The Biri Island: It's one of the most fascinating towns of Northern Samar in the Philippines.It is known for its awe-inspiring rock formations carved thru time due to big waves of the San Bernardino Strait that lap up the eastern portion of its shore.
Its rocky landscape leaves vast potential for exploration. There are hundreds of sites and thousands of routes waiting for the intrepid climber.
The island town has been a favorite place for photography enthusiasts and picnickers, especially during summer when the weather is good and the sea is calm. Visitors spend the day relishing the site and taking a dip in the cool turquoise blue water. It has also attracted surfers during the months of October to January, with its perfect surging waves.
Brief History: Biri was originally an island barangay under the jurisdiction of Bobon, Northern Samar until its conversion into a new and independent municipality under Republic Act No. 5500 on June 21, 1969. Biri became the 21st municipality of Northern Samar.
The island used to be Tingiao, as referred to in the navigational maps of the Spanish Galleons, and was the entry point to Luzon and Visayas.
As navigational landmark, the name “Biri” was derived from the Spanish word to “barrer”, meaning to sweep.
Every time the Spanish captain of the Galleon would sight the San Bernardino Isle and Biri of Tingiao, the captain would order his men “barrer” or clean the galleon deck in preparation of their berthing to the Capul Island for their trip to Manila. On some occasions, the Spanish Galleon would anchor at Biri Bay before proceeding their navigation to Manila.
While in the Island, inhabitants would heart he Spaniards naming the Island “verey”. From then on, the word “verey” was popularly known as “Biri”.
During World War II, Biri was the site of the Japanese Garrison Signal Corps due to its strategic location from the Pacific Ocean. Many Biri-anons became witnesses to the passing of the American submarine and other warships during the liberation of Leyte. A bomb-made lagoon still exists inside the Biri Central Elementary School.
Island Geography: Biri is situated in the northernmost tip of Northern Samar, facing the Pacific Ocean to the East and the famous San Bernardino Strait to the west.
It has a total land area of 24.6 square kilometers and is composed of 8 barangays namely, Pio del Pilar,Poblacion, MacArthur,Kauswagan, Progress, SanAntonio, San Pedro and Santo Niño.
The Demography: The island registered a total population of 10,649 in the 2007 Census of Population. Its population density of 433 persons per square kilometer is the third highest among the 24 municipalities of Northern Samar.
Biri inhabitants are a blend of Waray and Bicolano culture. The inner inhabitants speak Waray dialect while the outer island people speak Bicol-Waray dialect.
SCENIC SPOTS: Biri takes pride in its natural scenic spots, foremost of which are the magnificent rock formations of Magasang and Bel-at. Two huge,beautifully carved rocks, each about the size of a three-story building, stand separately on a wide flat rock on one of the islets called Magasang. A big rock formation with a bat cave underneath can be found in Bel-at.
These spots have been attracting both foreign and domestic tourists. It became so popular when one of the scenes of the movie entitled “Iisa Pa Lamang” starred by Richard Gomez, Dawn Zulueta and Maricel Laxa was shot in their place. It also became a setting of an adventure-horror-drama film called “Spirit Warriors II” starred by Danilo Barrios, Vhong Navarro and Chris Cruz. Likewise, these spots were featured in the 2001 Calendar poster of the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) as one of the Geological Wonders of the Philippines.Also featured recently in a local-environmental show "Born to be wild".
The Kaway Festival: Apart from the natural rock formations, Biri is teeming with squid. The squid’s tentacles otherwise known as “kaway” lead to a Kaway Festival which is the Birianon’s expression of thanksgiving for the abundance of sea products. This is being celebrated every 23rd and 24th of June.
Various agencies and barangays participate in the merry-making and breath-taking dance exhibitions. This
Through the Kaway Festival, Biri will nurture a culture of peace in harmony with nature, and will probably become the gateway to the arts and culture of Northern Samar.