Tacloban City

Tacloban City

Infobox Settlement
official_name = City of Tacloban
other_name = "Lungsod ng Tacloban"
native_name = "Siyudad han Tacloban"
nickname = "The Heart of Eastern Visayas and the Gateway to Region VIII."
settlement_type =
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seal_size = 96px
image_shield =
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map_caption = Map of Leyte showing the location of Tacloban City.

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subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = Philippines
subdivision_type1 = Region
subdivision_name1 = Eastern Visayas (Region VIII)
subdivision_type2 = Province
subdivision_name2 = Leyte
subdivision_type3 = Districts
subdivision_name3 = 1st District of Leyte
subdivision_type4 = Barangays
subdivision_name4 = 138 Barangays
subdivision_type5 =
subdivision_name5 =
government_type =
leader_title = City Mayor
leader_name = Hon. Alfred S. Romualdez (2007-present)
leader_title1 = Vice Mayor
leader_name1 = Hon. Arvin Antoni (2007-present)
established_title = Incorporated (city)
established_date = June 12, 1953
established_title2 = City Fiesta
established_date2 = Every 30th of June
established_title3 =
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population_as_of = 2007
population_footnotes =
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population_total = 217,199
population_density_km2 =

The City of Tacloban (Waray: "Siyudad han Tacloban" , Tagalog: "Lungsod ng Tacloban" , Cebuano: "Dakbayan sa Tacloban") is a port city approximately 360 miles southeast of Manila. It is the capital of Philippine province of Leyte. It is the largest city in terms of population [ National Statistics Office http://www.census.gov.ph/data/census2007/index.html ] and considered as the regional center of the Eastern Visayas or Region VIII. It briefly became the seat of the Philippine Commonwealth Government from October 23, 1944 to February 27, 1945.


Tacloban was known as Kankabatok, an allusion to the first inhabitants of the place – Kabatok. They established their dwelling in the vicinity of the present day Sto. Niño Church. Others who came later were Gumoda, Haraging and Huraw who erected their own settlements in nearby sites. Huraw’s domain is the hill where the city hall now sits. The combined settlements acquired the name Kankabatok, meaning Kabatok’s property.

By the end of the 16th century, Kankabatok was under the political administration of Palo and part of the parish of Basey, Samar. It was discovered in 1770, by the Augustinian Mission, who were superseded by the Franciscans in 1813. During this period, Kankabatok was renamed to Tacloban.

The change of the name came about in this manner: Kankabatok was a favorite haunt of fishermen. They would use a bamboo contraption called "Taklub" to catch crabs, shrimps or fish. When asked where they were going, the fishermen would answer, "(to) Tarakluban", which meant the place where they used the devise to catch these marine resources. Eventually, the name Tarakluban or Tacloban took prominence.

It is not known when Tacloban became a municipality because records supporting this fact were destroyed during a typhoon. It is commonly believed that Tacloban was officially proclaimed a municipality in 1770. In 1768, Leyte and Samar were separated into two provinces, each constituting as a politico-military province. Due to its strategic location, Tacloban became a vital trading point between the two provinces.

The capital of Leyte was transferred from one town to another with Tacloban as the last on February 26, 1830. The decision to make Tacloban the capital was based on the following reasons: 1) ideal location of the port and 2) well-sheltered and adequate facilities. On June 12, 1952, Tacloban was proclaimed a chartered city by virtue of Republic Act No. 760.

The arrival of Colonel Murray in 1901 made him the first military governor of Leyte. His first official act was the opening of Tacloban port to world commerce. Before World War II, Tacloban was the commercial, education, social and cultural center of the Province of Leyte. Copra and abaca were exported in large quantities. The leading institutions were: The Leyte Normal School, Leyte High School, Leyte Trade School, Holy Infant Academy and the Tacloban Catholic Institute.

On May 25, 1942, Japanese forces landed in Tacloban - signalling the beginning of their three-year occupation of Leyte. They fortified the city and improved its airfield. Since San Pedro Bay was ideal for larger vessels, the Japanese Imperial Naval Forces made Tacloban a port of call and entry. This time was considered the darkest in the history of Tacloban and the country due to the incidences of torture among civilians, including the elderly. In response, guerilla groups operated in Leyte - the most notable of which was the group of Colonel Ruperto Kangleon.

