MUNICIPALITY OF CALAYAN (CAGAYAN), History and Cultural Data of Part I - Philippine Historical Data MUNICIPALITY OF CALAYAN (CAGAYAN), History and Cultural Data of Part I - Philippine Historical Data

MUNICIPALITY OF CALAYAN (CAGAYAN), History and Cultural Data of Part I

Municipality of Calayan, Cagayan Province



About these Historical Data

[Cover letter]


[Table of Contents]


History of Calayan
Original Families of Calayan
List of Municipal Presidents and Mayors
Story of Depopulation or Extinct Barrios
Historical Sites, Structures, Buildings or Ruins
Important Facts, Incidents and Events
Destruction of Life, Properties and Institutions
Folkways - Traditions and Customs
Myths, Beliefs, Interpretations, Superstitions, etc.
Popular Songs
Amusements and Games
Riddles and Puzzles
Proverbs and Sayings
The Legend of Mapandayan Mountain
How Calayan Got Its Name
1 - 3
7 - 8
9 - 11
12 - 13
13 - 14
15 - 16
17 - 18

[p. 1]

Republic of the Philippines
Department of Education
Division of Cagayan
Calayan District


The Municipality of Calayan is comprised of the four islands of Calayan, Camiguin, Dalupiri and Babuyan. This group of islands, including Fuga, which is a barrio of the municipality of Aparri, is also called the Babuyanes Group. They lie north of Luzon and are separated from it by the Babuyan Channel.

During the Spanish regime, the Dominicans established themselves in Calayan even before the government was organized. This was way back in 1626. When the Dominicans formed their diocese in Basco, Batanes, Calayan was brought under it. When the government was organized, Calayan was included under the Batanes group. This continued until the year 1902 when the people made a petition requesting that Calayan be separated from Batanes. The request was approved and so it became a municipality within the jurisdiction of Cagayan.

So, they elected their president. Mr. Angel Escalante was elected the first president of Calayan. He was elected by the councilors. In 1905, another election was held and Mr. Bonifacion Caddarao was elected to become the second president of Calayan.

In the year 1912, Calayan became a barrio of the municipality of Aparri. This act of government to make Calayan a barrio was caused by the hardship of transportation from the mainland of Luzon. This political status of Calayan continued until the year 1920. In that year, the people again made a petition requesting that Calayan be made a regular municipality. The

[p. 2]

petition was brought to Manila by Mr. Enrique Llopies. The petition was granted. The appointed president was no other than the one who brought the petition to Manila, Mr. Enrique Llopis. During the general elections of 1922, he gain filed his candidacy for the same position, which he won without much difficulty. He held the reins of the municipal government of Calayan until the year 1925. In this year, Mr. Crescente Castillejos was elected the president. For three years, Mr. Castillejos ran the affairs of the government for, in the elections of 1928, Mr. Mateo Escalante was elected the president. Also, he was the president for three years only. In the year 1931, Mr. Felix Lasam was elected the president of Calayan. While his predecessors were in office for one term each, Mr. Lasam held the reins of the government until 1940, making him the town executive for 9 years. During the election of 1940, Mr. Pascual Fernando was elected the municipal mayor. During the war, he did not want to be appointed as the municipal mayor, so that Mr. Felix Lasa was appointed, instead. During the liberation, he was again appointed mayor by the civil government. This made him stay in office until 1947. In this year, he was again elected during the general elections. This just showed that Mr. Lasam was the man to whom the people could entrust their confidence in running the local government. In 1951, Mr. Enrique Llopis was again elected the town mayor. Up to the present time, he is the one running the affairs of the municipal government of Calayan.

[p. 3]

The first inhabited place of Calayan was called Catulayan, meaning "presence of many people." This word is an Ibanag word, which shows that the first people who came to Calayan were from the province of Cagayan. It is said that these people lived with three priests of the Dominican Order whose names were Father Bartolome, Father Santiago, and Father Damaso. When Father Damaso, the highest among the three priests, died, the other two returned to Basco, Batanes. In memory of Father Bartolome, Calayan was called "San Bartolome de Calayan." The patron saint of the town is San Bartolomeo, after Father Saint Bartolome, who died there. In Catulayan is found the ruins of an old convent which was built by the three priests.

Every year, Calayan exports lumber, cattle, pigs, chickens, fruits, root crops, and fish to the mainland of Luzon. Calayan is a safe place for stock raising because there is no rinderpest. Calayan comes from the word "laya," meaning ginger. It is said that the first people who came to Calayan found plenty of this plant so that they called it Calaya-an, which means "plenty of ginger," but it was shortened to Calayan.

Reported by:

Supervising Principal

[p. 4]


The first settlers of Calayan came from the mainland of Luzon and the Batanes Islands. The following were the original families of Calayan:
1. Suguitan Family - From Ilocos Norte
2. Duerme Family - From Ilocos Norte
3. Pedro Family - From Ilocos Norte
4. Castillejos Family - From the Batanes
5. Escalante Family - From Batanes
6. Fernando Family - From the Ilocos
7. Llopis Family - From the Batanes
8. Orel Family - From the Batanes


1. Mr. Angel Escalante - 1902-1905
2. Mr. Bonifacio Caddarao - 1905-1912
(1912 to 1920 - Barrio of Aparri)
3. Mr. Enrique Llopis - 1920-1925
4. Mr. Crescente Castillejos - 1925-1928
5. Mr. Mateo Escalante - 1928-1931
6. Mr. Felix Lasam - 1931-1940
7. Mr. Pascual Fernando - 1940-1941
8. Mr. Felix Lasam - 1942-1951
9. Mr. Enrique Llopis - 1951-the present


There is no depopulated or extinct barrio in Calayan.

