Municipality of Loreto

Loreto, officially the Municipality of Loreto (Cebuano: Lungsod sa Loreto; Surigaonon: Lungsod nan Loreto; Tagalog: Bayan ng Loreto; Waray: Bungto han Loreto), is a 4th class municipality in the province of Dinagat Islands, Philippines. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 9,309 people. 

On the northern waters of the Province of Dinagat Islands lies the Municipality of Loreto. Although Dinagat Islands is quite large, yet many years ago, there was but one municipality, Dinagat.


Before the sixth decade of this country, the present municipality of Loreto was separated from Dinagat, thus Dinagat then had already two municipalities, Dinagat in the south and Loreto in the north, which is the subsequent years Dinagat became the mother municipality of Cagdianao, Rizal and San Jose, while under Loreto, the new municipalities of Albor and Tubajon were created.

Loreto as it is now is situated in the most northern tip of Dinagat Islands. On the eastern side, it is bounded by the Pacific Ocean; on the western side, by Surigao Strait, where the greatest naval battle in history during Second World War was fought between Americans and the Japanese; on the South by the boundary line from Payaw Point on the east that cuts across the island to Roxas Cove on the west and on the north by the sea that separates Dinagat and Homonhon Islands.

Loreto was formerly called "Mabua". It was first established by the Boholanos, the Leyteños, and by the Samareños, as early as 1847. With the overfoaming river that until these years, its rapids keep cascading right into the heart of the town proper down to the sea which since nobody knows when, hence, the early settlers called the place "Mabua" meaning foamy.


However in 1881, it metamorphosed into its present name, Loreto in honor of the wife of the provincial governor at that time.


The municipality was created for the first time in 1898. With the blood of Tamblot and Dagohoy still engrained among the Boholano settlers; of Bangkaw among the Leyteños, and of Sumoroy among the Samareños, the few settlers of the former Mabua hated to be ruled again by foreigners as the Americans as they did not want repetition as how they were ruled by the Spaniards. So that when few Americans patrolled their place during the early part of the Americans occupation, this conglomeration of settlers refused to cooperate with the new invaders by fleeing to the hills upon arrival of the visitors, thus with the settlement without inhabitants, the houses were razed to the ground by the American soldiers and was, in 1902, reduced to a barrio. However, through the untiring efforts of its civic spirited citizens, led by Constantino B. Gupana, Tomas A. Caduan, and Arcadio P. Galido, Loreto regained its status as a municipality in 1919. As told and retold by and to the aged people, the induction of a new set of officers on the early created municipality was administered and graced by the Provincial Governor during the vesper day of the Patron Saint Isidore, the Farmer. So that because the town fiesta of Loreto is May 15, until to date, it has been established that the present Loreto was created on May 14, 1919. The original sets of municipal officials were Constantino B. Gupana, as President and with Tomas A. Caduan, Arcadio P. Galido and Bernardo C. Odron, as Councilors. Again, during the Japanese occupation, with the reluctance of the local guerilla men led by Lieut. AgatonMellorin to submit to the invaders, almost all the houses in the poblacion were again burnt by the Japanese soldiers.

Since then the Loretoños resisted to the occupation of the Japanese soldiers. Some of the local soldiers were Lieut. AgatonMellorin, Lieut. Primo C. de Jesus, and Capt. Leopoldo D. Bakit, with other genuine World War II soldiers who did not surrender and managed to come home and joined in the guerilla activities. Some of the local guerilla who was not fortunate to see Philippines Liberation was Japanese strugglers in the battle at Sinaungag, on October 30, 1944 formerly a secluded sitio of Loreto but now with the new municipality of Tubajon, Dinagat Islands.


Today Loreto has 10 barangays, namely: Panamaon, Esperanza (formerly Cansim-ong), Santiago, Sta. Cruz, Carmen, San Juan, Ferdinand (formerly Masigwil), Liberty (formerly Barangay Tinago), Helene (formerly SitioDahican), and Magsaysay (formerly SitioCabiton-an). The former barrio of Libjo was created as a new municipality by virtue of Executive Order No. 381, issued by the former President Carlos O. Garcia on February 12, 1960, so that Albor was inaugurated as new municipality on April 23, 1960.


The inauguration was graced with the presence of the former Congressman Reynaldo P. Honrado and the members of the two (2) municipal councils of Loreto and Dinagat led by Mayor Moises J. Alfaro and Mayor Prospero L. Borja, respectively. Eleven years after, in 1971, the former barrio of Tubajon separated also from Loreto as a new municipality.


Loreto also embraces the islands of Puyo, Kayasa, Gibusong (Dako), and Gibusong (Gamay), with the total population of 7,340, excluding some employees of the four mining firms and some small-scale miners who are transients.


With the towering Redondo Mountain that runs from Desolution Point on the northern tip of Dinagat Islands to Bongkawit, a sitio at the mouth of Malinao Inlet on the south, oftentimes Loreto is fortunate to be partly from the depressions that originate from the Pacific.


In the lowlands of the territorial jurisdiction of this municipality grow the tikog grasses which are utilized by tge women-folk as materials in making mats which are in demand for their fine workmanship and durability.


Along the stiff rocky slope of Redondo Mountain, which is difficult to ascend, is still thick forest so much so that with the latitude, the lush vegetation, and the cool cascading Capitugohan and Hinubasan Falls all conspire to make the climate dissermingly balmy and invigorating.


Variety and well-known species of orchids, the so-called "Aristocrats of the Woodland", such as the mariposa or butterfly orchids, the tiger, denrubiumanespum, denrubium, and many others species abundantly thrive on the lofty arms of the lauan, lapnisan, yakal, molato, and kolipapa trees which are often spotted by Redondo climbers. Pitcher plants and other high-latitude flora that may interest biologists and students are in abundance along the untouched forest areas.


