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Balilihan, a municipality located in the province of Bohol in the Philippines, has a rich history that dates back to pre-colonial times. The name "Balilihan" is derived from the abundance of grass called "balili" that grew in the area. This grass played a significant role in the lives of the early settlers, providing them with resources for various purposes.
Before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers, Balilihan was inhabited by indigenous people known as the "Boholanos" or "Panglaoons." These early settlers engaged in farming, fishing, and trading as their primary means of livelihood. They had a thriving community and a well-established social structure.
The arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century marked a significant turning point in Balilihan's history. The Spanish colonizers brought with them their culture, religion, and political systems. They established missions and built churches, including the Santo Niño Parish Church, which stands as a testament to the town's early Christianization.
During the Spanish colonial period, Balilihan was under the jurisdiction of Baclayon. However, in 1829, the town and parish of Balilihan were separated from Baclayon to accommodate the followers of Francisco Dagohoy, who led a rebellion against Spanish rule for several decades. The revolt eventually ended, and Balilihan became an independent municipality.
Throughout the years, Balilihan experienced changes and developments, shaping its identity as a vibrant community. The town has seen advancements in agriculture, with initiatives to become the vegetable basket of the province. The resilience and hard work of the people have contributed to the growth and progress of Balilihan.
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Today, Balilihan is known for its cultural heritage, natural attractions, and religious traditions. The town's historical sites, such as the Spanish belfry atop Mt. Carmel Hill and the Santo Niño Parish Church, serve as reminders of its colonial past. The picturesque waterfalls, such as Kawasan Falls and Camugao Falls, attract both locals and tourists who seek to explore the natural beauty of the area.
As Balilihan continues to evolve, it holds onto its historical roots while embracing opportunities for economic development and tourism. The town's rich history, coupled with its natural wonders, make it a captivating destination that showcases the cultural and natural heritage of Bohol.
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.
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.
Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia
Tirol, Jes Establishment of Balilihan Town The Bohol Chronicle