Way before the coming of the Spaniards, the place where the present municipality of Inabanga is located was once called by the local folks as “Inabangan” in reference to the river that flows thru the place and which was then infested by crocodiles. Yearly, a life was lost in the river either by drowning or due to an attack of crocodiles.
Being superstitious, the local folks thought that the deaths were yearly rental or “abang” for the use of the river and thus the river was called “Inabangan” or “Rented River”. Finding the word Inabangan difficult to pronounce, the Spaniards eventually called the place Inabanga and the name stuck to this day.
Eventually, a mission was founded in Inabanga by the Jesuits in 1596. The mission was located on an elevated area near the banks of the Inabanga River. Like Talibon, the settlement was administered from the Colegio de San Ildefonso in Cebu. The settlement became a parish in 1722 and dedicated to “San Pablo Apostol” or Saint Paul the Apostle.
The Spaniards ruled Inabanga with an iron hand. The natives were converted and forced to accept the authority of the church, the friars and the Guardia Civil. They surrendered their rights to their lands and rendered forced labour. Excessive tax collection and payment of tributes were imposed upon them.
In 1744, thru a series of events brought about by these oppressive acts, the people took up arms and rebelled against the Spaniards with Francisco Sendrijas, known by many as Francisco Dagohoy, leading the pack. A native of Inabanga, Dagohoy was then a Cabeza de Barangay or Barangay Captain of the town.
The Jesuit curate of Inabanga at that time was Fr. Gaspar Morales. He triggered the uprising when he refused to give a proper Christian burial to Dagohoy’s brother, Sagarino, who was called upon by the priest to chase a man who had abandoned his faith but unfortunately he died during the duel that ensued. The priest’s refusal to give a decent burial infuriated Dagohoy no end thus leading him to seek revenge.
The uprising spread like wildfire throughout the island and eventually the headquarters of Dagohoy’s men was established in the mountainous region of the municipality of Danao. Supported by more than 20,000 Boholanos, the rebels successfully defeated the Spanish-Filipino forces sent against them. The rebellion lasted for 85 years; the longest revolt in Philippine history.
Twenty-four (24) years after the start of the uprising, in 1768, administration was passed on to the Augustinian Recollects and they remained the town’s pastors until 1898. An earlier church was built thru forced labor by the Jesuits but was probably burnt during the Dagohoy revolt. A new church was built and was completed in 1899 but again burnt down by the Americans in 1902.
A large stone church was then built with other materials in 1931 by then secular priest Fr. Quiterio Sarigumba. The church used gothic elements in the facade and has a portico in front of the entrance. Points of interest are an exquisite wooden tabernacle probably dating back to the Jesuits; and the murals on the ceiling done by the Garces brothers in the style of Canuto Avila and Ray Francia.
Inabanga in World War II
Inabanga Bohol suffered much from the hands of the Japanese during World War II. After Cebu surrendered and was occupied by Japanese forces in the early part of 1942, and the bombing of Getafe a few months after, Inabanga became a refuge of evacuees from Cebu and neighbouring towns. Inabanga is the nearest point of Bohol across the Olango group of islands to Cebu City.
Most of the Cebuanos were Chinese and they occupied the abandoned homes of the town of Inabanga. There were also high government officials, national and provincial, who were in hiding in the rough heavily forested terrain in the outskirts of Inabanga.
After a lull in the attacks and a period of peace, the people came out from hiding and returned to their respective homes. They believed the Japanese would no longer invade Bohol and life in the town returned to normal. The people went back to their daily routine of tending the fields and raising crops and domesticated animals for food.
Time came when the town prepared for their fiesta which was in honor of St. Peter and Paul. As the usual practice, a beauty contest was launched in order to raise funds for further church improvement. On the 3rd week of June 1943, the last canvassing was held at the public emporium. It was well attended, mostly by thousands of supporters of each candidate.
At the height of the last balloting an undetermined number of unidentified men with white band on the head suddenly appeared. Most of them were Filipino undercover. A man grabbed the microphone while others, took hostage of each municipal official present, bolo battalion officers and prominent people of the town.
Other people scampered for safety and in the ensuing chaos, some were caught and held for questioning but were eventually released. The Japanese took over the town and occupied the Inabanga Central School. Check points were set-up. The Filipinos feared the Japanese and only a handful dared to face them.
This handful of Filipinos was surprised. The Japanese soldiers were not hostile. They were even friendly to the point of giving out packs of aki-buno cigarettes, rice, sardines, corned beef and more to the handful of people who passed by the check points. Eventually, news of the benevolence of the Japanese spread far and wide.
People started coming out from their hiding places and became friendly with the Japanese. Later, flyers were sent out to all bolo battalion officers calling for a meeting to find ways and means to establish peace and order in the town and to improve the economic condition of the people. All officers came and were ushered to the old municipal building.
Yet, no meeting was held. Instead, all were gang-chained and brought to the central school. By four, they were hanged one meter from the floor with both hands tied at their backs. They hanged there for one to two days without food and continuously beaten with a baseball bat.
The Japanese were after information on the whereabouts of Gov. Hilario Abellana of Cebu and Congressman Pedro Lopez and Dalaguete Mayor, Jose Almagro. Others were ordered to surrender any kind of firearms.
Some were killed when the lumber where they were tied gave way and broke. Some, who said that they have guns at home just to stop the beatings and were found without, were killed while the women were raped. Those who have only foodstuffs to surrender were released after hanging for two days.
A heavy patrol of Japanese and Filipino undercover, with local guides, were sent to the hiding places of the suspected Cebu officials. Finding no trace of the hunted persons, they massacred all they saw, including one of their guides. Massive and wanton destruction followed every occupation of the Japanese.
Because of the brutalities of the Japanese, the Boholanos retaliated and formed guerilla units to fight them. Many missions failed and some met with success. Four years under the Japanese were years of agony, pain and suffering; and the final liberation at the return of the American troops was greeted with great jubilation by all.