The Municipality of Taytay is situated in the northern part of Palawan. It is bound by the Municipality of El Nido to the north, South China Sea to the west, Sulu Sea to the east, and the municipalities of San Vicente and Dumaran to the south. It is a first class municipality (≥ P55 million average annual income) with a land area of 125,768 hectares and 196,862 hectares of municipal waters. Taytay is subdivided into 31 barangays. As of 2007, it had a total population of 61,991.
Taytay’s main industries are fisheries, livestock, and agriculture. Major crops include rice, corn, coconut, bananas, and other fruits. The live reef fish trade also greatly contributes to locals’ income.
The Municipality got its name from the native word “talaytayan”, referring to a few pieces of bamboo or wood tied together to serve as a bridge. Folklore has it what when the first Spanish explorers landed on the beaches of Taytay, they asked a native what the place was called. Thinking that the foreigners were pointing to the bridge that led to the town proper, the native answered “talaytayan”. Through time, the name was shortened to “Taytay”.
Taytay has a very colorful history, extending back to pre-Spanish colonization times. It was already a flourishing settlement even before the arrival of the Spanish. The first inhabitants of the area were Indonesians and Malays. The locals traded with other islands and also with the Chinese and Borneans. Prominent locals wore silken clothes and owned items such as fancy plates and bowls and fine ceramic jars from China and Borneo.
The arrival of the Spanish friars under the Order of the Augustinian Recollects in 1522 marked the beginning of Christianity in the area. Taytay was founded in 1623 but it wasn’t until 1662 that Count Agustin officially established the town government under the commission of Governor General Fajardo.
One of Taytay’s most famous landmarks is the Fuerza de Santa Isabel, an old Spanish fort. It was first built out of wood in 1667 then rebuilt into a stone fortress in 1814 using coral rocks hauled from the bottom of the sea. The fort was named after Queen Isabella II of Spain. Aside from construction labor, the locals were forced to contribute carabaos (water buffaloes) and cows for their animal fat. The animal fat was harvested, boiled, and poured over the fort’s walls, rendering them impregnable to the Muslim pirates and marauders. Today, only the ruins of the once grandiose fort remain, quietly overlooking the mouth of Taytay Bay.
The marine waters of Taytay are divided into two marine biogeographic regions. The waters on the western side of the municipality belong to the South China Sea Marine Biogeographic Region, while the east side belongs to the Sulu Sea Marine Biogeographic Region.
Malampaya Sound, once dubbed as the “Fish Bowl of the Philippines”, is located on the western side of Taytay. At present, the sound still serves as one of the country’s major fishing grounds. The sound is part of an area considered to be an extremely high priority site for marine conservation. The inner part of the sound also serves as a habitat for endangered Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris). Malampaya Sound was declared a protected area under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) to preserve its distinctive marine environment. Taytay Bay, located on the eastern side of Taytay and facing the Sulu Sea, is a very high priority site for marine conservation. Pods of bottlenose dolphins have been observed in Taytay Bay.
Apulit Island is located in Taytay Bay, about an hour’s boat ride away from the mainland. From a distance, the island looks like a sleeping dragon. The island spans 40 hectares, with 28.30 hectares of natural forest cover, 1.60 hectares of beach and sand, and 10.6 hectares dedicated to the development of Apulit Island Resort. It is predominantly sloping and mountainous, with limestone and marble rock formations characterized by karst topography. There are two prevailing winds affecting Apulit Island. The southwest monsoon or habagat is prevalent from the mid-May to mid-November while the northeast monsoon or amihan is present during mid-November to mid-May.
National Statistics Coordination Board. 2010. Municipality: Taytay. Accessed 14 March 2012.
EcoGov Project 2011. Lessons from the Philippines: Achieving Synergies through Marine Protected Area Networks. Philippine Environmental Governance Project (EcoGov). Pasig City, Philippines.
Malampaya Sound Conservation and Community Development Project Profile. WWF-Philippines