Northern Samar

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Northern Samar
Province of Northern Samar
Flag of Northern Samar
Official seal of Northern Samar
Location in the Philippines
Location in the Philippines
Coordinates: 12°20′N 124°40′E / 12.333°N 124.667°E / 12.333; 124.667Coordinates: 12°20′N 124°40′E / 12.333°N 124.667°E / 12.333; 124.667
Country  Philippines
Region Eastern Visayas (Region VIII)
Founded June 19, 1965
Capital Catarman
 • Type Province of the Philippines
 • Governor Jose L. Ong, Jr. (NUP)
 • Vice Governor Gary M. Lavin (NUP)
 • 1st District Representative Harlin C. Abayon (Nacionalista)
 • 2nd District Representative Emil L. Ong (NUP)
 • Total 3,692.93 km2 (1,425.85 sq mi)
Area rank 37th out of 80
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 589,013
 • Rank 48th out of 80
 • Density 160/km2 (410/sq mi)
 • Density rank 55th out of 80
 • Independent cities 0
 • Component cities 0
 • Municipalities 24
 • Barangays 569
 • Districts 1st and 2nd districts of Northern Samar
Time zone PHT (UTC+8)
ZIP code 6400 - 6423
Dialing code 55
Spoken languages Waray-Waray, Cebuano, Inabaknon, Tagalog, Bicol, and English

Northern Samar (Filipino: Hilagang Samar) is a province in the Philippines located in the Eastern Visayas region. Its capital is Catarman and is located at the northern portion of the island of Samar. Bordering the province to the south are the provinces of Samar and Eastern Samar. To the northwest, across the San Bernardino Strait is Sorsogon; to the east is the Philippine Sea and to the west is Samar Sea.


In 1614, the Jesuits established a mission residence in Palapag among the Ibabao populace. These missionaries stayed until the late 17th century when they were expelled from the Philippines and were replaced by the Franciscans.

As the San Bernardino Strait was along the route of the Spanish galleons plying between Manila and Acapulco, Mexico, a royal port was established in Palapag where the richly laden Manila galleons were protected from unfavorable winds and troubled seas.

In the early year of the 16th century, shipbuilders were drafted from Palapag to the Cavite shipyards for the construction of galleons and vessels for the conservation of defense of the island. It was also at this time that these recruits ignited the Sumoroy insurrection, which signaled a general uprising against Spain in the Visayas and Mindanao. The insurrection simultaneously flared northward to Albay and southward to the northern coasts of Mindanao and then Cebu. It took over a year before the Spaniards were able to subdue the rebellion.

Later in 1898, when the Americans landed on the beach of Catarman, they organized a revolutionary army led by General Vicente Lukban who fought the invaders armed with cannons and rifles with only bolos and "paltiks". Although defeated, they, however, continued to harass the Americans through guerrilla warfare.

During World War II, the people of Northern Samar organized a platoon of volunteers supported by voluntary contributions. The contingent became a part of the Philippine National Guards in Manila. The province also helped the government by purchasing a considerable amount of bonds floated to finance the National Commission for Independence, then organized by Manuel L. Quezon after a coalition of the Nacionalista and Democrata parties were formed.

Congressmen Eladio T. Balite (1st Dist. Samar), Fernando R. Veloso (2nd Dist. Samar), and Felipe J. Abrigo (3rd Dist. Samar), authored Republic Act 4221 which was approved by Congress in 1963. The law, ratified in a plebiscite on June 19, 1965, divided Samar into three, namely, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar and (Western) Samar. The first provincial officials of Northern Samar were elected on November 14, 1967 and on January 1, 1968, they officially assumed office.


Northern Samar is one of the three provinces comprising Samar Island (the other two are Samar and Eastern Samar provinces). It is bounded by the Pacific Ocean on the east, the San Bernardino Strait on the north, Samar Sea on the west, and the Samar and Eastern Samar provinces on the south. It ranks thirty-seventh (37th) in size among the 80 provinces of the Philippines and accounts for practically 1.2 percent of the total land area of the country. It is located at the eastern edge of the Archipelago with an area of 369,293 hectares. About 52 percent of the total land area is covered by forest and 42 percent is classified as alienable and disposable.

