Malapascua Island is a Filipino island situated in the Visayan Sea, located across a shallow strait from the northernmost tip of Cebu Island. Administratively, it is part of the insular barangay of Logon, Daanbantayan Municipality, Cebu Province, the Philippines. Malapascua is a tiny island, only about 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) long and 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) wide, and has eight hamlets.
Malapascua became famous fairly recently, only in the early 90s as a dive destination. Prior this, the island was known for its wide white sand beach, known as Bounty Beach; it has also become known for its beautiful coral gardens and excellent local dive spots, as well as further-out sites including Gato Island, Monad Shoal, and Kemod Shoal. Monad Shoal is an underwater plateau where thresher sharks and manta rays can be sighted on a regular basis.
Most of the islanders derive their livelihood from tourism, while some still rely on subsistence fishing and farming.
The name “Malapascua” is said to have been given by some Spaniards whose ship happened to get stranded in the island on Christmas Day, December 25, 1520, due to bad weather. Because of their misfortune of having to spend Christmas away from their comrades and family stuck in a desolate island, the Spaniards called the island Mala Pascua, which literally means “Bad Easter”. From then on the Spaniards and the non-locals would refer to the island as Malapascua, while the local residents insist that their place is called Logon.
Religiously, Malapascua Island or barangay Logon is believed to be the place where the Virgin delos Desamparados made a miracle sometime in 1890 when the island said to have only nine households of the Monteclar, Deogrades, Rosales, Gulfan, Rubio, Bohol and Bruces families. It was said to be a piece of wood that had never burnt. In 1907, the parish priest of Kandaya, now Daanbantayan town, Rev. Fr. Inocentes Maga, baptized it of its name upon the request of the local residents. The size of the image is not the original size and it is said to be growing until present. Devotees from different parts of the country and even abroad are coming during the feast on May 11 and 12 of every year. The chapel was originally made of coconut palm and leaves but at present, it is made of steel and cement because of donations of the devotees for the church’s improvement.
Similar to other islands, natives were dependent on fishing as a source of livelihood. Agricultural products such as corn and rice were supplied from neighboring islands, such as Cebu and Leyte. With the population increasing and fish stocks dwindling, tourism came to the rescue. Nowadays, the majority of islanders are either directly or indirectly making a living out of tourism, which is developing rapidly. The growth of tourism has also increased local immigration to the island, thus the demand for housing. The lack of a pier for bigger boats – due to financial constraints – is keeping a break on construction growth.
The number-one dive site of Malapascua is Monad Shoal, a natural cleaning station for fish located about 30-35 minutes from the island. The shoal is a rather unremarkable 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) long rock stump at the edge of a 200 metres (660 ft) drop and has a flattish top at a depth of around 20 to 24 metres (66 to 79 ft). The site is best known as the only place in the world where thresher sharks can be seen regularly before sunrise. They use the seamount as a cleaning station for wrasse to remove parasites from their skin and clean their gills and mouths. The shoal also attracts other pelagics such as devil rays and eagle rays. Manta rays and hammerheads are seasonal. Unfortunately most of the coral reefs of the shoal are damaged by destructive fishing methods.