Moalboal - A small town on Cebu Island

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Cebu is a province of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas region, and consists of a main island and 167 surrounding islands and islets. As of the 2015 census the province of Cebu had a population of 4.63 million people. The capital city of the province is Cebu City with a metro population of approximately 2.3 million which is the second largest city in the Philippines after Manilla. Cebu Island itself is long and narrow, stretching 196 kilometers (122 mi) from north to south and 32 kilometers (20 mi) across at its widest point. Cebu’s highest mountains are over 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) high. The proivince of Cebu is officially composed of 53 different Administrative Divisions. One of these Administrative Divsions that make up the province is Moalboal (officially the Municipality of Moalboal). Moalboal is located along the southwest coast of Cebu Island and is 89 kilometers (55 mi) from Cebu City. Formerly a sleepy little town, Moalboal is situated between the mountains, and the sea; offering a perfect refuge for people seeking to have a quick getaway from the hustle, and bustle of the urban sprawl. Moalboal was first settled during the Spanish colonial period in late 1700’s. People earning their living through farming, fishing, and mat making. They were so busy that they did not have time to attend religious rites and other activities. 
When Fr. Francisco “Paking” Silva was assigned as its parish priest in the late 1960’s, he observed that there were more people in the cockpit arena gambling than the number of people attending religious ceremonies. After realizing the big challenge confronting him, he started organizing the citizens of Moalboal. He touched base with every sector of the society and organized them: professionals, farmers, fishermen, vendors, students, and even children. He was so effective in using songs and dances in energizing people and attracting them to attend religious and other civic activities. It was under his leadership that the Catholic Church stood as the only accepted religion in Moalboal, to the extent that any attempt from other religions to establish a church in Moalboal would be met with violent actions from the people themselves. Even with his busy obligations as a priest, Fr. Francisco “Paking” Silva explored and discovered the underwater paradise of Moalboal. According to divers who was with Fr. Silva during those years, under the sea of Moalboal is a ten-story wall covered with various colors of flowers and corals where rare species of sea animals live, lay eggs, and feed. It’s a paradise made vertically by God and placed it under Moalboal’s sea water. Fr. Paking, as he was fondly called, constructed a beach house that started to attract local and foreign tourists to come over to experience how it feels like floating by the vertical paradise under the sea. It started the spark that ignited a big fire of business activities.
In the 1903 census, Moalboal registered a population of 11,743. When another census was conducted in 1975, the population increased to 16,182, or an annual increase of only 62 people per year. However, Moalboal’s population exploded to 31,130 in 2015, an increase of 92% in a span of 40 years, or an annual increase of 373 people per year.
The population grew more than 200% per year since 1990. This boom in population is due to Moalboal developing a vibrant tourism industry Since the 1970’s; attracting people from all over the country, and even abroad offering attractions such as recreational diving, and pristine white sand beaches. Though the majority of people living in Moalboal are Cebuanos, a few members of cultural minorities live in the area.
In 2010, the median age of the population of the Cebu province was 23.0 years, which means that half the population was younger than 23.0 years. This is higher than the median age of 20.8 years that was recorded in 2000
Traditionally the majority of people living in the flat lands engage in fishing as their main mode of livelihood. Those who live in the mountain regions live through farming. The tourism industry in Moalboal has contributed a lot in boosting its economy. It has multiplied the people’s income as never imagined by the local residents. However, despite the big leap in peoples’ earnings, a big portion of Moalboal’s population still survives with an income of less than Php50 a day. The National Statistics Office reported in 2018 that 16.7 percent of the Filipinos live below the poverty line. It means that approximately 17.7 million Filipinos live with an income that could not provide them with their basic needs. To assist these people who are living below the poverty line, the government created the "Pantawid Pamilya" Pilipino Program (4Ps). Under this program, 4.4 million households would receive PHP 15,000 financial assistance annually for health and education of their children, or an average of Php 3,000 per person per year for their food, clothing, shelter, education, and medical care. In the province of Cebu, according to NSO data, a person needs to earn Php 17,910 per year in order to live decently, or a daily income of at least P50 per day. NSO also said that 145,000 people in the province survived with an income of less than Php50 per day. Having a significant portion of the population living with such a meager income have created significant socio-cultural ramifications on the municipality of Moalboal.