BRIEF HISTORY OF HINUNANGAN
Hinunangan has been a part of Philippines history from the beginning. Ferdinand Magellan set sail on Aug 10, 1519 from Seville, Spain with a crew of 234 on five ships under his command – Trinidad, San Antonio, Concepcion, Victoria and Santiago. His mission was to find the Spice Islands for the King of Spain.
On March 17, 1521, Magellan and the remaining 150 of his men reached the island of Homonhon in the Philippines. The expedition sailed out from Humunhon on March 25, 1521 and headed West-Southwest, and coasted along or between four islands, namely; Cenalo , Hiunanghan, Ibusson, and Albarien. Ibusson or Hibuson is an island east of Leyte’s southern tip, while Cenalo mispelled as Silago, and Hiunanghan or Hinunangan is situated on the mainland of Southern Leyte, although magellan thought it is an island-this is the first and early account of the aforementioned towns. Pigafetta chronicled all this event, and perhaps what he meant is that from Humonhon, they had sailed westward going to Leyte coasting between Hibuson on their left and Hinunangan to their right. They continued southward and turned westward to “Mazaua”. The marked the first visit of Spaniards to the Philippine Islands.1
Of course, Magellan never made it to the Spice Islands as he met an unfortunate end in Cebu on April 27, 1521 in the battle with Lapu-Lapu.
Early Years in 1570, Boholano peddlers often dropped anchor at Das-ay River and stayed overnight. They gathered rattan, caught fish, and collected tar (balao). The place was named “HONONGANAN” meaning “stopping place.” Finding the area to be rich and fertile, a Bohol farmer by the name of Palonoy brought his family and started his “kainging”. Several others followed suite and a settlement was formed. In 1825, Palonoy donated a portion of his land for a church site and to Fray Pedro who lived wit the settlers. Being a Spaniard, he misprounced “Honongangan” to “Hinunangan” and even wrote so in his communications to this Spanish superiors.
Hinunangan was created as a town on March 26, 1851. It has a population of 5,140. Two months later, it was created as a parish. The first parish priest, Fr. Pedro Monasterio constructed a five-altar church, which still stands today.”2
Of course, the Spanish missionaries were not the only ones who attempted to bring religion to the island. Documents from the Presbyterian church list a chapel in Tacloban that was erected in November 18, 1905. Due to lack of success in the area, they extended their reach to the provinces, including Hinunangan and its Barangays. Francisco Ivalerosa was stationed in Hinunangan and reported that “The street meetings held here are always well attended and a good deal of interest is manifested, but the people are so addicted to the opium habit that it is difficult to get converts.”3
World at War, Although not as well-known as Palo and Bataan during World War II, Hinunangan played a role during Battle of Leyte Gulf and was not immune to the fighting that occurred during that time. The return of General Douglas MacArthur on Oct. 20, 1944 in Leyte began the famous Battle of Leyte Gulf, waged in the waters directly in front of Hinunangan.4
Five “Black Cat” Catalina Flying Boats or seaplane were based in Hinunangan Bay, Southern Leyte in anticipation of Japanese Admiral Kurita Forces.5
The Island of Cabugan Chico (now called San Pablo Island) was used a mooring area for the support ships San Carlos and Half Moon along with their contingent of 10 PBYs (American flying boats). On Oct 24, a battle ensued as two Japanese Type 99 Aichi dive bombers engaged the American forces. One of the Japanese planes was shot down and the other escaped.6
The Battle of Leyte Gulf raged from October 23 to 26 1944 between the naval forces of the United States and Japan. This battled was notable for the sound defeat and heavy losses of the Japanese Imperial Navy and for the first battle in which Japanese aircraft carried out organized kamikaze attacks.7
Cabugan Islands or Twin Islands of Hinunangan now called San Pedro and San Pablo Island are held as Beachhead Landing lifelike rehearsal for American forces during World War II before invading Japan for it has a similar beach terrain of Kerama Island.8
Recent times in more recent history, Hinunangan has suffered along with the Philippines due to a lack of infrastructure and a loss of its natural resources due to deforestation and aggressive use of fertilizers and pesticides.9
However, progress still occurs. The Abuyog – Silago Road was completed on January 29, 2007.10
This was a key development as it cut the travel time from Tacloban to Hinunangan in half (from 6 hours to 3 hours). Cellular 3G communication is also recently available via the Globe Telecommunication and Smart Communications wireless network. 11
1. Suárez, Thomas (1999). Early mapping of Southeast Asia. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 9789625934709. http://books.google.com/?id=ZG7ZMAbv_jAC.
2. Leyte Towns, Histories/Legends by Francisco S. Tantuico Jr
3. Presbyterian Church in the USA (1907). Reports of the boards, Issue 105. University of Michigan. pg. 347
5. Naval Warfare 1919-1945: An Operational History of the Volatile War at Sea by Malcolm H. Murfett. pg.391
6. Knott, Richard (2000). Black Cat Raiders of WWII. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1557504717. pg. 175
8. History of United States Naval Operation in World War II Volume 14 by Samuel Elliot Morrison.