Thitu Island, called Pag-asa in Filipino, is the largest of the disputed Spratly Islands occupied by the Philippines. It is also the only one that is home to a civilian population. In addition to a small number of military personnel, over 100 civilians, mostly civil servants and their families, live on Thitu. The island is also the seat of government for Kalayaan—the Philippines’ smallest municipality, consisting of Thitu and the other eight features the Philippines occupies in the Spratly Islands. Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon represents Kalayaan, splitting his time between Thitu and the provincial capital of Puerto Princesa on Palawan. He has been campaigning around the Philippines and abroad to transform his idyllic but disputed municipality into the “Kalayaan Ecotourism Zone.”

Below are photos provided by Mayor Bito-onon showing life on Thitu and its surroundings.

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”35″ gal_title=”Life on Thitu Island”]

About AMTI Leadership

Dr. Michael Green is senior vice president for Asia and Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and Executive Advisor to AMTI. Gregory B. Poling is a senior fellow for Southeast Asia and director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at CSIS.