[p. 5]


In the sitio of NagodoƱgan, about four kilometers from the town, is an old cemetery where graves fenced with stones are found. People who dug some of the graves found big jars where the remains of human beings were found. It is said that Limahong buried his dead companions here during his stop on the island when he was chased northward by the Spaniards.

In Catulayan, about two kilometers from the tonw, are the ruins of an old convent. This was the residence of the priests who stayed in Calayan many years before the government was organized.

In the centro are two ruins of brick houses built by the first settlers of Calayan. The town proper is surrouned by a stone fence which was built by the people through enforced labor.


During the Spanish Regime - None
During the American Occupation - None

It was about the end of the war for liberation from the Japanese that Calayan experienced a very important event. On April 28, 1945, the American Air Force bombed Calayan. About thirty planes took part in the bombing. The church and four houses were burned. Two civilians met their death in the bombing. On December 8, 1941, the municipal building was burned by the Japanese soldiers who first landed at Calayan. The Japanese soldiers who stayed in Calayan during the war demolished some houses in order to get wood materials for making their foxholes and dugouts.

[p. 6]


During the war of 1896 to 1900, the people of Calayan did not suffer any hardship. In fact, they hardly knew that there was such a war.

The Pacific War of 1941-1945, however, brought untold sufferings to the people. The people were forced to work under the Japanese soldiers so that they were not able to work for their families. When this was done, the people had to evacuate to the interior of the island just to make the condition of their lives worse. Many of them became sick and died as a result of malnutrition, malaria, and unsanitary living conditions.

In addition to these, the properties of the people were destroyed by the soldiers. Their furniture was destroyed. Animals such as pigs, chickens, cows, carabaos, and horses were taken by the enemy.

The only school building in Calayan, the Calayan Central Schools, was used as quarters by the soldiers. They destroyed all equipment, books, and other things found in the school. When they left, only the skeleton of the building was left.

During the war, the schools of Calayan were not opened. So, the children were very much delayed in their studies. When the schools were opened in 1946, some of the children who were in Grade I were already fourteen years old.

Much has been done to rehabilitate Calayan. The school building was reconstructed from funds from the War Damage Commission. Some of the homes destroyed were also rebuilt from money given the owners from the said commission.

[p. 7]

PART II - FOLKWAYS (Traditions and Customs)

BIRTH = When a child is born, the neighbors and relatives go and visit the mother and the newcomer. Some help in the preparation of things needed by the mother, such as food and clothing.
BAPTISM - The sponsors of the child are selected by the parents or the sponsors may volunteer to be such. If for one reason or another, you want to be the "compadre" or "comadre" of a certain family, just offer yourself before the child is born or during the ceremony. The sponsors pay the necessary fees and, at the end, they give money to the baby, depending on the financial ability of each sponsor.
COURTSHIP - A man courts the girl he likes either by writing or verbal. He may visit the girl in her house only in the presence of any other member of the family. While courting, the man needs not give any gifts to the family of the girl. The family of the girl takes this as an insult. The many may go with the girl to a dance but with a chaperone, either the mother of the girl or an older brother or even the father.
MARRIAGE - The heads of the family of the girl and the family of the boy usually arrange the marriage. There is nothing that is asked by the parents of the girl from the parents of the boy, be it in money or in any kind. Of course, during the ceremony, the man must meet all the expenses. Usually, the party that follows the ceremony is simple. It is among the relatives of both the bride and the bridegroom. It lasts only half a day.

[p. 8]

DEATH - When one dies, the relatives and neighbors go and help in the making of the coffin. The men bring their carpenter's tools with them. When the family is so poor that they cannot furnish the wood and nails for the coffin, the neighbors and relatives furnish the necessary materials. Prayers are said for nine days. On the ninth day, a party is held. Usually, among the well-to-do families, the aprty is expensive. They kill a cow and a pig and meals are served to the people who attend the celebration.
BURIAL - Burial is done as in other towns. As soon as the corpse is brought out of the house, a group of men also goes to the cemetery to dig the grave. After the burial, all people who attended the funeral at the cemetery must go to the house of the dead to wash their hands in a big kettle of warm water. A woman also massages the foreheads of the people who come from the cemetery.
FESTIVALS - All festivals of Calayan are religious in nature. The town fiesta, sanctioned by a resolution of the municipal council, is the day for the patron saint. This is on August 24. The people always play the Moro-Moro during the town fiesta because if they do not, some bad events may befall the inhabitants. During this day, the different districts take turns in giving meals to the participants of the Moro-Moro. The people in the Centro are the ones to accommodate the visitors from other towns. Another festival is the "Naval," which is on the first Sunday of October. This event is marked by a religious procession. On December 8 is observed Immaculate Conception Day. This days is also marked by a religious procession.


Transcribed from:
Historical and Cultural Data for the Municipality of Calayan and Barrios, Province of Cagayan, online at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.
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