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Dipolog is a 2nd class city and the capital of the province of Zamboanga del Nortemarker on the southern Philippinemarker island of Mindanaomarker. Geographically, the city is surrounded by rolling hills to the southeast and the Sulu Seamarker to the north.

Dipolog is known for its wild orchids and its sardine industry which stems from the rich fishing area off its shores. It is known as the "Gateway to Western Mindanao" through the Western Nautical Highwayand has also been called the "Bottled Sardines Capital of the Philippines."

Dipolog can be reached by plane via Dipolog Airportmarker or by ferry at the nearby Pulauan Portin Dapitan Citymarker. The construction of a Roll-on Roll-off facility at Barangay Galas will allow for the eventual transfer of the service to Dipolog while retaining inter-island operations at Pulauan, which is soon to become a base port.

In 2006, a study by the National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB) found Dipolog City to be the wealthiest city per capita in the Zamboanga Peninsulamarker. Within Dipolog, 23.15% of the population was estimated to be living below the poverty line (households with a per capita expenditure of under $1 a day). In comparison, the NCSB estimated Zamboanga Citymarker and Pagadian Citymarker as having poverty incidences of 23.81% and 27.15%, respectively. In startling contrast, the poverty rate for the entire province of Zamboanga del Nortemarker (with individuals in both rural and urban settings) was estimated to be 40.36%. Zamboanga del Norte is one of the Philippines's poorest provinces with a poverty incidence rate of 64.6% in 2003, an increase from 47% in the 2000 statistical figures.

A popular city attraction is the foreshore boulevard which, though still in its second phase of construction, has become a popular haven for exercise and leisure. It is also the site for various celebrations and festivals in the city. In the third phase of the project, the length of the boulevard will be extended to reach the seaport in Barangay Galas.


The History of Dipolog Airfield

Governor Matias Castillon Ranillo,Sr. noticed that the waters at Punta Coro wharf were choppy for ships to anchor. Governor Ranillo was determined to provide an alternative access to northern Zamboanga peninsula. Governor Ranillo's jurisdiction was then the entire Zamboanga peninsula prior to its division between del Norte and del Sur. During Governor Ranillo's term, aviation was a young technology but he made sure that an airfield was established in Dipolog.

He was elected Governor in 1937 and re-elected in 1940 but his term was cut short when President Quezon urged him to run as the lone Assemblyman of Zamboanga peninsula. President Quezon fondly called him "El Gallo Escondido de Malacanang". In November 1941, he was elected as Assemblyman but one week before his scheduled departure for Manila, World War II broke out.

On October 30, 1944, upon the reguest of the guerillas,he mobilized the able-bodied men of Dipolog and Home guards who cheerfully volunteered to clear the airfield of grass and shrubs.

On March 8, 1945, on Dipolog airfield, the first American invasion of Zamboanga peninsula took place.

The successful landing at Dipolog airfield established a base for the subsequent recapture of Japanese held San Roque airfield near Zamboanga City, followed by Sanga Sanga in Sulu and onwards to Borneo, East Indies.


Dipolog Orchid (Family: Orchidaceae).
The rare orchid was first discovered in Dipolog and thereby received its name.
It is now classified as an endangered species.

Dipolog shared much of its cultural history with the ancient town of Dapitanmarker to which it once belonged. It traces its beginnings long before the Spanish conquistadores set foot on the island of Mindanao. Dipolog was previously known as Tulwanan, in native language, literally meaning a settlement by the river. Its earliest settlers all belonged to the Subanen Tribe called Subanon or river people with established religion founded in animism. These Austronesian peoples descended from the malay ethnic group which roamed Mindanaomarker and Southeast Asia via land bridges as early as 30,000 years ago Later migrations of other tribes were made by water and took place over several thousand years.

By the 12th century the Subanen settlers had colonized most of what is now Zamboanga Peninsulamarker region. It was customary for tribes to establish their settlements at the mouth of large river systems due to the abundant food supply. However, due to frequent raids from seafaring Chinese pirates, they decided to move their settlements inland.

In the 14th century, Tulwanan was established 6 kilometers inland, adjoining the river near the present day baragay center of Lugdungan.

In the 15th century, settlers from neighboring Negrosmarker and Boholmarker islands established coastline settlements in Mindanao but suffered the same raids by Chinese pirates, prompting them to also move their settlements away from the coastline. They established another settlement in what is now called Sianib, a barangay of present day Polanco town, some twenty kilometers from the coast at Barrio Gulayon(Barangay Gulayon).

