In a land area of 1,359 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers all the territories that constitute the jurisdiction of Basilan Province.
Basilan province is composed of twin component cities (Lamitan and Isabela) and 11 municipalities (Lantawan, Maluso, Sumisip, Tipo-Tipo, Albarka, Ungkaya Pukan, Tuburan, Akbar, Hadji Mohammad Ajul and Tubuan-Lasa) with a total of 255 barangays.
Basilan is an island province of the Philippines mostly located within the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), except its capital, Isabela City, which is administered as part of the Zamboanga Peninsula Region. Basilan is located just off the southern coast of Zamboanga Peninsula. Basilan is the biggest and northernmost among the major islands of the Sulu Archipelago.
As of year end 2016 the total population of the Prelature is 418,856 of which 30.10 percent are Catholics.
Chavacanos are primarily Christian. Basilan has a population that is mostly Christian (whom are Roman Catholic). Non-Catholic Christians identify with the Evangelicals, Episcopalian (Anglican Catholics), and Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and a number of other Protestant denominations.
Basilan is the homeland of the Yakan, a peace-loving people known for their colorful clothes hand-woven with intricate geometric designs, as well as for their elaborate weddings and festivals. The Yakans, who are considered natives of the island, are said to be of foreign origin.
The Samals, Badjaos and Tausugs are mostly fishermen. They love to stay along the coastal areas of this island province.
Yakans and Tausugs are predominantly Muslim (Sunni, Folk). Only the most recent Chinese immigrants exclusively adhere to Buddhism/Taoism, while most of the older Chinese families have acculturated and have either converted to Christianity or Islam while retaining most of their Chinese beliefs.
Approximately 55 percent of the people speak Chavacano; other dialects are Samal, Tausug, Joloano, Yakan, Maranao, Visayan, Tagalog and Ilocano. Yakan dialect however is mostly spoken and understood by the Yakan natives only. Likewise, English is also widely spoken by nearly all people in the more urbanized areas.
A dwindling group of native-Spanish speakers can still be found, nearly all of them are in Isabela City and Lamitan, and are usually members of the wealthy landowning class and/or descendants of expatriate plantation managers. Finally, Chinese/Fookien is used by the immigrant/naturalized Chinese community in the Province.
Suffragan of Zamboanga
Created: Oct. 12, 1963
Erected: Feb. 15, 1964
Comprises all the territories that constitute the jurisdiction of Basilan Province
Titular: Sta. Isabel de Portugal
Secondary Patron: Immaculate Heart of Mary
Consecration of the Cathedral: June 21, 1970
The Prelature of Isabela in Basilan was created on Oct. 12, 1963, and comprises all territories constituting the civil jurisdiction of Basilan Province, including Basilan City, its present capital. It covers a land area of 1,359 square kilometers, and its Catholic population of 113,445 is 27 per cent of total. Its titular patron is the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Bishop Jose Ma. Querexeta, CMF, was the first bishop of the Prelature of Isabela. As he established parishes and schools for Muslims and Christians alike, the bishop worked for the integration of Christians and Muslims. He set up projects that would benefit the Muslims as he built churches for the Christians. Bishop Romulo de la Cruz became the Prelate Ordinary of Basilan in 1989 upon the retirement of Bishop Querexeta.
For its vision, the church in Basilan hopes to proclaim a Christian understanding of the human person, of society, and the common good of all the people of Basilan, considering its divergent cultures, religions and ideologies.
For its mission it aims to promote a "new spirituality" that unites people in faith and in the Lord, in justice and charity towards neighbor, in a personal conversion that could bring about a change in societal structures. It is the perception of the church in Basilan that the renewal of a vision and a mission, as initiated by the Plenary Council of the Philippines II, is not entirely new for Basilan Christians because of their minority situation. Rather it is a question of deepening this renewal in order to strengthen one's own evangelization, to be able to pass this on to one's neighbor, be he Moslem or Christian.
