October 03, 2023

History of Madrid


Historical Background

Municipality of Madrid SealChristianity first came into this part of Mindanao when in 1598, a Portuguese ship under Captain Francisco de Castro accidentally drifted into the east coast of Mindanao, part of the third district known as the District of Caraga which covered the present provinces of Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Agusan Provinces and a part of Davao. Onboard the ship were two Jesuits missionaries, Fr. Valerio Ledesma, S.J., and Manuel Marino, a lay brother, who preached the gospel and baptized the inhabitants. But, it was only in 1596 that the first batch of Jesuit missionaries stationed themselves permanently in Butuan, at the town of Buenavista, and from there, they established mission posts in nearby areas. They were followed by the Recollects and then by the Benedictines.

The first center of Christianity in this part of Mindanao was Tandag, which was established in 1622; Siargao in 1623; Bislig in 1624; Surigao in 1754 and in Cantilan in 1851.

When Cantilan was established as the first center of missionary activity in 1851, Madrid was only a remote small sitio of Cantilan with few scattered houses. The small group of inhabitants in the area kept on clearing the land and planted it with various crops predominantly rice. As a result of their hard and painstaking labor, the land became conducive to live in. The fertility of the soil and the proximity of the river began to attract people from the nearby places. Years after, they organized themselves and declared independence from the municipality of Cantilan.

Municipal Hall, Madrid, Surigao del SurThe pioneers of the place were: Rufino Urbiztondo, Cosme Frias, Andres Roy, Jorge Arpilleda, Antonio Malayao, Antonio Taguines, Geronimo Rubi, Isidro Uriarte, Enrique Guillen, Pedro Uriarte, Tomas Frias, Andres Arnan, Mariano Cuartero and others.

The settlement continued to attract people. This constant coming of immigrants and intermarriages among inhabitants increased considerably the population until finally, the local leaders found it for to convert the sitio into a barrio. Under the leadership of Rufino Urbiztondo, Linibunan, as the place was known, became a barrio of Cantilan with him as its first Teniente del Barrio. Linibunan means "water-covered lowland". Digging around the place will attest to the fact that the topsoil in the area was deposited by floodwaters during the rainy season.

The early inhabitants of the place were religious people. Most of them were Christian and the missionaries based in Cantilan who visited the barrio once in a while to attend to their religious needs. In 1901, the people thought of Christianizing the name of their barrio. Fr. Paulino Garcia who was then the parish priest of Cantilan and a Spaniard by nationality, suggested that the barrio be named Madrid reminiscing of the Spanish capital. The people readily accepted the suggestion and since then, Linibunan was changed to Madrid.

For a decade, progress seemed slow. But then immigrants from other neighboring islands came, especially from Bohol, seeking good fortune in the reputed Land of Promise. A handful of Chinese came and engaged in business and trade with the natives. Due to its favorable geographical location, Madrid became the center of trade and commerce in the area. With the rapid growth of commerce and trade, population also increased. Business enterprises boomed and people started making permanent residences in the town. Then the local leaders became aware that Madrid can now qualify into a municipality. Headed by then Teniente del Barrio Sotero Irrizari, the Barrio Council and other Civic Leaders passed a resolution asking the President of the Philippines to elevate Madrid into a municipality. With the help of the Provincial Board, the cherished dream of the people of Madrid become a reality when President Elpedio Quirino issued Executive Order No. 561 making Madrid as one of the municipalities of Surigao del Sur on February 2, 1953. The municipality was inaugurated on July 4, 1953 amidst great splendor.

It maybe well to mention that when Madrid became a municipality on February 2, 1953 by virtue of Executive Order 561, there was some kind of controversy as to who will be the first mayor. However, a long and protracted legal battle, the courts settled the controversy and proclaimed Guillermo Arpilleda as the first mayor of Madrid.

Madrid today has a total of fourteen (14) barangays and a population of around 14,500 people. Classified as a 5th class municipality, it is the commercial hub of the CarCanMadCarLan

Many fascinating events happened before "she" was able to attain "her" present image as it is known today. Madrid and its people are moving on towards greater heights of progress.


Source: Madrid, Surigao del Sur

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