La Isla Colonia

La Isla Colonia, officially called República de La Isla Colonia, is a fictional independent republic island state located in the western Pacific Ocean approximately 1,900 km east of the Philippines. Historically called Nuevas Filipinas or the New Philippines as they were part of the Spanish East Indies and governed from Manila, Philippines during the 16th up to the 20th century.

Etymology

La Isla Colonia was traditionally called Rull by the natives. It was named after the ancestors of its famous tribal king named Rull Wa’ab. Early Chinese traders who frequent the island called it Fong-fei because they believed that the island was the ‘Pompeii of the Far East’ when a devastating volcanic eruption happened in the 13th century.

In 1528, Marcelo Santebaňez conquered the island, called it Nuevas Filipinas, and declared it as part of the Spanish East Indies governed from Manila by the Governor-General. Since then, the Spaniards have used the island as a prison colony for the Indios Filipinos who fought against Spain during their reign. Because of this, more people refer to this island as “The Colony”, thus the name La Isla Colonia stuck.

History

Aboriginal settlers are believed to be ancient Polynesians (which trace their ancient origins from Southeast Asia [mostly from the archipelagos of the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia]) who sailed eastwards from the Philippines in approximately 1,500 BC. These peoples speak different languages of the Austronesian language family.

Native Colonials were ruled by a tribal king named Rull Wa’ab, a charismatic ruler who believed in Bathala, the supreme deity who created the universe. Thus, people dance the traditional hu’ula as reverence to their spiritual roots believing that their chant possessed mana, or “power derived from a spiritual source”.

Archeological evidence shows that prehistoric Colonials traded with China and Formosa (now Taiwan) through the Philippines. Also, Muslims came also from the Philippines.

In 1528, Spanish conquerors led by Marcelo Santebaňez traveled from the Philippines eastward and discovered the island, landing first on what is now the Buenvenida municipality. Santebaňez and his troops won against the natives during several skirmishes. With this victory, Santebaňez called the islands Nuevas Filipinas and since then it became part of the Spanish East Indies. The Spaniards used the island as a prison colony for the Indios Filipinos who fought against Spain during their reign.

It was also around this time that the native Colonials and other immigrants like the Chinese and Muslims moved further south to Cimitarra.

When Spain surrendered to the American forces at the end of the Spanish-American war, Spain surrendered the Spanish East Indies to the Americans. The Americans used the name La Isla Colonia in their records.

The island became a naval communications center before the First World War and an important international hub for cable telegraphy. During the Second World War, the islands were occupied by the Japanese. At the end of the war, the Americans held La Isla Colonia as a trusteeship under a United Nations mandate until it became an independent nation in 1960 allowing its citizens into the U.S. with few restrictions.

Location

Exactly located at 9°32′N 138°07′E just above the equator and in the western part of the vast Pacific Ocean. Its nearest neighbors are the Philippines (approximately 1,900 km. west) and Palau (approximately 468 km. southwest).

Geology

La Isla Colonia has a land area of 110 km2, almost comparable to the size of Luzon island in the Philippines. Characterized by flat terrain, most of the islands comprise low, flat coral atolls and small landmasses that rise above sea level extending east towards the mountains.

The geographical shape of the island is like a man being attacked by a tiger which inspired the country’s flag’s design.

The east, particularly in Buenvenida and Puerto Montoya, has high mountain ranges (almost 3,000 km. at the highest point) that protect the island from the strong typhoons coming from the Pacific. The west, especially the Tri-City area and Puerto Montoya, has its beaches and coves, great for surfing, snorkeling, SCUBA diving, and other water sports making the island a tourist destination. The central part of the island (Marcelo) used to have rice fields but due to progress and commercialization, the fields became cities and suburbs.

Climate

La Isla Colonia has a tropical maritime climate that is usually hot and humid. Unlike other countries that experience four seasons, La Isla Colonia only has three. The cool dry season begins in December until February. The hot dry season begins in March until May. Then the rainy season begins from June to November. The effects of the southwest monsoon are usually felt from May to October, while the effects of the dry winds of the northeast monsoon are felt from November to April.

