Calbayog’s early history has been associated with the introduction and spread of Catholicism in the country. Calbayog started as one of the small settlements in the Island of Samar, an area assigned to the Jesuit missionaries. Jesuit chroniclers, as early as the 17th century, notably Fr. Ignacio Alcina, wrote many accounts about it and its people. Jesuit records and reports referred to the settlement initially as Ibatan and Jibatang (Hibatang). In the annual report of 1739 the name Calbayog appeared for the first time. Fr. de Huerta, a 19th century Franciscan writer, noted in his work Estado Geografico that in earlier times, Calbayog was called Tiayban for having been founded near a river of the same name. Then it was transferred due to a flood to the shore of the Hibatang River, whose name it took. Then again the settlers transferred to the place that they permanently occupied and took the name Calbayog.
Hibatang had already been a small settlement at the beginning of the 17th century. It slowly occupied a prominent place among the several small settlements. It became a visita (a large barrio with a chapel) of Capul under the jurisdiction of the Parish priest of that town. After the expulsion of the Jesuit missionaries from the Philippines in the 18th century, the administration of the parishes in Samar was handled over to the Franciscan friars.
Calbayog as a town and parish during the Spanish period was composed of several villages, the most populated of which are called visitas. Calbayog grew from visita size and became a pueblo (town). It was created a separate parish in 1785. Separated from the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the parish priest of Capul, it was later given its own minister, becoming a religious center. Its parish priests cared for the spiritual needs of the people living in what are now Calbayog City, the municipalities of Sta. Margarita, Sto. Niño and Almagro. By the late 19th century a number of visitas became the poblaciones when new towns were created from Calbayog. They were Caybago (later called Oquendo), Sta. Margarita, Weyler (later called Tinambacan) and Sto. Niño.
Population/ Language/ Area
Calbayog City had a total population of 172, 778 as of 2010.
The city has a total land area of 90,300 hectares which is .301% of the archipelago’s total land area, 4.21% of the regional land area, 6.724% of the island of Samar, and 16.10% of the Samar province area. Forty percent of the city’s land area are plain and hilly terrains with elevation ranging from 5 to 20 meters above sea level. The rest are rugged mountain ranges with elevations from 300 to 700 meters above sea level located beyond 21 km. Northeast of the city proper. Flooding is minimized because of many rivers, brooks, streams and natural water conveyors that flow towards the sea.
Products and Services
Agriculture is the main economic activity in the city, aside from the wholesale and retail trading which are mostly concentrated in the center of the city. Main agriculture products includes abaca, rice, corn, root crops, vegetables, livestock and poultry. Fishing is also the source of livelihood for those living near the coastal areas. There is a ten hectare mari-culture park which is now a major employer and producer of fish products.
The city offers opportunities in agribusiness and food processing especially sweets, meat and fish processing. Producing items from abaca and coconut is a priority. The manufacture of furniture, clothing and fashion accessories, jewelry, personal care and other consumer goods are encouraged. The establishment of commercial complexes and tourist facilities are welcomed in this city.
- Saints Peter and paul Cathedral – this cathedral as constructed in 1800s and is now the central church of the Diocese of Calbayog. This is also considered as the biggest church in Samar. The structure reveals some of the old structures of the Spanish architecture. The old dome, the spire and the thick walls are some of the old structures that can be found in the church.
- Handumanan Museum – used formerly as a jail but was renovated with a 2-storey 19th century Filipino building look. This museum houses much of the city’s history. This is also the regular host of art exhibits in the city.
- Guinogo-an Cave – its large entrance leads to a natural tunnel with an uneven ceiling, some portions touching one’s head giving him an eerie trip through the dark, cool interior.
- Mapaso Hot Spring – “Mapaso” means hot. This hot spring is abundant in crustaceans (pokot). They are naturally pinkish resembling scaled shrimps due to the high temperature.
- Tabokno Falls – this is a beautiful scenic falls is a wonderful picnic site of local residents and their source of potable water.
- Pan-as Falls – more than a beauty spot, this falls is the primary source of water for its residents. At places where the cataract is so high, the water falling into the pool becomes a mere mist.
- Ton-ok Falls – a scenic waterfalls hidden in lush tropical vegetation. Nature has places it out of easy reach to preserve its beauty. This is also the source of hydroelectric power.
Festivals and Celebrations
- Sarakiki-Hadang Festival (September 1 to 8) – this is a festival shows the merriment in the evening before awedding ceremony, which redound to one of the most well-liked tradition, the so called pamalaye or pamamanhikan.
- Karakol (either on January 27 or every last Sunday of October) – this is a less popular but a more traditional celebration of the folks from Brgy. Matobato about merry dancing at the shortes bearing the image of Nuestra Señora de Porta Vaga, more popularly known as “Soleda”.