Prof. Rolando O. Borrinaga, Ph.D.
School of Health Sciences
University of the Philippines Manila
This article, extracted from a longer Naval Pueblo Day 2010 paper, provides the meanings of all the 26 barangay names of our hometown, several of which are no longer known or even misunderstood by the younger generations. The names are arranged alphabetically.
Agpangi. Contracted form of Ang pangi. The Bisaya article ang is quite unconsciously pronounced as ag in many conversation situations, thus Ag pangi in this case. Pangi(Pangium edule) [http://www.stuartxchange.org/Pangi.html] is a tree with a stout and tall trunk. It has wide and thick leaves, and its fruit, which is small and a bit long, is poisonous [Sanchez 1914, 413, Bisaya-Español section].
Anislagan. The root word of the name of this barangay is Anislag (Securinega flexuosa), a shrub and small tree used for house posts [Tramp 1995, 15]. Anislagan means “a place where anislag wood is gathered.”
Atipolo. The place has always been called by its natives as Tipolo, which is actually the Bisaya word for Antipolo (Artocarpus communis). The word Artocarpus is derived from the Greek words artos (bread) and karpos (fruit). Antipolo is a large tree, similar in habit, size, and leaf characteristics to Rimas (Artocarpus altilis) [http://www.stuartxchange.com/Antipolo.html].
Borac: Although Burak is the generic Bisaya term for “flower” (buwak in Cebuano; bulaklakin Tagalog), now virtually unused, it specifically refers to the ilang-ilang (Cananga odorata), a tree whose flowers are very fragrant, and whose oil is used in the perfume industry [Tramp 1995, 63].
Cabungaan. Although its root word is the generic Bisaya term for “fruit,” Bunga (Areca catechu) here specifically refers to the betel palm, whose reddish-yellow fruit was traditionally used with lime and the leaves of betel pepper or tobacco as ritual chewing material called buyô or mamâ [Tramp 1995, 61]. Kabungaan means “a place where bungais abundant.”
Calumpang. Named after a tree which was either a landmark or a boundary marker, or both, of this place. Kalumpang (Sterculia foetida) is a medium-sized deciduous tree with spreading branches that grows to 20 meters in height [http://manilaoldtimer.net/Trees of Alabang Hills/kalumpang.html].
Capiñahan. The root word of the name of this barangay is Pinya (Ananas cosmosus), the pineapple, a plant native to America which is cultivated for its fruit and the fiber for fine cloth [Tramp 1995, 360]. Kapinyahan means “a place where pinya is abundant,” implying that this place was once a large pineapple plantation.
Caraycaray. This is the oldest known barangay of Naval, which vicinity had served as the site of the first large-scale Spanish shipyard in the Philippines from the late 1580s to the first decade of 1600. This was also the original site of the poblacion of the pueblo of Biliran when it was created in 1712, before this was moved south of the island around the late 1760s, to an upland area of the present Biliran town [Borrinaga 2009, 5-6]. A modern Bisaya dictionary defines the word as a “stony and shallow part of the river where the water runs clear” [Makabenta 1979]. But the oldest dictionary has a definition that refers to people, not to water. It defined caraycaray as “to walk behind the steps (of somebody), and a place for trade or stopover (Sp., ventas; Bis., harapitan) by one in another” [Sanchez 1711].
Catmon. Named after a tree which was either a landmark or a boundary marker, or both, of this place. Katmon (Dillenia indica Blanco), the elephant apple, is a tree that reaches a height of 6 to 15 meters, smooth or nearly so [Tramp 1995, 100].
Haguikhikan. The root word of the name of this barangay is Hagikhik (Phrynium fasciculatum) [http://www.press.ntu.edu.tw/ejournal/files/Taiwan\501_201003\5.pdf], a plant variety whose leaves are used to wrap sweetened sticky rice [Tramp 1995, 169], the localsuman delicacy. Hagikhikan means “a place where hagikhik leaves are gathered.”
Imelda. The place was formerly called Igot, named after the edible green flavorful fruit of the orchard tree Malaigang (Eugenia calubcob) [Tramp 1995, 255], when this was still asitio of Barangay Lico. It was elevated into a barangay around 1980 and was named after former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos.
