Cabagan, Isabela

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View of the Sierra Madres from Cabagan
View of the Sierra Madres from Cabagan
Official seal of Cabagan
Motto: Cabagan Ating Mahalin
Map of Isabela showing the location of Cabagan
Map of Isabela showing the location of Cabagan
Cabagan is located in Philippines
Location within the Philippines
Coordinates: 17°26′N 121°46′E / 17.43°N 121.77°E / 17.43; 121.77Coordinates: 17°26′N 121°46′E / 17.43°N 121.77°E / 17.43; 121.77
Country Philippines
Region Cagayan Valley (Region II)
Province Isabela
District 1st District of Isabela
Barangays 26
 • Mayor Christopher A. Mamauag
 • Vice Mayor Ovie Masigan
 • Electorate 26,034 voters (2016 election)
 • Total 430.40 km2 (166.18 sq mi)
Population (2015 census)[3]
 • Total 50,174
 • Density 120/km2 (300/sq mi)
Time zone PST (UTC+8)
ZIP code 3328
PSGC 023106000
IDD:area code +63 (0)78
Income class 1st municipal income class
Revenue ₱ 139,022,108.90 (2016)[4]
Poverty incidence 19.31 (2012)[5]

Cabagan is a 1st class municipality in the province of Isabela, Philippines. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 50,174 people.[3]

Cabagan had been the business center of three nearby towns (Santa Maria, San Pablo and Santo Tomas) before they had their own market. It is locally known for its pancit Cabagan. Its people are called Ybanags. Nowadays, Ybanags are well educated and the source of the province's top politicians, professionals and a world class athlete.[6]

During Christmas, the Cabagan Square Park could be seen flashing brightly with many Christmas lights and lanterns. Cabagan's top schools are Cabagan Science Elementary School; Saint Ferdinand College - Cabagan Campus; Isabela State University; and Delfin Albano High School (Main Campus). The Malasi Lake is a sanctuary for migratory birds located in barangay San Antonio and has been hailed by the DENR. The biggest gymnasium in Isabela and in the whole Region 2 is located in this town and the century-old well that was built by the Spaniards, located at St. Ferdinand College, Cabagan Campus.The carousel in Cabagan Square Park has been dubbed by the townspeople as the largest in the Philippines.


Cabagan is politically subdivided into 26 barangays.[2]

  • Aggub
  • Anao
  • Angancasilian
  • Balasig
  • Cansan
  • Casibarag Norte
  • Casibarag Sur
  • Catabayungan
  • Cubag
  • Garita
  • Luquilu
  • Mabangug
  • Magassi
  • Ngarag
  • Pilig Abajo
  • Pilig Alto
  • Centro (Pob.)
  • San Bernardo
  • San Juan
  • Saui
  • Tallag
  • Ugad
  • Union
  • Masipi East
  • Masipi West
  • San Antonio


Etymologically, the name Cabagan may have originated from the native word bag or bajaque, not because "G-strings" were used here or made in Cabagan, but most probably because there were stores in the village, Cabagan could have also been derived from the word cabbagang, meaning "pilgrim" or stranger. Based on the fact that Cabagan at the time, was in constant contact with members of the "pagan tribes" from Diffun, namely southern Isabela as well as with the "Kalingas", of the neighboring Cordillera mountains.

Various Cabagan[edit]

The Cabagan of old, that existed from 1646 to 1877 was simply called, "Cabagan". In 1877, the Spaniards decided to transfer present-day Cabagan to a new site, abandoning the old Cabagan. In 1888, the Spaniards resurrected the abandoned Cabagan, into a new town. With this development, there were now two Cabagans. The Spaniards rectified the predicament by naming the first Cabagan as Cabagan Viejo, and the second Cabagan as Cabagan Nuevo or the new Cabagan. Apparently, the name was not to the liking of the new rulers, the Americans. When the Americans came to rule the Philippines after the Spaniards, they renamed Cabagan Nuevo as simply "Cabagan", and the old namesake, as the town of San Pablo.


