Samar (province)

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Province of Samar
Flag of Samar
Official seal of Samar
The Caving Capital of the Philippines[1]
Location in the Philippines
Location in the Philippines
Coordinates: 11°50′N 125°00′E / 11.83°N 125°E / 11.83; 125Coordinates: 11°50′N 125°00′E / 11.83°N 125°E / 11.83; 125
RegionEastern Visayas (Region VIII)
FoundedNovember 19, 1965
 • TypeSangguniang Panlalawigan
 • GovernorReynolds Michael T. Tan (PDP-Laban)
 • Vice GovernorAngelica Gomez (Liberal)
 • 1st District RepresentativeEdgar Mary S. Sarmiento (Liberal)
 • 2nd District RepresentativeSharee Ann T. Tan (PDP-Laban)
 • Total6,048.03 km2 (2,335.16 sq mi)
Area rank10th out of 81
Highest elevation850 m (2,790 ft)
 (2015 census)[3]
 • Total780,481
 • Rank37th out of 81
 • Density130/km2 (330/sq mi)
 • Density rank64th out of 81
 • Independent cities0
 • Component cities
 • Municipalities
 • Barangays951
 • Districts1st and 2nd districts of Samar
Time zoneUTC+8 (PHT)
ZIP Code
IDD:area code+63 (0)55
ISO 3166 codePH
Spoken languages
Highway routesAH26 (N1) sign.svg N670 (Philippines).svg N672 (Philippines).svg N673 (Philippines).svg N674 (Philippines).svg N675 (Philippines).svg N677 (Philippines).svg Edit this at Wikidata

Samar, formerly named as Western Samar, is a province in the Philippines located on Samar Island in Eastern Visayas. Its capital is Catbalogan City. It is bordered by Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Leyte and the Leyte Gulf, and includes several islands in the Samar Sea. Samar is connected to the island of Leyte via the San Juanico Bridge (Marcos Bridge).

In 1768, Leyte and modern Samar was created out of the historical province of Samar. In 1965, Northern and Eastern Samar were created.

Fishing and agriculture are the major economic activities in the province.[4]

On 8 November 2013, the province was significantly damaged by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), particularly the towns of Basey, Marabut and Santa Rita.


Samar is said[by whom?] to be derived from Samad, the Visayan word for "wound" or "cut", describing the rough physical features of the land which is rugged and deeply dissected by streams.


