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This article is about the Philippine province. For other uses, see Cagayan (disambiguation).
Flag of Cagayan
Official seal of Cagayan
Land of Smiling Beauty
Location in the Philippines
Location in the Philippines
Coordinates: 18°00′N 121°48′E / 18.000°N 121.800°E / 18.000; 121.800Coordinates: 18°00′N 121°48′E / 18.000°N 121.800°E / 18.000; 121.800
Country Philippines
Region Cagayan Valley (Region II)
Founded 1581
Capital Tuguegarao
 • Governor Alvaro Antonio (UNA)
 • Vice Governor Leonides Fausto(NP)
 • Total 9,295.75 km2 (3,589.11 sq mi)
Area rank 5th out of 81
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 1,124,773
 • Rank 27th out of 81
 • Density 120/km2 (310/sq mi)
 • Density rank 65th out of 81
 • Independent cities 0
 • Component cities 1
 • Municipalities 28
 • Barangays 820
 • Districts 1st to 3rd districts of Cagayan
Time zone PHT (UTC+8)
ZIP code 3500 to 3528
Dialing code 78
ISO 3166 code PH-CAG
Spoken languages Ilocano, Ibanag, Itawis, Tagalog, English, others

Cagayan (/kɑːɡəˈjɑːn/ kah-gə-YAHN) is a province of the Philippines in the Cagayan Valley region in the northeast of Luzon Island, and includes the Babuyan Islands to the north. The province borders Ilocos Norte and Apayao to the west, and Kalinga and Isabela to the south. Its capital is Tuguegarao.

Cagayan was one of the early provincias that existed during the Spanish Colonial Period. Called La Provincia de Cagayan, its borders essentially covered the entire Cagayan Valley, which included the present provinces of Isabela, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Batanes and portions of Kalinga and Apayao. The former capital was Nueva Segovia, which also served as the seat of the Diocese of Nueva Segovia.[3] Today, only 9,002.70 square kilometers remain of the former vastness of the province. The entire region, however, is still referred to as Cagayan Valley.


Present-day chroniclers hold that the name was originally derived from the tagay, a plant that grows abundantly in the northern part of the province. The term "Catagayan”, "the place where the tagay grows" was shortened to "Cagayan".[3] Perhaps more conventionally, etymological scholars hold that "cagayan comes from an ancient word that means "river". Variations of this word—karayan, kayayan, and kalayan—all mean river.[3][4]

History of Cagayan[edit]

Pre-Spanish period[edit]

Cagayan has a prehistoric civilization with rich and diverse culture. According to archeologists, the earliest man in the Philippines probably lived in Cagayan thousands of years ago. Evidences to this effect are now convincing beyond scientific doubt to consider it as an incontestable fact.

From available evidences, the Atta or Negrito - a short dark-skinned nomad - was the first man in Cagayan. They were later moved to the uplands by the Indo-Malays who eventually became the Ybanag, Ytawit, Yogad, Gaddang, Yraya and Malaweg - the natives of Cagayan - who actually came from one ethnicity. These are the people found by the Spaniards in the different villages along the rivers all over Cagayan. The Spaniards rightly judged that these various villagers came from single racial stock and decided to make the Ybanag Tongue the lingua franca, both civilly and ecclesiastically for the entire people of Cagayan which they called collectively as the Cagayanes which later was transliterated to become Cagayanos.

Even before the Spaniards came to Cagayan, the Cagayanos have already made contact with various civilizations like the Chinese, Japanese and even Indians, as evidenced by various artifacts and even the presence of foreign linguistic elements in the languages of the natives.

Various other racial strains, like the Ilocanos, Tagalogs, Visayans, Muslims, Pangasinenses, Kapampangans, and even foreigners like the Chinese, Japanese, Spaniards and others were further infused to the native Cagayanes to become the modern Cagayano that we know today.

