Dipolog City History

Dipolog’s earliest recorded history started in 1834 when a civil government was organized by the Spanish Provincial government of Misamis, under whose jurisdiction we then belonged, with the appointment of a “Captain” as town executive, ‘Teniente’ and an ‘Aguacil’ to maintain law and order. Don Domingo Ruiz, a native, was the town executive that year when the town site transferred from Sitio Tulwanan to where it is now.

Dipag History


Tradition says that in that year, a Spanish Recollect Missionary arrived in Tulwanan believing that the townsite was still there. Upon meeting a native, asked: “Donde esta el Capitan?” (Where is the captain?) Our unknown hero, understanding only word ‘capitan’ pointed to the west and said in Subano “Di. . .pag,” meaning ‘across the river’. Guided by his ‘muchacho’, a Tagalog boy named Antonio Subido, the Padre proceeded downriver and upon reaching the townsite named the place “Dipag”. Through the years, this was corrupted by mispronunciation and intermingling of Visayan and Subano words into what it is today “Dipolog”.

But many years before that, Christianized and pagan settlers from the visayas had already settled and mingled with the Subanos. For safety’s sake against marauding pirates, they established a pueblo in what is now Barangay Sianib of Polanco, some twenty (20) kilometers from the coast of Dipolog. When danger from piracy subsided, they transferred the settlement to Sitio Isab, Nipaan and constructed a church on a hilltop over looking a wide plain and the mouth of the Isab creek.

The Spanish colonization of Dipolog and Northwestern Mindanao was done with the Cross of Catholicism, and the Missionaries, demanded that the Christianized natives attend mass and church services morning and afternoon. The inconvenience of tramping up and down that hill to appease the priest, compelled the people to move downriver to Tulwanan were they build another Capilla. In 1834, as stated earlier, they transferred to the present site at the mouth of Dipolog River.

As more and more settlers composed mostly of Boholanos, Cebuanos and pioneers from Negros, came to stay and cultivate the soil, a succession of Capitanes governed the town.

In 1903, while visiting Dapitan, Judge William H. Taft, President of the Second Philippine Commission, decreed that Dapitan District which included Dipolog and the neighboring township must be separated from Cagayan de Oro of Misamis Province and annexed to the Provincia Mora which later became Zamboanga Province.


Then the ‘reversion’ came. On March 4, 1904, while Isidro Patangan was Presidente Municipal, an American Officer who was the Provincial Secretary of the Provincia Mora, and in his capacity as a Deputy of the Provincial Governor, came to Dipolog. He called an urgent meeting on all incumbent and ex-town officials and other prominent ‘principalia’ and delivered a written order that effective immediately, Dipolog was converted into a barrio of Dapitan to be represented by only two councilors with two policemen to maintain peace and order and periodic patrol of the newly-organized Philippine Constabulary.

This sad state of affairs persisted for eight years, with the people filing protests and petitions that ended nowhere. Then in 1910, a young man from Dipolog was appointed Municipal President of Dapitan. He was only 25 years old, single and his appointment came by pure chance. But Dipolognons at that time say it was providential. An old manuscript tells us this story:

“One day in the year 1910, Provincial Governor of Zamboanga Province Mr. Helper visited Dipolog and proceeded to Dapitan on horseback, escorted by the town’s principalia mostly members of the Centro Catolico de Dipolog up to the mouth of the Dipolog river at Barra District. Upon passing by the residence of Don Jose Aguirre, Governor Helper was invited to come up. There he met Pascual T. Martinez who was ahead of him in the house of Don Jose. An offer of an office as Municipal President of Dapitan was made to Pascual T. Martinez.”

Pascual T. Martinez

Pascual T. Martinez-1913-1921

Pascual T. Martinez went downstairs to consult the Centro Catolico Members who were waiting at the bank of the river. He asked them whether or not it would be right for him to accept the offer. The Centro Catolico Members who were mostly older and experienced than him answered: “If you think you can ably discharge the duties of the Office faithfully and well, you may accept it, but do not forget your town, Dipolog. Work for its benefit.”

John J. Pershing

In 1912, the Governor of the then Department of Mindanao and Sulu, John J. Pershing, granted the petition seeking to reorganize Dipolog into a municipality again under the condition that a municipal building should be constructed within six (6) months, after which, an inauguration would be done.

Isabelo Z. Echavez

Isabelo Z. Echavez-1922-1925, Ad Interim
Two prominent town residents, Isabelo Z. Echavez and Eleuterio Barinaga, before the Centro Catolico de Dipolog in a special session, assumed the responsibility of supplying the materials and the construction of the municipal building according to the approved plan and specifications prescribed by the people for Php 3,000.00 only, provided that free labor would be rendered in erecting the big posts.

Gaudencio Bendijo

Gaudencio Bendijo-1922-3 Months Only
On a full moon on a Holy Saturday (Sabado Santo) in 1913, the customary cornerstone laying ceremonies officiated by Gaudencio Bendijo, and while the town brass band played the ‘Marcha Real’, the first big round molave post was erected right on the spot where the present city hall now stands. So, the construction started and about ninety percent was completed in a little more than three (3) months. The building was patterned after that of the municipal Building of Maribojoc, Bohol, and constructed with the technical advice of an Engineer-Architect Priest, curate of Dipolog, Rev.Fr. Francisco Garcia, S.J.

It was a fairly spacious edifice with concrete foundation and ground flooring. The posts and structural materials were of first group lumber, roofing is of corrugated iron and Spanish concrete block walling on the first-story. The ground floor consisted of four big rooms for offices and one jail, aside from a spacious passage and two small storerooms. The second floor, aside from its commodious social hall in the center, consisted of six big rooms for offices.

Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos

At long last on July 1, 1913Dipolog was inaugurated as a municipality with Hon Pascual Martinez as its first Municipal Mayor appointed by Gen John J. Pershing, Governor General of Mindanao. On June 21, 1969Former Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos signed into law the Dipolog City Charter {Rep. Act 5520}. The date is both significant and historic because it coincided with the launching of the Apollo 11 that carried the first men on the moon. The law took effect on January 1, 1970.


Other Historical Events of Dipolog


  • April 15, 1894 – Construction of the Roman Catholic Church at the same site. Dr. Jose P. Rizal designed the structure including the altar.
  • June 29, 1894 – Celebration of the first mass at the newly completed church edifice.
  • June 30, 1896 – The Parish of Dipolog was established.
  • November 6, 1896 – Installation of Jesuit Priest, Father Esteban de Yepes as the first parish priest of Dipolog.
  • 1896-1939 – For 43 years, Dipolog Parish was under the administration of the Society of Jesus { SJ } clergies
  • 1940 – Fr. Nicasio Y. Patangan, a native of Dipolog, was appointed as the first Filipino Diocesan Parish Priest of Mindanao.
  • May 3, 1905 – Santa Cruz Marker was erected by the Boholanos, the landmark of Dipolog’s Christianity. It is the oldest existing landmark of Dipolog.
  • July 1, 1913 – Dipolog was inaugurated as a municipality with Hon Pascual Martinez as its first Municipal Mayor appointed by Gen John J. Pershing, Governor General of Mindanao.
  • 1942 – The Seat of the Provincial Government was transferred from Zamboanga City to Dipolog by Acting-Governor Felipe B. Azcuna, thus making it the “cabacera de facto”