History of Dipolog

By on June 26, 2013

In the year 1834, the Spanish Provincial Government of Misamis, under whose jurisdiction Dipolog then belonged, organized a civil government along with the appointment of a “Captain” as town executive and “Teniente”, and an “Aguacil” to maintain law and order. Don Domingo Ruiz was the town executive that year. The whole Dipolog town was transferred from Sitio Tulawanan to where it is now.

Dipag and Tulwanan are two different places technically at that time with the former composed of Boholano natives and the latter mostly of Subanen Ancestry.

Tradition says that in the same year, believing that the townsite was still there, a Spanish Recollect Missionary came to Sitio Tulwanan. Upon meeting a native, the missionary asked, “Donde esta el Capitan?” (Where is the Captain?). Understanding only the word “capitan”, our unknown hero pointed to the West and said in Subano: “Di…pag,” which means “across the river”. The Padre, guided by his Tagalog muchacho named Antonio Subido, proceeded downriver and upon reaching the townsite, he named the town “Dipag”. Through the years, this term was corrupted by mispronunciation and intermingling of Visayan and Subano words into what is known today – “Dipolog”.

But many years before, Christian and Pagan settlers from the Visayas had already settled and mingled with the Subanos. To protect them against marauding pirates, they established a pueblo some twenty (20) kilometers from the coast of Dipolog in what is now the Barangay Sianib of Polanco. When danger from piracy subsided, they transferred the settlement to Sitio Isab, Nipaan. They constructed a church on a hilltop overlooking a wide plain and the mouth of the Isab creek.

As the Cross of Catholicism became the symbol of Spanish Colonization in Dipolog and Northwestern Mindanao, the Missionaries demanded that the Christianized natives should attend mass and church services in mornings and afternoons. The difficulty of tramping up and down the hill to please the priest became a struggle to the natives so they decided to move downriver to Sitio Tulwanan and there they built another Capilla. It was 1834 then that they transferred to the present site at the mouth of Dipolog River.

A succession of Capitanes governed the town when Boholanos, Cebuanos, and pioneers from Negros settled in the town of Dipolog and cultivated the soil.

In the year 1903, Judge William H. Taft, President of the Second Philippine Commission, in his visit to Dapitan, decreed that Dapitan District, which included Dipolog and the neighboring township, must be separated from Cagayan de Oro of Misamis Province and annexed to the Provincia Mora which later became Zamboanga Province.

On March 4, 1904, the reversion came. While Isidro Patangan was Presidente Municipal, an American Officer, who was the Provincial Secretary of the Provincia Mora, and in his capacity as a Deputy of the Provincial Governor, came to Dipolog. The latter called for an urgent meeting on all incumbent and ex-town officials and other prominent ‘principalia’ and delivered a written order that is effective immediately. Under the reversion, Dipolog was converted into a barrio of Dapitan to be represented by only two councilors with two policemen to maintain peace and order and periodic patrol of the newly-organized Philippine Constabulary.

Dipolog, becoming only a barrio of Dapitan for eight years, was a sad event for the people as they filed protests and petitions that only ended nowhere.

In 1910, the Provincial Governor of Zamboanga Province, whose name was not recorded, visited Dipolog and proceeded to Dapitan on horseback. He was escorted up to the mouth of the Dipolog River at Barra District by the Town’s Principalia who were mostly members of the Centro Catolico de Dipolog. The Governor, upon passing by the residence of Don Jose Aguirre, was invited to come to the house of Don Aguirre. There the Governor met Pascual T. Martinez who came ahead of him. An offer of office as Municipal President of Dapitan was made by the Governor to Pascual T. Martinez.

Overwhelmed by the offer, Pascual T. Martinez went downstairs to consult the advice of the Centro Catolico de Dipolog members who were waiting at the river bank. Martinez asked them if it would be right for him to accept the offer of the Governor. The members of Centro Catolico de Dipolog who were mostly older and more experienced than him answered, “If you think you can ably discharge the duties of the office faithfully and well, you may accept it, but do not forget your town, Dipolog. Work for its benefit.”

The appointment of Pascual T. Martinez came by pure chance but it was the saving grace of the people.

In 1912, John J. Pershing, the Governor of the Department of Mindanao and Sulu, granted the petition seeking to recognize Dipolog into a Municipality again on the condition that a Municipal Building should be constructed within six months after which an inauguration would be done.

