Naming in honour of sailors

2015-10-27 06:00

In memory of some of Kalk Bay’s early fishermen, the Kalk Bay Historical Society is proposing to name steps below ­Boyes’ Drive after the village’s early Filipino settlers.

Sailors from the Philippines first settled in Kalk Bay in the mid-1800s. Most of the settlers formed part of the fishing community.

Numerous stories persist around the arrival of the Filipino fishermen, but it is commonly thought that they came on a ship which was wrecked and rested in Kalk Bay, which they deserted to settle in the small village. It is also believed some of the settlers may have been exiled or fled from the Spanish-ruled Philip­pines.

The steps below Boye’s Drive, in the dip of the road below the waterfall, lead to a Filipino graveyard.

The burials at the site were discontinued when the Muizenberg cemetery was built at the end of the 1800s, but the graves are cared for by local residents who cleared away overgrown vegetation to display the tombstones, says the Society’s Tony Trimmel.

The fishermen from the Philippines were commonly referred to as “Manilas” by the community, Trimmel says, which has prompted the proposal to name the steps the Manila Steps.

After the Spanish and American occupation of the Philippines, many families returned to their homeland, Trimmel says.

However, others chose to stay, with many descendants still living in the area. Originally speaking Spanish, the fishermen learnt Afrikaans and married locals.

“There are still descendants of the fishermen, families with Spanish names, in the area,” Trimmel says.

This heritage can be seen in many areas in Kalk Bay, Trimmel says, with mass at the St James Church given in Spanish until 1921.

The proposal has been submitted to the False Bay subcouncil and will be forwarded to the City of Cape Town’s naming committee for consideration

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