It was only in 1563 that the first recorded Visayan settlement of some 800 families from Bohol, led by the chieftain Datu Pagbuaya, landed in Mindanaomarker and established a coastal settlement in what is now called Dapitanmarker. This settlement was strong enough to repel the Chinese pirates of the Sulu Sea. As a result, Dapitan Bay was scene of many bloody conflicts between Pagbuaya's men and Chinese pirates.

Mindanao's first Christian settlement

In 1565, Don Miguel Lopez de Legazpi who was accompanied by famed navigator Fr. Andres de Urdaneta, an Augustinian friar, visited the Boholano chieftain Datu Pagbuaya on the invitation of Datu Sikatuna. There they found the place of Datu Pagbuaya to be a thriving settlement. In his chronicle, Fr. Urdaneta named the place Daquepitan. Peter Kaerius (aka Pieter van den Keere) identified the location as Dapito in his cartographic map of 1598. It was later identified as "Dapite" in Robert Dudley's map of 1646. Other names ascribed to the location include "Dapyto" in Sanson’s map of 1652 and "Dapitan" which can be found in Moll’s map of the East Indies, 1729 and in Murillo Velarde’s map of 1734. After Legaspi's visit, the Christianization of Mindanao was officially initiated by the Augustinian friars who arrived with him.

Evangelization of the Jesuits by St. Francis Xavier inset picture

In 1581, members of The Society of Jesus came to the Philippines for the purpose of evangelization. When the country was divided among four religious orders in 1598, the Jesuits were given the Diocese of Cebu which covered the Visayas and Mindanao. Thus Dapitan came to be under the jurisdiction of the courageous men of St. Ignatius and it was Father Pascual de Acuña S.J. who started the Jesuit mission there.

Center of Mindanao Evangelization

In 1607, some 200 natives of Dapitan became formal converts to the Christian faith. Christian missionaries also established the faith in the neighboring settlement of Tulwanan.

In 1609, the squadron of Juan Juarez Gallinato S.J. defeated the Manguindanau Muslims in a ferocious battle near Dapitan [51385].

Also in 1609, a permanent Dapitan mission was founded and thereafter headed by a Jesuit missionary, Father Pedro Gutierrez, marking Dapitan as the Center of Evangelization in Mindanao [51386]. Mission stations were subsequently established later by the Jesuits in Zamboanga, Iliganmarker, Basilan and Butuanmarker. Outside of these areas, however, the whole of Mindanao remained untouched by the Spanish Cross.

By the 18th century, with the Spanish Naval Fleet anchored at Dapitan Bay, much of the piracy—now conducted mainly by moro bandits—was under control within the Sulu Seamarker. Settlement in coastal areas resumed with new settlers from Negros and Bohol eventually settling in Isab, and Nipaan. The largest settlement, however, was made at the mouth of the Dipolog river by the Boholanos who were not associated with Pagbuaya.


Spanish Regime

Earliest recorded political history of Dipolog started in 1834 with the re-organization of Spanish Civil Government. At that time, Tulwanan's political territory was still part of the Municipality of Dapitan with Don Domingo Ruiz, a native, as its Capitan or town executive.Sometime that year, a Spanish Recollect Missionary arrived in Tulwanan looking for its barrio executive or local chieftain. Upon meeting a native, the Missionary asked; "Donde esta el Capitan?". The native understanding only the word "Capitan" pointed to the west and said in Subano Di-pag, " meaning across the river. Guided by his Muchacho a Tagalog boy named Antonio Subido, the Friar proceeded down river and upon reaching the Boholano settlement named the place "Dipag".

Technically, Dipag and Tulwanan are two different settlement at that time with the former composed of Boholano natives and the latter mostly of subanen ancestry. When the friar returned to Dapitan, he identified the location of the larger Boholano settlement as Dipag but was not officially written. Frequent conversations by the Spaniards pronounced it in Spanish accent Dipolog which was eventually adopted by the natives. The final political survey surprisingly added the letter L written on it after officially becoming a Barrio of Dapitan. From that time Tulwanan's political identity ceased to exist.

From Ruiz, civil administration changed hands in stable succession, with Martino Belarmino, who was popular by the name Maglinte. Francisco Magallanes, Victorio Gobune; another man whose name history record had as Toribio had his chance, followed by Venancio Narvaez, Francisco Orbita, Bautista Narvaez, Martencio Yebes and Sabino Bengua.

By 1889, administrative designations reverted to Capitanes, and those appointed were Martin Fernandez, Tomas Narvacan, Eustaquio Cajocon, Simplicio Lacaya, Basilio Tabiliran, Maximiano Ruiz and Bruno Ordinaria in 1898.

By February 1894, the Catholic Chapel constructed by the jesuits was renovated for the first time, on an altar designed by Dr. Jose Rizal to which now stands the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral.

