Pagadian City History

Filed under Pagadian City

The history of Pagadian City dates back long before the time when the city was granted its municipality status in 1937, to the time when indigenous people still called the place their own, even after the Spanish came and colonized the Philippines. This history started with the Subanens, a cultural group of river people based in the southern part of the Philippines who used to roam the seas in that area in large numbers. Their name comes from the word “suba”, which means river. They lived in the riverbanks of what would eventually become Pagadian City. The Subanens were eventually joined in by the Muslims, who inhabited the coastal areas of what are now known as the districts of Muricay, Tawagan Sur, and White Beach.

During that time, the early settlers were headed by one leader, Datu Akob (Datu is a title used by the early chieftains or monarchs in pre-Hispanic Philippines, similar to Rajahs or Sultans). Datu Akob had a daughter who caught the attention of another leader, Datu Macaumbang. He eventually married Datu Akob’s daughter and, upon the former’s death, assumed leadership over the two tribes. He then established the territorial boundaries of the present city, which is the Balangasan River from the west until the Tawagan Sur River in the east.

When pirates and raiders started attacking the area, the datu started to seek help from the Philippine Constabulary and, under the leadership of one Colonel Tiburcio Ballesteros, a detachment of officers stationed themselves at Dumagoc Islands. Their arrival restored peace and order, thereby attracting an influx of settlers from as far as the regions of Visayas and Luzon, as well as the neighboring places of Mindanao. The settlement eventually became a lively town, with active trade and commerce that made it one of the main trade points in northern Mindanao.

There are many legends as to how the city got its name. One theory is that during the early times, when Christians were still ferried from the place to Dumagoc Islands, a lot of them died with malaria. They eventually named the place “Pangadyi-an”, which means, “a place to pray for”. Another version also says that it came from the Maguindanao (another province in the Philippines) term “pagad” meaning “wait” and “padian” which means “market”, as it has been a trading post and market for the Maguindanaoan Sultanate at that time.

During this time, Pagadian was still a sitio (a small enclave) of Margosatubig. When Labangan, one of the places near it, became a municipality district, Pagadian became one of its barrios or neighborhood. It stayed as such until, in 1934 during the American occupation, Governor-General Leonard Wood commissioned Teofisto Guingona, Sr., the director of the Bureau of Non-Christian tribes, to find out the possibility of transferring the seat of government from the district of Labangan to another place. With the help of Datu Macaumbang and Datu Balimbingan (who was the leader of Labangan at that time), the municipal district of Labangan was dissolved and, in its place, the municipal district of Pagadian was formed.

In 1942, Japan invaded the Philippines, and Pagadian was not spared. In 1945, the Philippine Commonwealth, with the help of the local guerillas, entered the small town and, in what is now known as the Battle of Pagadian, successfully drove out the Japanese troops.

The town finally became a city on June 6, 1952 when Congressman Roseller Lim authored the R.A. 711 which divides Zamboanga, the region where Pagadian is, into two provinces: Norte and Sur. Pagadian became the capital of Zamboanga del Sur and, on June 21, 1969, via R.A. 5478, became a chartered city. In 2004, it became the Regional Center for the Philippines’ Region IX – Zamboanga Peninsula.


19 Responses to “Pagadian City History”

  1. Prince FMCJ on October 27th, 2009 2:46 am

    “Another version also says that it came from the IRANUN language “pagad” meaning “wait” and “padian” which means “market”, as it has been a trading post and market for the Maguindanao Sultanate at that time”

    (this is the correct version of it, bcoz theirs no maguindanaon/tausaraya on that time when my great ancestor rule all over the city and i think you forgot to put here the 260 hectares of land that was donated by HRH Datu Macaumbang to the christian people…)

  2. marx on December 9th, 2009 12:39 am

    ohhh… Pagadian City is a great place to live in like you are in Hongkong…

  3. jhamz rato on April 6th, 2011 8:43 pm

    well, pagadian’s history got my interest….
    i didn’t know that Subaneons where the first settlers in pagadian…
    it is a place where you can enjoy life…

  4. kel on April 12th, 2011 2:38 am

    hahahahahahha plz post tagalog version poh kasi para madali maintindihan nami or bisaya ng history ng pagadian

  5. andrea on July 30th, 2011 1:33 am

    .,.,.,, pagadian s a beautful cty,..,!!! <3 It

  6. Suzette on August 13th, 2011 10:31 pm

    Colonel Tiburcio Ballesteros was my grandfather.He was a Lieutenant then when the detachment settled in Dumagoc.’Just happy to say my family is among the early christian settlers in the area.

  7. Bob on October 10th, 2011 8:30 am

    Is it safe for white, male, americans to live in this area?

  8. ana on October 24th, 2011 7:54 am

    the information here isn’t complete, our family still has the original copy of the true history of pagadian. The very first settlers were the Family of Don Mariano Cabrera

  9. admin on October 27th, 2011 8:17 pm

    ana – would be very interested in seeing what you have – please feel free to send us a copy.

  10. Maimana roma on December 10th, 2011 12:49 am

    The pagadia super ganda…

  11. Aljeam Soon on June 6th, 2012 8:00 am

    Nice…I am proud to be a pagadianon..

  12. liz musade on November 26th, 2012 11:19 am

    I am a Subanen and i am proud to be one…

  13. liz musade on November 26th, 2012 11:42 am

    mingaw nako sa pagadian,hope nga makauli sa may 2013…waooo

  14. mark raymond on May 17th, 2013 2:50 pm

    Will it be safe for me? a white man to live?

  15. nurjannah macaumbang on May 4th, 2014 6:54 pm

    proud pagadianon

  16. popeye on December 1st, 2014 2:38 am

    ana: if you have the original copy… pls post it here, or then send us copy. cus its more interesting..

  17. Shailla on April 17th, 2015 8:19 pm

    I got proud when I have done reading this article. Ohh, I didn’t knew that this was the history of Pagadian City. Now, I have a clearer vision of the origin of pagadian and how it evolves. I’m happy to live in this city though it’s small but I consider it as one of very livable city. It’s true that muslims are the settlers in the coastal area. I also live in Muricay. I am proud to be Pagadianon \m/

  18. karen Cabataña on October 3rd, 2016 10:12 pm

    Upon reading this article, I got an idea how the “Ethnic Groups” or “Indigenous people” raise in the city. I want to extent my deepest gratitude that you have this kind of article for giving me a knowledge about the city. And after reading this I will open my mind to study our own land. Not just the history, also, the arts such as music, dances, rituals or practices. Thank you so much 🙂

  19. Johaina Macaumbang Gampong on January 2nd, 2017 3:50 pm

    Proud Pagadianon 😀

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