Leyte was the first to be liberated by the Filipino and American troops. General Douglas MacArthur’s assault troops landed in the Tacloban and Palo beaches (White Beach and Red Beach, respectively) and in the neighboring town of Dulag (Blue Beach) on October 20, 1944. These landings signaled the eventual victory of the Filipino and American forces and the fulfillment of MacArthur’s famous promise: "I Shall Return."

Three days later, on the 23rd, at a ceremony at the Capitol Building in Tacloban, General MacArthur accompanied by President Sergio Osmeña made Tacloban the temporary seat of the Commonwealth Government and subsequently the temporary capital of the Philippines until the complete liberation of the country. The provincial government of Leyte and the municipal government of Tacloban were re-established.

Atty. Paulo Jaro was the Liberation Mayor of Tacloban. The first mayor of this capital upon inauguration of the Philippine Republic was Hon. Epifanio Aguirre.

On January 8, 1960, General Douglas MacArthur made his "sentimental" journey to Leyte.

Landmarks in the area include the Joseph Price Mansion where General MacArthur set up headquarters in 1944 and the Redoña Residence. These two structures in Tacloban played a vital role during the liberation of the Philippines.


Tacloban is located on Cancabato Bay, in the San Juanico Strait which divides the islands of Leyte and Samar.


It is the regional center of commerce, tourism, education, culture, and government in the region. It is one of the few first class cities in the Philippines (cities with an annual income of more than PhP300 million) and is slated to be declared as a highly urbanized city in 2008 (having exceeded the minimum qualfying standards in terms of income and population). [ Joey A. Gabieta, "Tacloban seeks new status as highly urbanized city", Philippine Daily Inquirer, First Posted 11:25pm (Mla time) 04/30/2008 http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/regions/view_article.php?article_id=133768 ]


Based on the official results of the August 1st, 2007 National Census, Tacloban City has a Population of 217,199 [ National Statistics Office http://www.census.gov.ph/data/census2007/index.html ] inhabitants, up from 178,639 in the year 2000.

Tacloban is a dominantly Waray speaking city. The language is also officially called "Lineyte-Samarnon" ("Leyte-Samarnon"). A decade before the end of the Spanish sovereignty, the place was dominantly a typical colonial community. Most of its residents were either pure Iberian families or the new generations of Spanish-Filipino blood. Today’s population consists of a healthy mix of Spanish and Chinese mestizos, foreign expatriates and the native Leyteños.


Tacloban is governed by the central government and 3 subnational entities namely: the provincial government, city government and the barangays. The Local Government Code of 1991 granted greater autonomy, power and responsibilities to the local government units.

Tacloban is a component city of province of Leyte. Unlike an independent city, Tacloban is under the administrative supervision of the province. However, its constituents can elect provincial officials.

The executive power of the city government is vested on the mayor. The "Sangguniang Panlungsod" or the city council has the legislative power to create city ordinances. It is a unicameral body composed of ten (10) elected councilors and certain numbers of ex officio and sectoral representatives. It is presided by the vice-mayor. The city mayor, vice mayor and the elected city councilors are elected-at-large every three (3) years.

The barangays are the villages within the city.

Official Seal of The City of Tacloban

The Official Seal of Tacloban City is the Symbol of the City's identity where its meaning is inscribed when it became a City under Republic Act No. 760 on June 20, 1952.

The City's emblem stands for the following physical attributes and character:

Right Portion - Leyte side, where Tacloban City is Located

Left Portion - Symbolizes the province of Samar, major supplier of agricultural and marine products to the city, stabilizing its volume of business and trade.

Center - Stands for the beautiful and scenic San Juanico Strait The Galleon - Illustrates the ship of Ferdinand Magellan who discovered the island of Limasawa where the first Christian mass was held in Philippine soil.