Air temperatures range from 21°C to 32°C with the average temperature is estimated at around 26.5°C. It can get cooler or hotter depending on the season and location. The coolest month is January which could go as low as 12°C in the mountains, while the warmest month is May which could go as high as 36°C.

Sitting along the typhoon belt, the island experiences torrential rains and thunderstorms especially from July to October with approximately twenty-one typhoons entering the area every year but only eight or nine of them making landfall.

Ethnic groups

People of La Isla Colonia, or the Colonials, are mainly of the Polynesian-Melanesian brown race, mixed with Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, German, and American influences. Due to migration and mixed marriages, mixed-race populations of Spanish, Americans, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Indians, Arabs, and Europeans are visible and spread all across the country.

According to the recent census, around two-thirds of the population are admixed of foreign descent. Most Americans and Spanish have settled in highly urbanized cities of Marcelo, Buenvenida, and Puerto Montoya, while a majority of the native Colonials, Chinese, and Muslims have mainly settled in Cimitarra and Cimitarra Sur.

As of 2015, the total population is 26.67 million.

Languages

English is the official language although there are 20 recognized local dialects of the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family.

Religion

Because of being Nuevas Filipinas, the major religion in La Isla Colonia is Christianity, with Roman Catholicism being the major denomination (around 75% of Christians). Christianity is the dominant faith, shared by 92% of the population. The other 8% is shared between Muslims and Buddhists. The country is a secular state which protects freedom of religion.

Education

La Isla Colonia has a simple literacy rate of 85.6%, meaning the majority of the people can read, write, and do simple math. Education takes up a significant proportion of the national budget. Primary education has a 6-year grade school period. Secondary education is divided between a 4-year junior high school period and a 2-year senior high school period. Colleges and universities follow a semester calendar. The school year starts in June and ends in March. The two-week semester break starts from the last week of October and ends until the first week of November.

Government & Politics

La Isla Colonia is governed as a unitary state. The President functions as head of state, head of government (the Chief Executive), and is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The President is elected at large for a term of six years with a maximum of two consecutive terms.

The seat of government is in Marcelo where all government offices and most businesses are located. The official residence and principal workplace of the President are at the old Kahale-aliʻi, or what the native Colonials called “the king’s palace”. The original structure was believed to be the “palace” of King Rull Wa’ab and had evolved renovations during the foreign occupations and had been the official residence of all the presidents.

Since the island is a small country, it adopted a representative Senate composed of 25 senators who are elected at large by the voting citizens. Each municipality elects 5 senators to represent the public and to serve six-year terms with a maximum of two consecutive terms.

The judicial power lies in the State Court, composed of a Chief Justice plus fourteen associate justices. All of them are nominated by the Judicial and Bar Council and eventually be appointed by the President. The Senate would then confirm their appointment within a month.

The State Court and each municipal court have the trial and appellate divisions. The trial division tackles most civil and criminal cases, and the appellate division reviews all decisions of the trial courts.

Office of the Attorney General

The Office of the Attorney General is a unique body because it is primarily under the Executive branch acting as the government’s lawyer but also functions under the Judicial branch promoting public law and order by enforcing laws, conducting criminal investigations and prosecution, serving legal processes, operating and administering penal and juvenile institutions.

Military

The Armed Forces consist of five branches: the Air Force, the Army, the Navy, the Constabulary (police), and the Special Forces. Because La Isla Colonia is a republican state, the President is the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces but the Secretary of Interior co-supervises the Constabulary for civilian security on the local government level.

Politics tends to be dominated by well-known names, such as members of political dynasties or celebrities. There is a significant amount of corruption that some historians attribute to the system of governance during the Spanish colonial period.

The Five Cities

Initially, the four islands became its administrative units.

Marcelo

Marcelo is the capital city of La Isla Colonia, named after Marcelo Santebaňez, the Spaniard who named the island Nuevas Filipinas. It is the largest municipal city and has the remnants of the old Spanish colonial era, thus the country’s name. However, due to its development and commercialization, the ambiance of Marcelo is now a fusion of Polynesian, American, Asian, and European cultures.