Spanish period[edit]

In 1581, Captain Ivan Sabala arrived in Cagayan with a hundred fully equipped soldiers and their families by order of Gonzalo Ronquillo de Peñaloza, the fourth Spanish Governor-General of the Philippines. The expeditionary force was sent to explore the Cagayan Valley, to forcibly convert the natives to Catholicism, and to establish ecclesiastical missions and towns throughout the valley.

On 29 June 1583, Juan de Salcedo traced the northern coastline of Luzon and set foot on the Massi (Pamplona), Tular, and Aparri areas.

La Provincia de Cagayan[edit]

In 1583, through a Spanish Royal Decree, the entire northeastern portion of Luzon (specifically, all territories east of the Cordillera mountains and those north of the Caraballo mountains) including the islands in the Balintang Channel were organized into one large political unit called the La Provincia de Cagayan. The provincia's territorial delineation encompassed the present provinces of Batanes, Isabela, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, including portions of Kalinga and Apayao. Its capital was Nueva Segovia (the present municipality of Lal-lo).[3]

The Nueva Segovia Church, the former seat of the Diocese of Nueva Segovia during the Spanish period.

The Spanish friars soon established mission posts in Camalaniugan and Lal-lo (Nueva Segovia), which became the seat of the Diocese established by Pope Clement VIII on August 14, 1595. The see was moved in 1758 to Vigan because of its relative distance. The Spanish influence can still be seen in the massive churches and other buildings that the Spaniards built for the spiritual and social welfare of the people.

In 1839, Nueva Vizcaya was established as a politico-military province and was separated from Cagayan. Later, Isabela was founded as a separate province on May 1, 1856, its areas carved from southern Cagayan and eastern Nueva Vizcaya territories.[3]

During the late 18th century, the New Spain government encouraged the expansion of trade and development of commodity crops. Among these was tobacco, and lands in Cagayan became the center of a vertical integrated monopoly: tobacco was grown there and shipped to Manila, where it was processed and made into cigarettes and cigars. The development of the related bureaucracy and accounting systems was done under the leadership of José de Gálvez, who as visitor-general to Mexico from 1765 to 1772 developed the monopoly there and increased revenues to the Crown. He worked in the Philippines as Minister of the Indies from 1776 to 1787, constructing a similar monopoly there under Governor-General Basco y Vargas (1778-1787).[5] The Spanish development of this industry affected all their economic gains in the Philippines.[5]

The establishment of the civil government of Cagayan through the 1583 Spanish Royal Decree is commemorated in the annual Aggao Nac Cagayan celebrations of the Provincial Government of Cagayan and its people.

An old map of Cagayan during the 1918 Census.

American period[edit]

When the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1898, ending the Spanish–American War, the United States took over the Philippines. It influenced the culture, most notably in agriculture and education, as well as in public works and communications. A naval base at increased interaction between local Filipinos and American sailors and administrators. At the close of the 18th century, there were 29 municipalities in the province of Cagayan. After the Philippines came under American sovereignty in 1902, more municipalities were founded. Since then, due to centralization and shifting of populations, the number of municipalities is back to 29.

World War II[edit]

During the Second World War, with air raids by Japanese fighters and bombers, the province of Cagayan suffered much destruction by bombing and later invasion. Japanese Imperial forces entered Cagayan in 1942. During the Second World War, whilst under the Japanese Occupation, several pre-war infantry divisions and regular units of the Philippine Commonwealth Army were re-established during the period 1942 to 1946. They established general headquarters, camps and garrisoned troops in the province of Cagayan, and began operations against the Japanese Occupation forces in Cagayan Valley. This included sending troops to the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela, and helping the local soldiers of the 11th and 14th Infantry Regiment of the USAFIP-NL, the local guerrilla fighters and the U.S. liberation forces. They fought against the Japanese Imperial forces from 1942 to 1945.

The Battle of Cape Engaño on October 26, 1944, was held off Cape Engaño. At that time American carrier forces attacked the Japanese Northern Force. This became the concluding action of the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The Japanese lost 4 carriers, 3 light cruisers and 9 destroyers.

