HISTORY OF DINAGAT
Dinagat Municipality is the first municipality of the province of Dinagat Islands, created on April 25, 1885 the virtue of enabling Act Direction General No. 5505 Leg 103. The Northeast of the Province of Dinagat Islands, Southwest the province of Surigao del Norte and East of Leyte. It has a total land area of 2,671.98 hectares. (Land Uses 26.72 Sq.km), it is endowed with a rich and bountiful sea life to provide livelihood to its 12,786 population (2010 census) scattered among its twelve (12) barangays.
In the early days of its existence, the pueblo was given different names such as Kankayanit and Nantias which means, here, lived Kankayanit and Tias. It was also called Busay where waterfalls was found, and Panagatan, a tongue-shaped cove where the natives went fishing. During the month of June, July, August and September when “Habagat” rages, its fury would deter one from going out fish at Panagatan and whoever goes out to the sea becomes seasick, referred to as “Gidagat” and “Indagat “ in Visayan.
A story was told that a stranger reached the place in search of greener pastures. He approached a native and asked him what the inhabitants do for a living, and he answered that they farm and fish to live. His interest in fishing prompted him to inquire where the fish, and he replied and pointed to a place, saying in this native tongue, “dinhi niini na dagat”, which when translated in English means, here, from this bountiful seawaters. The stranger thereafter called the place Dinagat. Since then and until now the name Dinagat has not change. It has been the official name of the first and the oldest community in Dinagat Island then composed of the six (6) sitios of Busay, Pangi, Masikop, Masi-od, Balinao-nao and Can-ondo, and is still the official name of the mother Municipality of the six (6) towns of Loreto, Tubajon, Libjo (Albor), Basilisa (Rizal), Cagdianao and San Jose, having a total land use area of 2,671.98 hectares only, and twelve (12) barangays.
Dinagat was originally inhabited by people from the neighboring provinces of Bohol and Leyte. The first settlers came from Leyte. The generous Leyteños informed some Boholanos traders of a fertile land east of Leyte. The Boholanos, adventurous as they were and still are, set their course taking the southward direction and arrived Dinagat in the early part 1800. They found the seawaters of Dinagat abundant with fish in its clear, blue waters and reach marine life. Truly, the land of Dinagat was fertile, what with its virgin forest, verdant hills and mountains! Nature’s bounties encourage them to engage in fishing and farming as their chief means of livelihood. The early inhabitant/settlers were the families of Ventura, Ecunar, Ga and Gealogo, followed in 1825, by the families of Jarligo, Geraldino, Ensomo, Eviota and Gier.
The early part of 1830 marked the establishment of Dinagat as part of the Spanish Pueblo of Surigao. The economic growth of Dinagat had gradually improved and its population had increased prompting a Spanish priest to recommend to the higher Spanish authorities between the years 1840 and 1845, the conversion of Dinagat into a separated pueblo.
In 1849, one Angelo Faxon, a clerk from the Spanish pueblo of Surigao was sent to Dinagat to make a survey of the economic conditions of the inhabitants and they found them financially insufficient and still unable to pay their taxes, but in kinds only like root crops and other farm products. They were encouraged to improve their lot in life, and the place where they lived.
On September 1845, the provincial officials of Surigao headed by Alcalde Mayor Luis Ybañez Garcia after knowing that the settlers had considerably improved economically, and were more than capable of paying their taxes passed a resolution and issued Section de Gobierno No. 36 requesting Governor General Manuel Crespo for the separation of Dinagat from the mother pueblo of Surigao, with an independent parish. On January 23, 1855 Bishop Romualdo de Caraga favorably endorsed said request, so that on April 25, 1855, Governor General Crespo issued Dirrecion General No. 5505 Leg. 103, which created Dinagat as the first Spanish pueblo and the first Catholic parish in Dinagat Island, comprising the barangays of Libjo, Loreto, Tobajon, and Cagdianao.The first set of municipal officials who served office during the period from 1855 to 1856 were: Gobernadorcillo – Pedro Ga Ventura; Los Principles – Marcos Jarligo, SereloEviota, Alejandro Geraldino, Leon Ga Ventura, Lazaro Gealogo, Juan Ensomo, Miguel Gier.
During Spanish times, Dinagat suffered the attacks of the Muslims who pillaged the Christian towns in retaliation of the Spanish invasion of their territory. The Dinagatnons to protect themselves from the lookout spotted Moro Ventas. The ringing could be heard at distant sitios during fear weather. The bell warned the woman and children to hide in the convent while the men armed themselves against the pirates.
One night the pirates attacked Dinagat and the inhabitants were caught unprepared. The Muslims went out the chapel lowered down the bell and brought it to Busay, an elevated place about seven kilometers away from the village, and threw the bell into a deep Vito (natural well). Thereafter, they looted the chapel and raped the women while the men helpless watched them. Many attempts to bring out the bell had been made, but failed. Today it is still deep down the Vito of Busay.
There were local defenders among the inhabitants lead by Ventura brothers (Pedro and Lion) who were popular during those days because of their bravery and knowledge of “estucada”. They used their fighting skills to save the community, and (Linantip) was their arm of defense.
when the government throughout Mindanao Region was reorganize into six Politico Military Districts, the whole Island of Dinagat was annexed to Surigao District, which comprised as the third, or East, District of Caraga. During this period, the ancient Island of Dinagat including all coastal territory was under the influence of the Spanish government.
