Jesuit records and reports referred to the settlement initially as Ibatan and Jibatang (Hibatang). It is in the annual report of 1739 that the name Calbayog appeared in the records for the first time. How Calbayog got its name has not been documented. In the absence of concrete factual accounts, some attempted to explain the origin of the name with the legends.
Some believe that the forerunner of Calbayog was a settlement along the Hibatang River, now called Anislag. Others claim that the forerunner was another settlement, now called San Rufino, located in the hinterlands of Oquendo.
Fr. Felis de Huerta, a 19th century Franciscan writer noted in his work Estado Geografico that in earlier times, Calbayog was called Tiayban for having been founded near a river of the same name. Then it was transferred due to a flood to the shore of the Hibatang River, whose name it took. Then again the settlers transferred to the place that they permanently occupied and took the name Calbayog.
Hibatang had already been a small settlement at the beginning of the 17th century. It slowly occupied a prominent place among the several small settlements. It became a visita (a large barrio with a chapel) of Capul under the jurisdiction of the Parish priest of that town. After the expulsion of the Jesuit Missionaries from the Philippines in the 18th century, the administration of the parishes in Samar was handled over to the Franciscan Friars.
Eventually from being a visita, Calbayog became a pueblo (town). It was created a separate parish in 1785. Separated from the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the parish priest of Capul, it was later given its own minister.
Calbayog as a town and parish during the Spanish period was composed of several villages, the most populated of which are called visitas. Calbayog became a religious center. Its parish priests cared for the spiritual needs of the people living in what are now Calbayog City, the municipalities of Sta. Margarita, Sto. Niño and Almagro. By the late 19th century a number of visitas became the poblaciones when new towns were created from Calbayog. They were Caybago (later called Oquendo), Sta. Margarita, Weyler (later called Tinambacan) and Sto. Niño.
During the American Era, Calbayog rose to political as well as religious prominence. Prominent political and religious figures in Samar and Leyte emerged from it, particularly those who studied in the Colegio-Seminario de San Vicente de Paul (now Christ the King College and St. Vincent de Paul Seminary) which was established in 1905 and La Milagrosa Academy which was established in 1911. Both schools were run by the religious.
What is noteworthy is the fact that on April 10, 1910, the Diocese of Calbayog was created by virtue of the Papal Bull of Pope Pius X. The diocese comprised the Islands of Samar and Leyte. Calbayog became the seat of the diocese. In 1942, the occupied by the Japanese forces entered in Calbayog city , in 1945, the liberated in Calyabog city by the Philippine Commonwealth troops and recognized guerillas against the Japanese forces in World War II, It was only much later that the other dioceses in the region were created. Republic Act No. 328, otherwise known as the Charter of the City of Calbayog was signed into law on July 15, 1948 by then President Manuel A. Roxas. The first set of city officials, incumbent municipal officials of the place, were sworn in on October 16, 1948 much later than the signing of the law that created Calbayog City (Republic Act 328) as the municipal officials waited. Legally, therefore, Calbayog was founded as a city on this date as it was on this date that its charter was signed into law. The city comprises the territorial jurisdiction of the former Municipalities of Calbayog, Oquendo and Tinambacan.
Sr. Don Benedicto P. Nijaga
Twelve days after the tragic execution of Dr. Jose Rizal, thirteen Filipino martyrs were shot to death by musketry in Bagumbayan (now Rizal Park). These thirteen men were dubbed in Philippine history as the Trece Martires de Bagumbayan. The Spanish Government accused them of treason, sedition and rebellion, and ultimately led to their execution.
One of the thirteen Filipino martyrs, is Don. Sr. Benedicto Nijaga y Pelenio, a native of Calbayog, Samar. Biktoy, as he is fondly called among his peers, was born sometime in 1864 to a family of farmers who lived in Sitio Caballero (now Brgy. Rizal I). Farming at that time was immensely hard for the Nijagas, so that they forced Biktoy to work at the age of 10 in a convent. He worked as a Knight of the Altar (Sacristan) all day long by himself just to earn something for their family's daily subsistence. He was under the tutelage of Fr. Sebastian Cordova, who was the Parish Priest (Cura Parroco) in Calbayog at that time. Biktoy is remembered as a very athletic, courageous, and most importantly, nationalistic individual.
