The City of Surigao was formerly known, according to Fray San Juan Francisco de San Antonio as Banahao, San Antonio, in his “Chronicles” written in 1738, described Banahao as located at the northern head of Mindanao within there is a good port for ships called Bilan-bilan.
Banahao was part of the old district of Caraga which became the Politico-Military District of Surigao with Tandag (presently, the capital of Surigao del Sur) as its capital. In its original size during the Spanish era, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte up to Gingoog River in Misamis Oriental according to the Philippine Commission Report of 1901, Surigao was ten times bigger than Rhodes Island and three times bigger than Connecticut. Because of repeated attacks by Moro pirates, the provincial capital was within the defensive perimeter of the Spanish Naval Squadron in Cebu and Ozamis.
Surigao officially became a town when it became the permanent residence of the Recollects on February 1, 1751 when all the canonical books were moved from Siargao to Surigao. “The first canonical books bore the signature of Fr. Lucas dela Cruz.” Previously, the place was Justa “Vista” of the Parish in Caolo (Siargao).
On the northeastern portion of Siargao Island, facing the vast Pacific Ocean, lies the small town of Burgos. It has six barangays such as Poblacion 1, Poblacion 2, Bitaug, Matin-ao and San Mateo. The total land area is 1,904.5385 hectares with a population of 3,943 based on the 2000 census.
The pioneers of Burgos were the families coming from Mainland Mindanao, Bohol, Leyte and Sapao now Sta. Monica. These were the families of Cagas, Salvation, Dumanjog, Espanto, Macaldo,Malinao, Nogaliza, Domiňos and Virtudaso. They settled at the opposite side for fear of moro pirates attack. This place was called Sipan, near the mouth of Matin-ao River. Those dwelling in the coastal areas were in Kapun-an surrounded by huge big trees and rocks sometimes called Pook.
When the Spaniards came, they lived in Unidad, a Sitio. Afterwards, it was renamed Barangay Burgos in 1925 during the American regime with the seat of Municipal Government in Numancia now Del Carmen.
As Sapao became a district town in 1995, Burgos applied for a township status with the assistance of Congressman Reynaldo P. Honrado who requested President Diosdado Macapagal to approve it. His Excellency issued Executive Order No. 293. dated November 29, 1965, converting and declaring Barangay Burgos into a municipality.
Unfortunately, a Supreme Court injunction was filed by former Senator Emmanuel Pelaez, regarding the 77 newly created town in the whole country. It was terminated as a town on February 17, 1966, lasting for only two and half months.
The dream and sacrifices of the residents were finally redeemed when President Ferdinand E. Marcos, through the efforts of the dynamic and political kindpin, Congressman Constantino H. Navarro Sr, signed into law RA 5093 on June 17, 1967 which created Burgos into a seventh class municipality.
The Municipality of Dapa lies south of Siargao Island. It is 36 nautical miles east of Surigao, the capital of Surigao del Norte. A few nautical miles of the town is the famous Philippine Deep.
The early villages along its seacoast are the barrios of Cambas-ac, Union and Dolores. Sometime in the early part of the last century of the Spanish regime, Moro piracy was rampant in the Southeast coast of Mindanao. Pirates occasionally swooped down on the coastal village of Siargao Island and left behind them destruction and death. Natives were often taken as captives and slaves.
Due to frequent raids, the villagers abandoned their homes and sought haven in Taghaligui (now Dapa) which was then a lush timberland and protected from the shore with a thick formation of tall mangroves.
From their vantage position, it was then easy for them to run for cover whenever there was an approaching enemy attack. In taking cover, they usually lay prone on the ground (hapa’) behind the huge tree trunks.
Thus Dapa, corrupted from the vernacular word hapa, was adopted by the natives as the permanent name of their settlement in lieu of Taghaligui to constantly remind them of those vicious moro raids.
Source:1970 Souvenir Program of Philippine Public Schools Inter-scholastic Athletic Association Meet (PPSIAA).
The town of Del Carmen is one of the oldest settlements founded by the Spaniards in the cluster of islands in the Pacific Ocean east of Surigao del Norte known as Siargao.
