The History of Towns in Region VIII, Philippines
These histories were taken from the book Leyte Towns, Histories/Legends by Francisco S. Tantuico Jr of Tacloban City. Click on a town and view the history below the menu.
Carigara is a town in northern Leyte located right at the shore of a beautiful bay. It is surrounded by wide rice fields fanning out towards the mountains in a distance.
It was first called Kangara, meaning "that of Gara" or simply "Gara's". Gara was said to have come from Borneo, one of the unnamed companions of the ten datus who landed in Panay and purchased that island from the Ati (or Asta) chief Marikudo. Later, for phonetic convenience, Kangara became Kalgara and when the Spaniards came, they called the place Carigara; hence its present name.
Carigara, like other towns, was also subjected to moro raids. Its inhabitants during the Spanish occupation were indoctrinated into the Catholi religion by many religious groups. The first among them were the Augustinian Friars led by Father Alonso Velasquez who came in the year 1580. they were followed by the Jesuit missionaries who came on July 16, 1595 in the persons of Father Pedro Chirino, Fathers Juan del Campo, Cosme Flores, Brother Gaspar Garay and Martin, a servant. It was during the period of the Jesuits' missionary work that Carigara was said to have had its golden age. She was the religious captain of half of the Visayas and the whole of Mindanao. After the Jesuits were expelled in 1767, the Augustinians were recalled to take over the work of the Jesuits who were later replaced by the Franciscans in 1843; the latter stayed until 1896.
It was said that Carigara was the first capital of Leyte but as to the precise period of time - history records conflicting data. One historian says that it was during the first thirty years of the 17th century but others maintain that before the year 1747, the provinces of Samar and Leyte were under one Alcalde Mayor residing at Catbalogan, Samar.
The town was also known for its resistance against the Spanish invaders. In 1622, it was the center of Bankaos' rebellion. This revolt had for its cause, the denial of the Carigara natives of Christianity. The revolt was put to and end, resulting in the death of Bankao. In 1856, an abortive revolt also took place on account of heavy taxation. During the Philippine revolution, Carigara had leaders in the movement. Among them were the Porrals and the Riels who for security reasons changed their name to Larraga. The name of Agustin Drilon will forever live in the history of Carigara as a man who was hanged to death because he would not submit to Spanish oppression.
Changes were introduced in the fields of education, health, sanitation, commerce and trade when the Americans arrived in Carigara. The United States government sent laymen and women to the town. Among those that Carigaran-ons can never forget are Mr. Cassidy, Miss Brevancier and Miss Gladwin - the former being the builder of the Cassidy building - which still proudly stands in Carigara today.
In the early part of the 20th century, Carigara was an important commercial town in northern Leyte. Steam boats from Manila made weekly calls at the port. There were three big presses for baling abaca, which were operating in the town and Carigara at that time was really the trading center of the nearby towns within a radius of forty kilometers. The opening of the national highway, however, resulted in the decline of business at the port so much so that inter-island vessel did not call at the port anymore.
The Japanese occupied Carigara on May 19, 1942. During the Japanese occupation, the town suffered enormous losses in lives and property.
There was a guerrilla force in Carigara - the foremost leaders were the late Dr. Ralph Posungcuy, the Aguilos brothers, the Kierulf brothers, a certain Capitan Dipa and a Diloy.
In December of 1944 after the Americans liberated Carigara, public schools were opened. A year later, two private schools, the Holy Cross Academy and the Liberation Memorial School were established.