In 1878, Calbayog was hit by a cholera epidemic, killing almost one half of the total population. Fr. Sebastian Cordova forced himself to leave his convent to spare his life from the disease, bringing Biktoy with him as his trusty sacristan (altar boy).
There in Manila, Biktoy was given all the opportunities he could've never even thought of in the province. He was a working student then, serving the convent without sacrificing his studies.
One year after his graduation, Fr. Sebastian Cordova recommended Biktoy to work in the Spanish Army. He was trained and accepted as a corporal. After a year, he was promoted and commissioned to become the second lieutenant in the infantry batallion of the Spanish Army. His first deployment and jurisdiction as an officer was in the whole Visayan Region.
He always found time to visit his family, friends and fellow Calbayognons in Calbayog, Samar while on duty. Biktoy was known to be generous and affectionate to women but there is no record on hand that shows him to be married.
After the exile of Jose Rizal in Dapitan, the Katipunan was born in Binondo, Manila. Andres Bonifacio and his men moved heaven and earth to fight against the Spanish government then led by Gob. Heneral Polavieja. The katipunan expanded its membership from Luzon down to the Visayas Region, thereby increasing the number of Katipuneros in a span of one year. Spanish authorities were alarmed by the existence of the KKK or the Katipunan.
Sensing the secret plan of the Katipunan to overthrow the government, the Spaniards conducted a raid in Binondo printing press where subversive documents were found and confiscated. One of the documents seized was the list of members of the Katipunan. The name Benedicto Nijaga was one in the list, being the collector of revolutionary funds in the area. Upon knowing their secret members, Gob. Polavieja ordered arbitrarily the arrest of all suspected members of the Katipunan. Benedicto Nijaga was arrested together with twelve other katipuneros while campaigning for revolutionary funds.
Shortly after they were jailed and tortured, trial ensued which was reminiscent of the fate that likened Dr. Jose Rizal's trial as well as those of other Filipino martyrs. They were convicted and sentenced to death.
At the early dawn of January 11, 1897, the thirteen unfortunate patriots were taken to Bagumbayan field under heavy guard. A huge crowd of Filipinos and Spaniards witnessed the very tragic moment. Just before the sun rose, the trece martires bravely faced their death.
The execution of these thirteen martyrs of Bagumbayan was invariably another stain on the colonial superiority of Spain. They were victims of Spanish misrule and injustice. Their death were not in vain for their blood soaked Bagumbayan's soil and watered the seeds of Filipino freedom. We celebrate the Centennial Death Anniversary of the Thirteen Martyrs with full pride and honor.
Don Benedicto "Biktoy" Nijaga is the local hero of Calbayog, and the largest park in the city is named after him.
In consonance with the 100 years (centennial) celebration of Philippine Independence, the City Arts and Culture Office staged a musical entitled ALFEREZ BIKTOY in honor of the local hero. Same musical was toured nationwide and was performed at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in November 1998 being chosen as one of the musical stage productions featured in the International Theater Festival 98 participated in by 20 nations. The musical was directed by Jonas T. Lim, librettest-Pet Labro, music-Lucien Letaba, arrangement-Melvin Corpin, story concept-Julius Mancol, performers-employees of the City Arts and Culture Office and volunteer artists.
The city has a total land area of 90,300 hectares which is .301% of the archipelago's total land area, 4.21% of the regional land area, 6.724% of the island of Samar, and 16.10% of the Samar province area.
Forty percent of the city's land area are plain and hilly terrains with elevation ranging from 5 to 20 meters above sea level. The rest are rugged mountain ranges with elevations from 300 to 700 meters above sea level located beyond 21 km. Northeast of the city proper.
Flooding is minimized because of many rivers, brooks, streams and natural water conveyors that flow towards the sea.
