History of Tagbilaran City

The history of Tagbilaran City dates back to the 15th century when it was known as the “Bool Kingdom”. By virtue of bones and other artifacts excavated by archeologists along the shorelines of lower-Mansasa, the early settlers were husky in build and generally tall and have established trade relations with China, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Much later, in the 18th century, a more advanced and civilized community was established at Sitio Ubos, the lower coastal portion at the back of the present Cathedral compound. Trading, especially with Chinese merchants, was confined in this area which developed into a bigger settlement that spread outwards from the Cathedral compound. Most of the settler’s houses were made of bamboo, molave and nipa, except for the privileged few whose houses were made of limestone and bricks.

Historical Events

The Blood Compact is one of the most important historical events etched in the annals of the history of the Philippines. In fact the event was immortalized into canvass by the famous Filipino painter, Juan Luna. On that fateful day of March 16, 1565, the Spanish fleet of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi landed on the shores of Bool. Legaspi, accompanied by Fray Andres de Urdaneta and some crew members met with the local chieftain, Datu Sikatuna, at a place a few meters away from the beach. After a few pleasantries, the Basque seafarer and the native chieftain sealed off and strengthened their friendship in a blood compact, known at the time as “Sandugo”.

Another significant event that took place in Tagbilaran City was the Battle of Ubujan where a guerilla unit under the command of Captain Francisco Salazar, Nome-de-guerre of Vicente Cubello, engaged a Japanese troop against overwhelming odds on October 22, 1942. It was a display of Boholano bravery of raw and naked courage against the well-equipped and well trained Japanese soldiers. Capt. Salazar died in the field of battle bringing honor to his family and to the country for his bravery.

Establishment as a Town

Tagbilaran was once a part of Baclayon town and administered by the Jesuits. In 1741, the Father Rector of the Jesuits in Bohol, Father Cesar Felipe Doria, writing from his "Residencia" in Loboc, Bohol, petitioned his superiors for the division of the town of Baclayon. The town to be created will be named “San Jose de Tagbilaran” and located either at Mansasa or Tagbilaran.

Father Doria cited five reasons for the division but the main reason behind was the marked increase in population. Taxpayers have grown to 1,600 and those going to confession are over 8,000 inhabitants, a number deemed impossible to handle by a single priest only. The said number cannot be accommodated anymore inside the church premises.

Another reason is that Baclayon town covers a very large area and so the priest and his assigned officials find it hard to control the activities of the inhabitants. Tax-census of the church is difficult to form, more so to execute it when a large number of the Indios remain outside of the tax-census area. Thus, tribute is not being paid and so is prejudicial to Spain.

The Governor of the Province of Cebu, General Francisco Antonio Calderon de la Barca, who had jurisdiction over Bohol, sent a commission to verify the contents of the petition of Father Doria. Captain Juan de Toledo y Grimaldos headed the commission which made the inspection, public hearing and reconnaissance of the proposed sites.

Receiving favorable recommendations from Captain Toledo, General de la Barca sent a report to the Father Procurator General of the Jesuits. A copy of the report was sent to Fr. Doria for his record, as requested.

The Father Procurator General of the Jesuits, Fr. Pedro Tavarnier, indorsed favorably the petition to the Advocate Fiscal for a grant of license to divide the town Baclayon. On January 30, 1742 the Advocate Fiscal approved the petition. He signed and sealed it in the name of the Governor-General. He then indorsed the papers he received from the Procurator General to the Office of the Governor-General recommending that the town officials to govern the population shall be selected from the natives of the place; that the native populace will erect the church and the parsonage; that the Alcalde Mayor of Cebu shall support the smooth and full execution of the order.

On February 8, 1742 the report of the Advocate Fiscal was received at the Executive House and signed and sealed by the Adviser Doctor Josef Correa Villareal in the name of the Governor General.

On February 9, 1742 Adviser Josef Correa Villareal prepared the decree. The additional provisions were: The families to be made part of the Tagbilaran should do it at their own volition; the boundaries should be marked; and the officials shall assign a priest. The decree was signed by the Governor-General Gaspar de la Torre and sealed.

On February 13, 1742 the decree was indorsed to the Father Provincial of the Jesuits, Father Fulgencio Esperimbergo who ordered that the contents of the decree be implemented.

On February 15, 1742 a copy of the decree and petition was sent to the Royal Bookkeeper, Don Miguel Antonio de San Esteban for safekeeping.

On May 6, 1742 General Don Francisco Antonio Calderon de la Barca, Governor of the Visayas, informed Father Doria that he received the decree for the erection of the new town. However, pressing business matters impede the immediate implementation.

