Bontoc is located in the Eastern Visayas region, specifically in the 1st district of Southern Leyte. The town has an area of 102.10 km2 and is home to the Bontoc Campus of Southern Leyte State University. in the Philippines. The town is about 127 kilometers south of Tacloban City, the regional center of Eastern Visayas.
Bontoc, a fourth-class municipality in the province of Southern Leyte, Philippines, is officially known as the Municipality of Bontoc. Its population, according to the 2020 census, is 29,799 people. The town has 40 barangays and is governed by a Sangguniang Bayan with Noel E. Alinsub as mayor and Rodulfo V. Nablea as vice mayor.
The Ulang Festival, held annually on January 15, is a celebration in honor of the Holy Child Jesus and features colorful dancers paying tribute to the icon of the Señor Santo Niño. Some devotees believe that the icon has healing powers.
During the early Spanish regime, there was an old “pueblo” called Daan Lungsod located near the present Roman Catholic Cemetery in Bontoc, and the name “Bontoc” is said to have come from the name of a creek in the area called Bontoc Creek. The area was covered with thick forests and rugged mountains, which made it difficult for outsiders to penetrate.
Before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers, Bontoc was an uncultivated land inhabited by few natives and wild animals.
Upon the Spaniards’ arrival, they encountered various primitive Malay tribes engaged in warfare who had settled in prosperous villages near the Salog river basin’s fertile plains. The Spaniards managed to subdue these tribes and immigrants and established a group of villages that later became the central part of the Bontoc Barrio. Mariano Barcelon, known as “Tahug,” was among the famous ancient warring chiefs during that time, praised for his bravery and feared by Moro pirates.
During the Spanish period until the early American regime, Bontoc was governed by a sequence of native “Cabezas de barangay,” a local government organization. Bontoc was then a tributary “pueblo” of the old town of Libagon, which governed its people for many years in both civil and religious matters. The Cabezas de barangay who governed Bontoc were also referred to as “capitan” by their people. At that time, the church had immense power over the government’s affairs, and anyone who disobeyed religious orders or offended the clergy faced severe punishment. Hilario Barcelon, Manuel Leyes, Romualdo Tubia, Florentino Flores, Felipe Aguilar, and Gerardo Faelnar were some of the well-known capitanes who governed the local administration of Bontoc.
After the Americans arrived, Bontoc became a unit barrio of Sogod, and during the Japanese occupation, it became the headquarters of the resistance movement against the Japanese, with Colonel Ruperto K. Kangleon commanding from Sitio Mamingaw, Barangay Banahaw. In one significant attack, an entire truckload of Japanese soldiers on patrol were completely destroyed at Sitio Trece, Barangay Santo Niño, and a small monument commemorates this event in front of the Bontoc motor pool at Sitio Trece.
Finally, on June 15, 1950, Bontoc became a regular municipality as per the provisions of Republic Act No. 522.
If you happen to visit Bontoc, Southern Leyte, you might want to sample some of the local delicacies. These include the following:
- Binagol: made from glutinous rice, kalamay or brown sugar, and taro pudding with nuts;
- Suman Latik: a sweet Filipino snack made from rice dish and caramel sauce;
- Tres Marias: a unique Leyte delicacy with distinctive ingredients;
- Chocolate Moron: a popular sweet delicacy made by cooking glutinous rice in cocoa and coconut milk; and
- Bocarillos: a sweet snack that comprises grated coconut meat mixed with sugar and wrapped in a thin crepe-like wrapper.
How to get to Bontoc, Southern Leyte?
Bontoc is a municipality located in Southern Leyte province, Philippines. To get to Bontoc, you can follow these steps:
By Air: The nearest airport to Bontoc is the Tacloban City Airport. From there, you can take a van or bus going to Bontoc.
By Land: If you are coming from Manila, you can take a bus going to Tacloban City. Travel time is around 24 hours. Once in Tacloban City, you can take a van or bus going to Bontoc.
If you are coming from Cebu, you can take a ferry going to Ormoc City. From Ormoc City, take a van or bus going to Bontoc.
It is always best to check with the transport operators for schedules and availability of trips.
- Bontoc Southern Leyte