Socio-Demographic Situation

Northern Samar is classified as second class province. Based on the 2010 National Census, the province has a total population of 589,013.

Catarman is the capital town of the province where most political and economic activities take place. It is the seat of administration and the center of trade and commerce as well as industry.

The province is considered a very rural area with 65% of its people residing in the countryside.


Northern Samar is bounded on the north by the San Bernardino Strait, on the east by the Pacific Ocean, on the west by the Samar Sea, on the southwest by Samar and on the southeast by Eastern Samar. Its total land area is 3,692.93 km².

The province is composed largely of low and extremely rugged hills and small lowland areas. It also has small and discontinuous areas along the coasts and its rivers are usually accompanied by alluvial plains and valleys. The province is endowed with relatively rich and fertile soil that most crops can grow on it.


Northern Samar has a very rugged terrain with restricted pocket plains and valleys. River valleys are low-lying and are often interrupted by hills, while the remaining portion is rolling, hilly, and mountainous. The interior of the mainland consists of highly dissected hills and mountain peaks. Low-lying hills are found between the coastal plains of Palapag, the river valley of Gamay, and Catubig Valley.


Northern Samar falls under the intermediate type climate, which has no distinct dry and wet seasons. The rainiest months are October to January, while the driest is the month of May.

Administrative divisions[edit]

Northern Samar is divided into three (3) major geographical areas, namely: Balicuatro area, Central area, and Pacific area including Catubig Valley – the province’s rice granary. It comprises 24 towns or municipalities with 569 registered barangays. The province is divided into two legislative districts, the first district, covering the Balicuatro and most part of the Central Area, and the second district, covering the some part of the Central Area, the Pacific Area and the Catubig Valley.

