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Tacloban City History, Philippines

The trading point between Samar and Leyte, Tacloban was discovered in 1770 by the Augustinian Mission. Later on, the Franciscans took hold of the place in 1813. This change in governance was also the same period where the name Tacloban came about. 

Originally Tacloban was named Kankabatok from the first inhabitants of the area who were known as Kabatok. This group of people established a system and inhabited the place known at the present time as Sto. Niño Church. Among the other groups of settlers were Gumoda, Haraging and Huraw. These groups also lived just around the vicinity. Consequently, the whole area where these groups settled was known as Kankabatok, understood as Kabatok’s property.

So how did the change of name from Kankabatok to Tacloban happen? It was an area where fishermen at that time loved to haunt. Those fishermen used an equipment called “Taklub” to trap crabs, fish and shrimps. The fishermen answered to anyone who asked where they were headed by naming the place as “tarakluban” implying that this was where “taklub” was used to catch fish, shrimps and crabs. “Tarakluban” became a prominent name for the area and later evolved into “Tacloban.”

Furthermore, Tacloban was the area of active commercial and social events before the World War II. During that time, the place was also flourishing in terms of education and culture. Two of the commodities that were of export quality were copra and abaca. Eventually, Tacloban became the capital of Leyte on February 26, 1830 after various places were acknowledged as the province’s capital. The reason why Tacloban was chosen as the capital was because the area had adequate facilities and it was well-sheltered. Adding to that was the port’s ideal location.

The coming of Colonel Murray in the year 1901 was the debut of its port in international trade, on May 25, 1942. For three years, the Japanese forces occupied Tacloban. This occupation brought about improvements in their airfield and the city in general. Tacloban became a port of call and entry because the Japanese saw that San Pedro Bay was a great area to deck for bigger vessels.

In the Second World War, the emancipation of Leyte from the Japanese was the mark of the Philippine’s freedom from these consecutive governance of foreigners. The fulfillment of General Douglas MacArthur’s “I shall return” was the victory of both Filipinos and Americans in the battle against the Japanese.


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