The old Cabagan, Cabagan Viejo which is now called "San Pablo", was the key town in the colonization of the Irrayas and to some extent Diffun, i.e., southern Isabela. The Irraya rebelled and the only ones that the Spaniards could claim, were some three hundred families who agreed to establish the village of Maquilla, near Tuguegarao City. Cabagan became a charter town in November 30, 1646 and ecclesiastically in May 15, 1647 with Saint Paul the Apostle as the patron saint.

New Cabagan (Cabagan Nuevo)[edit]

The new Cabagan came to exist, because the Spanish government decreed that in January 25, 1877, the old Cabagan or San Pablo of today, be transferred from its old site, to the one that is now occupying. The brainchild of the transfer of Cabagan, was parish priest Pedro Ricart, who then made representations with the Spanish government, for the transfer. Father Jose Burgues History of Cagayan Valley gave the unhealthiness of the old site, the reason for the transfer. Others had stated though, that Cabagan was transferred because progress appeared to be bypassing the old Cabagan, in favor of the villages to the south, near Cabagan's present site. The new site was the area between the villages of Ugad and Luquilu, villages that exists up to this day. The site is not far from the old, with the church of the new Cabagan just some three kilometers or so, south from that of the old. The transfer was not without friction though. A number of Cabagan's inhabitants opposed the transfer. But the missionary's will had prevailed. In contempt, as it were of the natives' opposition, the missionary uprooted the Church of the old Cabagan and brought the images and other vestments, to the new Cabagan. When the Spaniards established a new town, they also endeavored to build a massive church and convent made of stone, brick and mortar. From 1877, when the new Cabagan was established, and culminating with the Philippine Revolution that deposed the ruling Spaniards 19 years later (1896), the then governing Spaniards were still not able to complete all constructions needed, for the new Cabagan. Cabagan is a known meeting place among revolutionaries during the Spanish occupation.


Population census of Cabagan
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1903 5,289 —    
1918 13,112 +6.24%
1939 18,795 +1.73%
1948 21,651 +1.58%
1960 17,924 −1.56%
1970 23,370 +2.69%
1975 24,987 +1.35%
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1980 28,908 +2.96%
1990 34,999 +1.93%
1995 35,054 +0.03%
2000 41,536 +3.70%
2007 43,562 +0.66%
2010 45,732 +1.78%
2015 50,174 +1.78%
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority[3][7][8][9]

In the 2015 census, the population of Cabagan, Isabela, was 50,174 people,[3] with a density of 120 inhabitants per square kilometre or 310 inhabitants per square mile.


Cabagan, as part of the Irraya region and its language, was Irraya. The Spaniards however, made the Ibanag "The Official Language of the Valley", and had exerted all efforts that everyone speak the dialect. Since then, the Irraya tongue gradually disappeared from the Cabagan psyche.

When some people utter Irraya before, they were discouraged or forbidden to speak, because that was the language of the "pagans" at that time, the Kalingas. Whenever the townsfolk enter the poblacion, none would speak of Irraya, for they would be considered despicably as, a "Kalinga" or as "ignorant persons", living in the mountains.

Today, no one speaks Irraya. There are however, a few barrios in Cabagan today, like San Bernardo and Tallag, wherein the Ibanag dialect gets interspersed with Irraya. However, some older generation townsfolk, could also remember sentences in Irraya.

Ilocano is also spoken in parts of Cabagan because of migration of poor Ilocanos from other parts of Luzon to seek opportunities.


Climate data for Cabagan, Isabela
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 29
Average low °C (°F) 19
Average precipitation mm (inches) 31.2
Average rainy days 10 6 5 5 13 12 15 15 15 17 16 15 144
Source: World Weather Online[10]

Local Landmarks/Tourist Attractions[edit]

  • Cabagan is famous for its eponymously named 'Pancit Cabagan' a local dish which was introduced by a Chinese trader in 1887 and has gained popularity in different parts of Luzon.[11] There are several popular restaurants (locally called 'Panciterias') serving this dish along the main road/highway in Barangay Centro, Anao, Ugad and Cubag which include Aling Kikay, Eddie's Restaurant, Felicita's Pancit Cabagan, Josie's Panciteria, KJM, KCJM, Mariloi, Pin-tag Bistro Cafe and Zane's Panciteria.
  • Malasi Upper and Lower Lakes, a bird sanctuary located in Barangay San Antonio where several migratory and endemic species of birds are spotted regularly [12][13]
  • Cabagan Square Park in Barangay Centro, with its Carousel which is the largest in the Philippines [14]
  • Tulap Falls, a recently discovered waterfalls in Barangay Masipi East [15]
  • St. Paul Parish Church in Barangay Centro [16]
  • Round Rock Resort in Barangay Cansan [17]
  • Xentro Mall Cabagan a newly opened shopping mall in Barangay Ugad [18]