Municipality District[3] Area
(per km²)
No. of

Allen 1st 47.6 23,738 498.7 20 6405 5th 12°30′04″N 124°16′58″E / 12.5011561°N 124.2827212°E / 12.5011561; 124.2827212 (Allen)
Biri 1st 24.62 10,987 446.3 8 6410 5th 12°40′54″N 124°21′43″E / 12.6816354°N 124.3619735°E / 12.6816354; 124.3619735 (Biri)
Bobon 1st 130 20,956 161.2 18 6401 4th 12°31′33″N 124°33′51″E / 12.5257804°N 124.5641977°E / 12.5257804; 124.5641977 (Bobon)
Capul 1st 35.56 12,659 356 12 6408 5th 12°25′23″N 124°10′56″E / 12.4231052°N 124.1821504°E / 12.4231052; 124.1821504 (Capul)
Catarman 1st 464.43 84,833 182.7 55 6400 1st 12°29′59″N 124°38′12″E / 12.4996559°N 124.6365924°E / 12.4996559; 124.6365924 (Catarman)
Catubig 2nd 214.99 31,723 147.6 47 6418 3rd 12°24′35″N 125°03′11″E / 12.4097538°N 125.0530815°E / 12.4097538; 125.0530815 (Catubig)
Gamay 2nd 115.1 22,425 194.8 26 6422 4th 12°23′12″N 125°18′05″E / 12.386766°N 125.3015186°E / 12.386766; 125.3015186 (Gamay)
Laoang 2nd 246.94 58,037 235 56 6411 2nd 12°34′07″N 125°00′55″E / 12.5685932°N 125.0153748°E / 12.5685932; 125.0153748 (Laoang)
Lapinig 2nd 57.3 11,744 205 15 6423 5th 12°19′00″N 125°18′09″E / 12.3168°N 125.3023718°E / 12.3168; 125.3023718 (Lapinig)
Las Navas 2nd 282.61 36,539 129.3 53 6420 4th 12°20′21″N 125°01′53″E / 12.3391634°N 125.0312805°E / 12.3391634; 125.0312805 (Las Navas)
Lavezares 1st 119.5 27,464 229.8 26 6404 4th 12°32′06″N 124°19′49″E / 12.5349586°N 124.3302155°E / 12.5349586; 124.3302155 (Lavezares)
Lope de Vega 1st 280 13,542 48.4 22 6403 4th 12°18′00″N 124°37′31″E / 12.3000873°N 124.6251726°E / 12.3000873; 124.6251726 (Lope de Vega)
Mapanas 2nd 117.85 12,423 105.4 13 6412 5th 12°28′31″N 125°15′20″E / 12.4752025°N 125.2554707°E / 12.4752025; 125.2554707 (Mapanas)
Mondragon 1st 288.9 35,318 122.2 24 6417 3rd 12°30′58″N 124°45′09″E / 12.5161482°N 124.7526387°E / 12.5161482; 124.7526387 (Mondragon)
Palapag 2nd 179.6 33,453 186.3 32 6421 3rd 12°32′46″N 125°06′44″E / 12.5460161°N 125.1122396°E / 12.5460161; 125.1122396 (Palapag)
Pambujan 2nd 163.9 31,057 189.5 26 6413 4th 12°33′54″N 124°55′42″E / 12.5649728°N 124.9282193°E / 12.5649728; 124.9282193 (Pambujan)
Rosario 1st 31.6 10,214 323.2 11 6416 5th 12°31′19″N 124°25′30″E / 12.5219717°N 124.4250584°E / 12.5219717; 124.4250584 (Rosario)
San Antonio 1st 27 8,877 328.8 10 6407 5th 12°24′47″N 124°16′42″E / 12.4130859°N 124.2782879°E / 12.4130859; 124.2782879 (San Antonio)
San Isidro 1st 255.9 24,952 97.5 14 6409 4th 12°23′09″N 124°19′46″E / 12.3857368°N 124.3295288°E / 12.3857368; 124.3295288 (San Isidro)
San Jose 1st 29.85 16,079 538.7 16 6402 5th 12°31′49″N 124°29′16″E / 12.5301889°N 124.4878494°E / 12.5301889; 124.4878494 (San Jose)
San Roque 2nd 152.98 26,323 172.1 16 6415 4th 12°32′14″N 124°52′27″E / 12.537137°N 124.8740387°E / 12.537137; 124.8740387 (San Roque)
San Vicente 1st 15.8 7,447 471.3 7 6419 6th 12°16′18″N 124°05′57″E / 12.2715835°N 124.0991555°E / 12.2715835; 124.0991555 (San Vicente)
Silvino Lobos 2nd 224.2 14,303 63.8 26 6414 4th 12°19′31″N 124°50′45″E / 12.3252442°N 124.8458862°E / 12.3252442; 124.8458862 (Silvino Lobos)
Victoria 1st 186.7 13,920 74.6 16 6406 5th 12°26′50″N 124°18′53″E / 12.4472603°N 124.3148423°E / 12.4472603; 124.3148423 (Victoria)
 †  Provincial capital

Official provincial seal[edit]

The Official Seal of Northern Samar

The Coat of Arms of Samar represents the political, geographical description, historical, economic, and social representation and allegorical ideas of the province. The letters N and S represents Northern Samar. The map of Northern Samar represents the geography and 24 municipalities of the province, including the five island towns. The galleon represents the Spanish conquistadors that reached the land of the Ibabao to preach the gospel of Christianity, spread the Creed of Roman Catholicism and introduce civil governance thru the Royal Port of Palapag in 1640. Mount Bubuya (Palapag Mesa) represents the highest mountain range in Palapag, where Agustin Sumuroy and his men retreated to and encamped after killing Fr. Miguel Balberan, thus starting the Sumuroy Rebellion. The rice field, abaca, timber, and coconut are all economic representations.

