San Jose, Romblon

San Jose, Romblon

San Jose is a municipality in the province of Romblon, Philippines. According to the 2000 census, it has a population of 8,226 people in 1,467 households.

Onhan / Taga-onhan or Inunhan (Hambilanon style) is the native language of the islands inhabitants.


The coastline of San Jose or otherwise called also as Hambil Island and officially as Carabao Island is found at the southern-most tip of Romblon, strategically located between the famous island-resort of Boracay and Tablas Island. It is bounded in the northeast by the municipality of Santa Fe, Romblon, and facing Boracay Island in the south. The island is gifted with a diverse geographic profile. One will find in the island's irregular coastline white sugar-like refined beaches at par with the world famous Boracay beaches and is now fast becoming as an alternative tourist destination in the country. In the near future, it will be host to the proposed Boracay Island International Airport to be constructed at the vicinity of barangay Lanas here in the island. Please check Carabao Island or Romblon Island webpage for more information.

The original settlers of the island were the stunted kinky-haired tiny black 'Aetas' locally known as 'Ati' or 'Ita' who were believed to have descended from the 'Orang Asli', native aboriginal people of the Malay peninsula in mainland Asia who come to the Philippines during the Paleolithic period . According to traditions, they have crossed by land from Southeast Asia. Remnants of these people could still be found in the interior of the island. The Philippine Archipelago had once been connected to the great Asian continent by causeway of rocks over which these tiny black Aetas crossed, whereby they arrived into this island by crossing through ancient causeway of rocks from nearby Panay Island. They are believed to be the first settlers of the country including this island of Carabao. The first written history of San Jose municipality was in the year 1570 when Spanish conquistador and explorer Martin de Goiti on orders of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi the ‘Maestro de Campo’ (Master of the Camp) or better known as the ‘El Adelantado’, explored and conquered the settlement and native village in Hambil island where his team of 27 ships, 280 Spaniards and several hundreds Bisayan (Visayan) auxiliaries found some native Pintados or painted (Tattooed) Visayan indios living in the island. He noted Hambil to have a population of around 50 indios producing copper from its mines. He also found local natives in the island using kitchen utensils made out of copper.

Just a little over a year in November 2, 1571, the islands of Cibuyan (Sibuyan), Tablas and adjacent smaller islands in-between of it, including Hambil Island were organized into an encomienda based at the old settlement of Mahalud (or Maharlu / Mahanlur in some records) a riverbank settlement along the river of the same name in Panay island belonging to Don Alvaro de Angulo. Presently, this is now the coastal barangay of Majanlud located east of Sapian municipality in Capiz, one of the country's oldest settlements. The island was again visited by another Spanish explorer in the year 1582 by Don Miguel Lopez de Loarca who was a census officer dispatched by the Spanish authorities to evaluate the vastness and wealth of their new conquered territories. He was perhaps the second European to set foot on Anbil (Hambil), as the island was originally called. In his writings, he noted native painted Indios of around 50 souls (residents) in the island who already converted to Christianity. The natives were also called ‘Cagallanes’ in Spanish meaning ‘boat-builders’. Don Miguel Lopez de Loarca renamed the island’s name from Hambil to Isla de Carabao because the island when seen from afar resembles that of a water buffalo’s back submerged in murky water. According to Loarca, the natives live by gathering wax, mining and boat-building. The island belongs to the province or alcaldia of Panay in the Pintados. The third European to set-foot in the island was a Spanish missionary and explorer named Father Pedro Cubero Sebastian. Though he did not say much about the conditions of the island, he visited it for his religious and missionary exploration for the furtherance of the Catholic faith in 1667.

In 1716, Capiz was created into a separate province out of the old Alcaldia de Arevalo, formerly called Panay in the Pintados and later it was renamed into Ogtong (Oton). The new province included the islands of Romblon group and the valley of Aclan (Aklan) in northwestern Panay Island.San Jose or formerly known as ‘Hambil’ in old manuscripts and later as ‘Isla de Carabao’ appeared in various rare Philippine maps of 1734 as ‘Isla Carabaos’, in 1785 as ‘Isla Carabao’ in 1861 as ‘Isla de Carabao o Ambilo’ and finally in 1878 map showing the locations of its two barrios of Lanas and Agcogon.