City Officials (2007-present)

- Mayor -
*Hon. Alfred S. Romualdez

- Vice Mayor -
*Hon. Arvin Antoni

- City Councilors -
*Hon. Cristina "Kring-kring" Gonzales-Romualdez
*Hon. Ranulfo "Bob" S. Abellanosa
*Hon. Robert "Bobby" Andrade
*Hon. Bianco F. Mate
*Hon. Nofredo "Rindo" C. Lagonoy
*Hon. Wilson S. Uy
*Hon. Rufino A. Pacanan
*Hon. Eden C. Pineda
*Hon. Rachelle Erica C. Pineda
*Hon. Robert Hernandez
*Hon. Jerry "Sambo" T. Yaokasin
*Hon. Cristeta "Tita" Pedrosa


The City of Tacloban is politically subdivided into 138 barangays. [ [http://www.nscb.gov.ph/activestats/psgc/municipality.asp?muncode=083747000&regcode=08&provcode=37 Philippine Standard Geographic Code listing for Tacloban City] - National Statistical Coordination Board]



Going to Tacloban

By air, The Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific Air has 3 daily flights each between The City of Manila and Tacloban City; travel time is 1 hour and 10 minutes. Air Philippines also has four flights per week between Cebu and Tacloban City.

By sea, Sulpicio Lines takes approximately 36 hours to reach Tacloban, the ship departs from Manila three times a week. The days of departure are fixed a week before.

Getting Around the City

Jeepney, tricycles, and pedicabs are readily available to ferry the tourists to the various attractions in and around the city. Hotels can arrange for rental cars with drivers for their guests.

When running around town, you'll see many people using modified pedicabs as freight haulers. The passenger seats are replaced with a flat sheet of metal and a short fence.


Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival

The Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival is a merry-making event lasting a whole month, highlights of which include the Leyte Kasadyaan Festival of Festivals, the Pintados Festival Ritual Dance Presentation and the "Pagrayhak" Grand Parade. These festivals are said to have began from the feast day of Señor Santo Niño, held every June 29th. The Leyteños celebrate a religious festival in a unique and colorful way. Since the Visayans are experienced in the art of body tattooing, men and women are fond of tattooing themselves.

The Pintados Festival displays the rich cultural heritage, incorporating native music and dances, of the people of Leyte and Samar. The Leyte Kasadya-an Festival of Festivals, meanwhile, showcases the unique culture and colorful history of the Province of Leyte. Started by former Leyte Governor Remedios Loreto-Petilla, the celebration was first held on May 12, 1996. The festivities weren't always held every June 29th; the first three years saw different dates. It was only in 1999 that it was fixed to June 29, the Feast of the Señor Santo Niño de Leyte.

"Kasadyaan" in the Visayan tongue means merriment and jollity. Various municipal festivals of Leyte gather together in the original capital of Tacloban City for the celebration. There, lively dance-drama parade of many colors takes place. There is an important role that the festival plays, and it is strengthening the Leyteños' sense of pride. Every municipality mounts a storyline all their own to portray with pride their local folklore and legends.

The Pintados festival of Tacloban City is a Filipino festival with its own unique flavor. This Pintados festival recalls Pre-Spanish history of the native Leytenos from wars, epics and folk religions. The most expected aspect of the Pintados festival are the festive dancers, painted from head to toe with designs that look like armor to resemble the tattooed warriors of old. During the course of the Pintados festival, dancers whose bodies are painted in an amazing array of colors fill the streets of Tacloban city. At first sight, they may seem outrageous as grown men pour into the streets decorated in such dazzling colors as luminous blue or neon green. But as one gets used to this and sees the dances depicted, one gets a glimpse of the history of the people that once lived on the islands of Leyte so long ago.

The folk dances presented by the dancers portray the many traditions that flourished before the Spaniards came. These include worship of idols, indigenous music and epic stories. The hypnotic rhythms of native instruments beat through the air accompanying the dances performed on the streets as the Pintados festival goes. Aside from the folk dances, is the much likely parade, which crisscrosses the avenues of Tacloban city. The parade traditionally begins at the Balayuan Towers and proceeds throughout tacloban leyte city. The surprised spectators follow the procession of dancing colors from the beginning to end. The Pintados festival concludes in much merrymaking with a signature traditional Filipino fiesta, where everyone is invited to join the fun and celebrate the Pintados Festival.


In 1668, the Spaniards came to the Visayas and found in the islands heavily tattooed men and women, whom they called Pintados. These people had a culture of their own, commemorating victories by holding festivals and honoring their gods after a bountiful harvest.

It was in 1888 that missionaries from Spain brought the Child Jesus image known as "El Capitan" to the island. It had a rich and colorful background that draw out the devotion and worship of the Leyte natives to the Santo Niño.

