Santa Fe, Romblon

Santa Fe, Romblon

Santa Fe is a municipality in the province of Romblon, Philippines. According to the 2000 census, it has a population of 14,140 people in 2,636 households.

Onhan / Taga-onhan or Inunhan (Loocnon style) is the native language of the municipality's inhabitants with considerable number of Romblomanon or Ini local speakers in the two barangays of Guinbirayan and Guintigbasan respectively.


The negritos are believed to be the first settlers of the municipality of Santa Fe who are also called Aetas, and known locally as ‘Ati’ or ‘Ita’ who came to this place from Panay and Carabao Island during the Paleolithic period via a causeway of rocks. The next wave of migrants were the Malays who came around 12th century who now forms the majority of the people in this municipality with an admixture of other racial strains of later colonizers. Please check Santa Fe's islands at Romblon Island webpage. The first written history of Tablas island where the present municipality of Santa Fe is located was in the year 1570 when Spanish conquistador and explorer Martin de Goiti on orders of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi the ‘Maestro de Campo’ (Master of the Camp) or better known as the ‘El Adelantado’, explored and conquered the settlements and native villages in Osigan island (renamed Tablas by Loarca in 1582) where his team of 27 ships, 280 Spaniards and several hundreds Bisayan (Visayan) auxiliaries in their quest to conquer the famed city of Manila in Luzon island found native Pintados or painted (Tattooed) Visayan indios living in the island of Osigan. He noted it to have a population of around 250 indios who lives by gathering wax, almacega, raising tame animals and in agriculture.

Just a little over a year in November 2, 1571 the islands of Cibuyan (Sibuyan), Osigan (later renamed Tablas) and adjacent smaller islands in-between including Hambil island were organized into an encomienda based at the settlement of Mahalud (or Maharlu / Mahanlur in some records) a riverbank settlement along the river of the same name in Panay island belonging to Don Alvaro de Angulo. This is now the coastal barangay of Majanlud, located east of Sapian municipality in Capiz as one of the earliest settlement in Panay. The island of Tablas was again visited by another Spanish explorer by the name of Don Miguel Lopez de Loarca in 1582 who was a census officer dispatched by the Spanish authorities to evaluate the vastness and wealth of their new conquered territory. He was perhaps the second European to set foot on the island of Tablas. In his writings, he noted native painted indios of around 250 souls (residents) mostly living in the small village (Cabolutan) in the island. He mentioned that the people have converted already to Christianity. Don Miguel Lopez de Loarca renamed the island's name from Osigan to Tablas because when some of his men asked for the natives whom they met "Como se llama este sitio?" or "What is the name of this place?" The natives did not understood what he was driving at, but since they saw his finger pointed in the direction of the pile of lumber, they answered "Tabla" in the native term denoting "lumber". Henceforth, the Spaniards called the strip of land "Tablas" or "Flanks" which denotes "file of lumber". The original native name of the island was Osigan island.

The third European to set-foot in the island was a Spanish missionary and explorer, Father Pedro Cubero Sebastian. The missionary priest described Tablas island like a shoal (reef) rather than an island because it is almost at sea level as seen from afar. Father Cubero arrived in Tablas by entering through its southern channel since he was coming from Panay island. The first impression Father Cubero noted in Tablas island was its terrain that if seen from afar was that it resembles a shoal or a reef because its land-mast is almost at sea level. He was referring to Santa Fe's rolling hills terrain which is the island's lowest elevation. The missionary priest made mention also that a British trading ship (Galleon) with all its expensive cargoes was lost early that year at Carmen Bay due to typhoon. The ship was on a trading voyage from Madras, India owned by East Indies Company, a British trading company based in India.

In 1716, Capiz was created a separate province out of the old Alcaldia de Arevalo (Iloilo), formerly called Panay in the Pintados later Ogtong (Oton). The new province included the islands of Romblon group and the valley of Aclan (Aklan) in northwestern Panay island.

Pueblo (parish) de Looc was created in 1844 as shown in official records. Looc was Capiz 23rd municipality taken from the island pueblo of Banton its mother-town. When pueblo Looc was created, it included all visitas, settlements and villages located in southern Tablas island, namely: visita de Catolog (Santa Fe), visita de Cabalian, visita de Sabang, visita de Guinbirayan, visita de La Lauan (Alcantara) including Carabao Island which was annexed to the new pueblo of Looc together with its two existing barrios of Agcogon and Lanas taken from Nabas, Capiz.