Larrazabal. This barangay was formerly an hacienda planted to sugar cane, owned by a branch of the Larrazabal family in Ormoc. It was labeled with the family name of the owners when it was established as a barangay separate from Talustusan. After the banks had foreclosed the property, it was acquired by the Biliran Provincial Government during the administration of Gov. Wayne M. Jaro (1992-1998), for the future expansion of the facilities of the then newly-created province.
Libertad. One of the two barangays on Higatangan Island, the younger one, located along its middle-eastern coast. Its name is the Spanish word which means “liberty, freedom.”Higatangan was formerly an island-barangay before it was split into two barangays with different names. In the Census of 1903, it had a population of 558. According to Artigas [1914, 321], the word means “a refuge of the Moros (refugio de moros).” In other times it was called Atangan, a place to wait for or anticipate something.
Libtong. This word means “the deep part of a stream or river” [Lisboa 1865, 222]. The name Libtong seems to have survived the alteration of its geographic make-up; the barangay is no longer on sunken ground. The canyon and river here must have been filled up with lahar during the eruptions of the volcano in nearby Caibiran in 1800 and 1939, respectively [Borrinaga 2007, 16]. The original settlers here were presumably native laborers and Spanish foremen who worked in the nearby sulfur fields (solfataras), to gather sulfur for the making of gunpowder.
Lico. The official name of this barangay comes from “a certain species of the Ubi tuber” [Sanchez 1711]. It is pronounced as lí.kô, as contrasted to li.kô, which means “to turn.” Thelico tuber must have been used both as food and medicine by the timber-cutters during the galleon-making years in this former Isla de Panámao.
Lucsoon. The official name of this barangay is commonly interpreted as “to jump.” But it seems originated from the word locsong, found in the oldest Bisaya dictionary [Sanchez 1711], but not in later editions. It means “to go down the river (bajar el rio),” and its synonyms include lugsong and tugbong. Lucsoon seems to be a corruption of locsongon, which means “a steep slope going to the river.”
Mabini. One of the two barangays on Higatangan Island, the original one, located along its southeastern coast. It was apparently named in memory of Apolinario Mabini, the Filipino hero known as the “Brains of the Philippine Revolution.”
Padre Inocentes Garcia. This is the official name of the barangay, although it is calledIlaya by the residents. It was named after the founder of the pueblo of Naval, Fr. Juan Inocentes Manco Garcia, the parish priest of Biliran pueblo who served the entire area of the present province from 1839 to 1861 [Jose 2008, 37]. In our language, Ilaya refers to the interior part of a land mass. This poblacion barangay is the educational center of Naval, being the location of the Naval Central School and the former Naval High School, now the Naval State University.
Padre Sergio Eamiguel. Formerly called Lico’ng Gamay when this was still a sitio of Barangay Lico. It was named after Fr. Sergio Eamiguel, who had served as parish priest of Naval from 1906 to 1922 [Holy Rosary Parish, 1966] and was known to have acquired some lands in this barangay, including its official barrio site. It is called by its abbreviated form, P.S. Eamiguel.
Sabang. The official name of this barangay, Sabang, means “the mouth of a river” [Tramp 1995, 379]. This young barangay, a former sitio of Agpangi, is located near the mouth of Agpangi river. The mouth of the Caraycaray river in the south is also called Sabang, but it has no settlement the size of a barangay.
San Pablo. This old name of this barangay was Macababalo (lit., can cause widowhood). This derogatory name seems to be an offshoot of the disastrous Moro raid on Biliran pueblo on 26 May 1754, when its poblacion was still located along the river in Caraycaray area, on the southeast side near the present Caraycaray Bridge. The Moros captured many inhabitants and plundered and destroyed the pueblo, burning the church and the houses and the fields [Borrinaga 2009]. The residents of this settlement on the mountain slope presumably had the sentry duty to look out for Moro raiders at sea from their vantage location. They failed in their watch that day, when the Moros left their boats at the river mouth and walked several kilometers through the swamps to raid the poblacion. The Moro raid on Biliran pueblo was the most sensational in terms of inflicted damage in 1754, the year with the most number of such raids around the country [Dery 1997, 30]. Its present name, San Pablo, was not taken from its patron saint, which is San Roque.