The following are the allegorical ideas of the province: Blue, the color is symbolic of vast marine and aquatic resources, a source of livelihood for the fisher folks of the coastal towns. Tangerine represents the cheerfulness, high spirits, and optimism of the people of the province. Yellow represents golden harvest, and abundance of resources. White symbolizes transparency in governance. The torch is meant to illuminate the province and set it afire with quality education, a primary thrust of the provincial government. Rope ties the emblems together in a circular shape, it represents equality in rights and justice, and unity for peace and development.


Population census of
Northern Samar
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1990 383,654 —    
1995 454,195 +3.21%
2000 500,639 +2.11%
2007 549,759 +1.30%
2010 589,013 +2.54%
Source: National Statistics Office[2]
Languages Spoken (2000)[5]
Language Speakers
Not Reported

The people of Northern Samar were previously called Ibabaonon. They are predominantly Waray-Waray or Waray, the people of Eastern Visayas or Samar-Leyte region. To distinguish themselves from the Westehanon (people from Samar) and Estehanon (from Eastern Samar) when Samar Island was split into three provinces in 1965, and the Leyteños (the people from the Leyte Island), they now call themselves as Ninorte Samarenyo or Nortehanon.

Bicolano Inhabitants coming from the neighboring provinces of Sorsogon and Masbate are also common at Northern Samar.


Majority of the people in the province of Northern Samar speak the Ninorte Samarnon, a variation of Waray-Waray. About 4.5 percent of the population, especially in the island towns, speak Cebuano, while a minority speaks Inabaknon, a unique language said to be one of the most preserved languages to date. This is the native tongue of the populace in the island town of Capul.

Ninorte Samarnon usually is further subclassified into Balicuatro, Central and Pacific speakers.

Tagalog, Bicol, and English are also widely used and understood in Northern Samar.


The communities of this province are predominantly Catholic (80%). Other religious groups are Members Church of God International (Ang Dating Daan), Iglesia ni Cristo, Philippine Independent Church (Aglipayan), Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and other Christian sects. A small number of population are Muslim.


Northern Samar has several tourism potentials that remain undiscovered by tourists. Some of these include old churches, waterfalls, rivers, caves, virgin forests, and beaches.

Among the last frontiers in the country, its rugged coastline of limestone cliffs along the Pacific Ocean is a historical landmark. During the Spanish colonial era, Samar island was the first Philippine landfall seen by the Manila galleons as they approached the end of their long voyage from Acapulco.

Entering the waters of the Philippine archipelago, the galleons called at the fortified island of Capul off Samar, offered thanks for a safe crossing at the Jesuit church, and then negotiated the rough waters of narrow San Bernardino Strait toward Manila, their final destination.

Capul also became the last stop on Philippine soil of the departing galleons before the long, often treacherous trans-Pacific sail to Acapulco in Mexico.


  • Governor: Jose L. Ong, Jr. (NUP)
  • Vice Governor: Gary M. Lavin (NUP)

Congressional districts

  • 2nd district: Rep. Emil L. Ong (NUP)

List of former governors[edit]

Governors of Northern Samar:

  • Irene Balite (1967-1971)
  • Edilberto A. del Valle (1971-1980)
  • Reynaldo A. del Valle (1980-1986)
  • Justiniano M. Singzon1 (1986-1988)
  • Harlin C. Abayon (1988-1998)
  • Madeleine M. Ong (1998-2001)
  • Raul A. Daza (2001-2010)
  • Paul R. Daza (2010-2013)

1 Appointed


  1. ^ "List of Provinces". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 12 April 2013. 
  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 12 April 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Province: Northern Samar". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: Philippine Statistics Authority - National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 5 January 2016. 
  4. ^ "Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay: as of May 1, 2010 (Eastern Visayas)" (PDF). 2010 Census of Population and Housing. National Statistics Office. Retrieved 5 January 2016. 
  5. ^ Table 4. Household Population by Ethnicity and Sex: Northern Samar, 2000

External links[edit]