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.
Amidst a vast and fertile agricultural land approximately 23
kilometers north of Ormoc City, lies the
municipality of Kananga, which, during the Spanish time was but a
stretch of virgin wilderness. The Spanish soldiers used to
bivouac in the place on their Ormoc-Carigara expeditions. They always loved
to linger in the area owing to the extravagant array of wild
flowers, notably the giant Ilang-ilang blossoms whose fragrance
enchanted them and which abounded in the region. The delicate
scent of this particular flower made one Spanish lieutenant
remark, "Como Agua Cananga," referring to the old
famous Spanish perfume with that label. The name stuck, and the
people began calling the place Kananga - a name which has lived
through the centuries to this very day. Such was the origin of
the name of the town.
Until about 1920, the present site of the municipality of
Kananga used to be a sitio of Barrio Lonoy, Ormoc City. A few
settlers in six or seven scattered shacks populated it. As the
years passed, more settlers form Carigara
and Ormoc moved in. The population
increased until it was ready to be elevated to barrio status.
Mrs. Josefa Bukalang, one of the wealthy landowners at the
time, was inspired by the influx of these pioneers that she
donated school sites to Kananga. The community was inaugurated a
full-fledged barrio, owing chiefly to the efforts of Teodoro
Sacay, councilor for the sitio in the municipal council of Ormoc City. Cagayong was the first teniente
del barrio of Kananga.
The construction of the Ormoc-Kananga
and later the Kananga-Tacloban road in
the early 1930's linking Kananga to both east and west coasts of
Leyte on one long highway, the Tacloban-Ormoc road, hastened the growth of Kananga.
Many people were attracted to settle in the place. Commerce and
industry were stimulated. Agriculture received a big boost. The
living conditions of the people improved.
During the Japanese occupation, due to its strategic position,
Kananga was chosen as the rendezvous center of the civil
officials of the Resistance Movement in Ormoc,
Capoocan, Palompon, Merida and Albuera. A guerilla unit was
stationed in the barrio for espionage rather than for armed
attack against the enemy.
Shortly after General
Douglas MacArthur and his troops landed ashore on the Red
Beach, Palo, Leyte and other points on the
east coast of the province, General Yamashita, "Tiger of
Malaya," established the now famous "Yamashita
Line" or " Ormoc Corridor"
for defensive forces against the American forces. The defense
installation extended across the mountain vastness of Barrios
Kananga and Lonoy, and was defended by 200,000 Japanese soldiers
recruited from the neighboring islands and the various Japanese
garrisons in Leyte at the time. The 77th and 7th divisions of the
American Army destroyed the " Ormoc
Corridor". Japanese soldiers were killed by the thousands
and the few hundreds who escaped unhurt fled to Buga-buga in Villaba where they made their last stand
On June 17, 1950, Kananga was created a regular municipality
by virtue of Republic Act No. 542, an important milestone for the
community. The first administrators of the municipality were
appointed by the President, the usual procedure for newly created
political subdivisions. The first mayor of Kananga was Perfecto
Mendoza, appointed by the president.
The officials were faced by the numerous problems that usually
arose in new municipalities. However, due to the cooperation of
the people and through the initiative and efforts of the town
officials, these problems were solved.
The first elective mayor of Kananga was Liberator Taganas with
Pedro Banjoc as Vice-Mayor.