In March 19, 1853, the District of Romblon was organized into Politico Militar Commandancia del Distrito de Romblon under Commandante de Infanteria Don Ramon Vieytes as its first Commander (petty Governor) taken from Capiz province with four existing towns namely, Romblon which was designated as the new capital town, Banton which included Sibale, Looc and Cajidiocan originally known as pueblo de Sibuyan (which included visita de Cauit, Pag-alad and España). The full text of the superior decree in Spanish: ‘El superior decreeto No. 206 del 19 de Marzo de Ano de 1853 mandato creacion Commandante Politico Militar del Distrito de Romblon de la provincia de Capiz". On February 18, 1854, the royal order was confirmed by a superior decree. "La real orden No. 57 del 18 de Febrero del ano de 1854 approvado la creacion de el Distrito Politico Militar de Romblon con denominacion de Commandante Militar de Romblon".

The following year of 1855 recorded a tremendous leap on the creation of new pueblos or parishes under the new government of Commandante de Infanteria Don Joaquin de Prat y Parella installed as Romblon's provincial executive replacing Don Ramon Vieytes beginning in 1854. Don Joaquin issued the creation of 17 new pueblos from the existing four. However, visita de Sibale remained part of pueblo de Banton. The new pueblos that were created in 1855 were: Guintiguian (San Agustin), Simara (Corcuera), Odiongan, Andagao (Calatrava), Parpagoja (San Andres), Tingaray (Ferrol), Saban (sitio Sabang, Danao Norte, Santa Fe, formerly a pueblo), Lauan (Alcantara), Guinbirayan (barangay of Santa Fe), Cauit (now named barangay Azagra, San Fernando), Pag-alad (San Fernando), España (barangay of San Fernando), Isabel (barangay Cambalo, Cajidiocan, formerly a pueblo) and Princesa (formerly a pueblo now sitio Cangumba of barangay Azagra in San Fernando), Magallanes (Magdiwang), Cabalian (now it is a sitio of Agmanic, Santa Fe, formerly a pueblo) and finally Catolog (Santa Fe). This was Santa Fe's first proclamation as an independent municipality (pueblo). The administration for Isla de Carabao with its two villages was transferred to the pueblo of Cabalian when it was organized into a pueblo, taken from Looc. However, pueblo Cabalian was abolished soon after its creation that in 1861, it was annexed to pueblo de Catolog (Santa Fe). However, based on rare church records on Bautismos, Defunctiones and Casamientos, the island of Carabao opted to joined back Nabas, Capiz instead of joining pueblo Catolog. Status of Carabao island under Nabas remained until 1897.

Thirteen years after the Politico Militar Commandancia del Distrito de Romblon was created, it was converted into a regular province known as Politico Militar Commandancia dela Provincia de Romblon on January 11, 1868. This happened during the incumbency of Commandante de Infanteria Don Joaquin Corillo who was installed as Commandante since 1866. As a consequence, Don Corillo being the first official Governor of the new province reorganized the local municipal government. Thus 15 existing pueblos (municipios) or parishes were abolished namely: Guinpuc-an (barangay Carmen in San Agustin created in 1861), Cagbagacay (Santa Maria established in 1857), Pag-alad, Rancheria de Infiel (Ranch of Savaged or Wild People found at barangay Dulangan, Magdiwang established in 1861), España, Isabel (barangay Cambalo, Cajidiocan), Princesa (formerly a pueblo, its territory now forms part both of sitio Cangumba in barangay Azagra and barangay Otod), Odiongan, Andagao, Parpagoja, Tingaray, Catolog, Sabang, Lauan and Guinbirayan.

In Sibuyan island, there were only 3 pueblos left after January 11, 1868, these were: Magallanes which absorbed the former pueblo of rancheria de Infiel (Dulangan), Cajidiocan which annexed the former town of Isabel (Cambalo) and Cauit. Pueblo de Cauit was renamed Pueblo de Azagra in February 3, 1868. Azagra included the former pueblos of Princesa (Cangumba), Pag-alad (San Fernando) and España. During these period, isla de Carabao was not affected since it belongs to Capiz province.

The 7 retained pueblos were the following: Romblon, Badajoz (now San Agustin formerly Guintiguian renamed Badajoz on August 28, 1868), Banton, Corcuera, Looc, Cajidiocan, Azagra (San Fernando), and one missionary center named mision de Magallanes (Magdiwang) and one semi-autonomous visita administered from pueblo de Banton named visita de Concepcion. Magallanes status was demoted back into a missionary center from its former status as pueblo or parish.