By 1896, the friars established Dipolog as a regular parish and installed Father Esteban Yebes its first administrator in 1897.

American Regime

After the transfer of Spanish sovereignty to the United States in 1897, the U.S. occupation forces renamed the Capitan to Presidente Local, with administrative support from a Vice Presidente Local, a Delegado de Justicia and a Delegado de Policia.Martin Fernandez was appointed Presidente Local in the year 1900, followed by Diosdado Mercado, Gaudencio Zorilla and Isidro Patangan as Presidente Municipal between 1901 and March 1904.

By 1900, Dipolog was a thriving commercial community with new settlers arriving from the island of Cebumarker, outgrowing its principal town of Dapitan which exclusively remained part of Pagbuaya's clan.

By 1910, John Helper, who was previously appointed Secretary of Zamboanga Province visited Dipolog for two days and conversed with its principalia and members of the Centro Catolico de Dipolog. He was asked later of the possibility of converting the community to an independent Municipality.

By 1912, Gov. John J. Pershing of the Department of Mindanao and Sulu decreed the separation of Dipolog from Dapitan.

By July 1, 1913, Gov. John J. Pershing, declared Dipolog as a Municipality. General Pershing also appointed Pascual T. Martinez as its first Municipal Mayor.The first public school teachers of Dipolog, during this time, came also from Bohol, particularly Maribojoc and other towns. Most were only elementary graduates. But they were well educated by the American soldier-teachers in Bohol. One of them was a certain Felisa Ruaya who taught at the American established schools in Dipolog. She lived first near the beach in Punta Coro. Then she got married to an Adriatico, a native of Polanco.Because the inhabitants converted to Christianity, it would not be known whether residents were of Subanen heritage or not.Felisa Ruaya was the mother of former Zamboanga del Norte vice governor Concordio Ruaya Adriatico.

Japanese Regime

In 1942, the Japanese Imperial Occupation forces entered in Dipolog.

In 1945, the liberation by the Philippine Commonwealth Army troops entered in Dipolog together with the local guerrillas.

Philippine Republic

By June 21, 1969, Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos signed into law the Dipolog City Charter, under Republic Act 5520, making Dipolog a chartered city effective January 1, 1970.Mayor Felicisimo Herrera was made the last Municipal Mayor (1963-1970) and the first City Mayor of Dipolog (1970-1978). On March 8, 1982 the Sangguniang Panlungsod adopted the Dipolog City March composed by Mrs. Antonina O. Romano as the City's official song.

Geography and Territory

Dipolog City is situated in the Northwestern part of the Province of Zamboanga del Norte.It is bounded on the North by Dapitan City, on the East by the municipality of Polanco, on the South by the municipality of Katipunan and on the West.

Its Original Territory in 1914 covered an approximate land area of 248,587 hectares under Act No. 302 of the Philippine Islands. It was substantially reduced in 1951 to the current 13,628 hectares, after two barrio's of Dipolog were converted into Municipalities of Polanco, and Pinan under Executive Order of the President No. 467, dated August 22, 1951.

Service Facilities

Communication Systems

  • 8 Radio Stations
    • 2 AM
    • 7 FM

  • 3 Television Stations
    • 2 VHF
    • 1 UHF
  • 2 cable operators
  • 2 Telephone system
  • 3 Wireless Phone providers
  • 5 Internet Service Providers
    • 3 dial-up
    • 1 broadband
    • 1 wireless broadband

Overland Transportation

  • Integrated Bus terminal Complex
    • Provincial Destinations
    • Mode of Transport
      • City-wide
        • Motorized tricycles
        • Utility Transport
        • Jeepneys
        • Passenger Vans
        • Mini-Bus
      • Intra-Province
        • Passenger Vans
        • Commuter Bus
        • Habal Habal

Sea Transportation

  • Pulauan Port
    • Shipping Services
      • 3 Nationals
      • 2 Inter-Islands-Negros Navigation Inc.
      • 4 Island-Ferries-Gp Lines,Cocaliong, Shipping Lines,Ocean jet

Administrative Subdivisions


Dipolog Fish Market
The Provincial Capitol in Dipolog City

Dipolog City is politically subdivided into 21 barangays.

