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Dipolog City


Dipolog's earliest recorded history started in 1834 when a civil government was organized by the Spanish Provincial Government of Misamis, under whose jurisdiction Dipolog belonged with the appointment of a "Captain" as town executive, a "Teniente" and an "Aguacil" to maintain law and order. Don Domingo Ruiz, a native, was the town executive that year when the townsite was transferred to Tulwanan to where it is now.

History says that in that year a Spanish Recollect Missionary arrived in Tulwanan believing that that the townsite was still there. Upon meeting a native, asked; "Donde esta el Capitan?". Our unknown hero understanding only the word "Capitan" pointed to the west and said in Subano Di-pag" meaning across the river. Guided by his Muchacho a Tagalog boy named Antonio Subido, the Padre proceeded down river and upon reaching the townsite named the place ";Dipag". Though the years, this was corrupted by mispronunciation and intermingling of Visayan and Subano words into what it is today DIPOLOG.

But many years before Christian and unchristian settlers, Boholanos had already settled and mingled with the Pagan Subanos. For safety sake against Marauding Moro pirates, they established a town in what is now Barrio Sianib, now of municipality of Polanco, some twenty kilometers from the coast at Barrio Punta (Barangay Punta, Dipolog City). When danger from piracy subsided, they transferred the settlement to Isab, Nipaan and constructed a church on a hilltop overlooking a wide plain and the mouth of the Isab creek.

The Spanish colonization of Dipolog and northwestern Mindanao was done with the Cross of Catholicis and the Missionaries, with over zealous bordering on fanaticism, demanded that the pagan natives attend mass and church services morning and afternoon. The inconvenience of ramping up and down that hill to appease the priest, compelled the people to move down the river to Tulwanan(a sitio in Barangay Lugdungan, Dipolog City) were they built another Capilla. In 1834, as stated earlier, they transferred to the present site at the mouth of Dipolog river.


Its political date with history began in 1834 when the Spaniards organized a civil government in Misamis Province and appointed Capitan, Dapitan native Don Domingo Ruiz.

From Ruiz administration had change hands in stable succession: Martino Belarmino, who was popular by the name Maglinte. Francisco Magallanes, Victorio Gobune; another man whose name history record had as Toribio, followed by Venancio Narvaez, Francisco Orbita, Bautista Narvaez, Martencio Yebes and Sabino Bengua.

The colonial government later changed tact, substituting "Capitan" with "Governadorcillo" and political subalterns known as Teniente Primeros, Segundos, Terceros and three Aguacillas for assistants. A Juez de Policia with the Cuerpo de Policia or Quarilleros accountable directly to the Governadorcillo was formed, along with the Juez de Ganados, which had jurisdiction over agricultural estates and large cattle.

The Governadorcillos who had served the town were Andres Velasco, Juan Abendano, Juan Baez, Andres Yebanes, Martillano Barrios, Pedro Ruiz, Pablo Narvaez, Tiburcio Sorronda, Matias Velasco, Marcelino Zorilla, Cirilo Sorronda, Gabina Orbita, Santos Yebanes and Bonifacio Posadas.

As the socio-political storm gathered strength for the Philippine Revolution, the clergy established Dipolog as a regular parish in 1896 and installed Father Esteban Yepes its first administrator in 1897. Earlier in February 1894, the Catholic Chapel was renovated for the first time, on an altar designed by former Dapitan exile, Dr. Jose Rizal.

Around January 1889, the administrative designations reverted to Capitanes, and those appointed were Martin Fernandez, Tomas Narvacan, Eustaquio Cajocon, Simplicio Lacaya, Basilio Tabiliran, Maximiano Ruiz and Bruno Ordinaria, in the run up to General Emilio Aguinaldo's campaign for national independence and the short-lived Philippine Republic in 1898.

During the two years, Aguinaldo led the country in afragile arrangement with US occupation forces, the Capitan was renamed Presidente Local, who had administrative support from a Vice Presidente Local, a Delegado de Justicia and a Delegado de Policia.

Martin Fernandez was appointed Presidente Local in the year 1900, followed by Diosdado Mercado, Gaudencio Zorilla and Isidro Patangan as Presidente Municipal between 1901 and March 1904.

Dipolog's chance for the better came around 1910 when the US government recalled the militarist leaders from the Mindanao pacification campaign and appointed a 25 year-old civilian and Zamboanga-based John Helper, Secretary of Zamboanga Province. Helper visited Dipolog for two days and visited its principalia and members of the Centro Catolico de Dipolog who later agreed to escort him to Dapitan on horseback. On their way to Dapitan via the old duct in Barra, they took a few minutes rest at the home of Don Jose Aguirre where Governor Helper was introduced to Pascual Martinez, Helper offered the job of Municipal President to the young Martinez, who at first reluctant to take it.

Martinez went down from the Aguirre home and consulted the Centro Catolico, at the time the most influential organization in the Dipolog enclave over whether he should accept. After being encouraged to accept on condition he should work for the upgrade of the barrio status, Martinez went upstairs and shakes the hand of the smiling Helper.