Basilan falls under the jurisdiction of the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) comprising five provinces: Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, Lanao and Maguindanao. The ARMM has a Regional Governor, Regional Vice-Governor, its own Cabinet Members and Legislative Assembly. The principal officials of the province are the Governor, Vice-Governor, Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) member's (12) including 3 sectoral representatives, Municipal Mayors (18), Municipal Vice-Mayors (18), Sangguniang Bayan member's (180) and Barangay Captains (410). The Provincial Development Council (PDC) is responsible for the formulation of economic and development plans, the coordination of development efforts and the monitoring and evaluation of programs within the territorial jurisdiction. The PDC is headed by the Governor and is composed of the eighteen Municipal Mayors, the Chairman of Appropriation Committee (SP member), (3) representatives from non-government organizations, and (2) Congressmen representing the two districts.
Republic Act No. 9054 or the Expanded ARMM signals the inclusion of Basilan Province in ARMM on August 2002 after an overwhelming acceptance during the plebiscite. The devolution of the province makes a difference in terms of benchmarking with the exclusion of Isabela City which contributed huge economic advantage in terms of development and future growth.
The province is accessible thru Zamboanga City via conventional ferries which will take 1 hour and 45 minutes ride or single-hull fastcrafts for 45 minutes.
Isabela City is served by buses that ply the Isabela-Lamitan route. A number of franchised vans and multi-cabs also ply the Isabela-Lamitan, Isabela-Maluso routes.
Basilan's electricity needs are served by the Basilan Electric Cooperative (BASELCO), powered by three diesel-powered electricity generating plants located at Barangay Binuangan, Isabela City, one National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) diesel-powered barge located at Barangay Tabuk, Isabela City, and a mini-hydroelectric plant located in Kumalarang, Isabela City.
Basilan is likewise served by three local water utilities namely: Isabela City Water District (ISAWAD), Lamitan City Water District (LAMWAD), and Maluso Water District (MAWAD).
Roads and Bridges
National Roads are made up of concrete, asphalt, and gravel, a total 131.92 kilometers, while there are 795.8 kilometers of Local Roads. Among the major bridges are the Marcos Bridge of Isabela City and the recently inaugurated Matarling Bridge (built through USAID funding) between Isabela City and Lantawan.
There are 13 municipal and local ports, 3 of which have roll on-roll off (RORO) capacity, and at least 10 private airstrips servicing small aircraft.
Annual per capita income (in Philippines Pesos; exclude Isabela City) is 14,466 (USD328 as of September 2010).
Basilan is an agricultural province with a few industries. It is the country's leading producer of rubber.
Major crops are coconut, rubber, coffee, cassava, banana, corn which account for the great bulk of the income. Its secondary crops include rice, black pepper, root crops, cacao, African palm oil and other seasonal fruits. The province however, is dependent on other provinces for its basi food requirements of rice, vegetables, and meat.
The surrounding waters, particularly in the Pilas group of islands, are rich in fish and other marine resources. Tuna, mackerel, and sardines are the dominant fish species. Agar-agar, a variety of seaweed, is cultivated along the coasts.
The island is served by the Provincial Telephone System (PTS) which has 600 land-line connections and connected with National Direct Dial (NDD) via PLDT. It is likewise served by major Mobile Telecommunications carriers Globe and Smart. It has 2 Wi-Fi Internet Service Providers, and numerous Internet Cafes.
ABS-CBN Zamboanga DXLL-TV can be also heard/seen on the island of Basilan by relay broadcast.
Literacy rate (Simple literacy) is 72.23 percent.
Claret College of Isabela - formerly Fatima School is the only Catholic-run sectarian school located in Isabela City, at Barangay Sta. Cruz, also has a High School and Elementary Department.
Araw ng Basilan - celebrated every March 7 to commemorate the Anniversary of the Province of Basilan.
Founding Anniversary of the City of Isabela, April 25 - Then Municpality of Isabela was formally ratified into first City and component City of the Province of Basilan. The Republic Act 9023, otherwise known as' An Act Converting the Municipality of Isabela, Province of Basilan, into a Component City to be known as the City of Isabela' was signed into law by Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo at Malacañang Palace and attended by City Officials headed by the First City Mayor, the late Hon. Luis R. Biel II.
Lami-Lamihan Festival - the island's premier festival is celebrated during the Feast of St. Peter (Fiesta San Pedro) on June 29 in Lamitan City. The Festival is highlighted by the participation of the Yakans who attend the festivities in full regalia, selling wares and produce brought in from their farms in the interior.
Cocowayan Festival - Isabela City's annual commemoration of its Cityhood is a week-long series of activities culminating in the annual Street Dancing parade on April 25.
