bears witness to a timeless flow of events. While we can only tell what secrets the big river has revealed thus far, the wealth of information may explain why some folks call it Golden River, even more fittingly perhaps.
Time seems to have left behind the barangays that scatter along the banks, so with thepoblacion nestled at the mouth of the big River. But its proud people are always ready to tell its colorful history and to showcase the banig artisanship that is deeply rooted in its beautiful past. The name Basey for which the municipality came to be known comes from the waray word baysay, which means beauty.
A review of local archeological discoveries, internet-searched church records, ruins and relics of antiquities and more recent activities of its people piece together a priceless testimonial that reflects the true character of its people that defines what has truly been Basaynon.
How Basey Got its Name
The word Basey comes from the vernacular Baysay (means beauty). This is in deference to its most beautiful erstwhile inhabitant named Bungansakit. When the new town adopted the name, a competition in her honor caused Bungansakit’s original home village of Balud to be renamed Guibaysayi (means most beautiful).
It is easy to presuppose that the Americans named Basay Basey, with emphasis on the last syllable. The idiosyncrasy of the English language tends to have difficulty pronouncing ah, when followed with consonant y. The locals probably unwittingly popularized the word by imitating or ridiculing the American pronunciation. But to claim that the Americans originally adopted the word is not supported by facts.
Basaynons themselves contracted Baysay to Basay for convenience in ordinary talk. In turn the Spanish corrupted Basay to Basey to suit in their formal writings. Basey is always found in Spanish records relating to the town. This includes early Spanish maps of the Philippines, which puts Basey in its right location. In addition, the church bells, which date back as early as 1858 in the St. Michael’s church belfry are engraved withBasey in reference to the town. These bells predate the arrival of the Americans in 1898.