  • 2 million-8,000 B.C — Based on geologic findings, during the ice ages or Pleistocene period (2 million years – 8,000 B.C), the islands of Mindoro, Luzon, and Mindanao were connected as one big island through the islands of Samar, Leyte and Bohol.
  • 8550 B.C. — Diggings in Sohoton Caves in Basey, Samar showed stone flake tools dated 8550 B.C.
  • 1300 — Other diggings along the Basey River revealed other stone flakes used until the 13th century.
  • 1543 — The explorer Ruy López de Villalobos, first came to the island and named it Las Islas Filipinas.
  • 1596 — Many names (such as Samal, Ibabao, Tandaya) were given to Samar Island prior to the coming of the Spaniards in 1596. The name "Samar" was derived from the local language samad, meaning "wound" or "cut", aptly describing the rough physical features of the island, rugged and deeply dissected by streams. Recent scholars connect the name Samar to the ancient city of Samaria, the capital of the northern Kingdom of Israel. The early Datu of Samar, Iberein of Lawang Town, in the Northern part of the island may have a Samarian blood. During the early days of Spanish occupation, Samar was under the jurisdiction of Cebu.
  • Arrival of the First Missionaries Jesuits — On October 15, 1596, the first Jesuit Mission arrived in Tinago (now Dapdap) in Tarangnan. From Tinago, the missionaries Fr. Francisco de Otazo, Bartolome Martes, and Domingo Alonzo began teaching Catechism healing the sick and spread the Christianity faith into the interior settlements.
  • 1649 to 1650 — On June 1, 1649, the people of Palapag led by Agustin Sumuroy revolted against the decree of Governor General Diego Fajardo requiring able bodied men from the Visayas for service at the Cavite Shipyards. Like fire, the revolt quickly spread the neighboring town in the Northern and Western coast of Samar and to the nearby provinces of Bicol, Surigao, Cebu, Camiguin and as far as Zamboanga. It was suppressed in 1650 by the combined forces of the Spaniards, Lutaos, and Pampangos.
  • 1735 — Samar and Leyte were united into one province with Carigara, in Leyte, as the capital town.
  • 1747 — Samar and Leyte were separated for administrative effectiveness.
  • 1762 — Complaints from the Jesuits that the division was not working well, thus it was reunited again by the approval from the King of Spain.
  • 1768 — Jesuits were expelled in all Spanish dominions. The Franciscans arrived on September 25, 1768 and succeeded the administration of 14 parishes which was under by the spiritual care of the Jesuits for almost 172 years. The remaining three parishes of Guiuan, Balangiga and Basey in the south of Samar went under the administration of the Augustinians.
  • 1777 — The two provinces were divided for the last time, it was approved in Madrid in 1786 and had been effective in 1799.
  • 1803 — Guiuan, Balangiga and Basey were turned over to the Franciscans for the lack of Augustinian priests.
  • Royal Decree declares Samar as a Province — On August 11, 1841, Queen Isabella II of Spain signed a Royal Decree declaring Samar as a province.
  • 1900 — The Battle of Catubig (April 15–18, 1900) occurred during the Philippine–American War. On April 15, 1900, the Filipino guerrillas launched a surprise attack on a detachment of US 43rd Infantry Regiment, forcing the Americans to abandon Catubig town after the four-day siege.
  • 1901 — The Balangiga massacre occurred during the Philippine–American War. September 28, 1901, the people of Balangiga, Giporlos, Lawaan and Quinapondan in Eastern Samar surprised and attacked the American forces station there, killing 48 American soldiers. To avenge their defeat, American general Jacob H. Smith ordered his men to turn Samar into a "howling wilderness".
  • 1910 — On April 10, 1910, upon the papal bull of Pope Pius X separated the islands of Samar and Leyte from the Diocese of Cebu and erected the Diocese of Calbayog comprising both islands. Pablo Singzon de Anuncacion was named first Bishop and consecrated on June 12, 1910.
  • 1941 — The invasion by the Japanese via fighter and bomber planes.
  • 1941 to 1942 — Filipino troops of the 91st Infantry Division, Philippine Commonwealth Army, and USAFFE (under the Visayan-Mindanao Force) were established, but all fell to the invading Japanese forces. The general headquarters in Samar also fell to the Japanese. This resulted in the defeat of the Filipino troops of the USAFFE 91st Division.
  • 1942 — The occupying Imperial Japanese forces arrived in the province of Samar.
  • 1942 – The established of the 3rd Samar Company of the Philippine Constabulary were based at the general headquarters and camp base in Balangiga.
  • 1942 to 1944 — During the occupation, thousands of local Samareños — men and women — joined guerrilla groups in the province and helped local Filipino troops of the Philippine Commonwealth Army units fight the Japanese Imperial forces which led to the latter's defeat and started the pre-Allied liberation.
    • The 4th, 9th, 93rd, 95th and 96th Infantry Divisions of the Philippine Commonwealth Army were established from January 3, 1942 to June 30, 1946 at the military general headquarters and military camps. The military unit organizations started the anti-Japanese military operations in the province from 1942 to 1945.
    • The 96th Infantry Division of the Philippine Commonwealth Army was founded and established from January 3, 1942 to June 30, 1946 at the military general headquarters in the province of Samar.
    • The Philippine Guerrilla Forces or PGF were established from 1942 to 1998 as a guerrilla resistance organization with headquarters in San Andres, Villareal, Samar.
  • September 18, 1944 — Filipino troops of the constable 9th Samar Company of the Philippine Constabulary were ambushed at Barrio Cansumangay in Balangiga, Eastern Samar was fought against the Imperial Japanese force. The casualties almost 31 Japanese and 2 Filipinos killed in action.
  • 1944 — The Battle off Samar took place on October 24 as Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita's Center Force warships clashed with several allied naval vessels in a collision course. His forces sank escort carrier USS Gambier Bay (CVE-73), destroyers USS Hoel (DD-533) and USS Johnston (DD-557), and escort destroyer USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413), but at a cost of his cruisers Chikuma, Chokai, and Suzuya. Despite being a tactical victory for the Imperial Japanese Navy, it did not alter the course of the Philippines campaign.
  • October 28, 1944 – The established of the 9th Constabulary Regiment of the Philippine Constabulary were based at the general headquarters and camp base in Balangiga among the provincial companies in Leyte and Samar, constabulary battalions, infantry battalions and military-police battalions. Replaced by PC 9th Samar Company was fought by the Japanese.
  • 1944 to 1945 — Combined U.S. and Philippine Commonwealth military forces, including recognized guerrillas, liberated the province of Samar and defeated Imperial Japanese forces. The local Filipino soldiers under the 4th, 9th, 93rd, 95th and 96th Infantry Divisions of the Philippine Commonwealth Army and 9th Constabulary Regiment of the Philippine Constabulary, started the battles in Samar and fought against Japanese troops.
  • 1945 — Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers under the 1st Filipino Infantry Regiment of the United States Army began the Battle of Samar and aided the local Filipino soldiers of the Philippine Commonwealth Army 4th, 9th, 93rd, 95th and 96th Infantry Divisions and the Philippine Constabulary 9th Constabulary Regiment, the local Samareño guerrilla resistance and the U.S. liberation forces defeated the Japanese liberating the province of Samar.
  • 1965 — On June 19, the Philippine Congress along with the three Samar Representatives, Eladio T. Balite (1st District), Fernando R. Veloso (2nd District) and Felipe J. Abrigo (3rd District), approved Republic Act No. 4221 dividing the region of Samar into three divisions: Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, and Western Samar. Each region adopted a new capital: Catbalogan (Western Samar), Borongan (Eastern Samar), and Catarman (Northern Samar).[5]
  • 1969 — On June 21, under Republic Act No. 5650, Western Samar was renamed Samar with Catbalogan still as the capital.[6]
  • 2013 — On November 8, Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Typhoon Yolanda hit Samar province.[7] More than 300 people perished on the first day it hit the province.[8]
  • 2018 — On late June, an 'misencounter' happened between Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines under the administration of Rodrigo Duterte. The misencounter killed numerous police officials of Waray ethnic origin.[9][10]