General de la Barca came to Bohol on July 4, 1742 at Baclayon, Bohol, and he supervised the election of officials for the new town.

On July 11, 1742 at Tagbilaran, the site of the new town, in the presence of the parish priest of Baclayon, Reverend Father Jose Bernardo Redoon, the elected officials were installed by General de la Barca by letting the officials confirm their obligations. On the same date, established boundary was confirmed by all.

On July 12, 1742 at Tagbilaran, General de la Barca confirmed the tax-census of six hundred (600) tributees to be divided into six (6) "cabezeras" or family groupings.

The town was now deemed to start its function and duties as a town of Tagbilaran. Father Redoon was in-charge to supervise the new town.

It is to the credit of the Spanish officials that they did not want to establish or start a new town without first electing the officials for the new town. On July 4, 1742 at Baclayon, Bohol, General de la Barca conducted the election of the officials for Tagbilaran by majority vote.

The following were the elected officials for the new town of Tagbilaran:

Mayor (Gobernadorcillo) - Don Calixto Marcos
Lieutenant (Teniente) - Don Ignacio Malimpin
Chief Constable (Aguacil Mayor) - Don Lorenzo Verano
Notary/Clerk (Escrivano) - Don Andres Estanislao
Arbiter for Farms (Juez de Sementeras)- Don Mariano Tomas

These officials were installed on July 11, 1742 at Tagbilaran, which was the site of the new town. It was General Francisco Antonio Calderon de la Barca who personally supervised the installation of these officials. It must be noted that General de la Barca was accompanied by other Spanish officials who acted as witnesses.

The new town had a tax census which showed that six hundred (600) tributes will compose the new town of Tagbilaran. It means that out of the 1,600 tributes or taxpayers of Baclayon, 600 tributes were the new composition of Tagbilaran to build the church and parsonage.

The following was the designated boundary of the new town of Tagbilaran, "Between Tagbilaran and Maribojoc the boundary will be at Abacong (now Bacong, Cortes, Bohol) then towards the northeast through the mountain range until Anislag, then to Lagnason, then to Agong, then towards the coast of Baclayon until Guiwanon."

This very general description of the boundaries which was apparently erroneous would later on cause conflicts between the surrounding towns as to the correct boundaries. The actual location of the boundary at Guiwanon, Baclayon, was later on resolved in 1832 by Captain Manuel Sanz, the conqueror of Dagohoy’s men.

The conflict of boundaries between the town of Cortes and Tagbilaran is still going on. The boundary at Anislag, Corella has not been properly resolved because the location of Lagnason is not accurate. The present location of Lagnason is not located in the place indicated in the description of the boundary described in 1742.

In 1738, Father Juan Francisco de San Antonio, O.S.F., wrote about the religious estate in the Philippines. He said, "In the island of Bohol, in the villages of Loboc, Baclayon, Dauis, Maribojoc, San Miguel de Jagna, Talibon and Ynabanga…" This indicates that in 1738 the town of Tagbilaran was not yet in existence.

In 1751, Father Juan J. Delagado, S.J., wrote about the religious condition of the islands. He said, "…in the island of Bohol, the ministries of Inabanga and Talibon, where the residence (residencia) of Bohol is located with the villages and ministries of Loboc, Baclayon, Dauis, Maribojoc, Tagbilaran (a new village), and another on the bar of the river of Loboc, also new named Santisima Trinidad, and on the opposite coast of the island, the village and ministry of Jagna."

This indicated that Tagbilaran was yet a new town in 1751. The above quoted references would verify that Tagbilaran was established between the years 1738 and 1751.

Post Spanish Regime

The first civil government of Bohol, which was independent from Spanish rule, was formed in April 1899 when Vice-Governor Salustiano Borja was the ex-officio Municipal President of Tagbilaran. The Municipal President was then called "Kapitan" or Gobernadorcillo until it was changed to "Presidente Municipal" in 1913, then finally to "Mayor" immediately after the Second World War.

Some notable local executives of Tagbilaran since 1899 are as follows: Kapitan Salustiano Borja, Kapitan Anecito Clarin, Kapitan Jacinto Borja, Kapitan Mariano Parras, Kapitan Claudio Gallares, Kapitan Miguel Parras, Presidente Celestino G. Gallares, Presidente Jacinto Remolador, Presidente Gregorio Peñaflor, Presidente Timoteo Butalid, Presidente Andres Torralba, Mayor Genaro Visarra, Mayor Honorio P. Grupo, Mayor Pedro Belderol, Mayor Venancio P. Inting, Mayor Rolando G. Butalid, Mayor Jose Ma. Rocha, Mayor Jose V. Torralba, Mayor Dan Neri Lim (present City Mayor).