The western part of Marcelo is mountainous, you can see houses on mountain tops, sparse, not crowded, and is called Zona Residencial, the subdivision where the rich and famous people live. Each house has its own view of the island and of the sea. Down the mountain is the city that used to be farmlands. To its north lies the city of Buenvenida, to its east lies the city of Puerto Montoya that goes through Cimitarra and Cimitarra Sur, and its south is the Pacific Ocean where its main port and harbor is located.

Buenvenida

Buenvenida is the third largest municipal city of the Colony. Its landscape is a mixture of the American and Spanish suburb, making it the quiet, prosperous, and yet posh city. This place was believed to be where the Spaniards first landed and they found the island natives too welcoming thus they called it Buenvenida.

The east side is mountainous, almost the same as Marcelo, but a little bit crowded like in Europe. But there’s a secluded residential area called El Pueblo Real, Buenvenida’s version of Zona Residencial. The southeast side is a small cove, a quiet beach resort named Del Marre. The southwest is where the tips of Buenvenida, Marcelo, and Puerto Montoya almost meet called the Tri-City Area (but it is not a city nor a municipality of Buenvenida) that goes to Marcelo.

Puerto Montoya

A tropical island is nothing without its beaches. This is the beach capital. Since the east of Buenvenida and the west of Marcelo are mountain ranges, Puerto Montoya opens to the shore. This is the tourist destination where almost all water sports events are held. All races — Colonial or otherwise — are found here because everybody seems to love the sun and the beach.

The east side is the Pacific Ocean, the west is Marcelo plus other beaches, the northwest is Buenvenida’s Tri-City area, and the south is the city of Cimitarra.

Cimitarra

This is the remaining part of the true La Isla Colonia because it is where most of the native Polynesians are, along with the ancient immigrants like the Chinese and Muslim settlers. The Spaniards named the place Cimitarra because this was once they believed where scimitars were manufactured or traded. Due to the continuous tension between the natives, Chinese and Muslims, it is rare for the Spaniards and the Americans to live here.

The northern part of Cimitarra is Puerto Montoya. Then its east and west, is the vast openness of the Pacific Ocean.

However, unlike the three other cities, Cimitarra has spawned a small municipality called Cimitarra Sur where some Polynesians, Muslims, and Chinese fought for the territory.

Cimitarra Sur

At the southernmost tip of the city lies the slums. This is where the poorest of the poor live. Cimitarra Sur was once part of the city of Cimitarra.

However, due to the dispute of territories between some Polynesians, Muslims, and Chinese immigrants, the government made it a municipality independent from Cimitarra. As the years passed, Cimitarra Sur suffered the consequences of being the poorest among the cities, thus it was referred to as “The Slums”. This was due to the mismanaged governance, too far away from the capital, and continuous disputes among the Natives, Chinese, and Muslims.

At its southernmost tip is another port and harbor, which provides them with an economy.

Economy

The economy of the island is centered in Marcelo which serves as the main economic and financial hub. Its unit of currency is the peso (₱) derived from the Spanish peso or “pieces of eight”.

Archeological evidence shows that La Isla Colonia had a flourishing trade with China and the Philippines. Ancient burnay jars with Baybayin letters (Philippines’ ancient alphabet system) and Chinese porcelain jars were found in several archeological sites across the island that date back to prehistoric times. Trade was conducted through barter. The inconvenience and sometimes the unfair system of barter led to the use of gold and silver which the Colonials called piloncitos as a medium of exchange. These are small bead-like gold and silver rings considered as the earliest coins of the ancient people.

Today, La Isla Colonia is a newly industrialized country. The economy has been transitioning from an agricultural economy to an economy with more emphasis on manufacturing and services like business process outsourcing (BPO) although travel and tourism is also a major industry that contributes to the economy.

To this day, the top agricultural products of La Isla Colonia are rice, coconut, banana, and coffee. One of the best economic moves La Isla Colonia made is the strict implementation of tariffs on imported coffee to support the local coffee industry. Thus, only one Starbucks store is allowed to operate in the whole country.

Transportation

Transportation on the island is facilitated by roads and waterways. The Pan-Colonial Highway connects all the islands of La Isla Colonia forming the backbone of land-based transportation in the country. Public transport in the country includes buses, taxis, and bicycles.