Early records of missionaries dating to 1571, or barely 50 years after the discovery of the Philippines, refer to the place as Caolo (derived according to oral history from the word colo or Kolo which is the native name for bread fruit. Thus, Caolo means land of bread fruits) and thereafter as Caob also written variously as Kaob, Koob, Kacub, all of which mean sheltered, covered or landlocked. Eventually, it came to be popularly known as NUMANCIA after town in the andalucian plains of Spain, possibly so named by Spanish priest on resident who came from that rainy region. This name officially remained for over two centuries until it was changed to Del Carmen on June 1966 by virtue of Republic Act No. 4786 during the Administration of Mayor Galo C. Comon in honor of its patroness, Virgen Del Carmen, whose feast day falls on 16 July.
Del Carmen, according to the Philippine Catholic Directory, was established in 1635 as a mission station by the Recollects or Recoletos, the first resident priest of this order was Fray Lucas dela Cuz. At that time, then known as NUMANCIA, Del Carmen was the seat of the diocese of Distrito del Surigao, a province that was once part of the historic region of Caraga which covered the whole of Northeast Mindanao. Its church was reputed to be the earliest in the Surigao-Butuan area and until its destruction by a series of destructive Moro attacks and typhoons, was undoubtedly the largest and most beautiful in the territory. The Spanish religious compound consisting of the church and convent occupied about a hectare and on the same site today remnants of the old rampart and other ruins made of limestone can be seen as reminders of a glorious and bygone era.
In the olden days and after the reign of the encomienderos, Del Carmen had few recorded villages under it with pueblo de Caob at Dageongan, now Barangay Roxas, in the municipality of San Isidro. Also mentioned. although not extensively, is Jamoya-on o Hamova-won (named after a species of hardwood tree resistant to seawater and is thus commonly used as material for the hull of native vessels). Likewise, Haoyon, now the Barangays Katipunan and Cancohoy, also appeared sporadically in religious chronicles.
Stories that have become legend over the years told of a powerful bell that was dumped into a lake at Hoayon. The bell is purported made of pure silver and its sound can be heard as far as Bucas Grande island several miles to the south. It has been said that instead of warning local residents of the coming of Moro raiders, the bell attracted the pirates instead who came guided by its loud ringing. Thus, the missionaries decided to throw it away. From Haoyon, the missionaries transferred to Campuhag for expansion and better safety from the Moro raiders. The Spanish friars decided to establish their permanent residence at the present site of the Poblacion of Del Carmen when they found it well-protected, and stayed on there. Then in 1856-1896, the Jesuits returned to Siargao until the Benedictines replaced them in 1896-1909 after which the missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC) from Holland took their turn at ministering to the spiritual needs of the populace. Today, Del Carmen is under the Society of Divine Word of SVD after the Filipinization on policy was implemented when the Bishopric came under Bishop Miguel Cinches, SVD, D.D., Ph.D.
In 1920 under the American regime with Francisco Alburo as town president, the territory of Del Carmen at that time comprised of one half of Bucas Grande island with the Barangays of Pamosaingan, Sta. Cruz and Hinundayan excluding Socorro, the main village (now a town) and others which belonged to Dapa . This was the setup when the bloody “Colorum Uprising” erupted in the province of Surigao del Norte in 1924, and violently suppressed by the Commonwealth Government with American and military support.
The old Del Carmen (Numancia) is bounded in the south by barangay Bitoon between Dapa and Del Carmen up to the barangay of tuboran, Quezon, landahan in Sta.Cruz straight to Benoni point as boundary between Del Carmen and Pilar and all lands extending north of this line now composed of the new municipalities of Sapao (presently Sta.Monica and part of Del Carmen until 1948), Burgos, San Isidro and San Benito along the northwestern seaboard of Siargao island all of which were once part of the old Numancia .
