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Based on the records of the  National Historical Commission, the municipality of Cabatuan was founded in the year 1732. 

The town's founding in 1732 is justified by a huge cross made of  hard thick "murawon" (molave), the base of which still stands at Pamul-ogan Hill. On the cross was carved "1732" although what remains of the cross now is only its base.

Old residents of the town recall that the cross was more than four meters high, overlooking the Tigum River and the plains towards the town.

Monument of Tan Tono in front of

the municipal hall of Cabatuan

It is presumed that the early founding Spaniards, following their procedures of establishing a new town in first dedicating the place to Christ, had made the cross and carved the date on it.

Cabatuan was believed originally planned by Tono, it conceded tribal leader with two leaders, Gomoc and Amihan.  The site of early settlements was on level track of land near the northern bank of the Tigum River where the Poblacion is now located.

In 1733, Cabatuan was officially organized upon the installation of Rev. Father Antonio Lopez as first priest and Tan Tono as its first Governadorcillo. The Town Hall and the Catholic Church were simultaneously built in the locality. Tono, the organizing leader, became its first governadorcillo or "Capitan."

Lopez placed the town under the spiritual protection of Saint Nicolas de Tolentino whom Cabatuananons still venerated today as their patron saint on September 10 of every year.

Streets were constructed and the number of homes increased with rapid rate.  However not until more than one hundred and fifty years later that the giving of official names to the streets was made.

Historical records gathered and compiled by local historians reveal the fact that Cabatuan has a glorious past. From the time it was founded in 1733 up to present, Cabatuan has produced illustrious sons and daughters whose heroic and noble deeds have become facets of Philippine History. The town has been the seat of important historical events that have unknown to many Filipinos but are of historical importance to the country.

Famous Cabatuananons of yesteryears included such names as Doña Francisca Cabañas, Flavio Zaragoza Cano, Santiago Munieza, Manuel Catalan, Ciriaco Morales, Saturnino Tobias, Wenceslao Grio, Juan Garrido, Eugenio de la Vega, Arcadio Calero, Aquilino Arco, and others.

Seal of the municipality of Cabatuan during the Revolution. (Courtesy of the West Visayas Historical Research Foundation)


Due to space limitations we are featuring only a few illustrious Cabatuanons of ancient times from whom the present generation of Cabatuanons is drawing an inspiration in their obsession to crown their town with laurels.

Doña Francisca Cabañas, fondly called “Tana Pisca,” was a philanthropist and heroin of the revolution against Spain and of Philippine-American war. She fought the wars behind the firing lines with her material resources that she channeled secretly to the freedom fighters. Her heroism and philanthropy qualify her in the nation’s hall of fame.

The tragic execution of Agustin Jiloca and Julian Confesor who offered their lives in defense of Filipino freedom on July 5, 1901 during the American occupation of the country enkindled in the heart of every Filipino the fire of greater love for freedom and democracy. See papers on the case of Agustin Jiloca and Julian Confesor

Fr. Cipriano Pedrosa or “Pari Nanoy” prevented the imminent break up of the local clergy with the Roman Catholic to embrace the Philippine Independent church. The native prelate did this through his wisdom and charismatic personality.

Flavio Zaragoza Cano placed Cabatuan in the nation’s limelight through his pen. He was a consummate and peerless master rhymer both in Spanish and his Ilonggo dialect, winning for him praises and prizes. The highest literary honor conferred on him was his proclamation as “a poet laureate of Hiligaynon poets.” Read some of Flavio Zaragoza Cano's poems

In the field of music, Cabatuan gained world-wide prominence through Arcadio Calero. He was awarded a bronze medal by the United State Congress during the Philippine Exhibits in connection with the Louisiana (USA) Exposition in 1904. The band from the Philippines which he conducted made an excellent performance and was thunderously applauded when the Philippine band played the “Aires Filipino” composed by Arcadio Calero himself.

The fame that Cabatuan has been enjoying is almost synonymous with Tomas Confesor, a distinguished Filipino patriot, gallant hero, prominent statesman, economist, and great parliamentarian of his times. During the darkest moments in Philippine history, he proved to be a veritable pillar of strength telling the people that “it was preferable to suffer in honor than enjoy life in ignominy.” As a former senator, he rode on many a storm of debates and piles victories in his crusade against graft and corruption in the government and against social injustice. For this, he earned the epithet “Storm Petrel of Philippine Congress.” Visit the Tomas Confesor Digital Library

Women in Cabatuan also played a vital role during World War II, either as medical aide workers, food production campaigners, teachers or as couriers. Read "The Roles of Cabatuan Women during World War II"

Since the smoke of World War II vanished in the air up to the present, the town has been ruled by chief executives who did their share in augmenting the greatness and fame of the town. These town mayors include Paulino Reguerra, Cipriano Grio, Sinforoso Padilla, Jose Guidoriagao, Florentino Jiloca, Francisco Tobias, Wilfredo Jiloca, Enrique Binayas, Fidel Ahumada, and Eliseo Tobias. The current mayor is Ramon Yee. See list of chief executives of Cabatuan

Four Cabatuanons were elected to top positions in the government. The late Patricio Confesor was elected congressman of the third district of Iloilo. He was greatly responsible for restoring peace and order in Iloilo after the Huk movement spread unrest and terror among the populace. The late Fortunato Padilla was elected member of the Provincial Board of Iloilo for two consecutive terms, and later as vice governor of Iloilo. Atty. Robert “Bob” Maroma, then assistant city fiscal of Iloilo City, resigned from his promising judicial post and threw his hat into the political ring. Though a political neophyte, he caught everyone by surprise when he topped the race for the Iloilo provincial board, together with Perla Zulueta who made it to the winning circle at the 10th slot. During the May 11,1992 synchronized elections, then Board Member Bob Maroma decided to run for the vice gubernatorial post. Though pitted against four political giants due to their political influence and logistics, Bob Maroma won.

A Cabatuananon was appointed member of the Provincial Board of Iloilo due to his executive ability, integrity, and scholarly disposition. He was Enrique Binayas, retired manager of GSIS Iloilo and then OIC mayor of the town.

At present, it is gratifying and inspiring to note that several Cabatuananons are making a name for the town because of their intellectual superiority and unflinching devotion to duty. Heading the long list of outstanding Cabatuananons of contemporary times is Dr. Felipe Jocano, an anthropologist of international fame. Dr. Jocano is a member of several national and international organizations of scholars and scientist. He is also an author, professor, lecturer, and consultant of numerous universities in the country.

It could not be denied that there are many other Cabatuananons who, in their humble way, are placing Cabatuan in limelight. However due to space limitations all their names cannot be mentioned here.

Due to countless honors and success being reaped by a number of Cabatuananons at present in their chosen fields of endeavor, it is safe to conclude that the town is enjoying fame and prominence of national and international magnitude. (From the 2000 Fiesta Souvenir Program)

How Cabatuan got its name

The name Cabatuan is suggestive of the character of its people and the nature of the locality.  It may be derived from Hiligaynon word "Kabatuhan" meaning full of stone or bato, from "batuan" meaning against, contrary or opposite, to resist, oppose, challenge,  defy, fight or contest.  Some  old folks believed that the name was derived from batuan, a tree whose sour fruits are used in seasoning vegetables and other foods which formerly abound in the locality.