History of Samal

The Municipality of Samal derived its name from the Isamals who were its first inhabitants. The Isamals were brought by the first and second waves of migration from the Malay Region of Southeast Asia, dynastically ruled by a Datu up to the early part of the American Regime. The latest ruling tribal Chieftain was Datu Taganiog who died on January 28, 1948. Discovery revealed that the latter lived at "Malibasa" (now known as Peñaplata, the poblacion) where he exercised his general supervision. The word "Malibasa" meant honorable. The Isamals lived in perfect harmony as peace-loving people.

When the Department of Mindanao and Sulu was formed by the American Government, the Governor-General created the archipelago into a district municipality which was composed of the Island of Samal, Talicud, Cruz, Ligid, the Malipano Islets and the Arboles (Sanipahan). The district was governed by the District President, District Vice-President and the members of the town council whose term of office depended on the trust and confidence of the Provincial Governor who was the appointing officer.

On July 8, 1948, the District Municipality of Samal was created into a regular municipal corporate by virtue of Executive Order No. 151, issued by the late President Elpedio Quirino. District Mayor Apolonio Mahinay was reappointed by Provincial Governor Miranda as the Municipal Mayor of the Island Municipality of Samal, which position he held until December 31, 1951, He lost the mayoralty position to the late Municipal Mayor Simplicio B. Obenza during the elections of November 8, 1951. Unfortunately, Mayor Obenza died on July 7, 1971 and was succeeded by his Vice Mayor Felix O. Solamo, Jr. who was also defeated by Mayor Galileo S. Obenza, the son of the late Mayor, in November 1971 elections.

On May 28, 1953, the daughter Municipality of Babak was created by virtue of Executive Order No. 586, issued by President Quirino. The division of the old Province of Davao into three (3) provinces ensued. The southern portions of Samal Island was created as the Municipality of Kaputian by virtue of Republic Act No. 4745 dated July 18, 1966 issued by the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos leaving Babak which was the mother municipality with fifteen (15) Barangays. In early 60's, the Municipality of Samal was predominated by Cebuanos constituting 70% the total number of population while the 22% were Isamals and the 8% were composed of Boholanos, Ilonggos, Leytenos, Muslims and others from Luzon. Most of the island inhabitants were farmers and fishermen. There were only few professionals.


Generally, Samal Municipality is characterized by uneven distribution of lowlands, wide expanse of mountain ranges and few isolated hills. Tayapoc, renowned for its "Puting Bato" or White Stone is Samal range's highest peak towering at 162 meters above the sea level. The Sopsopon Plateau lies on its top with an approximate area of 400 hectares.

A number of waterways can also be found in the municipality, though none of them is navigable. The Hagimit Falls which is approximately 15 feet high, the Binoling River and several other natural springs, namely: Supa, Alibungog, Tagbitinao, Tagbitan-ag, Aundanao, Licup, San Jose and Tagdaliao Springs are among the few popular sites found in the island.

The historical traces of the name of this developing island town came to surface from information gathered through investigations and personal interviews with some native chieftains on how the place got its name. Based on unrecorded history, the place was sparsely populated by few farming natives called Isamals who first settled the coastal areas of the island. There were no known surveyed roads then except for a few trails and pathways criss-crossing the lowland areas. Thick forest and green land still covered the island's virgin soil.

The isolated unnamed coastal area was abundant with leafy shrubs called "tagbak" which were used by the natives in making baskets and containers for their fish catch, storing food and other household materials. The place had been the source of "tagbak", the main materials for their native handicrafts.

The regular "taboan" in the place was near a big tree which the natives called "bakbak". The "taboan" known as bakbak was later renamed as "Babak". It became a landmark and was established as the commercial hub of the island dwellers, inland natives and visiting traders from the nearby communities.

Kaputian was once a part of Samal municipality. It can be found along the westerncoast of the southernmost part of Samal Island. Before it was created into a barangay the locality was occupied by the native people of Samal Island better known as Isamals. The place was, and still is, is by nature blessed with white sand and clear seawater Corals and other marine resources can be seen loitering and littering along its unspoiled powdery white shorelines and pristine waters. Its scenic location was a rendezvous or relaxation place for everybody, more particularly for fishermen who simply wanted to relax and drink local wine called "tuba" after their whole day fishing in the gulf.

According to the early settlers, lush vegetation crowned the Municipality of Kaputian. Before the Second World War, Don Vicente Fernandez together with Don Ramon and Don Pepe Fernandez acquired and cultivated the southern part of Samal which was ruled by Datu Budas. It was during the early period of American occupation when Hacienda Samal and Compana Maritima was founded.

On June 18, 1966 , the Philippine Congress historically made a landmark legislation through enabling laws passed under "Republic Act 4754" that opened the establishment of the municipality of Kaputian, separating it from it's mother municipality which was Babak. R.A.4754 mandate included the islets of Malipano and Talicud Island as part of Kaputian District. Later, Executive order 184 signed by the President Ferdinand E. Marcos, legally declared Kaputian as another municipality of Davao Province.