  • Barra (Pob.)
  • Biasong (Pob.)
  • Central (Pob.)
  • Cogon
  • Dicayas
  • Diwan
  • Estaka (Pob.)
  • Galas
  • Gulayon
  • Lugdungan
  • Minaog
  • Miputak (Pob.)
  • Olingan
  • Punta
  • San Jose
  • Sangkol
  • Santa Filomena
  • Santa Isabel
  • Sicayab
  • Sinaman
  • Turno


The city hosts 17 commercial and rural banking establishments, not including the various lending institutions. A proposed branch of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas will further strengthen the banking sector as Dipolog is now a 1st class city. New investment will soon sprout including the 2 hotels which are now under construction and soon to be started construction of Gaisano Mall aside from the newly opened Lee Plaza City Central Mall


The entrance to the 3003 steps Linabo Peak.
*LINABO CLIMB - The 3003 Steps to Linabo Peak is one of the favorites and desired destinations of our local and foreign tourist as it offers a fantastic view of the twin cities of Dipolog and Dapitan, the sky, plains and sea horizon after trailing the 3003 concrete steps wind along the tunnels of verdant trees. It is also the venue for the annual “Katkat Sakripisyo” of Catholic devotees who perform their penitential rites during the Lenten Season.

Sungkilaw falls.
*COGON PARK - The Cogon Eco-Park is a 344 hectares reforestation area situated in Barangay Cogon established in 1958. Tourists who visited the area were all amazed gazing the matured trees growing wild with different species like Mahogany, Teak, Yemane, Lumbayao, Molave, Acacia, Narra, Mayapis, Lauan, Narig, Tianong, Duguan, Lumbayao, Rattan and Nato. They also enjoyed the company of various species of birds, reptiles, and wild animals. It is also one of the favorite camping sites of different mountaineering groups. Presently,under development in the area are the construction of Information Center, Subanen Valley, Picnic cottages, well landscaped ground at the entrance, parking area, aviary, and different cages for diverse animals. Adjacent to Barangay Cogon is Barangay Diwan, part of the eco-tourism complex housing the Organization of International Spiritual and Cultural Advancement or OISCA Forest Park, a joint project of the OISCA of Japan, locally managed by Heroshi Ikeda, and the City Government of Dipolog. It also houses the Dipolog OISCA Children’s Forest Park. The most prominent feature of the park is the Sungkilaw Falls.

*STA. CRUZ - (Punta Corro) is the spot where migrating Boholanos from the Visayas landed and established settlement. A cross was erected by the settlers on May 3, 1905 as a thanksgiving altar to God for their safe journey. Roman Catholic mass were likewise celebrated on this area before the Spaniards established a Chapel 1.5 kilometers inward along the town center street now known as Rizal Avenue. A Cathedral was later erected by the Spanish friars sometime in 1895 replacing the old church, with Dr. Jose Rizal designing the church altar from a sketch requested by his former professor, Fr. Jose Villaclara, once Dipolog's cura during Spanish Era.

*DIPOLOG HALL - Built on July 1, 1913 under the administration of General John J. Pershing. The corner street houses the Monument of Three Prominent Dipolognons namely Hon. Pascual T. Martinez, the first appointed Mayor of Dipolog in 1913-1918), Rev. Fr. Nicasio Y. Patangan, the first Filipino Diocesan Priest of Mindanao and Eugenio R. Margate, a farmer for 25 years who introduced the MARGATE SYSTEM OF PLANTING RICE. He also authored the book “Humay” and “100 Kabanes Matag Hektarya” and he was declared as “MAN OF THE YEAR 1954”.The original design of the town wall was the exact replica of the town hall of Maribojoc, which was designed by the Americans. The original hall was exactly the same size that of Maribojoc's down to the size of the jail.But today the hall was expanded and its original design could not be seen anymore.

Rotonda fountain.
*DIPOLOG FOUNTAIN - Located at Estaka-Turno road junction is the Fountain of Blessings. The statutes represent the tri-people of Mindanao, which symbolize the diverse cultures prevailing in Dipolog. The bowl raised to heavens is a gesture of thanksgiving and offering to God Almighty for the generous outpouring of graces and blessings, bountiful harvests and sustained peace and prosperity.

Known Tourism Activities

  • Sinulog sa Dipolog every 3rd Saturday of January featuring pageantry and street dancing for the Sto. Niño,
  • Katkat Sakripisyo at Linabo Peak in April,
  • Pagsalabuk Festival in May with harvest rituals of the Subanens,
  • Feast of St. Vincent Ferrer during 3rd Saturday of May,
  • Araw ng Dipolog marked July 1 to 6 with sports, cultural, and beauty pageants highlighted with Mutya sa Dipolog,
  • October 7 Fiesta which is the Feast of the Lady of the Holy Rosary,
  • Pasko sa Dipolog nightly shows in December.
  • Araw ng Zamboanga del Norte or the HUDYAKA ZANORTE FESTIVAL celebrated every first week of June.

Sister City of Dipolog

2005 Zamboanga Citymarker, Philippinesmarker


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