In 1881, the former townsite at Catolog was transferred to the new townsite located in what is now Santa Fe Poblacion. The new townsite was ideal as it is located along the coast facing Tablas Straight. Because of the transfer, the name of the visita which was then part of pueblo Looc was changed from Catolog to Santa Fe and the former townsite at Catolog became a barrio of Looc retaining its original name. History relates that Santa Fe got its name from a beautiful, kind and lovely daughter of one of the early settlers of the new townsite. Her name was Fe. She had been well-loved by the people that after her death, the place was named after her. Later the settlers added the prefix Santa thus; the new place was called Santa Fe. (With excerpts from Santa Fe website).

Before the end of Spanish rule, four pueblos were restored, namely: Odiongan, Despujols (San Andres), España and Santa Fe. Pueblo Santa Fe was restored into its former status in 1892, this was Santa Fe's second proclamation as an independent municipality or pueblo. Although pueblo de Santa Fe was restored in 1892, isla de Carabao refused to join the new municipality of Santa Fe. In the course of time, perhaps Carabao islanders may have figured-out difficulties in traveling to Nabas that they decided to join-back pueblo Looc in 1897.

Civil government was established under the Americans on March 16, 1901. Santa Fe was one of the 11 new municipalities, this was Santa Fe's 3rd proclamation as a municipality. It was the American government's decision to annex Carabao island with its two barrios, to its adjacent municipality of Santa Fe. The islanders this time agreed with less resistance. The other municipalities in the province were Badajoz, Banton, Cajidiocan, Corcuera, Looc, Magallanes, Odiongan, Romblon the Capitol and Despujols. The province of Romblon was abolished in July 15, 1907 and incorporated to the province of Capiz as a sub-province due to insufficient income. Concepcion or Sibale (Maestro de Campo) island however was separated from the rest of the province and incorporated into the province of Mindoro due to its long distance from Capiz town, the capital town of Capiz province now known as Roxas City. For this reason, it was created into a separate local government unit known as the Municipal District of Concepcion as attested by a Romblon map showing the provincial maritime boundary of Mindoro (now Oriental Mindoro) encroaching the island of Maestro de Campo published in 1914 and issued by the U.S. Army Map Service, Corps of Engineers. Please check Philippine Map Series S501 reprinted in 1954 for reference.

In March 10, 1917 the province of Romblon was restored as a regular province. On that same year of 1917, due to reorganization and the province's difficult financial status as newly restored entity, the former municipality of Santa Fe was abolished and annexed-back to Looc including Carabao island's 2 barrios.

In June 8, 1940, the Special Municipality of Tablas was established through the passage of Commonwealth Act No. 581 sponsored by a Bantoanon legislature, Congressman Leonardo Festin. Looc was abolished and was annexed to the new municipality with its seat at Odiongan town. The former towns of Badajoz and Looc were represented only by one councilor each at its municipal council in the special municipality of Tablas based in Odiongan town. Santa Fe and Carabao island being former barrios of Looc were not represented at its municipal council. On May 26, 1946, the Special Municipality of Tablas was abolished through the passage of Republic Act No. 38 sponsored by Congressman Modesto Formelleza and it took effect in January 1, 1947 when the Philippine President signed it into law restoring back Odiongan, Looc, Badajoz and reestablishing the former municipality of Santa Fe into independent municipalities. This was the 4th and final time Santa Fe was proclaimed into a municipality.

Santa Fe's land area was reduced by almost half due to the creation of Carabao Island into a separate municipal district in June 18, 1961 under Republic Act No. 3423 sponsored by then Congressman Jose D. Moreno. Today, Santa Fe is composed of 11 barrios or barangays to-date. However, based on Santa Fe's official website, it was stated there that the municipality of Santa Fe is composed of 12 barangays. The 12th barangay mentioned is barangay Cabangajan Island. I am not very sure as of this writing if Cabangajan Island today is officially declared barangay of Santa Fe. Historically, the island of Cabangajan existed as independent barrio during American occupation from 1901 until 1917.

Population of Santa Fe at Various Time

/a – Part of the Municipality of Looc /b - 2007 NCSO Census

Development of Santa Fe's Barrios / Barangays:

The municipality of Santa Fe's first census with breakdown of barrios was in 1894 when it recorded a total of 9 barrios namely: El Pueblo, Pandan, Canyayo, Lonoc, Mat-i, Agmanic, Catolog, visita Guinbirayan and Guintigbasan with a total population of 1,770.