Calbayog experiences a variety of wind types. These are Amihan (northwind), Timog (southwind), Habagat (westwind), Canaway (northwest wind), Cabunghan (northeast wind), Dumagsa (southeast wind), and Salatan (southwest wind).
Calbayog has well distributed rainfall throughout the year, except during the summer months of February through May, when most parts of the city are dry. The highest rainfall intensity recorded is 267 mm/hr. Heavy downpour is seldom experienced in the locality, therefore making Calbayog potentially appropriate for protective agricultural investment.
The big land area of the city is generally divided into agriculture and forest areas. Agricultural lands are subdivided into production, built-up area, protection land, mangrove, severe erosion area, and watershed forest reserve; while forest lands are further subdivided into open canopy, logged-over areas, built-up and protection areas.
Largely an agricultural city, 57,654.07 hectares (or 63.85%) belongs to agriculture while 32,645.93 hectares (or 36.15%) are forest lands. Its major products are copra, abaca, rice, vegetables, corn, rootcrops, fruits, bamboo, & nipa. With the overall total quantity (mt.) of 28,330.428.
Fishery and Aquatic Resources
Calbayog is an exporter of fish and other marine products. Fisheries contribute to the economic revenues of the city. Major species abound such as mackerels, sardines, squids, prawns, crabs, shells, oysters, and others.
Fish processing such as smoking, salting and drying are small scale industries operating in the locality. Fresh catch are exported in huge volume on a daily basis throughout the country.
Samar Sea, with a fishing ground of 1,198 sq. miles is a vast resource for agriculture and sea farming activities.
The forest land of Calbayog has an area of 6,327.91 hectares. Happy Valley and Seven Hills are remote areas with barangays producing forest products like rattan, nito, cogon, bamboo, and others. These are adequate supply of raw materials for export oriented products.
Local sources revealed that forest land have dramatically dwindled. The remotest forest areas have been depleted with the traditional slash-and-burn farming, poachers, and illegal loggers invading the resource thereby endangering valuable species and wildlife. Some are even entirely wiped out. Intensified program by concerned agencies are now in motion to save forest resource, including reforestation and tree planting.
Livestock and Poultry
Production of livestock and poultry products is another industry that enjoys the major concern of the city through the Tri-District program, a centerpiece program of the present government. Breeding centers were opened to develop superior genetic stocks and upgrading of carabao and dispersal program were established to accelerate livestock production.
Dressed chickens are now exported throughout the region especially in Masbate, with an average of 2,000 heads daily. The investment of Swift Foods Inc., which has been operating in the city for almost five years, and the operation of Solmar Dressing Plant supply poultry products which is now expanding its market in Central Visayas and Luzon.
Nature has made Calbayog replete with mineral deposits. Unprocessed or natural marble is found in coastal barangays. Manganese, which is chiefly used in the form of ferromanganese in steel making, is similarly available in the area. It was however purposely left untouched to supposedly preserve the natural balance of the area. Sand and gravel are also supplied to meet local construction needs, though barely enough as some areas are banned from extraction in order to protect existing structures.
Situated at the fringes of Barangay Longsob, Oquendo District, Calbayog City. Accessible in a 30-minute ride to Cabugawan plus 50-minute hike to Lungsod Cave. Its large entrance leads to a natural tunnel with an uneven ceiling, some portions touching one’s head giving him an eerie trip through the dark, cool interior.
Mapaso Hot Spring
Located in Barangay Rizal II, Oquendo District, Calbayog City. A 30-minute ride to Oquendo from Calbayog plus 15-minute hike to the spring. “Mapaso” literally means hot. Fresh crustaceans (pokot) abound. They are naturally pinkish resembling scalded shrimps due to the high temperature.
Accessible in a 35-minute ride from Oquendo District, Calbayog City proper to Barangay Mawacat plus 25-minute walk along the foot trail lined with tall shady trees. It is a natural spoon-like formation which inclines more or less by about 45 degrees and stretches 50 meters long. Water flows along this giant cistern and from the top one can slide through the mossy lane to the cool inviting pool below.
