Tacloban City, was formerly known as Kankabatok, named after the first settler Kabatok who occupied the area around the present Sto. Ni├▒o Church. Other inhabitants who came later were Gumoda, Haranging and Huraw who settled then in nearby areas. The Kanhuraw Hill where the City Hall is presently situated was formerly Huraw`s domain. The whole settlement area was called Kankabatok, meaning Kabatok`s property.
Kankabatok was formerly under the political administration of Palo but under the parochial jurisdiction of Basey, Samar. The Augustinian Mission discovered Kankabatok in 1770 and the Franciscans came later in 1813. During this period, Kankabatok was changed to `Tarakluban` which means the place where the inhabitants used the `Taklub`, a bamboo contraption, to catch crabs, shrimps and fish. Later, the name of the place evolved from `Tarakluban` to its present name, Tacloban.
Although no official records show, it is commonly believed that Tacloban was officially proclaimed a municipality in 1770, after the provinces in Leyte and Samar were separated in 1768. Since then Tacloban became a trading point between the two provinces because of its strategic location. On February 26, 1830, Tacloban became the capital of Leyte because of the ideal location of its port which is well sheltered and had adequate facilities.
Colonel Murray arrived in Tacloban in 1901 and became the first Military Governor of Leyte. He opened the Tacloban port to world commerce, especially for copra and abaca, which were exported in large quantities. Before World War II, Tacloban was the center of commerce, education, social and cultural activities in Leyte. The educational institutions were: Leyte Normal School now the Leyte Normal University, Leyte High School, now the Leyte National High School, Leyte Trade School now Leyte Institute of Technology, Holy Infant Academy now, Holy Infant College and the Tacloban Catholic Institute.
On May 25, 1942, Japanese Forces landed in Tacloban and started a three-year Japanese occupation of Leyte. The Japanese forces fortified Tacloban, improved its airfield and established San Pedro Bay as a port of call and entry for the Japanese Imperial Naval Forces. During the Japanese occupation, many guerilla forces were organized and the most famous was the group of Colonel Ruperto Kangleon.
On October 20, 1944, General Douglas MacArthur and his troops landed on the Tacloban-Palo beaches (White Beach and Red Beach) and in the neighboring town of Dulag (Blue Beach) and liberated Leyte from the Japanese Forces. October 23,1944, General MacArthur, accompanied by President Sergio Osme├▒a made Tacloban the temporary seat and temporary capital of the Commonwealth Government until final liberation of the country. Famous landmarks during the liberation were the Joseph Price Mansion where General MacArthur set up his headquarters and the Redo├▒a Residence. Then the provincial government of Leyte and the municipal government of Tacloban were re-established.Atty. Paulo Jaro was the Liberation Mayor of Tacloban and Mr. Epifanio Aguirre was the first mayor upon the inauguration of the Philippine Republic.
On June 20, 1952, Tacloban was proclaimed a chartered city by virtue of Republic Act No. 760 which was effected on June 12, 1953. The charter was signed by President Elpidio Quirino and witnessed by the incumbent Mayor, Ildefonso Cinco, who apparently became the first City Mayor.
On June 30, 1954, on the Feast Day of Sr. Sto. Nino, the Patron Saint of Tacloban, Speaker of the House of Representatives Jose B. Laurel did the honor of laying the cornerstone for the Tacloban City Hall at Kanhuraw Hill. As a new city, Tacloban attracted businessmen looking for sound investment prospects while people from neighboring towns slowly began to look for opportunities and laid roots in the city.
Succeeding Hon. Ildefonso Cinco when he became Governor of Leyte was Artemio E. Mate who became the second City Mayor of Tacloban City. The decade of the 60`s ushered in developments particularly so that Imelda Romualdez Marcos, the new First Lady of the Philippines, a Leyte├▒o loved Tacloban City.
During the late 60`s and the early 70`s Tacloban City was gradually changing from a less obvious to a remarkable city. Government institutions and cultural awareness were created and established such as the National Maritime Polytechnic, UP Tacloban, Sto. Ni├▒o Shrine and the People`s Center and Library in Tacloban City and others which were established in the Province of Leyte. All these, were in addition to the construction of the San Juanico Bridge, the longest span of bridges in the Philippines that links Leyte and Samar, the construction of the Maharlika Highway, the improvement of the DZR Airport and the Tacloban Sea Port and many other infrastructure projects that promoted Tacloban City to the business sector and to the national and foreign investors.
