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Diocese of Mati

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Diocese of Mati
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The Diocese of Mati today comprises the civil province of Davao Oriental, the easternmost portion of the Old Davao Province. It covers a land area of 5,146 square kilometers and a population of 626,000 of which 85 percent are Catholics. Its titular patron is San Nicolas de Tolentino. It has supervision over 19 parishes run by 46 priests.


In 2016, the population in the diocesan territory is 626,000. Among the ethnic groups, there are Mandaya, Mansaka, Manobo, Mamanua, Mangguangan and Tagacaulo.


English, Filipino, Cebuano, Davaweño, Mandaya, Boholano, Kalagan, Kamayo, Manobo, Hiligaynon / Illonggo, Ilocano and Waray are in use in the territory.


Suffragan of Davao
Created: Feb.16, 1984
Erected: Dec.14, 1984
Ecclesiastical jurisdiction comprises the entire civil province of Davao Oriental (11 municipalities)
Titular: San Nicolas de Tolentino

The Christianization of the Davao area in Mindanao is attributed to the arrival in the area of the Augustinian Missionaries in 1848. This was followed by the Jesuits and the PIME Fathers of Quebec. But it was the Maryknoll Fathers who finally arrived in the area in 1958 and settled down to the arduous task of evangelizing the inhabitants.

Early Spanish exploration of the Davao area can be traced back to 1528 when Saavedra visited the Sarangani Islands on the southwestern entrance to the Davao Gulf. He coasted along the shores of Davao Oriental where he established the first settlement, that of Caraga.

The early missionaries later settled in places like Caraga, Baganga, Cateel and the nearby areas, baptizing, giving the sacraments, building churches and convents. Some of these old structures can still be found today, and some of them are still serving their Christian communities.

The entire Davao Province was politically subdivided into three in 1967. From this subdivision emerged the provinces of Davao del Norte with Tagum as its capital, Davao del Sur with Digos as capital, and Davao Oriental with Mati as capital.

Ecclesiastically, the entire Mindanao area was under the Diocese of Cebu since 1595, until some parts were placed under the jurisdiction of Jaro in 1865.

In 1910 the Diocese of Zamboanga was created and took all ecclesiastical territories in Mindanao away from Cebu. Other dioceses were established over the years, including the then Prelature of Davao which eventually became a diocese. In 1962 the Prelature of Tagum was created, taking its territory mostly from the then Prelature of Davao.

On Feb. 16, 1984, Pope John Paul II created the new Diocese of Mati, taking part of its territory from that of the Diocese of Tagum. In November of the same year, the Most Reverend Patricio Alo, until then the Auxiliary Bishop of Davao, was appointed First Bishop of Mati. Meanwhile the Diocese of Davao had become an archdiocese, and Tagum and Mati were made its suffragans.

The faithful of the Diocese of Mati envision for themselves a full Christian maturity, giving Christian service to all, especially the poor and the oppressed, in accord with the Gospel Words of Jesus Christ.

About 300 years ago, Davao Oriental was merely a part of Caraga Province-forming part of the Encomienda de Bislig with the Encomienda de Seargao, Butuan and Tandag. The province became historically important in 1846, when a distinguished Attorney-at-Law, Don Jose Uyanguren-upon the order of Governor General Narciso Claveria, organized settlements with considerable inhabitants South of Encomienda de Bislig. Today, these are the Municipalities of Baganga, Gov. Generoso and Mati.

The settlement continued to grow. Don Jose was able to crush Datu Gago, a Muslim Chieftain who ruled Samal Island. In 1849, Governor Claveria decreed the partition of Caraga province into two: the Northern Portion was named Surigao Province town as the capital and the southern part as Nueva Vergara with Caraga town as its capital.

In 1898, Davao became a district of the Moro Province created as part of Mindanao by the Americans. In 1916, Jones Law converted the Moro Province into Department of Mindanao and Sulu.

On July 1, 1967, under the Republic Act 4867, Davao was divided into three (3) provinces. Davao Oriental was created as a separate and independent province along with Davao del Sur and Davao del Norte.


The province is composed of two congressional districts, subdivided into one city and covering eleven (11) municipalities with Mati as the Provincial Capital. These municipalities are further subdivided into 183 barangays.