Located in Brgy. San Joaquin of Calbayog City, an hour-and-15-minute ride to Barangay Tinaplacan plus 45-minute walk to the vicinity of the falls. Among the family of waterfalls of Calbayog City, Bangon, Bugtong Falls is one of the most majestic and spectacular spots that is worth visiting. As one ascends the stream, he will be amazed to see a circular pond about 30 meters in diameter, wide enough for swimming and deep enough for diving. The cascading water seems to come from streams flowing endlessly, resulting from the pressure of its disgorge, which becomes even bigger in volume and noticeable as the time of the day passes. Bugtong Falls is not only a tourist spot but also a potential source of power for Calbayog City and its neighboring localities.
Located in Barangay Cagbayang, Oquendo District, an hour drive from Calbayog City and 40-minute walk from the villages. A beautiful and scenic waterfall. This wonderful creation of nature is a favorite picnic site of local residents and their source of potable water.
Located in Danao, some 14 km. toward the western coast of Calbayog City. Made up of seven chambers inhabited by various species of snakes and bats, as evidenced by a good deposit of guano. The cave serves as an initiating place for those who want to acquire a talisman.
Located in Brgy. Pilar, Oquendo District, an hour drive from Calbayog City proper plus 1-hour walk onwards from the village. More than a beauty spot, this falls is the primary source of water for its residents. At places where the cataract is so high, the water falling into the pool below becomes a mere mist.
Located in Brgy. Maguino-o, Tinambacan District, Calbayog City, it is separated from the mainland by the Silangan Channel. A potential deep diving spot, about 40 to 50 meters from the water surface and measuring less than a hectare in area. The islet is surrounded with aquifers equally and uniformly spread at the peripheral limits of the islet with white sand and pebbles. Beneath the deep waters are sea corals of multifarious varieties, rare white pebbles spread all over the floors, 20 types of shells, and ornamental types of aquamarine species – which can all be explored by the diver for as long as in his underwater gear.
Located in Barangay Lungsod, Oquendo District, Calbayog City. “Tinago-an” means hiding place. Its natural dark tunnels offers excitement and thrill to adventurers.
A 40-minute drive from Calbayog City. Grayish sand, blue waters, swaying palm trees, towering rocks, and three balconied cottages give this spot a South Sea island appeal. Magnificent view of sunset behind nearby islands. Made famous by the visits of VIPs, movie stars, and diplomats.
A 45-minute ride to Barangay San Joaquin, Tinambacan District from Calbayog City proper and a 25-minute hike onward to the falls. It is separated from the mainland by the Silangan Channel. A series of towering altars of rugged stones where between its depressions flow ribbon-like cool water that appears to cleanse the hair of a legendary lady. A source of potable water for local folks.
A 45-minute drive from Calbayog City proper to Sigo plus 30-minute hike to Ton-ok falls. A scenic waterfall hidden in lush tropical vegetation. Nature has placed it out of easy reach to preserve its beauty. A source of hydroelectric power.
A ten-minute drive from Calbayog City proper. Cottages line along its grayish sandy shore. Its cool fresh water, scenic view of Samar Island attracts picnickers and beachcombers.
A 20-minute walk or 7-minute drive from Calbayog City proper. It is located along the Maharlika Highway. An uncrowded pearl white strip of coastline with coconut trees offering a scenic view of islands and towns.
Located at Calbayog City, near Malajog beach.
SARAKIKI is a local term apparently referring to premeditated or frenzied movements which means to allure, to draw with, to attract or exercise attraction, to entice or to win. By its pre-colonial denotation, it means to praise, extol or eulogize spirits of gods. The word does not only ascribe to the ritual or hadang as an activity to gratify the gods, but likewise hadang as the offering or the sacrifice.
HADANG…a ritual dance. Sarakiki as a ritual dance per se is a dance-offering of the Warays to their deity or deities which traces its roots to pre-colonial religious beliefs. Calbayognons held that spirits occupied a position of command over the power of nature which may inflict harm or do good in society. Rituals to please these spirits were held during feasts and other occasions like planting and harvest season, drought and in times of dreadful epidemics. The ceremony could last a couple of days. It involved the entire villagers who offered (manok) sacrifices to venerate the spirits. Traditionally, our forefathers make use of patani ug ugis nga manok (black feather and white feather chicken) as the offering in veneration of the spirits.