Fiesta Santa Isabel - celebrated every July 8 by the residents of Isabela City, in honor of its Patroness Saint Elizabeth of Portugal (Span. Sta. Isabel de Portugal), the focal point of the Fiesta celebrations happen around the Sta. Isabel Cathedral located at the center of Isabela's poblacion. This is highlighted by a Procession and Novena Masses, the traditional Bella Isabela Beauty Pageant, marathon, regatta and other activities organized primarily by the Diocese of Basilan and the Prelature of Isabela and its lay organizations the Catholic Women's League (CWL) and Knights of Columbus (KofC).
Semana Santa (Holy Week) - March/April (movable) a city procession known as the Santo Entierro (Holy Funeral) on Good Friday highlights the observance of the season of Lent. Celebrated in most parish churches in the city and in the Sta. Isabel Cathedral, the Santo Entierro is a procession of Christ's images, many of the Stations of the Cross, along the city's main streets, depicting his last hours before, during, and after the Crucifixion.
Flores de Mayo - May 1 to 31, a religious feast celebrated in all Catholic churches in honor of the Virgin Mary. Little children in white gala dresses walk up the altar to offer flowers to the image of the Blessed Mother, as the Catholics call her.
Gonsalo's martyrdom at Nagasaki with the other Christian missionaries is regarded as the most tragic and historic event for Catholicism in Japan
Calungsod and his companion Father Vitores baptized infants, children and adults, defying the risk of persecution and murder
Despite being an ordinary layman, Ruiz remained defiant while facing torture by the Japanese and died a brave martyr
He was the first Korean-born Catholic priest and is now the patron saint of Korea
This fabled church is also known by its Syriac name Mar Sleeva (Holy Cross) Church
Asian Catholics who cannot visit famous Our Lady of Lourdes shrine in France can revere miraculous Mother Mary at Velankanni shrine in India. The Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health is popularly known as “the Lourdes of the East” and holds the largest Catholic Church in Asia.
Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica at Fort Kochi is one of the finest churches and a historic but also a landmark in Kerala state of southern India. Santa Cruz Church blends Indo-European and Gothic architectural style that draws tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists every year. The cathedral is a great place of devotion and historic significance that survived colonial conquests and invasions to the city.
Mokama Marian shrine on the southern bank of Ganges River bears the legacy persecuted Nepali Catholics banished from their homeland to India for refusing to renounce their faith. Our Lady of Divine Grace Church at Mokama stands about 90 kilometers from Patna, the capital of eastern Indian state of Bihar. Mother Mary is popularly known as Mokama Mata (Mother of Mokama). The church was built to honor Mary in 1947.
The shrine holds a three-meter-tall, white-stone carved statue Virgin Mary on the Tao Pao Mountain in the Diocese of Phan Thiet in southern Vietnam, about 1,600 kilometers from the national capital Hanoi.
The Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Urakami of Nagasaki is a witness of persecution of Christians from 17th to 19th centuries and deadly atomic bombing during the Second World War. This European-style, red-brick church continues to preserve some relics that survived the atomic bombing. Urakami cathedral, also known as St. Mary’s Cathedral, was almost destroyed when the atomic bomb was dropped on Aug. 9, 1945. The church stood about 500 meters from the hypocenter of atomic explosion. The devastation shattered and charred stone-made statues of saints, which were later preserved as relics along with the surviving head of Virgin Mary statue and one of the church’s original bells.
Our Lady of Akita Catholic Church is Yuzawadai is among the most famous churches in Japan. The church shot into global fame thanks to a wooden statue of Blessed Virgin Mary that wept 101 times and Marian apparitions to Japanese nun Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa that miraculously healed her hearing impairment. Japanese wooden sculptor Saburo Wakasa from Akita city carved the now-famous miraculous statue of Virgin Mary in 1963.
The Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception in Seria is a small church on the western Belait district of Brunei, but it shot into fame thanks to the nation’s most famous Catholic – late Cardinal Cornelius Sim. It is also the second of three churches in Brunei dedicated to Virgin Mary. In fact, Mary has a prominent place not only in Christianity, but also in Islam, the dominant faith in Brunei. Holy Quran mentions Mary seventy times and reveres her as the greatest woman to have ever lived.