History of Balilihan
How the Town Got Its Name
The towns of Bohol either got their names from plants or from mis-interpreted words at the onset of the Spanish occupation of the island. For Balilihan, its name was derived from a grass called balili which grew in abundance in the locality. “Balilihan” means a place where plenty of “balili” grows.At Present
The Municipality of Balilihan has set its foundation day on September 29, 1828; supposedly the day when the town was separated from its mother town, Baclayon. The date is questionable though, for per historical records, its founding date was officially recorded on another date. How and why this is so is yet to be clarified.
Succeeding historical events will be posted here according to dates to illustrate comprehensively the events that transpired. What has been observed, and has been done throughout the years, was that the town of Balilihan celebrates with much fanfare their foundation day on September 29, 1828. Week-long activities are scheduled aside from the thanksgiving Mass on the foundation day itself with the ever present street dancing competition.How the Municipality of Balilihan was established
Balilihan was an old settlement, a barrio under the municipality of Baclayon with the families Orig, Dangoy, Racho, Maniwang, Lacea and Pongase as the first inhabitants. The population grew when more people from other towns came to settle in the area. With the significant growth in population, the inhabitants sought to make their place be a “visita” or mission field.
On February 5, 1828, prior to the capture of the Dagohoy insurgents, Captain Manuel Sanz’ request to establish resettlement areas in Bohol in places called Balilihan, Batuanan, Catigbian, Vilar, Candijay and Cabulao was approved by the Governor General Mariano Ricafort.
In April 1828, Governor-general Ricafort sent the last drive against the rebels under Captain Manuel Sanz, a veteran Spanish soldier. Without Dagohoy’s able leadership, the rebels fought and made their last stand in the mountains of Boasa under the command of brothers, Handog and Auag. They fought in vain.
A garrison was established by the Spanish authorities at Datag, one of the barrios of Balilihan, to discourage and stamp out further uprisings of the natives. Per records of the town, Balilihan was separated from Baclayon on September 29, 1828 and the Spanish government, represented by Friar Tomas, formally established a settlement or “pueblo” in the Sitio “Bay sa Iring”. The Sitio was named so for the network of caves from where cats go and hide. The Sitio was about two kilometers from the Spanish garrison. Serafin Pongase was appointed as the first captain, but his administration was short-lived because he met his death in the hands of Manuel Danila with whom he had an altercation.
The next historical data was the official report of Captain Sanz stating that the town of Balilihan was officially settled on April 1829 with the assignment of its corresponding Parish Priest. The following month, on May 20, 1829, the people were convened to choose their Patron Saint.
When the followers of Dagohoy were finally disbanded in August 31, 1829, they were pardoned and allowed to live in peace. On this date, the Spanish conqueror, Captain Manuel Sanz, reported that Balilihan has now a total population of 2,100 people under the temporary administration of Father Manuel Plaza de San Benito.
On September 2, 1829, now Major Sanz requested that Balilihan and other settlement areas be made into new towns in the civil jurisdiction only. On December 9, 1831, the new Governor General Pascual Enrile officially approved the recommendation of Major Manuel Sanz.Onwards . . .
Due to scarcity of water, the seat of government of Balilihan was transferred later to its present site. The present site has ample supply of water coming from various springs such as Tan Pero, Ka Dadoy, Boho, Ka Boro, Bulingit, Komon and Abaca. The site is elevated and commands a good view of the nearby towns.
A belfry was constructed in 1835 atop the hill to serve as a watchtower and is made of adobe stones taken from Baclayon. Friar Tomas and Capitan Placido Andoy supervised the construction which was inaugurated years later, in 1846, when Capitan Gabriel Racho was the Gobernadorcillo. Through the years, the population of the town grew. As per record, its population reached 5,998 in 1879.
1888 witnessed the administration of Friar Benito Grayoa, who ordered the transfer of the seat of government to Cabad, a barrio 4 kilometers west of the Poblacion. The people, led by Capitan Bartolome Racho, opposed the move and filed their protest before the Spanish Military Governor Linares.
Linares disapproved of the proposal to move the seat of government thus causing Friar Grayoa’s ire. The Friar plotted and successfully killed the captain by dragging him with the Friar’s horse through the streets causing his death in jail. Fearing reprisals from the clergy, some of the people migrated to Surigao, Leyte and Misamis. Not long afterwards, Friar Grayoa was transferred to Siquijor.
There was again a move to fuse the town of Balilihan with Antequera in 1902, but was vigorously opposed by the people. However, on the following year, the municipality of Catigbian was annexed to Balilihan under Act No. 370 of the Philippine Commission.
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