Then in 1986, the Pintados Foundation, Inc. was founded by civic-minded businessmen and entrepreneurs based in Tacloban City. They began organizing religious cultural activities for the city fiesta in honor of Señor Santo Niño. This marked the advent of the Pintados Festival, which was first celebrated June 29th of the year 1987. Today, it is called the Leyte Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival and is called as the "Festival of Festivals."

The name “pintados” is derived from what the native warriors, whose bodies were adorned with tattoos, were called. In those times, and even in some places today, tattoos were a mark of courage and beauty. Since tattoo-making was not yet as precise as it is today, they were rather painful and one risked the chance of contracting an infection. Therefore, a man who faced the dangers of tattooing and lived was considered to be both strong and brave. But even before the tattoo process itself, one would have to earn them after fighting heroically in wars.

Tattoos (pintados) served as a status symbol; much like a general’s badge would today. It was the mark of courage, rank and strength. The bravest warriors were heavily adorned in tattoos which covered every inch of their bodies, head to foot. Indeed, these men were in fact such an unusual sight that western missionaries considered them frightening and uncivilized upon their first glimpses of these warriors. But as time passed, they learned to see the tattoos as a part of the life of native peoples and even as a sign of beauty for them. With the passing of time, as the story is with all things, the old made way for the new. The traditions of tattooing (pintados) and worshiping earth spirits were replaced as modernization came. But these traditions are still remembered with the celebration of the Pintados festival.

This Pintados festival helps us to see the worth and beauty of the traditions of the country’s ancestors. It gives us the opportunity to feel a rare first-hand experience, the experience of culture. [http://www.philippinecountry.com/philippine_festivals/pintados_festival.html The text about Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.]

angyaw Festival

In 2008, the city government revived another cultural festival named Sangyaw Festival. Sangyaw means "herald news" in waray. The festival was first proposed by former first lady Imelda Marcos. Various festival-participants from different parts of the country joined this street dancing competition. [ Grace S. Evardone. The History of Our Valued Culture Eastern Visays Examiner Vol. 8 Issue No. 18 June 25-July 1, 2008 p. 8. posted 29 June 2008 ] It was held a day before the city fiesta.


PGMA declares Tacloban as HUC; plebiscite to follow

TACLOBAN CITY -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has signed a presidential order declaring Tacloban as a highly urbanized city.

A copy of the presidential approval was received yesterday afternoon by Mayor Alfred Romualdez himself, who admitted that he was “happy” of the support of Ms. Arroyo.

“She signed it on Saturday and I received it today around 4 in the afternoon. Of course, I am happy,” Romualdez, reached on his mobile phone, said yesterday.

With the presidential approval, the next move now of the city government is to request the Commission on Elections central office to direct its regional office for the city polls office to schedule the plebiscite, the city mayor said.

All of the city’s registered voters of more than 90,000 are eligible to cast their votes during the plebiscite.

“The city has the funds for the plebiscite. But it is the Comelec (Manila) which will order its regional office here to direct the city office to schedule the plebiscite,” Romualdez said.

The city mayor said that the plebiscite is not a regular schedule and this would allow him and all city officials to openly campaign for the “yes” votes.

“I have been campaigning all along. This is not a regular election,” he said.

As he said this, Mayor Romualdez said that the conversion of Tacloban into an HUC would greatly redound to the benefit of its more than 217,000 people.

“There will be better and faster services,” he vowed.

He also allayed the fears of businessmen as well as ordinary taxpayers by saying that the reclassification of Tacloban into an HUC would not mean increase of taxes.

Any increase of tax being collected by the city government would only take place five years after its reclassification, according to Local Government Code.

He also said that with the reclassification, the city would now be directly supervised by the national government. “The national government will now act as our big brother,” Romualdez.

Tacloban has over 217,000 residents with more than P500 million annual income making it qualified to bid for HUC. (JOEY A. GABIETA)

External links

* [http://www.tacloban.gov.ph Official Website of Tacloban]
* [http://www.dotpcvc.gov.ph/DOT-PCVC%20Offices/regl_off.htm Philippine Department of Tourism]
* [http://www.sanjoseparishtacloban.com Parish of St. Joseph, San Jose, Tacloban City]

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