Samar province covers a total area of 6,048.03 square kilometres (2,335.16 sq mi)[11] occupying the central-western sections of the Samar island in the Eastern Visayas region. The province is bordered on the north by Northern Samar, east by Eastern Samar, south by Leyte and the Leyte Gulf, and west by the Samar Sea.


Samar province is hilly, with mountain peaks ranging from 200 to 800 metres (660 to 2,620 ft) high and narrow strips of lowlands, which tend to lie in coastal peripheries or in the alluvial plains and deltas accompanying large rivers. The largest lowlands are located along the northern coast extending up to the valleys of Catubig and Catarman rivers. Smaller lowlands in Samar are to be found in the Calbayog area and on the deltas and small valleys of Gandara and Ulot rivers. Slopes are generally steep and barren of trees due to deforestation. Run-off waters after heavy rains can provoke flooding in low-lying areas and the erosion of the mountains enlarges the coastal plains of the province.

Ph fil samar.png

Climate and rainfall[edit]

Areas near the eastern coast of the province have no dry season (with a pronounced maximum rain period usually occurring from December to January), and are thus open to the northeast monsoon. Municipalities in the southeastern section of the province experience this type of climate.

Areas located in the northwestern portion of the province have a more or less evenly distributed rainfall throughout the year.

Administrative divisions[edit]

The province of Samar comprises two congressional districts, 24 municipalities and two component cities. It has a total of 952 barangays.

  •  †  Provincial capital and component city
  •  ∗  Component city
  •      Municipality


Catbalogan City, the provincial capital
Population census of
YearPop.±% p.a.
1990 533,733—    
1995 589,373+1.88%
2000 641,124+1.82%
2007 695,149+1.12%
2010 733,377+1.97%
2015 780,478+1.19%
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority[3][12][12]

The population of Samar (province) in the 2015 census was 780,481 people,[3] with a density of 130 inhabitants per square kilometre or 340 inhabitants per square mile.


Samar (Western Samar) is predominantly Roman Catholic. The Catholic Hierarchy (2014) states that 95 percent of its population adhere to Roman Catholicism. Some other Christian believers constitute most of the remainder such as Rizalista, Iglesia Filipina Independiente, Born-again Christians, Iglesia Ni Cristo, Baptists, Methodists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, Seventh-day Adventist and Members Church of God International (MCGI). Muslims are also present and a few mosques are located within the province.

Languages and dialects[edit]

Languages Spoken (2000)[13]
Language Speakers
Not Reported

Residents of Samar are mostly Waray, the sixth largest cultural-linguistic group in the country. 90.2 percent of the household population speaks the Waray-Waray language, while 9.8 percent also speak Cebuano; 8.1 percent Boholano; 0.07 percent Tagalog; and 0.5 percent other languages.

There are two types of Waray spoken in the province, Waray Lineyte-Samarnon which is spoken from the southernmost tip of the province up to the municipality of Gandara and Waray Calbayog, an intermediary between the Waray of Northern Samar and the Waray of Samar, spoken in Calbayog City, Santa Margarita, and in some parts of Tagapul-an, Santo Niño, Almagro and Matuguinao.

Cebuano is spoken in some parts of the first district of Samar, mainly in Calbayog City, Almagro, Santo Niño and Tagapul-an. English and Chinese languages are also spoken.

