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HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF ROMBLON


 


The Negritoes were the aborigines of the islands comprising the province of Romblon. The Mangyans were the first settlers in the islands. Today, only a few of these groups of inhabitants remain and their descendants scattered living in the mountain of Tablas and in the interior of Sibuyan Island.  A great portion of the present population descended from the Nayons, the Onhans who immigrated to Romblon Islands from Panay Islands, the Bicolanos and Tagalogs who arrived from Luzon as early as 1870.


 


The Spanish historian Loarca was the first who genuinely explored Romblon settlements when he visited the islands in 1682.  At that time Tablas Island was named “Osingan” and together with the other islands of the group were under the administrative jurisdiction of Arevallo (Iloilo).


 


From Spanish sovereignty up to 1635, the islands were administered by secular clergy. When the Recollect Fathers arrived in Romblon, they found some of the inhabitants already converted to Catholicism. In 1637, the Recollects established seven missionary centers at Romblon, Badajos (San Agustin), Cajidiocan, Banton, Looc, Odiongan and Magallanes (Magdiwang).


 


Politically, Romblon was separated from the jurisdiction of Arevalo (Iloilo) and annexed to Capiz when that province was created in 1716.  In 1853, the islands were organized into a politico-military commandancia administered from Capiz and continued to be so until the end of the Spanish rule in 1898.


 


In 1898, Romblon was placed under an army officer with the rank of Captain.  The town of Romblon was its capital and the other municipalities were Azagra, Badajos (now San Agustin), Banton (named Jones from 1916 to 1929), Cajidiocan, Corcuera, Looc, Magallanes (now Magdiwang), Odiongan, Despujols (now San Andres) and Santa Fe.  For some time, during the second phase of the Philippine Revolution, the province, as part of Capiz, was under the control of General Macario Diego de Dios, head of the Filipino Revolutionary Forces in the Visayas during the Philippine-American War.


 


Romblon was created as a regular province in 1901 but due to insufficient income, it became a sub-province of Capiz in 1907.  In December 7, 1917, Act No. 2724 reestablished the former province of Romblon.  Under Commonwealth Act (CA) No. 581, enacted without executive approval on June 8, 1940, the province was reorganized with four towns, namely:  Tablas (embracing Odiongan, Looc, Badajos, Sta. Fe and Despujols), Romblon (comprising Logbon, Cobrador and Alad), Banton (involving Simara and Maestre de Campo), and Sibuyan (with the towns of Cajidiocan, Magdiwang and San Fernando).


           


The Japanese Imperial Forces maintained a garrison in Romblon during World War II, from 1942 to 1945. The islands became the center of considerable resistance movement under General Macario Peralta, Jr. from his Panay headquarters.  One of the most exciting incidents of the Pacific War took place in the waters of Romblon - the Naval and Air Battles between Japanese Admiral Kurita’s Fleet from Singapore and Admiral Halseys’s carrier planes from the American Third Fleet then stationed east of the Philippines. Known as the Battle of Sibuyan Sea (October 24, 1944), the incident was a major event in world history wherein the biggest Japanese battle ship at that time, the Musashi, sank in waters of the Sibuyan Sea.


           


The province of Romblon was liberated on March 12, 1945 by units of the 24th Infantry Division under the command of a Colonel Clifford.  On January 1, 1947, Romblon regained her Provincial Status through the passage of Republic Act No. 38, which was sponsored by Congressman Modesto Formilleza.  The law not only repealed C.A. 581 but also restored the regular   provincial   government  and the municipalities of Romblon and created the municipality of Santa Fe.


 


At present, Romblon is a lone congressional district comprising seventeen (17) municipalities and two hundred nineteen 219 barangays with a total land area of 135,590 hectares.  As of census 2010, the province has a total population of 283,930.