Ethnic, Cultural, Political History
The Subanen, a peaceful tribe, living along the riverbanks amidst the hinterlands, may be considered as one of inhabitants of Pagadian City. Eventually, the Muslims who first inhabited the coastal areas of what are now the barangays of Muricay, Tawagan Sur, White Beach, Tiguma District, Santiago District, Sta. Lucia District and the present location of the City proper then named “TALPOKAN” meaning “a place of numerous springs”.
The livelihood of the early inhabitants was cultivating a large area of rice production. After planting season they engage in fishing. The first inhabitants were under the leadership of Datu Akob an Iranon Datu whose daughter caught the fancy of Datu Macaumbang also an Iranon (Sultan of Taga Nonok) from Malabang down to Tukuran up to Pagadian City. With the approval of Sultan Datu Akob, Datu Macaumbang married Bai Putri Panyawan Akob the former’ beautiful daughter of the Royal Datu of Pagadian City and Royal Bai Putri of Raya, at the same time Datu Mama Lapat Jamerol an Maranao-Iranon Datu who was the first cousin of Datu Macaumbang also married Bai Putri Concona Akob the second daughter of Royal Datu of Pagadian City and Royal Bai Putri of Raya. Upon the death of Datu Akob, his son-in-law, Datu Macaumbang (Sultan of taga Nonok) , assumed leadership then he established the territorial boundaries of the present city proper, from Balangasan River in the West of Tawagan Sur River in the East. Beyond the river of Tawagan Sur was the territory of Datu Balimbingan. At one time, Datu Macaumbang requested the assistance of the Philippine Constabulary due to the dreaded banditry and piracy. A detachment led by Col. Tiburcio Ballesteros stationed at Malangas landed at the place and stationed themselves at Dumagoc Island. The arrival of the soldiers restored peace and order thereby attracting the influx of settlers from far-flung regions of the Visayas and Luzon, and from the neighboring places of Mindanao.
It had been told that early Christian settlers upon arrival here had to negotiate with the territorial Datu. A banca had to ferry them from Dumagoc Island where the soldiers were stationed with their families. A large number of those early Christians died of Malaria the most dreaded disease of that time, so that they started naming the place “PANGADYE-AN” which means “a place to be prayed for”. Another version revealed that a group of people believed to have come from Luzon arrived at an unknown place of the Zamboanga. This group of people happened to reach the royal place of Datu Macaumbang where natives met them. The natives as to the name of the place did not understand the stranger using his own dialect. Incidentally, when he raised the question, he was looking up a flock of birds called by the natives “GAGADIAN”. A native thinking that the stranger was asking about the birds answered “GAGADIAN”.
Pagadian is well remembered as a sitio of Margosatubig. However, upon the creation of the Municipal District of Labangan, Pagadian became one of its barrios. However, back in 1934, Governor-General Leonard Wood commissioned Director Teofisto Guingona, Sr., of the Bureau of Non-Christian tribes to find out the possibility of transferring the seat of government of the Municipal District of Labangan to another place.A Conference was called for that purpose with Director Guingona presiding it. Datu Balimbingan an Iranon Datu, who was Mayor of the Municipal District of Labangan, led the conferees. With them were Datu Masla Daligdigan, Datu Manupac Agcong, Sultan Datu Akob (Iranon Sultan), Norberto Bana, Sr., Jose Zulueta, and a certain Mr. Perez. During the conference, the proposed transfer of Labangan Government to Pagadian was met with tremendous objection from the Christian group. However, in spite of the objections, a committee designated to look for a place to transfer the seat of power was created. The said committee that was chaired by Datu Balimbingan decided to see first Datu Macaumbang (Sultan of Taga Nonok), the recognized leader of the Iranon's. Datu Macaumbang’s royal place was then located at “PAGADIAN” (now the island of White Beach). After a short conference, the two Datu’s with the committee surveyed the western part of “PAGADIAN” and found “TALPOKAN” (the place where Zamboanga Hotel is now located) as the final place for the transfer of Labangan Government. At the same time, Datu Macaumbang donated estimated two hundred sixty (260) hectares of land to the Christian that were willing to transfer to Pagadian.
The committee headed by Datu Balimbingan submitted the recommendation to the Director of Non-Christian Tribes. After the perusal of the recommendation, the Municipal District of Labangan was dissolved. The dissolution of Labangan Government in 1937 gave birth to the creation of the Municipality of Pagadian.Pagadian, a former barrio of Labangan in the Province of Zamboanga, was organized into a regular municipality on March 23, 1937 by virtue of Executive Order no. 77 of the late President Manuel L. Quezon through the initiative of Assemblyman Juan S. Alano. Honorable Jose Sanson was the first appointed mayor of Pagadian. After his brief stint as town “Presidente”, a regular election was held. Honorable Francisco Consolacion won and became the first Municipal Mayor.By virtue of Republic Act No. 711, which was authored then by Congressman Roseller T. Lim and approved on June 6, 1952, the old province of Zamboanga was divided into two provinces, namely, Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga del Norte. The Province of Zamboanga del Sur was formally inaugurated on September 17, 1952 and Pagadian become its capital town.Pagadian was converted into chartered City by virtue of Republic Act No. 5478, otherwise known as the Charter of the City of Pagadian, June 21, 1969. Honorable Benjamin F. Arao was the first City Mayor of the City of Pagadian by operation of the City Charter.