During the early times, administration of the island was still largely unknown that still puzzled many local writers to this day. The island was missed-out to be mentioned nor included in any of civil and church records nor censuses under pueblo de Banton during early Spanish era where Looc and most of the southern settlements and visitas were administered with the exception of La Lauan, because it was administered by pueblo de Cabolutan. Perhaps, it belongs to visita de Nabas, Capiz (now Aklan) or perhaps it was under the jurisdiction of the province of Antique where it’s neighboring islands of Caluya and Semirara belongs.

Pueblo (parish) de Looc was created in 1844 as shown in official gazette at ‘Guia Official de las Islas Filipinas’. Looc was created as Capiz 23rd municipality taken from the island pueblo of Banton its mother-town, and the 4th town to be created under the ‘Destacamento’ (Detachment) de Romblon under Capiz. When Looc became a full pledge parish or pueblo, administration of Carabao Island was transferred to Looc with its two existing barrios of Agcogon and Lanas.

In March 19, 1853, the District of Romblon was organized known as Politico Militar Commandancia del Distrito de Romblon under Commandante de Infanteria Don Ramon Vieytes as its first Commander (petty Governor) taken from Capiz province with four existing towns namely, Romblon which was designated as the new capital town, Banton which included Sibale, Looc which included isla de Carabao and Cajidiocan originally known as pueblo de Sibuyan (which included visita de Cauit, Pag-alad and España). The full text of the superior decree in Spanish: ‘El superior decreeto No. 206 del 19 de Marzo de Ano de 1853 mandato creacion Commandante Politico Militar del Distrito de Romblon de la provincia de Capiz”. On February 18, 1854 the royal order was confirmed by a superior decree. “La real orden No. 57 del 18 de Febrero del ano de 1854 approvado la creacion de el Distrito Politico Militar de Romblon con denominacion de Commandante Militar de Romblon”.

The following year of 1855 recorded a tremendous leap on the creation of new pueblos or parishes under the new government of Commandante de Infanteria Don Joaquin de Prat y Parella who was installed as Romblon’s provincial executive replacing Don Ramon Vieytes beginning in year 1854. Don Joaquin issued for the creation of 17 new pueblos from the original existing four when it separated from Capiz province. The new pueblos that were created in 1855 were the following: Guintiguian (San Agustin), Simara (Corcuera), Odiongan, Andagao (Calatrava), Parpagoja (San Andres), Tingaray (Ferrol), Catolog (Santa Fe), Saban (sitio Sabang, Danao Norte, Santa Fe, formerly a pueblo), Lauan (Alcantara), Guinbirayan (presently it is a barangay of Santa Fe),Cauit (now renamed barangay Azagra, in San Fernando), Pag-alad (San Fernando), España (a barangay of San Fernando), Isabel (presently barangay Cambalo, Cajidiocan, formerly a pueblo) and Princesa (formerly a pueblo now it is the sitio of Cangumba in barangay Azagra, San Fernando), Magallanes (Magdiwang) and Cabalian (now a sitio under Agmanic, Santa Fe, formerly a pueblo) which fused isla de Carabao under its administration. However, visita de Sibale remained part of pueblo de Banton as a semi-autonomous visita.

