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Butuan City History, Philippines

Memoirs of a strong-cultured city such as Butuan have drawn much attention from the media, tourists and religious devotees. This original site of the first Easter mass in the Philippines reawakens everyone’s curiosity as to how it all began.

In the11th century, it was believed to be the center of business and trade in the country after the discovery of archaeological remnants and 9 Butuan boats called balangays used to transport goods, but even before that, Butuan already had good trading relations with the Srivijaya Empire of Java.

When the Japanese occupied the country in 1943, Butuan was destroyed. There was unstoppable conflict between the Filipino guerrillas and the Japanese forces until 1945. The municipality was also destroyed by fire on October 20, 1948.

Butuan’s logging industry has flourished since Congressman Marcos Calo filed a bill converting it into a city on August 2, 1950 up until 1970.  There came a controversy on where the first mass was originally held—whether it was in Masao, Butuan City or Limasawa, Leyte, or even in the secret isle comprising Pinamanculan and Bancasi barangays of Butuan. Several versions were also accounted as to how Butuan got its name: from a fruit called Batuan; a chieftain named “Datu Buntuan” who once led Butuan; and Visayas word But-an that means a good person.

Butuan is home of the famous pre-historical native boats in Southeast Asia. Residents here (that summed up to 267, 279 as of year 2000) speak in Butuanon, Cebuano and English. The Kahimunan Festival, which is similar to Sinulog Festiva of Cebu City, has been a tradition every January in honor of patron saint Sr. Sto. Niño. It’s also a significant event when Butuan hosted the first Philippine Flag of Mindanao on January 17, 1889. This is jointly celebrated yearly by the Butuan Local Government and Butuan Historical & Cultural Foundation. Father Saturnino Urios University was the first school established in honor of Father Urios who became “The Apostle of Agusan” prior to his death in 1906.

Top industries depend on the production and manufacturing of products like banana, wood, prawn, furniture, handicrafts and coconut. For over 1,683 years, Butuan has recovered despite political, social and economic struggles. What used to be a chartered city is now a highly urbanized city lying across the Agusan River. You should meet the hardworking people in this town and discover how they value cultural heritage.

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Butuan City is one of the top 10 cities in the world to visit. This rank is based on our travelers' reviews. Please also take the time to rank Butuan City or write a Butuan City destination review or travel tip to share your opinion.Butuan City is one of the "must visit" tourist destinations in the world. This rank is based on what other travelers shared about their experiences in Butuan City.
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