Santa Maria, Romblon

Santa Maria, Romblon

Santa Maria is a 5th class municipality in the province of Romblon, Philippines. According to the 2000 census, it has a population of 7,324 people in 1,476 households.

Onhan / Taga-onhan or Inunhan (Alcantaranhon style) is the native language of majority of its inhabitants while Romblomanon or Ini is the native tongue in 2 northern barangays of Bonga and Santo Niño(Bitaugan).


Santa Maria first existed as a barrio in early 18th century, date is uncertain. Later, the settlement increased in population that it was organized into a visita of pueblo de Cabolutan. Cabolutan (now barangay of San Agustin, Romblon) was the first settlement in Tablas Island. It was the same village that the Spanish navigator and census officer Miguel Lopez de Loarca in his writings noted Tablas to have 250 inhabitants who mostly settled in its small village (Cabolutan). The town or pueblo of Cabolutan ceased to exist in 1790 due to smallpox epidemic that almost wiped-out its entire population. Prior to this, the area was part of Encomienda of Mahalud (or Maharlu / Mahanlur in some records) a river settlement of the same name in Panay Island that belongs to Don Alvaro de Angulo, established on November 2, 1571, which included Tablas and Cibuyan (Sibuyan) Islands located in what is now Romblon Province. This is now the coastal barangay of Majanlud located east of Sapian municipality in the province of Capiz as one of the earliest settlement in the country.

The original name of the barrio was Cagbagacay during Spanish time. The name was derived from the numerous wild bamboo trees or grass known in vernacular as 'Bagacay' that the early settlers found growing in abundance in this particular place. Hence, it was known as 'Cagbagacay' derived from the word 'Bagacay'. The first recorded data of Cagbagacay's existence was in 1795 Philippine Map when it was recorded as a visita of pueblo Romblon, since pueblo Cabolutan ceased in late 1790. Administration of Cabolutan's former visitas of Guinpuc-an (Carmen), Guintigui-an (San Agustin) and Cagbagacay (Sta. Maria) were transferred from former pueblo de Cabolutan to pueblo de Romblon.

In 1855, visita Guintiguian was converted into a pueblo taken from pueblo Romblon. All visitas, villages and settlements along the northeastern coast of Tablas Island that belongs to pueblo Romblon were ceded to the new pueblo of Guintiguian. In 1857, visita Cagbagacay was converted into an independent pueblo (municipio) or parish, taken from pueblo de Guintiguian (San Agustin), this was Santa Maria's first proclamation as a municipality known then as pueblo de Cagbagacay. However, Cagbagacay was dissolved as a pueblo on January 11, 1868 due to reorganization on the local government when the former Politico Militar Commandancia del Distrito de Romblon established on March 19, 1853 was converted into full pledge province as Politico Militar Commandancia dela Provincia de Romblon. As a consequence, pueblo Cagbagacay was lowered to visita status and reannexed to pueblo Guintiguian. Guintiguian was renamed Badajoz on August 28, 1868. All throughout the American occupation, Japanese and World War 2 period, including the Liberation era, this barrio Poblado formerly known as Cagbagacay and renamed into Concepcion in January 24, 1910 was always a barrio or termed later as barangay as part of San Agustin municipality. It was formerly a single barrio of Concepcion which was split into two barrios in 1971. The northern-half, which included the barrio poblado area was renamed Concepcion Norte, while the southern-half, formerly called as sitio Agtigbao was created into barrio Concepcion Sur.

In September 12, 1982, Concepcion Norte was created into a municipality known as municipality of Imelda including barrio Bonga and barrio Concepcion Sur, perhaps the first in the history of the Philippines that a new municipality was created out of 3 barrios only, this was Santa Maria's second proclamation as a municipality, the first was in 1857 when Cagbagacay was created into a pueblo or parish. The new municipality was taken from the municipality of San Agustin (formerly Badajoz, renamed San Agustin in June 20, 1957) as Romblon's 17th municipality. The new town of Imelda was created by the passage of Batas Pambansa Blg. 234 through the help and vision of Romblon's energetic lone Assemblyman Nemisio 'Jun' Ganan, Jr. The name Imelda was in honor of then first lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos and also in order to distinguish it from the other municipality in Romblon with the same name Concepcion, better known as Sibale located in Maestro de Campo Island.

After the People Power Revolution the town was renamed Santa Maria in April 17, 1988 under R.A. No. 06651 to erase the Martial Law memories in its town's history. At one instance, I spoke to then mayor about my suggested name for the town. I was suggesting to rename Imelda municipality to Immaculada instead of 'Santa Maria'. The word 'Immaculada' I insist was derived from 'Immaculada Concepcion' or 'Immaculate Conception' being the town's patron saint and the fact that there was no other 'Immaculada' municipality anywhere in the Philippines. It was also a fact that there are already lots of municipalities named Santa Maria in the country such as Bulacan, Ilocos Sur, Isabela, Davao del Sur, Laguna, Pangasinan, etc. Likewise, I said, you won't need to replace the kilometer marker post along the national highway already marked "I" for 'Imelda' because 'Immaculada' starts with the same letter "I". But my suggestion did not materialized.

Santa Maria today is a fast growing municipality that residents of San Agustin, its former mother town envied so much because of its well managed services and transparency in governance. Thanks to its former leaders. Prosperity and contentment among its people are very evident because people are happy, and almost everybody in town are busy improving their lots. Today, Santa Maria is composed of 6 barangays namely:

Population of Santa Maria at Various Time

(U) - Urban Area /a – Part of the Municipality of San Agustin, /b - Data included under Poblacion Concepcion Norte, /c - Data included under Bonga /d - 2007 NCSO Census

Development of Santa Maria's Barrios / Barangays:

The first recorded census for Santa Maria barrio was in 1894. It was enumerated as barrio of Cagbagacay of Badajoz municipality. It remained so until census of year 1903. The statistical information or data obtained so far were the following: Total population in 1894 was 375 and increased to 400 in 1896. In 1903 the first official census under the American administration, Cagbagacay registered a total population of 528 from its single barrio as part of Badajoz municipality.

In 1910 Cagbagacay was renamed Concepcion and its first appearance as barrio Concepcion officially was in 1918. In 1936, barrio Bonga was created barrio taken from barrio Concepcion. In 1959, a portion of Concepcion's territory which was known as sitio Calagonsao was ceded to barrio Tugdan under Looc municipality, and out of it, sooner, a new barrio was created named Calagonsao. Three years later, Calagonsao became part of the new municipality of Alcantara taken from its mother municipality of Looc.

In 1971, Concepcion was split into two barrios of Concepcion Norte and Concepcion Sur. Concepcion Sur was created out of sitio of Agtigbao while the former old barrio Concepcion (Poblado) was renamed Concepcion Norte.

When Concepcion Norte was organized into a municipality known as Imelda in September 12, 1982 taken from San Agustin (previously Badajoz until 1957), it included only two original barrios or barangays. These were Concepcion Sur and Bonga. On September 22, 1987, two new barrios or barangays were created; these were barangays Paroyhog taken from barangay Concepcion Norte (Poblacion) and Santo Nino. Santo Nino was formerly known as sitio Bitaugan, taken from barangay Bonga. Barangay San Isidro formerly sitio Talamban was the latest barangay to be created taken from barangay Concepcion Norte (Poblacion) and enumerated in 1995 census as barangay San Isidro. Today, Santa Maria has a total of 6 barangays to-date.


Santa Maria is politically subdivided into 6 barangays.

* Bonga
* Concepcion Norte (Pob.)
* Concepcion Sur
* Paroyhog
* Santo Niño
* San Isidro

External links

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

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