Carmen's Colorful Past
Carmen was formerly a village called Ymbaya, a part of the municipality of Bilar. During the Spanish Regime, it was inhabited by not more than fifty (50) families. Through the years, the town’s population grew to an unprecedented number and so in 1968, the people of the town petitioned for its independence.
The town was finally established on March 1, 1869 by virtue of an order issued by Governor General Jose de la Gandara. From Ymbaya, the town’s name was changed to Carmen in honor of the Lady of Mt. Carmel of Spain. Local myth though relates that the town’s name was after a woman who was then a popular figure in the community.
However, for a period of five years, it remained under the parish of Bilar. In the year 1874, it was made a separate parish with Father Pedro Nolasco San Juan as the first parish priest. All barangays under the municipality were given Spanish names and assigned Patron Saints which they honor annually with a fiesta.During the American Regime
At the later part of the 18th century, the people of Carmen revolted against the Spaniards. With the proclamation of the first Philippine independence on June 12, 1898, the town experienced a period of freedom and peace. But that was short-lived. The Treaty of Paris wherein the Philippine Islands were ceded to the Americans for US$20M caused uproar on the part of the Filipinos who resented the act.
Hostilities and war resistance started in Manila and spread all over Luzon and on the Visayan islands including Bohol. The Americans finally captured Tagbilaran on March 1899 and the seat of the Resistance Government of Bohol was moved to Carmen because of its strategic location.
Five months later, on August 31, warfare broke out in the hills near the village of Carmen. The Boholanos cannot bear anymore the bullying and misconduct of the American troops who were directly under the command of Major Hale. Civilians were harmed, villages burned, livestock destroyed while torture was applied at will.
Fighting continued until the year 1902 until the Filipinos finally surrendered to the Americans. On February 3, the first American-sponsored elections were held in Bohol with Anecito Clarin voted as the island’s governor. The transition to civil government became official on Bohol on April 3, 1902 and a month later the three remaining companies of the 19th Infantry left the island for good.During the Japanese Occupation
In the middle part of May 1942, the first batch of Japanese soldiers entered Tagbilaran City and occupied Bohol. Garrisons were established in the city and in Guindulman and were the bases of operation of the Japanese forces.
A civil government for Free Bohol was organized and the seat of this Resistance Government was established in the municipality of Carmen. Atty. Conrado Marapao, Sr. was appointed as governor of Free Local Civil Government of Bohol on May 21, 1943 by designated President Manuel Roxas. Other government officials were appointed and all these were approved and confirmed by President-in-exile, Manuel L. Quezon and Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
The people of Carmen suffered, as all other Boholanos, from the hands of the Japanese. Massive and wanton destruction of properties and human lives were widespread. After four years of agony, pain and sufferings, Bohol was finally declared liberated on May 25, 1945 by Major General William H. Arnold, Commander of the American Division.
George Percival Scriven: An American in Bohol, The Philippines, 1899-1901 at http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/scriven
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