The town of Del Carmen is one of the oldest settlements founded by the Spaniards in the cluster of islands in the Pacific Ocean east of Surigao del Norte known as Siargao.
Early records of missionaries dating to 1571, or barely 50 years after the discovery of the Philippines, refer to the place as Caolo (derived according to oral history from the word colo or Kolo which is the native name for bread fruit, thus, Caolo means land of bread fruits) and thereafter as Caob also written variously as Kaob, Koob, Kacub, all of which mean sheltered, covered or landlocked. Eventually, it came to be popularly known as NUMANCIA after the town in the andalucian plains of Spain, possibly so named by Spanish priest on resident who came from that rainy region. This name officially remained for over two centuries until it was changed to Del Carmen on June 1966 by virtue of Republic Act No. 4786 during the Administration of Mayor Galo C. Comon in honor of its patroness, Virgen Del Carmen, whose feast day falls on July 16.
Del Carmen, according to the Philippine Catholic Directory, was established in 1635 as a mission station by the Recollects or Recoletos, the first resident priest of this order was Fray Lucas dela Cuz. At that time, then known as NUMANCIA, Del Carmen was the seat of the diocese of Distrito del Surigao, a province that was once part of the historic region of Caraga which covered the whole of Northeast Mindanao. Its church was reputed to be the earliest in the Surigao-Butuan area and until its destruction by a series of destructive Moro attacks and typhoons, was undoubtedly the largest and most beautiful in the territory. The Spanish religious compound consisting of the church and convent occupied about a hectare and on the same site today remnants of the old rampart and other ruins made of limestone can be seen as reminders of a glorious and bygone era.
In the olden days and after the reign of the encomienderos, Del Carmen had few recorded villages under it with pueblo de Caob at Dageongan, now Barangay Roxas, in the municipality of San Isidro. Also mentioned. although not extensively, is Jamoya-on o Hamova-won (named after a species of hardwood tree resistant to seawater and is thus commonly used as material for the hull of native vessels). Likewise, Haoyon, now the Barangays Katipunan and Cancohoy, also appeared sporadically in religious chronicles.
Stories that have become legend over the years told of a powerful bell that was dumped into a lake at Hoayon. The bell is purported made of pure silver and its sound can be heard as far as Bucas Grande island several miles to the south. It has been said that instead of warning local residents of the coming of Moro raiders, the bell attracted the pirates instead who came guided by its loud ringing. Thus, the missionaries decided to throw it away. From Haoyon, the missionaries transferred to Campuhag for expansion and better safety from the Moro raiders. The Spanish friars decided to establish their permanent residence at the present site of the Poblacion of Del Carmen when they found it well-protected, and stayed on there. Then in 1856-1896, the Jesuits returned to Siargao until the Benedictines replaced them in 1896-1909 after which the missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC) from Holland took their turn at ministering to the spiritual needs of the populace. Today, Del Carmen is under the Society of Divine Word of SVD after the Filipinization on policy was implemented when the Bishopric came under Bishop Miguel Cinches, SVD, D.D., Ph.D.
In 1920 under the American regime with Francisco Alburo as town president, the territory of Del Carmen at that time comprised of one half of Bucas Grande island with the Barangays of Pamosaingan, Sta. Cruz and Hinundayan excluding Socorro, the main village (now a town) and others which belonged to Dapa . This was the setup when the bloody “Colorum Uprising” erupted in the province of Surigao del Norte in 1924, and violently suppressed by the Commonwealth Government with American and military support.
The old Del Carmen (Numancia) is bounded in the south by barangay Bitoon between Dapa and Del Carmen up to the barangay of Tuboran, Quezon, Landahan in Sta.Cruz straight to Benoni point as boundary between Del Carmen and Pilar and all lands extending north of this line now composed of the new municipalities of Sapao (presently Sta.Monica and part of Del Carmen until 1948), Burgos, San Isidro and San Benito along the northwestern seaboard of Siargao island all of which were once part of the old Numancia .
By virtue of an executive order, President Ramon Magsaysay in 1952 created the town of Sapao. In 1960,President Carlos P. Garcia elevated the Barangay San Isidro into a municipality by virtue of Executive Oder No. 356 and 1964 the new municipality of Burgos was born by legislative act and its first set of local officials were elected in 1967. The last barrio under Numancia, namely San Benito, became a municipality in October 1971.what remains today of Del Carmen’s original territory comprises of the barangays of Bitoon, Cabugao, Antipolo, Quezon, Sayak, Lobogon, Mahayhay, Esperanza, Katipunan, Cancohoy, Bagacay, Jamoyaon, Mabuhay, Caub, Domuyog, San Fernando, Hali-an and the two barangays in the town proper, San Jose and Del Carmen, with 23 sitios under it .
Since the American regime up to the present, Del Carmen has had 14 illustrious local chief executives with Hon. Constantino H. Navarro. Jr., former Congressman of the First District of Surigao del Norte, which includes Siargao and Dinagat, islands under its Jurisdiction.
The other executives are: American Regime – Hon. Francisco Alburo 1920-1922, Hon. Teofanee E. Plandano 1923-1925; Commonwealth Period – Hon. Victor Espaldon 1932-1934, Hon. Nicolas Vitanzos 1935-1940, Hon. Rodulfo Concha 1941 (Interrupted by WWII), Hon. Maximo Cometa 1943-1945 (Japanese Occupation); Philippine Republic – Hon. Miguel Lasala 1946–1963, Hon. Galo C. Comon 1964-1967, Hon. Nicolas S. Laoguico 1968–1971, Hon. Virginia C. Monzon 1972-1986, OIC – Mayor Retired Judge Leonor Conde Gorgolon 1986-1987, OIC – Mayor Felizardo L. Escuyos January–1 February 1988, Hon. Rogelio L. Tan 2 February 1988–1998, Hon. Arlencita E. Navarro July 1998-November 2006, Hon. Constantino Navarro IV 2007-2010 and Hon. Alfredo Coro 2011-Present.
Last Updated: September 25, 2018