In 1945, the combined United States and Philippine Commonwealth ground troops, together with the recognized guerrillas, took Cagayan. Part of the action were the Filipino soldiers of the 1st, 2nd, 11th, 12th, 13th, 15th and 16th Infantry Division of the Philippine Commonwealth Army, 1st Infantry Regiment of the Philippine Constabulary and the 11th and 14th Infantry Regiment of the United States Armed Forces in the Philippines – Northern Luzon or USAFIP-NL from the Battle of Cagayan Valley during the Second World War.

Post-war era[edit]

The Hotel Delfino siege was a bloody coup attempt that took place on March 4, 1990, when suspended Cagayan governor Rodolfo Aguinaldo and his armed men of 200 seized Hotel Delfino in Tuguegarao. They held as hostage Brigadier General Oscar Florendo, his driver and four members of the civilian staff, and several other people for several hours. The government launched a gunfight to kill Aguinaldo and his men. Killed in the action was one of Aguinaldo's men, Brig. Gen. Florendo and 12 others, with 10 persons wounded. Aguinaldo was slightly wounded but eventually escaped and hid in the mountains.


Topographical map of Cagayan

The province is bounded by the Pacific Ocean on the east; on the south by Isabela province; on the west by the Cordillera Mountains; and on the north by the Balintang Channel and the Babuyan Group of Islands. About two kilometers from the northeastern tip of the province is the island of Palaui; a few kilometers to the west is Fuga Island. The Babuyan Group of Islands, which includes Calayan, Dalupiri, Camiguin, and Babuyan Claro, is about 60 nautical miles (110 km) north of Luzon mainland.

The eastern coast forms the northern portion of the Sierra Madre mountain range, while the western limits are generally hilly to low in elevation. The central area, dominated by a large valley, forms the lower basin of the country's longest river, the Cagayan.[3] The mouth is located at the northern town of Aparri.

The province comprises an aggregate land area of 9,002.70 square kilometers, which constitutes three percent of the total land area of the country, making it the second largest province in the region.


Cagayan has 28 municipalities and one city divided into three congressional districts. It has 820 barangays. Tuguegarao City (as of December 18, 1999) is the provincial capital, regional seat, and center of business, trade, and education. It has a land area of 144.80 square kilometers and a population of 120,645 as of 2000.

Ph fil cagayan.png


The 28 municipalities and 1 city of the province comprise a total of 820 barangays, with Ugac Sur in Tuguegarao City as the most populous in 2010, and Centro 15 (Poblacion) in Aparri as the least. If cities are excluded, Maura in Aparri has the highest population.[6][7]

Further information: List of barangays in Cagayan


Population census of Cagayan
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1990 829,867 —    
1995 895,050 +1.43%
2000 993,580 +2.26%
2007 1,072,571 +1.06%
2010 1,124,773 +1.74%
Source: National Statistics Office[2]

The majority of people living in Cagayan are of Ilocano descent, mostly from migrants coming from the Ilocos Region. Originally, the more numerous group were the Ibanags, who were first sighted by the Spanish explorers and converted to Christianity by missionaries, the reason the Ibanag language had spread throughout the area prior to the arrival of Ilocanos. Cagayan is predominantly Roman Catholic with 85% of the population affiliated and the Aglipayan Church has a very strong minority in the province.

Languages Spoken (2000)[8]
Language Speakers

Aside from Ilocanos and Ibanags, Malauegs, Itawits, Gaddangs, groups of nomadic Aetas, as well as families of Ibatans who have assimilated into the Ibanag-Ilocano culture make Cagayan their home. More recently, a new group from the south, the Muslim Filipinos, have migrated to this province and have made a community for themselves. In addition to this, Tagalog-speaking people from the Southern Luzon have also settled in the area. Because of this influence from other majority groups like the Ilocano from the west and the Tagalog from the south, the smaller ethnic groups living in the valley could potentially go extinct.


