The name Camiguin is derived from the native
word “Kamagong”, a tree of the Ebony family that
thrives near lake Mainit in the Province of Surigao del Norte.
The original inhabitants of Camiguin were “manobos”
who migrated from Surigao. The old native language in Camiguin
is called “Kinamiguin”, which is similar to the
dialect spoken in Surigao.
Old Spanish documents indicate that the renowned
explorers, Ferdinand Magellan and Miguel Lopez de Legazpi
landed in Camiguin in 1521 and 1565, respectively. The first
Spanish settlement in what was later to be known as Guinsiliban
was established in 1598. Guinsiliban comes from the old Kinamiguin
word “Guinsiliban” which means “to look
out for pirates from a watchtower”.
An old Spanish watchtower where the Camiguinons
kept watch for Moro pirates still stands in Guinsiliban.The
first major Spanish settlement established in 1679 was called
Katagman or Katadman (known as Catarman). The settlement grew
and prospered to what is now Barangay Bonbon. On May 1, 1871,
Mt. Vulcan Daan erupted and destroyed the town.
A portion of the town sank beneath the sea.
After the eruption, the settlement moved to were the Catarman
town center is presently located. Today, all the remains of
old Catarman are the ruins of the ancient Spanish church,
a convent and a bell tower.Sagay, located south of Catarman,
was formally established as a town in 1848. The word Sagay
is derived from the name of poisonous fruit tree that grow
in the area.
Mambajao became a town in 1855. The name
was coined from the Visayan terms “mamahaw”, meaning
to usher breakfast, and “bajao”, which is leftover
boiled rice. In the early 1900s, Mambajao prospered to become
the busiest port in Northern Mindanao.Mahinog was established
as a municipality in 1860. The name Mahinog comes from a Cebuano
word meaning “to ripen” or “to become ripe”.
Although Guinsiliban was the oldest settlement
in the island, it was only in 1950 when it became a municipality.
Both Mahinog and Guinsiliban were formally governed from Sagay.
In 1901, in the middle of the Spanish-American
War (1898-1904), American soldiers landed in Camiguin to assume
political control over the island. A group of Camiguinons,
armed with bolos and spears, led by Valero Camaro fought for
the island’s independence from foreign invasion during
a short battle in Catarman. Valero Camaro was killed by a
bullet on the forehead.
He became one of the unsung Camiguin patriots
of the early independence movement.In 1903, the first public
school in Camiguin was built in Mambajao and in 1904 the first
public water system was installed.On June 18, 1942, the Japanese
Imperial Army landed in Camiguin and set up a government in
Mambajao. The Japanese Army gutted down central Mambajao in
reprisal to guerrilla activities there.
The remains of some of these buildings still
On July 4, 1946, the country
gained independence from the United States of America and
became the Republic of the Philippines. From 1946 to 1958,
Camiguin was part of the Misamis Oriental. In 1958, it became
a sub-province and in 1968, a full-fledged province with Mambajao
as its provincial capital.