As an island country, inter-island travel using watercraft is often necessary, especially the Marcelo-Cimitarra and Marcelo-Cimitarra Sur routes. These waterway routes are more convenient than traversing the Pan-Colonial Highway (which passes through Puerto Montoya).

La Isla Colonia International Airport (IATA: IFC) is the only airport in the country located in Marcelo. From here, all travel throughout the island by roads or waterways.

Communication

There are ten AM and ten FM radio stations, eight free-to-air television stations, and two cable TV stations. In 1994, the island was connected to the Internet via a 64 kbit/s connection from a router serviced by La Isla Colonia Telephone Company (IslaTelCo) to a Sprint router in California, USA. Estimates for Internet penetration vary widely ranging from a low of 2.5 million to a high of 20 million people making the country one of the world’s top Internet users.

Literature and art

The culture of La Isla Colonia is literally a combination of the East and West. It exhibits cultural characteristics found in its Polynesian roots with various influences from the Chinese, Spanish, Filipino, American, Japanese, and German cultures.

Since most hu’ula dances are accompanied by chants and traditional musical instruments, most of its ancient history and mythology were preserved in these folk songs handed down to succeeding generations. Colonial mythology consists of legends regarding the creation and supernatural creatures, such as gods, angels, demons, fairies, elves, etc.

Today, written literature comprises works in English, Filipino, Spanish, Chinese, or Arabic.

Fiestas are traditional festivities commemorating patron saints introduced by the Spaniards. These festivities start with an early morning church mass, followed by feasting, music, dancing, parade, and theatrical presentations. However, due to modernization, the manner of conducting these festivities is changing.

One of the most visible Hispanic legacies in La Isla Colonia is the prevalence of Spanish names among Colonials. But a Spanish last name does not necessarily mean Spanish ancestry. This unique trait came as a result of a Spanish law that ordered the implementation of using Hispanic names throughout the population. The names of many locations and buildings are also Spanish or stem from Spanish origins.

American influence is much shown in the use of the American English language, love of fast food, and Hollywood films and music. La Isla Colonia shows its gratefulness to the United States with its pro-American affairs.

Architecture

16th-century Spanish architecture transformed to suit the hot tropical weather of its Far East territories like La Isla Colonia. It followed a uniform design centered around a plaza taking into account the location of the town hall, the church, the spaces for purposes of trade and military operations.

Most houses followed the Colonial native hut arrangement of wide open windows for ventilation and elevated houses with Spanish and Chinese influences. The native hut stood on Spanish-style bricks as foundation, usually with brick lower walls, and overhanging, wooden upper story with balustrades ventanillas and capiz shell sliding windows, and a Chinese tiled roof or sometimes native materials like nipa or sawali. Today these houses are more commonly called ancestral houses.

The Americans introduced the Greek revival architectural style during their occupation which led to the construction of government buildings and Art Deco theaters that resembled Neoclassical architecture.

But many of these buildings bearing its Spanish and American influences were destroyed during World War II but were reconstructed for historical preservation.

Music

During prehistoric times, archeological records show that music was heavily influenced by nature and the hu’ula traditions. It was believed that they used ancient bamboo flutes and native stringed musical instruments. Through the years, music has evolved due to the different foreign influences. Nowadays, American, Japanese, and Korean pop cultures influence the music scene in the country.

Dance

Prehistoric Colonials dance the traditional hu’ula as reverence to their spiritual roots believing that their chant possessed mana, or “power derived from a spiritual source”. It resembles the Hawaiian hula but is very strict in its use of hand and foot gestures. That is why only a few can dance the hu’ula nowadays. Today, dances vary from classical ballet up to the more street-oriented styles of hip-hop.

Values

Personal alliances rooted in kinship, friendship, religion, trade relationships, and obligations comprise the value system of the Colonials. It is centered around maintaining harmonious relationships with Bathala and other people. Thus, social behaviors are motivated by the desire to be accepted by society or care about what other people will think, say, or do.

Published by 1B

Filipino, Gen X, only daughter, freelance writer, author, wife, mother, and a good friend.

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