Fishing boat in Claveria

Agricultural products are rice, corn, peanut, beans, and fruits. Livestock products include cattle, hogs, carabaos, and poultry. Fishing various species of fish from the coastal towns is also undertaken. Woodcraft furniture made of hardwood, rattan, bamboo, and other indigenous materials are also available in the province.[3] The Northern Cagayan International Airport is a planned airport in Lal-lo. The airport will be built to support the Cagayan Special Economic Zone in northern Cagayan, which also serves seaborne traffic through Port Irene. The airport project will involve the construction of a 2,200-meter runway, with a width of 45 meters, following the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization. Once completed, the planned international airport can accommodate large aircraft such as the Airbus A319-100 and Boeing regional jets of comparable size.[9] Robinsons Place Tuguegarao[10] and SM City Tuguegarao[11] will soon be built once the city government has approved the company's proposal. Also, SM City Aparri will soon be built once the towns of Aparri, Santa Ana and Lal-lo attained its cityhood.


Since Cagayan faces the Pacific Ocean an extensive shoreline sprawls along the coastal towns of Sanchez Mira, Sta. Praxedes, Claveria, Buguey, Buguey, Aparri, Ballesteros, Abulug, and the islands of Palaui, Fuga, and island municipality of Calayan. Sanchez Mira, Claveria, and Sta. Praxedes have facilities for excursion stays while Fuga Island is being developed as a world-class recreation and tourism center. Whale watching at the Calayan Islands are the most sought-after and scuba diving, snorkeling and fishing are the most famous in Palaui Island in Sta. Ana. The airstrip at Claveria could be used as a jump-off point to Fuga Island.

There are a lot of recreation and things to do in Cagayan for tourists and locals alike with its famous Sambali Festival celebrated throughout and in commemoration of its founding. Activities in the province are unlimited with its green surroundings, floras and faunas, caves and historical churches. There are many nice places to stay such as the Governors Garden Hotel, Hotel Candice, Hotel Roma and Hotel Kimikarlai all in Tuguegarao City.

Claveria is blessed with a wealth of scenic attractions which include the following: the Lakay-Lakay Lagoon, the rocky formation along the Camalaggaon Caves, the Roadside Park overlooking the Claveria Bay, Macatel Falls with its crystal waters that run in abundance throughout the year, the Pata Lighthouse that offers a breathtaking experience, and the Claveria Beach Resort along the serene white sand coasts.[12]

Notable people from Cagayan[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "List of Provinces". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Population and Annual Growth Rates for The Philippines and Its Regions, Provinces, and Highly Urbanized Cities" (PDF). 2010 Census and Housing Population. National Statistics Office. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Lancion, Jr., Conrado M.; de Guzman, Rey (cartography) (1995). "The Provinces". Fast Facts about Philippine Provinces (The 2000 Millenium ed.). Makati, Metro Manila: Tahanan Books. pp. 48, 49, 84, 118. ISBN 971-630-037-9. Retrieved 16 January 2015. 
  4. ^ Etymolgy discussion Dr. Lawrence A. Reid, Researcher Emeritus of the Department of Linguistics, University of Hawai'i.
  5. ^ a b Jane Baxter, Chris Poullaos, Practices, Profession and Pedagogy in Accounting: Essays in Honour of Bill Birkett, Sydney University Press, 2009, pp.152-161
  6. ^ "2010 Census of Population and Housing: Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay:as of May 1, 2010" (PDF). National Statistics Office. Retrieved 25 January 2015. 
  7. ^ "Province: Cagayan". Philippine Statistics Authority - National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 25 January 2015. 
  8. ^ Table 4. Household Population by Ethnicity and Sex: Cagayan, 2000
  9. ^ Business Mirror: 1B Airport in Cagayan Retrieved November 23, 2011.
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Paraiso Philippines: Cagayan, retrieved November 23, 2011.

External links[edit]