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 Cantilan's Brief History

Cantilan has existed as a settlement for more than three centuries on the two barrios of Bayoyo and Kalagda-an which was then included in the Spanish administration of Tandag as early as 1709. The settlement of Ilihan was also part of the Cantilan area that time.

Prior to the Spanish regime, inhabitants of Cantilan were Bagani Bankayan Sandigan people, who descended from Malay immigrants. At times the early settlers were forced to join and fight marauding bands who came for slaves and plundered. In the process, they built stone walls and a watchtower as can be shown on some ruins of these structures which still exist on the sea coast.

The Spanish arrived and established a settlement at "Daan Lungsod" (Old Town) in the early 1700's and (Cantilan was separated from Tandag in 1791). The Spanish introduced Christianity and a governmental administration headed by priest.

Compulsory taxation was later featured from spanish rule. Other legacies of the Spanish time were the Spanish name given to the local inhabitants and the Spanish words which were added to the local language. The Jesuit fathers constructed a church in Cantilan in the 1890's - part of the walls still stands near the new church constructed in 1959.

During the Spanish time, local people were frequently attacked by muslims and so a fort was built at Daan Lungsod which aided in repelling five attacks, ending once and for all these raids. Other problems were diseases (especially smallpox and other epidemics) were on the rise added with disasters like typhoon.

In 1856, Daan Lungsod was destroyed by disastrous typhoon on the night of October 14. Beginning at midnight and continuing through the entire next day. A typhoon and series of tidal waves rolled over the town sweeping away all but one house and killing 30 people as well as destroying crops and livestock. The ruins of Daan Lungsod can still be seen on the other side of Cantilan River, but after the storm it was decided to rebuild the town on its present site.

Before the storm, residents often crossed the river to buy fish from a woman named Tilang. When asked where they were going, they replied, "Adto Kan Tilang"; and the place gradually became known as Kantilang (Cantilan to Spanish). After the storm the new town was built in this area, across the river and was named Kantilang or Cantilan.

Throughout the period, Cantilan remained primarily a fishing and agricultural settlement, as it is today. The area was larger at that time because it comprised the present municipalities of Cantilan, Carrascal, Madrid, Carmen and Lanuza (CarCanMadCarLan)

The first Americans set foot in Surigao in 1904 and were met some active resistance. But fighting died out after a relatively short time. The main American contribution to Filipino life was restructuring of governmental administration and the public schools. (Some early teachers were Mr. Bonnie, Mr. &Mrs. Edward Tylor, and Mr. William Hotchkiss).

During World War II, Cantilangnons were very active as guerillas figthing against the Japanese, who established a garrison in Cantilan from June 1942 to 1944.

The Japanese were headquartered in the present day Municipal Hall and formations were often held at the plaza. The people were afraid and forced to flee to the mountains or to the outlying island to avoid the Japanese. In some barrios, like Barangay General Island, the population increased on account of the mass evacuation. Peace time at last came when the Japanese finally withdraw their troops from Cantilan because of the invasion of the Americans in Leyte. Cantilan remains primarily a rural, agricultural and fishing municipality, but its residents are well known for their high standing standard of education obtained by a large number of professionals who hail from Cantilan.

In more recent times, the logging and timber industry has had an impact in Cantilan, both logging and veneer manufacturing plant operating in this town. It has also a potential for mining, although no large scale operations have as yet been undertaken.

Cantilan remains an interesting beautiful place blessed with natural resources and a rich history.

More on History...

Cantilan's History

  • Pre-Spanish Period
  • Spanish Period

    Carcanmadcarlan's History

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