Thus, administration for Isla de Carabao with its two villages was transferred from Looc to the new pueblo or parish of Cabalian when it was organized into a separate constituency. However, pueblo Cabalian was short-lived and it was abolished soon after its creation in 1861. Thus, the abolished pueblo of Cabalian was annexed back into pueblo de Catolog (Santa Fe, Romblon). However, Carabao Island refuses to join the transfer, but instead opted to join and be annexed to Nabas, Capiz.Thirteen years later under the status of Politico Militar Commandancia del Distrito de Romblon, the district was elevated into a regular province known as Politico Militar Commandancia dela Provincia de Romblon on January 11, 1868. This happened during the incumbency of Commandante de Infanteria Don Joaquin Corillo who was installed as Commandante since year 1866. As a consequence, Don Corillo being Romblon’s first official Governor, reorganized all local municipal government. Thus, 15 of the existing pueblos (municipios) or parishes then were all abolished. These were the pueblos of: Guinpuc-an (presently, barangay Carmen in San Agustin), Cagbagacay (Santa Maria), Pag-alad, Rancheria de Infiel (Pueblo or Rancho for Savaged or Wild People established at barangay Dulangan, Magdiwang), España, Isabel (barangay Cambalo, Cajidiocan), Princesa (formerly a pueblo, its vast territory now forms part of sitio Cangumba in barangay Azagra and barangay Otod which was established later), Odiongan, Andagao, Parpagoja, Tingaray, Catolog, Sabang, Lauan and Guinbirayan. During this period, Isla de Carabao was not affected in-the-sense that it doesn't belong to Romblon province. The island was part of Capiz province until 1897.

The 7 retained pueblos were the following: Romblon, Badajoz (now San Agustin formerly Guintiguian renamed Badajoz on August 28, 1868), Banton, Corcuera, Looc, Cajidiocan, Azagra (San Fernando), and one missionary center, the mision de Magallanes (Magdiwang) and one semi-autonomous visita, administered from pueblo de Banton the visita de Concepcion or Sibale located in Maestro de Campo Island. Likewise, Magallanes was demoted as a Missionary Center from its former status as pueblo or parish. Before the end of Spanish rule, four pueblos were restored, namely: Odiongan, Despujols (San Andres), España and Santa Fe.

Pueblo Santa Fe was restored as a regular pueblo in 1892. Santa Fe's former name was Catolog and it was renamed Santa Fe in 1881. Although pueblo de Santa Fe was restored in 1892, isla de Carabao was defiant to join the restored pueblo, but instead it remained part of Nabas. Finally in 1897, Carabao islanders may have finally figured-out difficulty in traveling to Nabas that they finally decided to join-back pueblo Looc.

Civil government was established under the Americans on March 16, 1901. Santa Fe was one of the 11 new municipalities reestablished by the Americans. The new colonizers decided to attach Carabao with its two barrios to Santa Fe. This time with less opposition from its residents. The other municipalities reestablished in the province were Badajoz, Banton, Cajidiocan, Corcuera, Looc, Magallanes, Odiongan, Romblon the Capital Town and Despujols.The province of Romblon was abolished again in July 15, 1907 due to insufficient income and incorporated back into the province of Capiz as a sub-province. Concepcion however was separated from the rest of the province and it was incorporated into the province of Mindoro due to its long distance from Capiz town, the capital town of Capiz province now known as Roxas City. For this reason, it was created into a separate local government unit known as the Municipal-District of Concepcion as attested by a Romblon map showing the provincial maritime boundary of Mindoro (now Oriental Mindoro) encroaching the island of Maestro de Campo published in 1914 and issued by the U.S. Army Map Service, Corps of Engineers. Please check Philippine Map Series S501 reprinted in 1954 for reference.

In March 10, 1917 the province of Romblon was restored as a regular province. On that same year of 1917, due to reorganization and the province's difficult financial status as newly restored entity, the former municipality of Santa Fe was again abolished and reannexed-back into Looc including Carabao island with its two (2) existing barrios.

In June 8, 1940, the special municipality of Tablas was established through the passage of Commonwealth Act No. 581 sponsored by a Bantoanon legislature, Congressman Leonardo Festin. Looc was abolished and annexed to the new special municipality. The former towns of Badajoz and Looc were represented only by one councilor each at its municipal council based in Odiongan town. Carabao island was not represented in its council since it was only part of Looc town before its abolition. On May 26, 1946, the special municipality of Tablas was likewise abolished through the passage of Republic Act No. 38 represented by Congressman Modesto Formelleza which took effect in January 1, 1947 when the Philippine President signed it into a law restoring Odiongan, Looc, Badajoz and re-establishing the former municipality of Santa Fe which included the 2 barrios located in Carabao island as independent regular municipalities again.