It was during the term of Presidente Celestino Gallares (1913-1916) when major changes happened in Tagbilaran. He himself drafted what is now known as the "Gallares Town Plan", wherein the existing street patterns are being followed. The telephone system and the municipal library were established. He ignited the civic spirit of the people in the organizing associations and clubs that worked for the progress of the town. He donated portions of his lands for public use and changed the "Talipapa" into a real Public Market by erecting permanent buildings. The Bohol Provincial Hospital and the Airport were constructed during his term. Due to his good work he was elected congressman of the First Congressional District of Bohol and it was at this time when he was one of those sent with the Philippine Mission to the United States. Gallares serve for several terms as governor of Bohol after which he retired from politics.

The spirit and ideas of the Gallares plan gradually waved after his term. Presidente Timoteo Butalid revived this spirit when he declared that his term would be devoted to a labor-intensive road construction work. "Iyo Tiyoy" as he was fondly called, led in the handling of the pick and shovel immediately after taking oath of office, when he became an acting Governor of Bohol, he worked for the construction of Tagbilaran-Songculan causeway, now officially known as Butalid Causeway.

Post World War II Regime

The administration of Mayor Pedro Belderol was marked by the opening of new city roads, the initial installation of prefabricated school buildings, the establishment of a fire department and the purchase of the only two fire trucks of the city and the construction of the Bo-ol and Cogon market buildings which were not made use of the succeeding administration. The Belderol administration was also marked by combined national and provincial political odds. His opposition to the then President Carlos P. Garcia, caused his damaging defeat in his attempt for the fourth term. Mayor Venancio P. Inting succeeded Belderol. With Garcia in power, Inting could have all the opportunities for the full development of Tagbilaran, although it was during his term that Tagbilaran became a chartered city on July 1, 1966.

Mayor Rolando Butalid, after defeating Inting in the election of 1971 was installed on December 31 of the same year. His first elective term expired December 31, 1975. One of the major acts of Mayor Rolando Butalid was the development and activation of the Cogon market which was left idle by the former administration by converting the adjacent area into a bus terminal. Although the finances were crippled by the catastrophic fire which gutted down the Tagbilaran Public Market, Mayor Butalid was determined to face the challenges of development. He transferred the business activities from the burnt public market site to Cogon market and expanded business in the area to its present condition, which practically recovered in less than a month’s time the depleted income of the City incurred by the fire. With his development-oriented administration and guided by a framework plan prepared by the City Planning and Development Board (CPDB), Mayor Butalid had the assurance of Tagbilaran's progress. It was during his incumbency that a new political upheaval took place - the Proclamation of "Martial Law" all over the land by then President Ferdinand Marcos where many things were happening. But the most testing problem of his time was to change the attitudes of the people, especially government officials, from hoary bents of minds to the innovations introduced under the New Society.

After the Second World War, Tagbilaran became the center of learning in the Province of Bohol. Besides the public elementary schools, the Provincial High School and the Bohol School of Arts and Trades give secondary education aside from six (6) other private institutions giving primary, secondary and tertiary instructions namely the College of the Holy Spirit (CHS), the Philippine Maritime Institute (PMI), the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary (IHMS), the University of Bohol (UB), Divine World College (DWC-T) and the Bohol Wisdom School. Specialized course institutions include the Bohol Provincial Hospital School of Nursing (BPHSN), the French Art School, the Bohol Technical Institute (BTI), the CONNEL Typewriting School, the Najarro Nursery School for children, and the Cathedral Nursery School. The colleges offer engineering courses, education courses with various majors, law, and commerce course with various majors as well as post graduate courses.

Creation of the City of Tagbilaran

On July 1, 1966 by virtue of R.A. 4660, Tagbilaran became a chartered City. The political transition of Tagbilaran from a town/municipality of Bohol to its present status of a chartered city brought about a significant level of development in view of the increase in the share of the internal revenue allotment from the national government to the city.

With the passage of Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991, radical changes were wrought out in the whole gamut of the city government structure. The present organizational hierarchy of the City Government includes 16 department level offices, 7 non-departmental level office and 7 non-organic offices.

SOURCES:

[1] Office of the City Mayor, City Planning and Development Staff (CPDS) "A Comprehensive Framework Plan for the Development of the City of Tagbilaran FY 1975-1976 to FY 1995-1996.

[2] Jes B. Tirol - History of Tagbilaran up to 1742 A.D.

1999-2004 Medium Term Development Plan & Comprehensive Land Use Plan of the City of Tagbilaran


Arbiter for Coco Trees (Juez de Palmas)-Don Josef Tanquiron

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