SARAKIKI-HADANG in a nutshell, had two elements: one, the way the ceremonies were prescribed; two, the offering to the supernatural. In the former, ceremonies were done in all sort of gesticulations and body movements – that of the chickens - uproar and shouting in rhythmic beating of talutangs and pealing of bells. The other element was the use of patani ug ugis nga manok as the sacrifice. A manok serves as an offering and indubitably as a part of the ritual.
In the context of cultural development, the term Sarakiki is adapted to describe the significance of the movements used in the famous dance “kuratsa”, a courtship dance eminent to all Calbayognons. Today “kuratsa” is the most popular dance form consummated in all celebrations most especially during wedding jovialities. Sarakiki is likewise place forth in songs particularly the SADA-SADA an event of merriment in the evening before a wedding ceremony, which redound to one of our most well-liked tradition, the so-called pamalaye or pamamanhikan. Another confirmation is the thumbs-up form of the Calbayognons while dancing which represents the tahud.
During the 1st Grand National Streetdance Competition - ALIWAN FIESTA in May 1-3, 2003, participated by 26 famous festivals in the country,the Sarakiki-HADANG Festival of Calbayog City won the 3rd prize.
SArakiki-HADANG Festival is celebrated in Calbayog City every year from September 1 to 8 under the auspices of the CITY ARTS AND CULTURE OFFICE, with Mr. JONAS T. LIM as the Festival Director.
Calbayog City is politically subdivided into three Districts (Calbayog, Oquendo and Tinambacan) of 157 barangays.
Jose A. Roño
Amampacang (Tinambacan District)
Ba-ay (Tinambacan District)
Bante (Tinambacan District)
Bantian (Tinambacan District)
Binaliw (Tinambacan District)
Bugtong (Tinambacan District)
Cag-olango (Tinambacan District)
Caglanipao Sur (Tinambacan District)
Cagmanipes Norte (Tinambacan District)
Cagnipa (Tinambacan District)
Cangomaod (Tinambacan District)
Catabunan (Tinambacan District)
Mabini I (Calbayog District)
Mabini II (Oquendo District)
Manguino-o (Tinambacan District)
Malaga (Tinambacan District)
Malajog (Tinambacan District)
Malayog (Tinambacan District)
Malopalo (Tinambacan District)
Marcatubig (Tinambacan District)
Mantaong (Oquendo District)
Peña (Tinambacan District)
Rizal I (Calbayog District)
Rizal II (Oquendo District)
Roxas I (Calbayog District)
Roxas II (Oquendo District)
Saljag (Baut)(Tinambacan District)
San Joaquin (Tinambacan District)
San Policarpo (Ipao)
Tinaplacan (Tinambacan District)
Awang East (Pob.)
Awang West (Pob)
Danao I (Tinambacan District)
Danao II (Tinambacan District)
Tinambacan Norte (Tinambacan District)
Tinambacan Sur (Tinambacan District)
Cagmanipes Sur (Tinambacan District)
Manuel Barral, Sr.
Calbayog City's Patron Saint is Nuestra Señora de Natividad and celebrates its town fiesta on September 8th.
Calbayog City is dubbed by the Department of Tourism as "The City of Waterfalls".
Film director Chito Roño and singer/songwriter Nonoy Zuñiga are both from Calbayog City.
Julio Cardinal Rosales(1906-1983) is a Calbayognon.
José Dira Avelino (August 5, 1890–July 21, 1986) was a Filipino politician who served as President of the Philippine Senate. He was a native of what was then the town of Calbayog which later became a city during his time in 1948
Calbayog City is one of the eight cities included in the 2007 Institute of Solidarity in Asia's (ISA) list of business-friendly cities in the Philippines.
The only city which established an arts and culture office (City Arts and Culture Office) as one of the departments in the local government.