Old Spanish documents indicate that the renowned explorers, Ferdinand Magellan and Miguel Lopez de Legaspi landed in Camiguin in 1565, respectively. The first Spanish settlements in what was later to be known as Guinsiliban as established in 1598. Guinsiliban comes from the old Kinamiguin word " Guinsilipan" which means to look out for pirates from a "Watch tower." An old Spanish watchtower where the Camiguinous kept watch for Moro pirates still stands in Guinsiliban.
The first major Spanish settlement established in 1679 was called Katagman of Katadman (known now as Catarman). This settlement grew and prospered to what is now Barangay Bonbon. On May 1,1871, Mt. Vulcan Daan erupted and destroyed the town. A portion of the town center is presently located. Today, all that remains of old Catarman are the ruins of the ancient Spanish church, a convent and a bell tower.
Sagay, located south of Catarman, was formally established as a town in 1848. The word Sagay is derived from the name of a poisonous fruit tree that grew in the area.
Mambajao became a town in 1855. The name was coined from the Visayan term " Mamahaw," meaning to usher breakfast and "bajao," which is leftover boiled rice. In the early 1900s, Mambajao prospered to become the busiest port in Northern Mindanao.
Mahinog was established as a Municipality in 1860. the name Mahinog comes from a Cebuano word meaning "to ripen" or to become ripe." Although Guinsiliban was the oldest settlement in the island, it was only in 1950 when it became a Municipality. Both Mahinog and Guinsiliban were formally governed by Sagay. | back to top
In 1901, in the middle of Spanish-American War (1898-1904), American soldiers landed in Camiguin to assume political control over the island. A group of Camiguinous, armed with "bolos and spears", led by Valero Camaro fought for the island's independence from foreign invasion during a short battle in Catarman. A bullet on the forehead killed Valero Camaro. He became unsung Camiguin patriot of the early independence movement.
In 1903, the first public school in Camiguin was built in Mambajao and in 1904, the first public water system was installed. On June 18,1942, the Japanese Imperial army landed in Camiguin and set a government in Mambajao. The Japanese army gutted down central Mambajao in reprisal to guerrilla there remains of some of these buildings still exist today.
On July 4 1946, the country gained independence from the United States of America and became the Republic of the Philippines. From 1946 to 1958, Camiguin was part of the Province of Misamis Oriental. In 1958, it became a Sub-Province and in 1968, a full-fledged Province with Mambajao as its capital.
Post-Independence Years: 1948-1951
From 1948 to 1951, Mt. Hibok-hibok constantly rumbled and smoked. Its minor eruption in 1948 caused little damage and loss of life. In 1949, its eruption caused 79 deaths due to landslides. In the morning of December 4, 1951, the volcano erupted again. This time, however, its unleased boiling lave, poisonous gases, and landslides enough to destroy nearly 19 square kilometers of lands particularly in Mambajao. All in all, over 3,000 people were killed.
Before eruption of Mt Hibok-hibok in 1951, the population of Camiguin had reached 69,000.. After the eruption, the population was reduced to about 34,000 due to massive out-migration.
Camiguin was part of Misamis Oriental until 1958 when it became a sub-province. It was made into a separate province on June 18, 1966, but was formally inaugurated only in 1968.