Former governors[edit]

Notable people[edit]

19th & 20th Centuries

  • Captain Luciano Sinko — Aide de Camp of General Lukban the first Representative of Samar to the First Philippine National Assembly. Who was born on January 7, 1873, son of Mr.and Mrs. Juan Sinko. He had two wives namely, his first wife was Petrona Tanseco and his 2nd wife was Victoria Sabater. Elected Municipal Councilor in 1907. Given posthumous Award for outstanding achievement in the field of government service during the First Samar Day Celebration.
  • Senator Esteban Quimbo Singzon — born in Calbiga, Samar. Son of Doroteo B. Singzon and Mamerta A. Quimbo. First senator of the ten senatorial districts of Samar and Leyte, 1915. One of the first Philippine senators.
  • Bishop Pablo Singzon — the first Bishop of Samar and Leyte. He was born on January 25, 1851 in Calbiga, Samar, son of Esteban Singzon and Demetria Baeza. He first studied his primary years in Calbiga, Samar his native town under the direction of the Franciscan Fathers Fr. Antonio Figueroa Fr. Antonio Sanchez and Fr. Andres Congzon, a secular priest. He studied his secondary years in San Carlos Seminary, Cebu and entered in the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas – The Eternal City of Rome for his seminary. He was awarded a Medal from Pope Leo III, Bishop of Rome and become the first bishop of Samar and Leyte in 1910.
  • Pedro Rosell Arteche — the founder and leader of Philippine Guerilla forces of Samar. Born on April 21, 1900 in Barangay Kampondoy, Zumarraga, Samar. He was the son of late Nemesio Arteche and Pia Rosell. He was studied law. An active student leader and athlete, a man of principle, of firm conviction. and as a lawyer, he volunteered his service in deserving cases ... of poor persons oppressed. While serving as Governor, he reminded the National Officials of the appointment of Samareños to top government positions and was successful.
  • Bruna "Bunang" Fabrigar — known as the "Joan of Arc of Samar". One of the historic Pulahan leader in Samar. “Bunang”, as she was popularly called, was described as a kind and religious, a heroine, attractive, a mananambal (faith-healer), and a courageous leader. Bruna Fabrigar has a red “magic saya” that she used as her shield against bullets. She is from Paranas, Samar and she served as the people's “mananambal”. She believes that faith in God could conquer the enemies.
  • Senate President José Avelino[14] — the first President of the Senate of the Third Republic of the Philippines and the second President of the Liberal Party came from Calbayog,Samar. He was Senate President pro tempore to President Manuel Quezon prior to the establishment of the Commonwealth. He was the grandfather of Filipino actor Paulo Avelino.
  • Lieutenant Benedicto Nijaga[15][16]— nicknamed Biktoy, one of the "Thirteen Martyrs of Bagumbayan", executed on January 11, 1897 in Bagumbayan (Luneta Park). During a raid of a printing press in Binondo, the Spaniards found and confiscated subversive documents including a list of members of the Katipunan. Benedicto Nijaga was on the list as a collector of revolutionary funds. Upon the order of Gov. Polavieja to arbitrarily arrest all suspected members of the Katipunan, Nijaga was arrested while he was campaigning for revolutionary funds.
  • Cardinal Julio Rosales[17] — (September 18, 1906 – June 2, 1983) the second Archbishop of Cebu, was a Filipino cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. A native of Calbayog, he made his studies at the Seminary of Calbayog and was ordained in his hometown on June 2, 1929. From 1929 to 1946, he did pastoral work in the diocese of Calbayog. He was consecrated bishop of Tagbilaran on September 21, 1946.
  • Lucio Godina (March 8, 1908 – November 24, 1936) & Simplicio Godina (March 8, 1908 - December 8, 1936)[18] — were pygopagus conjoined twins from the island of Samar in the Philippines.[19] Born in 1908, these boys from the Philippines later made the trip to the United States, where they became sideshow attractions in such hubs of ‘entertainment’ as Coney Island. In 1928, after various legal difficulties – including narrowly avoiding jail when a man was injured in an alleged drunk driving incident – they married identical (but not conjoined) twin sisters, Natividad and Victorina Matos, in Manila. At the age of 21 they married Natividad and Victorina Matos, who were identical twins. They performed in various sideshow acts, including in an orchestra on Coney Island and in dance with their wives. After Lucio died of rheumatic fever in New York City, doctors operated to separate him from Simplicio. Simplicio survived the operation, but died shortly thereafter due to spinal meningitis.[20]

21st Century

Proposed creation of Samar Administrative Region (SamAR)[edit]

There is a proposed creation of Samar Administrative Region or SamAR, in which Eastern Visayas will be partitioned into two separate regions. Since the creation of Negros Island Region out of the regions of Western Visayas and Central Visayas, non-government organizations, local government units and people from the three Samar Island provinces are now expressing their support and willingness to put the provinces of Samar, Northern Samar and Eastern Samar into one separate administrative region in order to boost its economy, improve and directly provide to its people the government's basic and other public services and lower its poverty rate incidence, since Samar island's three provinces are listed as one of the poorest provinces of the Philippines.[64][65]


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External links[edit]

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