  • Pansi Cabagan Festival [19]
  • Kalesa-Kabayo-Kutchero (KKK) Festival [20]
  • Zambali Festival [21]

Notable people of Cabagan[edit]

  • Alex Pagulayan, the 2004 world champion in billiards hails from San Juan, a remote barangay of Cabagan.
  • Philippines former Vice President Jejomar Binay's mother is an Ybanag that hails from Cabagan.
  • Diosdado Aenlle Talamayan, D.D., Ph.D., S.T.D. (Born October 19, 1932) is the Archbishop-emeritus of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Tuguegarao in the province of Cagayan, on the island of Luzon, Philippines after his retirement on June 15, 2011.
  • New York's Grace Gollayan Baldisseri, a poet, published author and stage director, one of the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the United States (2007) has roots in Cabagan.
  • Rodolfo Bagunu. Albano, former Majority Floor Leader, Former Mayor of Cabagan,Isabela, former chairman of the Energy Regulatory Commission.


  1. ^ "Official City/Municipal 2013 Election Results". Intramuros, Manila, Philippines: Commission on Elections (COMELEC). 11 September 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Province: Isabela". PSGC Interactive. Quezon City, Philippines: Philippine Statistics Authority. Retrieved 12 November 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Region II (Cagayan Valley)". Census of Population (2015): Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay (Report). PSA. Retrieved 20 June 2016. 
  4. ^ "Isabela : Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index". Makati City, Philippines: National Competitiveness Council (Philippines). Archived from the original on 29 January 2017. Retrieved 29 January 2017. 
  5. ^ "PSA Releases the 2012 Municipal and City Level Poverty Estimates". Quezon City, Philippines: Philippine Statistics Authority. Retrieved 28 January 2017. [dead link]
  6. ^ "Province of Isabela Official Website: Cabagan". Retrieved 23 February 2017. 
  7. ^ "Region II (Cagayan Valley)". Census of Population and Housing (2010): Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay (Report). NSO. Retrieved 29 June 2016. 
  8. ^ "Region II (Cagayan Valley)". Census of Population (1995, 2000 and 2007): Total Population by Province, City and Municipality (Report). NSO. Archived from the original on 24 June 2011. 
  9. ^ "Province of Isabela". Municipality Population Data. Local Water Utilities Administration Research Division. Retrieved 17 December 2016. 
  10. ^ "Cabagan, Isabela: Average Temperatures and Rainfall". World Weather Online. Retrieved 31 October 2015. 
  11. ^ "Pancit Cabagan: Recipe and Origin". Retrieved 23 February 2017. 
  12. ^ "Birdwatch.pH: Malassi Lakes Trip Report". Retrieved 23 February 2017. 
  13. ^ "Amazing Malasi Lakes". Retrieved 23 February 2017. 
  14. ^ "Historical Landmarks, Places of Interest, and Things To Do in the Philippines". Retrieved 23 February 2017. 
  15. ^ "Tulap Falls - On Going Road Construction". Retrieved 23 February 2017. 
  16. ^ "St. Paul Parish Church of Cabagan". Retrieved 23 February 2017. 
  17. ^ "Cansan Cabagan, Round Rock Resort". Retrieved 23 February 2017. 
  18. ^ "Xentro Mall Cabagan". Retrieved 23 February 2017. 
  19. ^ "Cabagan town celebrate 'Pansit Festival'". Retrieved 23 February 2017. 
  20. ^ Bicarme, Thelma. "'KKK' festival highlights Cabagan, Isabela Patronal fiesta". Retrieved February 23, 2014. 
  21. ^ Mercado, Angely (January 22, 2014). "Cabagan town to stage 'Zambali'". Philippine Information Agency (PIA). Retrieved 23 January 2014. 

External links[edit]