Two years later, Santa Fe suffered dearly from the wrath of commandante de infanteria Don Justo Cumplido y Montero who became Romblon's commandante and governador in 1896. Upon the influence of former 'terror' Governor Don Jose Fernandez de Terran, Romblon's commandante and governor from 1880-1883, who strongly advocated immigrant Romblomanons in Santa Fe to return-back to Romblon. Thus, he ordered all of Santa Fe's barrios abolished that in so-doing its residents will return back to Romblon. Gov. Cumplido retained only 2 barrios in the area namely El Pueblo (Poblacion) and visita Guinbirayan in the hope that its residents will comply to his order and return back, but all their efforts failed. Santa Fe's population in 1897 was 1,897 taken from its 2 barrios of El Pueblo and Guinbirayan while the former barrios of Lonoc, Canyayo, Mat-i, Pandan, Agmanic and Catolog were abolished and merged to El Pueblo (Poblacion), while barrio Guintigbasan was annexed to visita Guinbirayan.

The Americans occupied Romblon in 1901 and reorganized the local government. Under the Americans, the municipality of Santa Fe restored 5 of its barrios in 1901 previously abolished by Governor Cumplido, these barrios were: Pandan, Canyayo, Mat-i, Agmanic and Catolog, and added 2 more by creating barrios of Layog and Copdan all taken from barrio El Pueblo. While Isla Cabangajan was created into barrio in 1901 taken from Guinbirayan. Carabao Island in 1901 was annexed to Santa Fe (formerly part of Looc) with its two existing barrios of Agcogon and Lanas. Finally, in 1903 census, Santa Fe registered a total population of 3,746 or 2,292 only if population from Carabao Island's 2 barrios were excluded. The following were the barrios of Santa Fe enumerated in 1903 census. Poblacion, Pandan, Canyayo, Mat-i, Agmanic, Cotolog, Copdan, Layog, Guinbirayan and Cabangajan Island. While 2 more barrios were located in Carabao island, these were barrios Agcogon and Lanas. Total number of existing barrios in 1903 census was 12.

In 1917, once-again Santa Fe was abolished and fused to Looc municipality. As a consequence, again only 2 barrios were retained, the barrio of Santa Fe (formerly Poblacion) and barrio of Guinbirayan including the two (2) other barrios located in Carabao Island, barrios of Lanas and Agcogon. Status remained until 1947.

In January 1, 1947, the former municipality of Santa Fe was inaugurated as an independent municipality but its total number of barrios remained at 4 namely: Santa Fe, Guinbirayan, Lanas and Agcogon. In April 24, 1959, Congressman Jose D. Moreno sponsored Republic Act No. 2144 which states "Creating certain barrios in Santa Fe". Thus, the following nine (9) barrios were restored: 1. Pandan including the sitios of Sayao, Guinda, Camonsel, Capinayan, Baybay, Candoyong, Lojo and Catopaz, 2. Canyayo including the sitios of Lonoc formerly a barrio during Spanish time, Campong, Payongpayong and Capid, 3. Mat-i which includes the sitios of Guinpasilan, Bolagsong, Aglagtang and Isabela, 4. Agmanic which included under its territory the sitios of Capdang or Capdan which was one of the original barrios of Santa Fe in 1901, Tipolo-Bahol, Bolacawe, Binaloca and Cabalian which was formerly a pueblo. 5. Magsaysay (formerly Catolog, and seat of the former municipality) included the sitios of Catolog proper, Palate, Layog formerly a barrio during Santa Fe's creation in 1901, Simbiray and Mambong and 6. Tabugon with its sitios of Cabungahan, Pitugo, Guinpoyungan or Guinpoingan, Grande, Cahawagan and Hinaclopan. These new barrios and sitios were taken from former barrio of Santa Fe, while 7. Danao Norte included the sitios of Danao sur, Bunga, Hacienda, Sabang formerly a pueblo during Spanish time, and Timbaon are taken from barrio Guinbirayan. Likewise, on the same Republic Act, additional 2 barrios were created in Carabao Island namely: barrio 8. Busay and 9. Pinamihagan. Santa Fe now has 11 barrios. (Please refer to San Jose's wikipedia webpage for more information regarding to its barrios / barangays).

In 1972, the following barrios were added to Santa Fe: Danao Sur and Guintigbasan both taken from barrio Guinbirayan. Assuming that barrio Cabangajan Island is already restored as claimed by Santa Fe's official website, then the total number of barrios for Santa Fe as-of-today will be 12 in numbers instead of 11. Presently, the municipality of Santa Fe included the former territories of abolished municipalities of Sabang, Cabalian and Guinbirayan that existed as separate pueblos or parishes during Spanish time. Today, Santa Fe is composed of 11 barrios or barangays as follows:


Santa Fe is politically subdivided into 11 barangays.

* Agmanic
* Canyayo
* Danao Norte
* Danao Sur
* Guinbirayan
* Guintigbasan
* Magsaysay
* Mat-i
* Pandan
* Poblacion
* Tabugon

External links

* [ Philippine Standard Geographic Code]
* [ 2000 Philippine Census Information]

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