By virtue of an executive order, President Ramon Magsaysay in 1952 created the town of Sapao. In 1960,President Carlos P. Garcia elevated the Barangay San Isidro into a municipality by virtue of Executive Oder No. 356 and 1964 the new municipality of Burgos was born by legislative act and its first set of local officials were elected in 1967. The last barrio under Numancia, namely San Benito, became a municipality in October 1971.what remains today of Del Carmen’s original territory comprises of the barangays of Bitoon, Cabugao, Antipolo, Quezon, Sayak, Lobogon, Mahayhay, Esperanza, Katipunan, Cancohoy, Bagacay, Jamoyaon, Mabuhay, Caub, Domuyog, San Fernando, Hali-an and the two barangays in the town proper, San Jose and Del Carmen, with 23 sitios under it .
Since the American regime up to the present. Del Carmen has had 13 illustrious local chief executives with Hon. Constantino H. Navarro. Jr., former Congressman of the First District of Surigao del Norte, which includes Siargao and Dinagat, islands under its Jurisdiction. Del Carmen is classified as a 5th class municipality with a total land area of 20,189.000 hectares out of which 9,450 hectares are forest lands, 4,180 hectares mangroves and 5,056.5 hectares alienable and disposable lands with the rest classified as agricultural and open space areas, etc. It is the acknowledged gateway to Surigao City and the neighboring municipalities in Siargao Island being the shortest sea route there via the narrow Hinatuan Passage to the mainland.
Many legends have been attached to the reason why this town had been known as Cabuntog in ancient times. Foremost is legend of huge bell in the local church that when it rings it can be heard as far as the mainland of mindanao. Its sound allegedly summon the Muslin raiders to its shores. To protect itself against this depreciation it was decided to get rid of the bell. They did so by dumping the same at Campujong river. Dumping is “Buntog” in the local dialect hence, the name.
Records however tells a different tale. General Luna then Known as Cabuntog in ancient times, enjoyed a peaceful as well as a bloody era. The original inhabitants of the place belongs to the group of people known as the “Caragans” or people from the region known as Caraga. They subsist on fishing and farming. They live a life that was relatively tranquil and peaceful until the arrival of the Spanish Colonizes sometimes in late 15th century. The arrival of theses colonizers and their harsh treatment of the people caused resentment and misgivings amongst its populate that in the year 1631, the Caragan’s revolted in the mainland and attacked and leveled Cabuntog to the ground. The parish priest’s life was spared due to his earlier departure to Bacuag but his assistant was captured and was beheaded in a swampy area, now believed to be the swampland between Barangay Malinao of General Luna and Barangay Union of the Municipality of Dapa.
The years between 1631 to 1749 was a century of peace. The Christianization of the area went on smoothly and the people were persuaded to abandon their tree dwelings and inhabit the surroundings of what is now General Luna. This tranquil atmosphere was again broken when Muslim raiders came and again leveled “EL Parokya de Cabuntog”.
They did it again five years later in 1756 and again in 1856. The in between years that lasted almost a century, between the burnings with its attendant astrocities, General Luna, live a humdrum, idyllic life that its people live simply for the sake of living, never minding its past nor looking forward towards the future. Its forest and verdant hills and teeming while shores contained so many game animals, and fish and its land produced abundant food for its people. The living was easy.
The advent of American Colonization reduced the “pueblo” to a “baranagay” of the Municipality of Dapa. It however bounced black to its present status two decades later thru the efforts of the local political stalwarts of the time like Silvestre C. Plaza, Agosto E. Espejon, Montano Minglana, Mauricio A. Comandante, Fabian E. etc. who in time, serve the town either as a Mayor o a Councilor.
August 1, 1929 marked as the official day of the formal entry of General Luna as an organized unit of government in the modern Philippine Governmental System. The succeeding years saw the peaceful change of government thru the electoal processes except during the Japanese Occupation and EDSA “Revolution”.
The Municipality of Pilar is relatively an infant municipality having been created only on October 31, 1953 by Executive Order No. 638 issued by President Elpidio S. Quirino. It was a barrio of the Municipality of Dapa.
The brains of creating Pilar as a municipality were its prominent citizens. It was conceived during the barangay fiesta of San Roque on August 15, 1953 in the residence of Jose Gonzales where the Mayor of Dapa (where Pilar then belonged), Vicente Rocolcol and Mayor Gaudencio Plaza of General Luna were guests. The Pilarnons present were Primo Literato, Pedro Gerona, Queterio Trigo, Francisco Española, Odon Escuyos, Alejo Literato, Artesiano Tesiorna and Jover Polangco. Prominent women of Pilar were also present during that conference.
