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.
The existence of the place now known as Villaba was discovered in about the last quarter of the eighteenth century by Boholano traders. These traders landed on the western coast and found fertile plains along the river and forest. The sea coast also proved to be good fishing ground. The settlers built their houses along the banks of the river and banded into groups to protect themselves from the moro pirates and wild animals. Along the banks of the river were "Hindang" trees which grew in abundance so they called the river Hamindangon and the village Hamindangon also.
As the years passed, more settlers migrated from Bohol and Cebu. These new inhabitants likewise settled on the fertile plains along the Hamindangon River.
During the colonization of the Philippines by Spanish conquistadores, a group of Spaniards who were stranded on the shores of Hamindangon changed the name to Nueva Galicia in honor of the wife of the Spanish Governor of Leyte.
The Spanish governor in Manila who then represented both the church and the state ordained that the tribunal and the church be built adjacent to each other. The Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Pantaleon de Veyra followed the order and constructed the church, the tribunal and schoolhouse through "pintakasi."
While construction was going on, another group of Spaniards on an inspection tour landed on the shores of Hamindangon now Nueva Galicia. This group of Spaniards liked the village and had it renamed "Villa Alba," (village of Alba) in honor of the wife of the Spanish Governor General in Manila, Dona Pia Alba. "Villa Alba," the third name was later shortened to Villaba and retained the same name when the town was officially established.