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Diocese of Borongan

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Diocese of Borongan
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In a land area of 4,339.6 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers the civil province of Eastern Samar. Eastern Samar is a rough hilly province, which occupies the eastern portion of Samar Island. On its north is Northern Samar; on the east, the Philippine Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean; on the west by Samar; and on the south by the Leyte Gulf. It is the first area in the Philippines sighted by Magellan on March 16, 1521. Magellan's crew called the islands, Zamal. The Spaniards anchored at the tiny island of Homonhon. 

Eastern Samar is a province of the Philippines located in the Eastern Visayas region. Its capital is the City of Borongan.

Eastern Visayas is composed of the islands of Samar, Leyte, Biliran and the smaller outlying islands. In terms of political divisions, it is made up of six provinces, namely Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Samar, Biliran, Leyte, and Southern Leyte.

The mountain ranges that traverse the islands of Samar, Leyte, and Biliran have influenced the development of dialectal varieties of Waray and distinct speech communities.

Eastern Samar has 22 municipalities, with a total of 597 barangays (villages).


As of year end 2015 the total population of the diocese is 522,000 of which 93.90 percent are Catholics.

The early people in the Visayas region were Austronesians and Negritos who migrated to the islands about 6,000 to 30,000 years ago. These early settlers were animist tribal groups. In the 12th century, settlers from the collapsing empires of Srivijaya, Majapahit and Brunei, led by the chieftain Datu Puti and his tribes, settled in the island of Panay and its surrounding islands. By the 14th century, Arab traders and their followers, venturing into the Malay Archipelago, converted some of these tribal groups into Muslims. These tribes practiced a mixture of Islam and Animism beliefs. There is also some evidence of trade among other Asian people. The Visayans were thought to have kept close diplomatic relations with Malaysia and Indonesian kingdoms since the tribal groups of Cebu were able to converse with Enrique of Malacca using the Malay language when the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in 1521.


(Dioecesis Boronganensis)

Suffragan of Palo
Created: Oct. 22, 1960
Erected: April 11, 1961
Comprises: the Civil Province of Eastern Samar
Titular: The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, September 8

On April 10, 1910, Pope Pius X separated Samar and Leyte from the Diocese of Cebu, and formed them into one diocese, with Calbayog as its episcopal see. 

On Oct. 22, 1960 Pope John XXIII created the Diocese of Borongan, installing Most Reverend Vicente Reyes, D.D., then, the Auxiliary Bishop of Manila, as the First Residential Bishop of Borongan. 

On June 19, 1965, the island of Samar was politically divided and the province of Eastern Samar was born. On Dec. 5, 1974 Pope Paul VI established the Diocese of Catarman. Thus the island of Samar now has three dioceses, following its political division: that of Calbayog for Western Samar, that of Catarman for Northern Samar, and that of Borongan for Eastern Samar.

The Diocese of Borongan is divided into three regions, each consisting of 2 vicariates. The diocese covers 32 parishes in 22 municipalities and 4 barrios, ministered to by 84 diocesan and 5 religious priests. Borongan, the capital town of the province is also the seat of the episcopal see.

In many ways the Diocese of Borongan is really a Church of the poor, by the poor, and for the poor. Many parishes do not have enough resources to maintain decent daily sustenance in their rectories. The people are generous, but their contributions remain meager.

The diocese is now seeing the flourishing of faith communities. The Basic Ecclesial Communities are being introduced. Present-day challenges to the faith include that of Fundamentalism and Pentecostalism. But these challenges are being met by the diocesan priests and the faith communities.

Brief History of Eastern Samar
Based on geologic findings, during the ice ages or Pleistocene period (2 million years - 8,000 B.C), the islands of Mindoro, Luzon, and Mindanao were connected as one big island through the islands of Samar, Leyte and Bohol.

Diggings in Sohoton Caves in Basey, Samar showed stone flake tools dated 8550 B.C. Other diggings along the Basey River revealed other stone flakes used until the 13th century.

Recent Philippine history also places these two islands prominently. 

The island of Homonhon in Guiuan Eastern Samar was first sighted by Magellan in his voyage to the orient, one that led to his death in the hands of the men of Lapulapu in Mactan, Cebu.

In the next expedition (1565) headed by Ruy Lopez de Villalobos, Leyte and Samar were ruled as one province under the jurisdiction of Cebu. Samar and Leyte were separated as provinces in 1768.

The San Bernardino Strait between Samar and Luzon was a gateway for the Spanish Galleon. Royal Port was established in Palapag Northern Samar to protect galleons from winds and stormy seas. In 1649, shipbuilders were drafted to Cavite shipyards to build galleons and other vessels. In the same year, the recruits led by Sumuroy of Samar staged a revolt which was one of the earliest recorded revolt against Spain.
The 1900's also saw a victory of the locals against the American forces when the people of Balangiga staged a successful raid against the Company C of the American battalion stationed in Balangiga, Samar. The Americans retaliated and killed at least 60,000 Samarnons including civilians.

During World War II, Leyte and Samar figured prominently as battlefields. 

Eastern Samar became an independent province by virtue of Republic Act No. 4221 which Congress approved on June 19, 1965 dividing the then existing old province of Samar into three separate provinces, namely; Northern Samar, Western Samar (subsequently renamed Samar) and Eastern Samar. A plebiscite held simultaneously with the November 1965 general elections upheld the conversion of Eastern Samar into a separate province. 

In 1967 the newly created province elected its first set of officials and on Jan. 2, 1968, the provincial board had its inaugural session in the Borongan Town Hall which served as the temporary provincial capitol. Eight months later, the formal inauguration of the new province of Eastern Samar took place. 

Before its existence as an independent province, places which now form part of Eastern Samar played important roles in the history of our country.

It was in Eastern Samar where Ferdinand Magellan landed in Homonhon Island in the town of Guiuan on March 16, 1521, in what is now officially recognized as the discovery of the Philippines by the Western World. Magellan called the place Zamal.

Sustained contact with Western civilization occurred as early as 1596. Jesuit missionaries worked their way from the western coast of the island of Samar and established mission centers in what is now Eastern Samar territory. 

On Sept. 28, 1901, Filipino rebels in the town of Balangiga attacked and almost wiped out American troops billeted in the municipal building and church convent. Now known in history books as the "Balangiga Massacre Day," the incident triggered a ruthless pacification campaign by US forces aimed at turning the entire island of Samar into a "howling wilderness." It was during this campaign that American soldiers took the Balangiga Bells from the Balangiga church as war trophies. The bells remain on display at Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming. 

On Oct. 17, 1944, US Army rangers landed on the island of Suluan in Guiuan where they fought their first battle on Philippine territory three days before Gen. Douglas MacArthur stormed the beaches of Leyte.


The region is humid, and has no definite wet and dry seasons. Frequent occurrences of typhoons have perennially disturbed the economy of the region but people seem to have adapted well enough.


Literacy rate (simple literacy) was 91.79 percent as of July 2009.

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