The group outlined the initial action to create or make Pilar a town. The legal aspect of the plan was to undertaken by Councilor Emiliano Escuyos, the representative councillor of Pilar who passed a resolution to create Pilar as a Municipalit which was unanimously approved not only by the Municipal Council of Dapa but by the Provincial Board of Surigao as well.
Then follows the tedious and gruelling work of gathering data and separating all Tax Declarations of the then barrio of Pilar which rested on the shoulders of Samuel Trigo and Roman Penera, with the help of Bernardino Alberca who later became the first Municipal Secretary of Pilar.
After two months of hard work, each requirement was completed, submitted and followed up in Manila. Per records, Pilar became a Municipality in October 31, 1953 by virtue of Executive Order No. 638, to wit:
“Pursuant to the provisions of the Section of the Revised Administrative Code there is hereby created in the Province of SUrigao a Municipality to be known as the Municipality of Pilar to consist of the barrios Pilar, which shall be the seat of Government, Caridad, San Roque, Maasin and Salvacion and the sitios, which shall hereafter be known as the barrios of Mabini, Consolacion, Dayaohay, Jaboy, Datu, Kalipayan and Buyak, all of the Municipality of Dapa, Surigao.
The Municipality of Pilar shall begin to exist upon the appointment and qualification of the Mayor, Vice Mayor, and a majority of the Councilors thereof, and upon the certification by the secretary of Finance or the Provincial Treasurer of Surigao that said Municipality is financially capable of implementing the provisions of the minimum wages law and at the same time providing for all the statutory obligations and ordinary essential services of a regular Municipality.
It was said that during the Spanish Regime, a group of Jesuit missionaries happened to be assigned at Sapao, now called the Municipality of Sta. Monica. They were fascinated with the vast array of blooming Talisay Trees in the place where the Municipality of San Benito presently stands. Their enchantment made them to name the place “Talisay.”
After exploiting the place and observing the cultural behaviour of the people, a chapel was built bearing the relic of Saint Benedict. After a couple of years, Talisay was changed to San Benito in honor of Saint Benedict, its patron saint.
San Benito became a civil barrio of Sapao. When Sapao was reverted to a barrio by virtue of an executive order of the Military Governor, San Benito was then ceded to Numancia, now Del Carmen, and became its largest barangay.
It was Congressman Constantino C. Navarro, Sr., who proposed and sponsored a bill for the creation of San Benito as a new municipality. After complying with the formalities and legal requirements, on September 17, 1971, Republic Act No. 6396 came into being creating the Municipality of San Benito. Presently, the town is composed of six (6) barangays, namely: Talisay, Sta. Cruz, Nuevo Campo, San Juan, Bongdo and Maribojoc.
The Municipality of San Benito is one of the richest fishing grounds in Siargao Island. Fishing ranks second in terms of source of income of the people.
Little is known about the past and present of this municipality. Knowledgeable residents of the place like its municipal officials then were for some unknown reasons unable to provide the publicity committee with even a brief information on its history, its struggle for autonomy, its achievements and progress and its blueprints for development.Except for some bits of information gleaned from the office of the Governor then, not much can be written about San Isidro.
Before the municipality became a separate political subdivision in 1960, it was a part of Numancia. It was said that before the barrio was linked with a road to its mother town where the high school is, only very few succeeded in getting a secondary education.
In those days, the best and shortest way to reach Numancia was to travel on foot through a trail which wound through mountainous ranges and muddy terrain. With the construction of roads later and the opening of more s chools in those towns and barrios, San Isidro has not only filled the need for the adequate education of its inhabitants but has also improved its economic pace.From the scant information gathered, San Isidro was the fourth of the five new municipalities in Siargao to be created. It was categorized 7th class municipality.