Santisimo Rosario. This is the official name of the barangay, although it is called Baybayby the residents. It was adopted from the Spanish noun modifier of the patron saint of our town, the Birhen del Santisimo Rosario (Virgin of the Most Holy Rosary). Baybay is the Bisaya word for coastal area, which aptly describes the geography of this poblacionbarangay. It is the commercial center of Naval.
Santo Niño. Formerly known as Aslom, after the pomelo (Citrus medica acida), the largest variety of citrus trees [Tramp 1995, 22]. The new wave of Cebuano-speaking residents, presumably not aware that the original aslom (the Leyte-Bisaya term for the Cebuano’sbuungón) was a tree and not a taste, did not like the “sour” connotation of the name of their barangay. They agreed to rename it after their adopted patron saint.
Talustusan. The word for the official name of this barangay was defined in a Spanish dictionary, which translates to English as follows: “Talostosan – rope, a thick and long rattan, etc., that is tied to a heavy object to slacken it or lower it from a high spot and slope; the same place where the object is taken down or lowered” [Sanchez 1914, 337]. It appears that this area was a main source of timber during the galleon-making years (from 1580s until the early 1600s), which were transported through the Anas river to the shipyard in Caraycaray area using of the talustusan technique, which term was adopted as the name of the place.
Villa Caneja. It was named after the Caneja Family, the known owner of most lands around this barangay. Villa is the Spanish word for “village,” not a mansion as commonly understood.
Villa Consuelo. Formerly known as Giron (locally pronounced as gi.run), which no native could adequately explain. But it can now be told that it was apparently called Giron after the hometown in Spain (pronounced as hi.rón; Girona, formally) of the Garamendi Family (the link was traced by a simple Internet search), the earliest known owners of this mountain hacienda. The official label of the barangay, Villa Consuelo, was adopted from the name of the sister-in-law of Mr. Ben Diu, the later owner of the property. The lawyer-husband of Consuelo provided legal advice to Mr. Diu in acquiring the property.
In summary, ten barangays of Naval were named after trees or plants: Agpangi (frompangi), Anislagan (from anislag), Atipolo, Borac, Cabungaan (from bunga) Calumpang, Catmon, Capiñahan (from pinya), Haguikhikan (from hagikhik), and Lico. Seven barangays were named after people: Padre Inocentes Garcia, Mabini, Villa Caneja, Villa Consuelo, Imelda, Larrazabal, and Padre Sergio Eamiguel. Three barangay were named after saints: Santissimo Rosario, San Pablo, Santo Niño. Three barangay were named after their geographical features: Sabang, Libtong, Lucsoon. And three barangays were named after other attributes: Caraycaray, Libertad, and Talustusan.
Artigas y Cuerva, Manuel. Reseña de la Provincia de Leyte. Manila: Imprenta “Cultura Filipina”, 1914.
Borrinaga, Rolando O. “Volcano scare in Biliran,” Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1 December 2007, 16.
__________. “A Position Paper for the Erection of a Historical Marker from the National Historical Institute (NHI) in Naval, Biliran Province.” 2009.
Dery, Luis Camara. The Kris in Philippine History: A Study of the Impact of Moro Anti-Colonial Resistance, 1571-1896. Manila: By the Author, 1997.
Holy Rosary Parish, Naval, Leyte. Dedication of the New Parish Church, October 2, 1966.(Commemorative program).
http://www.stuartxchange.org/. Titled “Philippine Medicinal Plants,” this website contains pages with the scientific names as well as common names of specific plants, together with the botanical descriptions and medicinal uses.
http://manilaoldtimer.net/Trees of Alabang Hills/kalumpang.html.
Lisboa, Marcos de, OFM. Vocabulario de la Lengua Bicol. Manila: 1865.
Makabenta, Eduardo A. Binisaya-English English-Binisaya Dictionary. Quezon City: EMANDSONZ, 1979.
Sanchez de la Rosa, Antonio, OFM, and Antonio Valeriano Alcazar, OFM. Diccionario Español-Bisaya para las Provincias de Samar y Leyte. Manila: Imp. y Lit. de Santos y Bernal, 1914.
Sanchez, Mateo, SJ. Vocabulario de la Lengua Bisaya. Manila: 1711. (Completed in Dagami, Leyte around 1616.)
Tramp, George Dewey Jr. Waray-English Dictionary. Kensington, MD: Dunwoody Press, 1995.