First person narrative by Wendy Labrador-Hansen
Welcome to my homeplace - HAMMERFEST, the world’s northernmost town! I am Wendy Labrador-Hansen originally from Cebu, a longtime resident of Hammerfest, married to Ole Ingvald Hansen who’s active in the trade union (Fagforbundet), and in the Filipino-Norwegian Klubb. We have a 20-year-old son Kent Ole, student and sportsman.
I work at a special nursing home while keeping active in different organizations and politics. I have been elected to Hammerfest’s Municipal Council since 2003 and the first Filipina to have integrated into local politics.
Let me share with you the history of Hammerfest which began in 1620. This makes Hammerfest the oldest town in Northern Norway, together with Vardø, northeasternmost city. The municipality was established in 1789, named after an old anchorage - whose first element HAMMER, refers to a number of large rocks, good for mooring boats called “Hamran” or “steps mountainside” and “FEST” which means “fastening.” In 1891, Hammerfest became the first town in Northern Europe and one of the first in the world to have electrical street lighting and its own power station.
The MERIDIAN SUPPORT forms part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Struve Geodetic Arc
The Meridian support was designed by Wilhelm Von Hanno and erected in 1854 to commemorate the largest international measurement of the earth`s shape and size. It states the Northernmost endpoint of a meridian arc of 25 degrees 20 from the northern ocean to the Danube River though Norway, Sweden and Russia. Today this cultural monument is very popular to tourists and photographers alike.
On 1 January 2020 when Kvalsund and Hammerfest were merged, the new municipality had two parallel, interchangeable names: Hammerfest Municipality. The population today stands at 11,448. There are about 85 different nationalities and 160 Filipinos residing here.
The year 2000 witnessed a large construction which processes natural gas from Snøhvit /Melkøye - the most expensive project in the history of northern Norway. It is one of the sources of livelihood for residents. Due to the abundance of fish and king crabs, many fishermen work in this sector.
Hammerfest is also a center of Sami culture and home of the Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society (Isbjørnklubben in Norwegian).
I feel lucky to live in the ‘Northernmost Town in the World,’ which offers high quality sports, employment, schools, hospital and airport services. The climate is both exciting and surprising. In wintertime, one can experience heavy snowfall. Among our popular sights are the Northern Lights / Aurora Borealis and the amazing rays of the midnight sun, giving Hammerfest the name “LAND OF MIDNIGHT SUN.”
Between July and August is a short period for picking cloudberries (multer), known as the GOLDEN FRUIT of the north. Aside from cloudberries, there are abundant blueberries lingonberries, blackberries, and different kinds of mushrooms.
Hiking enthusiasts will appreciate what awaits at the top of the new Tyventrappa Sherpa stairway. Mount Tyven offers stunning views of the Sørøysundet strait and you can relax with the unique design of the cabins. The Zigzag path leads to the viewpoint on Mount Salen, a panoramic view of Hammerfest and surrounding area that you can easily fall in love with. Charming restaurant and cafes are easy to find.
I am a proud Filipina who lives in a city of diversity and inclusion in working life, a town rich in culture, breathtaking scenery and hospitable people who welcome everyone to the Northernmost Town in the world - HAMMERFEST.
To see more of Hammerfest, visit #youtubechannel: Wendy L. Hansen