Carabao island was organized into a separate constituency known officially as Municipal-District of Carabao Island in June 18, 1961 under Republic Act No. 3423, sponsored by then Congressman Jose D. Moreno taken from Santa Fe. It was renamed San Jose in June 16, 1965 under Republic Act No. 4829 and it was declared as a regular municipality in June 23, 1969 under Executive Order No. 184.

In my own opinion only, I would suggest renaming the municipality of San Jose into Municipality of Hambil, on reasons that: 1. San Jose’s name is very common and confusing since there are lots of municipalities already named San Jose in the country. 2. Historically, the island was previously known officially as Hambil during Spanish time, attested by early maps, church and civil records including rare documents found in archives and libraries, besides, no other municipalities in the country has so far been named as Hambil. The name Hambil would give merits if used as its official name because the name is already in the people's vocabulary which been continually used since early Spanish time until today, in both cases either referring to the village of Agcogon or to the island itself. I will bet, no Hambilanon would be happy to be called Carabao people or the teachers from Hambil as Carabao teachers? People of Hambil, wake-up!!! you might rise-up one day to find-out that your town's name had already been changed to Carabao Island as the bill is already underway in congress. 3. Majority among Romblomanons of today or even 'some' present government officials and residents of neighboring islands of Panay, Boracay, Caluya, Semirara and Tablas are not aware that the official name of this town is 'San Jose', all they knew was for this island to be known only as Hambil. Even me, I must admit that I learned only about San Jose’s existence when I was already in high school at Tablas Academy. 4. and lastly, the name Hambil is unique, indigenous and historical.

Population of San Jose at Various Time

/a – Not part of Romblon Province, Status of the island is under research./b – Part of the Municipality of Santa Fe/c – Part of the Municipality of Looc/d - No data/e - 2007 NCSO Census

Development of San Jose’s Barrios / Barangays:

From 1894 until 1897 provincial statistics for Romblon province, no such municipality of San Jose nor Hambil nor Isla de Carabao (Agcogon or Lanas) is to be found in any of census and statistics record for the province because around this time, the island of Carabao with its 2 barrios of Lanas and Agcogon belongs to Capiz province. (To be updated soon)

In 1901, the island was annexed to Santa Fe municipality together with its two existing barrios of Agcogon and Lanas registering a total population of 1,454 in 1903 census. In 1917, Santa Fe municipality was abolished and the 2 barrios of Agcogon and Lanas were enumerated under Looc municipality when census for 1918 was conducted. In April 24, 1959, Congressman Jose D. Moreno sponsored Republic Act No. 2144 which states “Creating certain barrios in Santa Fe”, hence, two new barrios were added in the island, these were barrio Busay which icluded sitios of Hinologan, Buenavista, Nausa, Tipocpoc, Agborot, Boyongboyongan and Mihason taken from barrio Agcogon and barrio Pinamihagan comprising the sitios of Bacol, Buyahon, Sugod, Pinamandayan, Pajo and Angas, taken from barrio Lanas.

In 1961, the island was converted into municipal district of Carabao Island with its 4 existing barrios of: Agcogon which was designated Poblacion and seat of the new municipal-district, Lanas, Pinamihagan and Busay. Combot was the last additional barrio created in 1968 taken from parts of barrio Poblacion and barrio Lanas. Today, the Municipality of San Jose is composed of 5 barrios or barangays to-date, namely:


San Jose is politically subdivided into 5 barangays.

* Busay
* Combot
* Lanas
* Pinamihagan
* Poblacion (Agcogon)

External links

* [ Philippine Standard Geographic Code]
* [ 2000 Philippine Census Information]

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