The Municipality of Sta. Monica formerly known as “Sapao”, is part of Siargao (“Sidargo”) Island, that belongs to Surigao which is part of the old territory that existed in Northern Mindanao called “Caraga”. The latter was named after the people called “Calagans”, believed to be of Visayan origin. They were the inhabitants of the Province of Surigao at that time.
Historically, in 1538, the Spanish Expedition led by Francisco del Castro, a Portuguese-born Spanish, landed in what is presently Surigao del Norte province, and therein baptized theinhabitants to Christianity. The legendary name “Sapao” originated from a native fisherman, who threw his net to catch a school of fish that exclaimed “Sapao-sapao” whenever it was full, meaning the catch was so plenty that it overloaded the net. Hence, the name Sapao was given to the place.
As early as 1683, a Spanish settlement and development was established in Tandag by the Recollect Fathers who had residence at Tandag, Butuan, Bislig, Linao-an in the interior of Agusan and Siargao Island. The stone arched gate of the old church of Sapao is the strong permanent legacy of this early Spanish settlement in Siargao Island.
After the Spanish-American War, the American military governor issued an Executive Order to revert Sapao into a barrio under the municipality of Numancia, until October 1, 1953. In March, 1947, a massive activity of revision and division of tax declarations at the Provincial Officer were undertaken between Numancia and Sapao in an effort to create Sapao into a municipality. The revision was completed in March, 1952. In the succeeding year, on October 1, 1953, His Excellency, President Elpidio Quirino issued Executive Order No. 624 officially creating Sapao into a municipality. A few years later, House Bill No. 7233 which became RA 4998, duly approved by President Ferdinand E. Marcos, changed the name Sapao into Sta. Monica.
“Bunga” was the ancient name of the place, which means fruit. A popular folklore says that the name “Socorro” was delived from the Spanish priest’s plea for “help” when the sailboat he was boarding with his church worker-companions was about to capsize due to gigantic waves brought about by the coming thunderstorm while approaching towards the sitio to officiate mass on a Sunday morning in 1920 . The said priest and company were saved by the brave men of the place who rushed to the scene notwithstanding the wrath of nature. Such heroic acts prompted the priest to name the place “Socorro” in honor of the fearlessness of the men and as a way of paying tribute to the populace who were willing to offer help and assistance to others even in times of danger. Since then, the sitio, which was converted into a barrio, rose from a sleepy settlement into a progressive locality. On February 22, 1961. Socorro was granted the status of a municipality with the entire Bucas Grande Island as its jurisdiction with the signing of Executive Order No. 219 by then President Diosdado Macapagal.
Socorro, same as with other places, had a history to e proud of. But unlike its contemporaries, Socorro’s history is written in blood. A group with religious proclivity called the Cofradia de Sagrado Corazon de Jesus settled in the island in 1917 from Maasin,Leyte. The earlier settlers joined the group. But the leader of the Cofradia broke up with the oman Catholic Church and joined the Iglesia Filipina Independiente in 1923. The enraged Catholic priest in Dapa reported to the Provincial Constabulary Command in Surigao that a colorum group in the island will rebel against the government. A troop was sent to the island but committed atrocities and the islanders retaliated. A military mission was sent from Dapa and some members were killed. Another encounter occurred in January 1924 resulting to the death of 16 soldiers and 40 local men. The American colonial government later sent men to attack and later negotiated the surrender of the local combatants.
The municipality is composed of fourteen (14) barangays covering an area of 12,445 hectares. The town proper located in the eastern side of the island nestles tranquilly along the seashore of a bay where one can behold the first ray of sunlight arising out of the bosom of the Pacific Ocean in the wee hours of the morning. It has nine (9) comely natural attractions, with the Sohoton Lagoons emerging as the most popular, as well as three (3) man-made attractions that enticed a number of tourists to flock to the island. Its populace numbering 15,208 based on the 1995 census,are mostly immigrants from Leyte, Bohol, Cantilan and Tago towns in Surigao del Sur and Mainit and other towns of Surigao del Norte. The islanders are noted for nurturing and practicing the “Bayanihan” way of life, a proud legacy of their forebeas, whereunto, each and every socorronhon vow to uphold and pass on to the next generations.