In a special session of the Centro Catolico de Dipolog, two prominent town residents named Isabelo Z. Echavez and Eleuterio Barinaga assumed the responsibility of supplying the materials and the construction of the Municipal Building for Php 3,000.00 provided that free labor would be rendered in erecting the big posts. The construction was in accordance with the approved plan and specifications prescribed by the people.

On a full moon on Holy Saturday in 1913, the customary cornerstone laying ceremonies was conducted by Fr. Gaudencio Bendijo. As “Marcha Real” was played by the town’s Brass Band, the first big round Molave post was erected right on the spot where the present city hall now stands. So, the construction of the building started and ninety percent of the building was constructed in a little of more than 3 months.

The structure of the municipal building was patterned after the municipal building of Maribojoc, Bohol, and constructed with the technical advice of an Engineer-Architect Priest and curate of Dipolog, Rev. Fr. Francisco Garcia, S.J. The posts and structural materials were of first group lumber, roofing made of corrugated iron, and a Spanish concrete block walling on the first story. Aside from a spacious passage and two small storerooms, the ground floor consisted of four big rooms for offices and one jail. The second floor consisted of six big rooms for offices and a commodious social hall in the center.

On July 1, 1913, Dipolog was inaugurated as a municipality with Hon. Pascual T. Martinez as the first Municipal Mayor, who was appointed by Gen. John J. Pershing, Governor General of Mindanao.

In 1942, Japanese Imperial Occupation forces entered Dipolog.

But in 1945, the Filipino troops under the 6th, 10th and 101st, 102nd and 105th Infantry Division of the Philippine Commonwealth Army and 10th Infantry Regiment of the Philippine Constabulary, together with local guerillas, entered Dipolog.

Governor Matias Castillon Ranillo Sr. was elected Governor in 1937 and re-elected in 1940 but his term was cut short when President Manuel Quezon urged him to run as the lone Assemblyman of Zamboanga peninsula. President Quezon fondly called him "El Gallo Escondido de Malacanang". In November 1941, he was elected as Assemblyman but a week before his scheduled departure for Manila, World War II broke out. On October 30, 1944, upon the request of the guerillas, he mobilized the able-bodied men of Dipolog and Home guards who willingly volunteered to clear the airfield of grass and shrubs.

On March 8, 1945, on Dipolog airfield, the first American invasion of Zamboanga peninsula took place. The successful landing at Dipolog airfield established a base for the subsequent recapture of Japanese-held San Roque airfield near Zamboanga City, followed by Sanga Sanga in Sulu, and from there to Borneo and the East Indies.

On June 21, 1969, former President Ferdinand E. Marcos signed into law the Dipolog City Charter (Republic Act 5520) which took effect on January 1, 1970. The date is both significant and historic because it coincided with the launching of the Apollo 11 that carried the first men to the moon.

On June 21, 1969, Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos signed into the law the Dipolog City Charter, under the Republic Act 5520, making Dipolog a charted city effective January 1, 1970. Mayor Felicisimo Herrera was made the last Municipal Mayor from 1963 to 1970 and the first City Mayor of Dipolog from 1970 to 1978. On March 8, 1982, the Sangguniang Panglungsod adopted the Dipolog City March composed by Antonina O. Romano as the City’s Official song.

Notable Historical Events of Dipolog

April 15, 1894 - Construction of the Roman Catholic Church at the same site. Dr. Jose P. Rizal designed the structure and its altar.

June 29, 1894 - Celebration of the first mass at the newly completed church building.

June 30, 1896 - The establishment of the Parish of Dipolog.

November 6, 1896 - Installation of Jesuit Priest, Father Esteban de Yepes as the first parish priest of Dipolog.

1896 - 1939 – For 43 years, the Dipolog Parish was under the administration of the Society of Jesus (SJ ) clergies

1940 – Fr. Nicasio  Y. Patangan, a native of Dipolog, was appointed as the first Filipino  Diocesan Parish Priest of Mindanao.

May 3, 1905 - Santa Cruz Marker was erected by the Boholanos, the landmark of Dipolog's Christianity. It is the oldest existing landmark in Dipolog.

July 1, 1913 - Dipolog was inaugurated as a municipality with Hon Pascual Martinez as its first Municipal Mayor appointed by Gen John J. Pershing, Governor General of  Mindanao.

1942 – The seat of the Provincial Government was transferred from Zamboanga City to Dipolog by Acting-Governor Felipe B. Azcuna, thus making it the “cabacera de facto”

January 1, 1970 - Dipolog became a chartered city by virtue of Republic Act 5520

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