Capitugohan Falls, which is the source of the drinking water of Loreto and Hinubasan Falls which water is the source of the NIA irrigation for the rice fields on the lowlands of the former hantotoknaw dry lands of Cambinliw are a twin of pristine beauty only nature can make.


On the rocky mountain side facing the Pacific, from as far as Omasdang near Desolution Point to the southern boundary of Tubajon are found much minerals as chromite, manganese, copper, coal, and gold. It is for this hidden wealth underneath Mother Nature that mining companies are now operating, as : KROMINCO, ACOJE, JLB, and MAUBAN. However, with Presidential Proclamation 295, the lowlands of Loreto was recently surveyed to release the A & D Mineral Reservation for agricultural utilization by the farmers of the released areas.


In preparation for the distribution of Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) for the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries of Loreto, the Department of Agrarian Reform, Surigaodel Norte, has envisioned to make soon the memorable affair at San Juan, Surigao City which will be administered and graced by no less than President Fidel V. Ramos.


The Loreto Central Elementary School ground provides an easy, relaxing mood for the early morning joggers and the late afternoon promenaders. Located in the heart of town, the campus gives one an unobstructed sight of the mist-covered Redondo Mountain and a good view of Loreto Bay oftentimes dotted with tiny sailboats of local fishermen during the "katuigan" or when the sea does not have swift current, thus, a season for fishing.


With its people different from the other inhabitants of the other municipalities of Dinagat, 75% of the people of Loreto speak the Cebuano and Boholano dialects with 25% speaking the Waraywaray, most spoken by the people of the island-barangays of Liberty, Helene, and Magsaysay and of those of barangay Panamaon whose ancestorial origin came from Homonhon Island of Samar.


One of the historic tourist spots of Loreto is Campintac, the very isolated place where the first landing of the American Liberation did happen on October 17, 1944. On this memorable spot now stands as was erected by the late Mayor Alfonso A. Ompod, a simple monumental marker with only a helmet and a bayonet on top of the marker and engraved in such marker the names of Lieut. Henry A. Mucci and Maj. Robert W. Garret of the 6th Ranger Batallion, the first to step on the "Black Beach" as the Americans called Campintac, "The First to Mark the Return of the Americans", with the US battleship having assembled first in Loreto Bay for two (2) days, before the liberation landed Leyte on October 20, 1944.


In education, Loreto has three (3) secondary schools with complete curriculum years. One, the Liberty National High School in Gibusong Island and the two- the Loreto National High School and another private non-sectarian institution- the Loreto Academy, in the poblacion proper. All barangays have primary schools with some big barangays with complete intermediate classes. Even the sitio of Busay which faces the Pacific has a primary school.


In religious, the divergence of the religious character of the people of Loreto is reflected visibly in the number of churches in town. The Roman Catholic and the Philippine Independent followers are still the greatest in number. But there are other religious sects that are slowly gaining adherents. The UCCP, the INC, the Adventist, the Body of Christ, the Grace Gospel, to mention some, have provided the contemporary religious complexion of the townspeople a wide sectarian variation.


Such a divergence, however, not only emphasizes that the extent of freedom of worship is exercised but, in a way, it adds to the intensity of divine worship and a baffling quality of cosmopolitanism.


The leadership of Loreto since it became a municipality in 1919 has been passed from one able leader-administrator to another.


In the late 1800's, the title "Captain" was changed to "president" as the country entered a new of colonization under the Americans. With the establishment of the Commonwealth the mode of determining leaders shifted to a new procedure and Loreto experienced its first engagement with a democratic process elections. The title of the town chief executive also suffered a change. From "President" it became "Mayor".

The town became a part of the province of Dinagat Islands in October 2, 2006 when the province was created from Surigao del Norte by Republic Act No. 9355. However, in February 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that the law was unconstitutional, as the necessary requirements for provincial land area and population were not met. The town reverted to Surigao del Norte. On October 24, 2012, however, the Supreme Court reversed its ruling from the previous year, and upheld the constitutionality of RA 9355 and the creation of Dinagat Islands as a province.


In 1956, the sitio of Roxas was converted into a barrio.


Loreto is politically subdivided into 10 barangays.


According to the Bureau of Local Government Finance, the annual regular revenue of Loreto for the fiscal year of 2016 was ₱101,288,410.76.



Population by age group

According to the 2015 Census, the age group with the highest population in Loreto is 5 to 9, with 1,115 individuals. Conversely, the age group with the lowest population is 80 and over, with 107 individuals.

Historical population

The population of Loreto grew from 8,324 in 1960 to 9,309 in 2015, an increase of 985 people. The latest census figures in 2015 denote a positive growth rate of 0.82%, or an increase of 389 people, from the previous population of 8,920 in 2010.


The municipal center of Loreto is situated at approximately 10° 22' North, 125° 35' East, in the island of Dinagat. Elevation at these coordinates is estimated at 3.0 meters or 10.0 feet above mean sea level.


 • Type

 • Mayor

 • Vice Mayor

 • Congressman

 • Governor

 • Vice Governor

 • Electorate


 • Total

Zip/Postal Code

: Sangguniang Bayan

: Doandre Bill A. Ladaga

: Richard C. Tan

: Alan 1 B. Ecleo

: Arlene "Kaka" Bag ao

: Nilo P. Demerey Jr.

: 8,024 voters (2019)

: 255.87 km2 (98.79 sq mi)

: 8415