In 1879, Barangay Mabua of Dinagat was occasionally visited by the Parish Priest then assigned in Dinagat. Mabua was divided into six sections or barrios, but was still under the jurisdiction of Dinagat. By 1881, the name Mabua was changed to Loreto, the name was given by the Spanish Priest in honor of Loreto, the wife of the Alcalde Mayor of the Province of Surigao.
On September 4, 1890, the Governor General Manuel Sanches issued Direccion General No. 30 which created Loreto as the second Spanish Pueblo in Dinagat Island. The first seat of Municipal Officials who served into Office was: Gobernadorcillo – Agustin Gupana; Los Principales – Trinidad Ga, Juan Esme, Francisco Cunales, Adriano Maquinano, LaurianoLulab, Petra Cuadra, PaulinoLuib and SeverinoLongino.
The rule of Capitanes ended in 1899 when the town of Loreto was ruled by the revolutionists. Capitan Pecho was the prominent figure at this period. He ruled from 1899 to 1902 when the Filipino – American hostilities ended. Since then, Loreto was burned during Filipino – American war. During that time, Loreto was reduced back as a barrio of Dinagat. New changes were brought about. Aside from the old cedula taxes, land and internal revenue taxes were collected, the Local Government was reorganized. The head of the community was no longer the Capitan but the Tenientedel Barrio. By the end of Spanish rule in 1898, all Spanish citizens vacated the district, and the government was controlled by the native officers who sympathized during the revolution. Shortly thereafter, the United States military took over Surigao’s Administration, until Civil Government was restored in the Province on May 15, 1901.
On December 20, 1918, Governor General Francis Burton Harrison issued Executive Order No. 60 creating again Municipality of Loreto in the Province of Surigao. The Municipal President who served office during the period from 1919 to 1922 was Constantine Gupana.
Upon the recommendation by the Provincial Board of Surigao based upon Resolution No. 63, of the Municipal Council of Dinagat headed by Mayor Prospero E. Borja, Cagdianao was created as a Municipality by virtue of Executive Order No. 367 issued on December 23, 1959 by the Late President of Philippines, Carlos P. Garcia. The barrios of Cagdianao, Maatas, Bayantian, Cabungaan, Lahi, Santa Rita, Nueva Strella, Valencia, Boa and Tigbao, together with their respective sitios of Legaspi and Tapahan, all of the Municipality of Dinagat, Surigao, are segregated from said municipality and organized into an independent municipality to be known as the Municipality of Cagdianao with the seat of government at the Barrio of Cagdianao. The first Municipal Mayor who served office during the period from 1960 to 1963, was Prospero E. Borja.
On December 2, 1959, the two Municipal Councils of Dinagat and Loreto held a joint session at Barrio Libjo. They unanimously approved Resolution No. 5, series of 1959, creating the Municipality of Albor in Province of Surigao. It was agreed by the two councils that Loreto and Dinagat will contribute portions of their territories to comprise the new municipality. The Northern portion of the Municipality was part of Loreto, namely, Barrio Quezon, Libjo, Bolodbolod and San Jose. The Southern portion of the Municipality, such as Barrio Osmeña, Cahayag, Arellano and Plaridel were part of the Municipality of Dinagat.
Albor became a Municipality on February 29, 1960 by virtue of Executive Order No. 381 issued by the late President of the Philippines Carlos P. Garcia. The name “Albor” is a combination of the two surnames of Mayor Moises Alfaro of Loreto and Mayor Prospero Borja of Dinagat. The First two letters “AL” came from the surname Alfaro, the Mayor of Loreto and the last syllable “BOR” came from the surname Borja, the Mayor of Dinagat. The first Municipal Mayor who served to office was LambertoLlamera, Sr.
On June 17, 1967, Rizal was created as a municipality under Republic Act No. 4986. The Barrios of Rizal, Cortes, Paniog, Naga, Melgar, Puerto Princesa, Catadman, Tag-abaca, Columbus, Montag, Roxas, Bagtasa and Colo. In the Municipality of Dinagat, Province of Surigao del Norte, are segregated from said municipality, to be known as Municipality of Rizal, same Province. The seat of Government was located at Barrio Rizal. The First Municipal Mayor who served to office was Rolando Meso. Later, the Municipality of Rizal was renamed to Basilisa by virtue of Republic Act No. 5775, which took e3ffect on June 21, 1969.
In 1966, there was a joint session made by the Municipal Council of Loreto and Barangay Council of Tubajon, creating Barrio Tubajon as a Municipality. Upon the recommendation of the Provincial Board of Surigao, Tubajon was created as a Municipality under Republic Act No. 5643 on June 21, 1969. The Barrios of San Vicente, Sta. Cruz, Roxas, Mabini, Malinao, Navarro and Emelda are separated from the Municipality of Loreto and transferred to the Municipality of Tubajon. The first Municipal Mayor was Jacinto S. Pinat, Sr.
On November 15, 1989, San Jose was created by virtue of Republic Act. No. 6769 which was signed into law by President Corazon C. Aquino. Barangays such as, San Jose, Matingbi, Jacquez, Aurello, Mahayahay, San Juan, Don Ruben, JustinianaEdera, Sta. Cruz, Cuarenta, Wilson and Luna are segregated from Dinagat to constitute a separated and independent Municipality of San Jose, both in the Province of Surigao del Norte. The first Mayor who served to office was Ruben B. Ecleo, Jr.,