On September 24, 1972, Tacloban became a part of the of the Integrated Reorganization Plan by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 1 of the New Society under Proclamation 1081 declaring Martial Law in the Philippines. During the time, Mayor Filomeno Arteche was the incumbent mayor.
On May 12, 1976, President Marcos appointed Obdulia R. Cinco as Mayor of Tacloban City and was returned to the seat when she won in the local elections on January 30, 1980 becoming the first elected lady mayor of Tacloban City.
In 1986, after Corazon Aquino was placed into the presidency by the EDSA Revolution, Mayor Cinco was replaced by Emmanuel K. Veloso who stayed until the elections of 1988. This time, another Mate was elected as Mayor. The younger brother of former mayor Artemio E. Mate, Uldarico E. Mate won in the elections and he became the first elected mayor after the EDSA Revolution. Mayor Mate was given a mandate of three terms as mayor of Tacloban City. During his term, Tacloban was now evolving in terms of economic, social and infrastructure development as Tacloban was categorized as a First Class City. The business sector`s confidence in the economic standing of the city boosted its prospects and local and international entrepreneurs became interested to put up business in the city.
In the mid portion of the 90`s, Tacloban City worked out for the acquisition of 237 hectares for its Economic Zone, which was finally realized and approved by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 1210 on April 23, 1998. The Eastern Visayas Agri-Industrial Growth Center (EVRGC) was then officially registered as an Eco-Zone with the City Government of Tacloban as the developer/operator.
On June 12, 2003, Tacloban City celebrated its Golden Anniversary with fitting rites and activities with Mayor Alfredo T. Romualdez at its helm. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Tacloban`s cityhood showed the long trail of significant activities leading to the present status of Tacloban by which economic, infrastructural and social gains were achieved.
From its modest beginning, Tacloban City has grown to be the premier city of Eastern Visayas, gateway of the region and the center of trade and industry, culture, education, communication and tourism, keeping abreast with the modern technology that would link Tacloban City to all destinations in the world.
The city of Tacloban is located in the northeastern part of the island of Leyte. Leyte is one of the islands of the Eastern Visayas region. Tacloban lies at 110┬░ 14' 36" north latitude and about 125┬░ east longitude and is situated about 576 kilometers southeast of Manila.
The original land area of Tacloban was 10,297.29 hectares. A survey in 1977 by the Bureau of Lands disclosed that certain portions of Babatngon, a nearby northwest town was actually part of Tacloban. Hence, when Brgy. Elena, which is adjacent to Babatngon was returned to Tacloban its area was increased by 556 hectares thereby increasing its land area to 10,853.29 hectares.
The expansion program of the Philippine Ports Authority in the early 1980 resulted in the reclamation of 1.79 hectares in front of the existing central supermarket, further increasing the city's total land area to 10, 855.08 hectares. Then the city was likewise able to reclaim 1 hectare at the proposed public market in Sagkahan, but was then converted into a multi-purpose site of what is now the Tacloban City Convention Center, thereby increasing the total land area of the city to 10,856.08 hectares.
Noteworthy, per DENR records however, the official land area of the city is only 10,090 hectares. An area of 52 hectares situated at Brgy. Nulatula is occupied by a cultural community or tribe known as the Integrated Manobo Tribe Rattan Plantation.
The elevation of the city is 3.05 meters above sea level. On the southwestern part lies Mt. Naga-naga which serves as boundary between Tacloban and its adjacent municipalities like Palo, Sta. Fe, Alangalang, San Miguel and Babatngon.
The city is embraced by bodies of water which river and creek tributaries meet sea water. These bodies of water are the Anibong and Panalaron Bays to the North and the Cancabato and San Pedro and San Pablo Bays to the east. Rivers located at the northern part of Tacloban such as those in Camansihay, Bagacay, Cabalawan, Sto. Ni├▒o, San Roque and Tigbao are linked to the San Juanico Strait and Anibong Bay.
The three major rivers of the city are the Abucay, Mangonbangon and Burayan. Abucay drains to the Anibong Bay. Mangonbangon runs five kilometers along the western side of the city proper which carries its run-off toward the Panalaron Bay. Burayan river with a total length of four kilometers has a catchment area of 6.5 square kilometers, flowing from southwest to northwest then to the sothern part of Tacloban.
There is no dry season in the area. Rainfall is evenly distributed throughout the year with the most pronounced occuring from July to December. The highest registered rainfall was in 1997 during the month of January. The driest month of the year is April.
Temperature ranges from 25┬░C and could go up as high as 31┬░C.