Two years later, the Governor of the Department of Mindanao and Sulu, US General John Pershing, granted the petition seeking the conversion of Dipolog into a regular town on condition that an administrative building be constructed within six months and an elaborate inauguration arrangements be made. Two of the enclaves prominent residents and influential members of the Centro Catolico de Dipolog, Isabelo Echavez and Eleuterio Barinaga volunteered to raise P3,000 and mobilize the needed materials for the project. With the help of the association's members and clergy, gangs of carpenters, lumberjacks and bricklayers from the nearby provinces of Negros, Cebu and Bohol were organized and a tight construction schedule was laid out.

Dipolog City Hall:

The center facade was the original Municipal Hall constructed in 1912.The left and right wings used to be a balcony where John J. Pershing declared Dipolog as a Municipality, the wings were extended and a roof was added to accommodate more offices.

On a full moon on a Holy Saturday in 1913, Fr. Gaudencio Bendijo officiated the cornerstone laying ceremony while a brass band played the Marcha Real. The first Molave post was erected on the very spot when the main City Hall stands today, and the work gangs supervised by engineer-architect Francisco Garcia. The building tailored to the Western taste of elegance, had concrete for foundation and ground flooring with space more than enough for four offices, two storerooms and a jail. The second floor, with a social hall at its center, housed six executive offices.

The inauguration was the milestone the town ever needs to inspire its own constituency, and the years thereafter saw it growing leaps and bounds.

On July 1, 1913 General John "Black Jack" J. Pershing, then Governor of the Department of Mindanao and Sulu, declared Dipolog as a Municipality a public corporation possessing corporate powers and juridical personality at the porch of the newly constructed Casa Municipal. The pronouncement was immediately followed by the playing of the Stars Spangled Banner and the Philippine National Anthem played by the town's band. General Pershing also appointed Pascual T. Martinez as the first Municipal Mayor of Dipolog, under the American Regime. He was later elected twice. Two years later, the first special local election of Dipolog was held from Municipal Vice-President down to the five Municipal Councilors. Elected were: Veronico Olvis, Municipal Vice President, Feliciano Ordinaria, Marcelino Adriatico, Paciano Ortega, Lorenzo Regencia and Romualdo Gonzales as Councilor. Other elected officials were, Julian Garcia, Justice of Peace, Manuel Adriatico, Municipal Treasurer, Dalmacio Cruz, Chief of Police; and Dr. Patricio Saldariega, President of Sanitary Division.


The name and the story behind it

Dipolog began as a tribal settlement of Subanons who were part of the second wave of Malay migrants to ihe Philippines. Earliest recorded historical entries date back to 1834 when a civil government was organized by the Spanish Provincial Government of Misamis with the appointment of a Capitan as town executive, a Teniente and an Aguacil to maintain law and order.

"Donde esta el Capitan?" was the question posed by a Spanish Recollect Missionary that same year of a native, upon arriving at sitio Tulwanan, Barangay Lugdungan, asking where he could find the Capitan. Baffled by the question and recognizing only the word Capitan, the native pointed to the west and in the Subano tongue, said "Di . . . Pag" (i.e., across the river). Guided by his muchacho, the padre proceeded down river and upon reaching the town-site, named the place Dipag. Through the years, Dipag, rolling through the intermingling Visayan and Subanon tongues became Dipolog, as the place is known today.

Dipolog was formally declared a municipality by then Mindanao Governor-General John J. Pershing on July 1, 1913. It became a city, and the capital of Zamboanga del Norte, on January 1, 1970 after Republic Act No. 5520 was signed by President Ferdinand E. Marcos on July 21, 1969.


Dipolog City is 13,628 hectares of rolling hills with wide lowlands in northwestern Zamboanga del Norte. It faces the provinces of Cebu and Negros in the Visayas. It sits at the tip of the Zamboanga Peninsula and is known as the "Gateway to Western Mindanao". It has 21 barangays, including the four districts in the poblacion.

When you are in Manila, Dipolog City is situated in the south. It can be reached in about an hour via direct air flight or about 31 hours via sea transportation. It is a 40-minute flight or a 10-hour sea cruise from Cebu City.

Population/Languages & Dialects Spoken:

The city has 113,118 residents 2007census. About 49% are urban residents while 51% resides in the rural area, speaking mainly Cebuano/Visayan. English and Filipino (Tagalog) are also readily spoken. The original Subanon dialect lives on in the highlands. Christian Catholics make up 95% of the population. The remaining 5% are Christians of different denominations.


Dipolog has mild and moderate climate with rainfall more or less evenly 4 distributed throughout the year. It has a distinct dry and rainy season. February to April are sunny months while rain-showers punctuate the days from May to January. Its generally pleasant climate is seasoned by cool tangy air of the eastern highlands mingling with breezes of the Sulu Sea.

Basic Industries:

Dipolog is basically an agricultural city.

A few large agro-industrial establishments deal in rubber and feed processing, lumber, and such.

Most of the small manufacturing establishments are also agro-industrial in nature — saw mills, rice/corn mills, small to medium cottage industries engaged in metalcraft, wood & rattancraft, ceramics, and food processing (sardines, corned beef, dried fish, etc.)


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