  • Airport Imelda R. Marcos Airport, also known as Mati National Airport, is an airport that serves the general area of Mati City, located in the province of Davao Oriental in the Philippines. It is the only airport in Davao Oriental. The airport is classified as a secondary airport by the Air Transportation Office, a body of the Department of Transportation and Communications that is responsible for the operations of not only this airport but also of all other airports in the Philippines except the major international airports. Concrete runways that stretch 1,600 meters can accommodate both light, jet and cargo planes. Likewise, a private airship is existing in Limbajon, Baganga.
  • Seaport The province maritime transport system constitutes two (2) municipal/feeder ports and three (3) private ports. The two municipal ports are strategically located in Mati and Baganga. The Mati port, having enough berthing, serves as docking point for international ships. The five ports are located in Mati, Baganga and Cateel.
  • Water Supply There are thirteen (13) existing Level III water systems in the province. The water systems are maintained by the Local Government Units and the Local Water Units Administration.
  • Power Supply The eleven (11) municipalities are energized thru the Davao Oriental Electric Cooperative (DORECO) as provided by the National Power Corporation via Mindanao Grid.
  • The province's capital town, Mati, can be reached from Manila and Cebu by taking any of the daily scheduled airline flights to Davao City or regularly scheduled inter-island vessels that ply the Manila-Davao City or Cebu-Davao City routes. From Davao City, Mati is accessible by a 25-minute chartered flight or via a 3-hour private car ride or a 4-hour public utility bus ride on fully concreted and/or asphalted highways. Using Davao City as transit point, the province is readily accessible to the markets of BIMP-EAGA particularly North Sulawesi (Indonesia), Sabah and Sarawak (Malaysia), Brunei Darussalam as well as Singapore.


The annual per capita income is (in Philippines Peso) 22,093 (USD495 as of April 2010). Davao Oriental is the copra (dried coconut meat) producer capital of the Philippines.

  • Coconut and By Products Processing Coconut is the major crop of the province. It has a total crop area of 150,500 hectares and contributes the biggest share in Region XI output which is around 35 percent. The major products exported by the province are crude oil and copra pellets which the International Copra Exports Corporation (INTERCO) exported.

  • Abaca Production and Processing There are 2,010 hectares planted with abaca and a target area of 5,482 hectares of expansion based on the report of the Fiber Industry and Development Authority (FIDA). (The plant is of great economic importance, being harvested for its fibre, once generally called Manila hemp.) In support to the abaca production program, the establishment of Abaca Tissue Culture Laboratory was undertaken to produce disease-free planting materials in the province.

  • Marble Quarrying & Processing Marble reserve in Davao Oriental, which is estimated at 200 million cubic meters, is comparable to the finest class in the world. Marble is abundant in Mati, San Isidro, Tarragon, Lupon and Gov. Generoso. Existing small-scale marble processing plants are present in San Isidro and Kinaiyahan Development Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Mati. Marble processing has a bright prospect considering the house/building construction boom as well as the increasing demand from the foreign market especially the BIMP-EAGA.

  • Other Mining Prospects and Processing Davao Oriental is blessed with substantial magnesite deposite. Magnesite reserve is estimated at 50, 500 metric tons (42,00% MgO) in Banaybanay and 26,000,000 metric tons (36,00% MgO) in Lupon. The province is also rich in calcite - the main ingredient in cement manufacturing. Large calcite deposits can be found in Tarragona, Manay, Caraga and Baganga.

  • Deep Sea Fishing and Fish Processing Davao Oriental has a coastline of 448 kilometers, the longest in Region XI. The presence of six fishing grounds in Davao Oriental provides deep-sea fishing business opportunities especially with the introduction of modern fishing technology. Major species caught in the area include yellow fin tuna, blue bonito, big-eyed scads, skipjack, round skad, Spanish mackerel, frigate mackerel and other. Governor Generoso is one of the rich fishing grounds in Davao Oriental.

  • Other Mining Prospects and Processing An existing 600 hectares of cacao plantation operation by the mayo Agri-Industrial Development Enterprises (MAIDEN) produces an average yield of 1.15 tons per hectare per year of dried cacao beans. This represents 15% contribution to the total national production of cacao. The province is good area for cacao plantation since it is outside the typhoon belt, has fertile soil and evenly distributed rainfall.
  • Mati has one (1) AM radio station the DXHM 549 kHz. AM Band owned and operated by the Diocese of Mati. And one (1) FM Station the DXRN-MBN "Radio Natin" Radio Station of Manila Broadcasting Network. Three other cable companies are serving selected municipalities in the East Coast namely Caraga Cable Television System, YCK and the Barangay Poblacion Cable Television.



There are two (2) telephone companies currently operating in Mati. The Mati Telephone Company (MTC) serving NDD and IDD calls and PHILCOM Corporation for Mati subscribers.

PHILCOM Corporation established its communication networks/facilities to augment the communication needs of the province. It serves NDD and IDD calls in two major calling stations in Mati and Lupon. Seven (7) additional calling stations are also located in Cateel, Baganga, Caraga, Manay, San Ignacio, Tarragona and Banaybanay operated by PHILCOM agents. Other telecommunication companies such as PT&T and RCPI are also present in Mati and Manay providing telegraph services and telephone booths for NDD and IDD calls.

There are eleven (11) established public calling offices under the Municipal Telephone Program of DOTC providing DD and IDD calls.

GLOBE and SMART cell sites are also strategically installed in every municipalities providing direct access to landlines and cellular phones.


The eastern coast of the province is fringed with mountain ranges while the rest of the area has an uneven distribution of hills, swamps and lowlands. Of the total land area of the province, about 493.68 square kilometers are classified as lowlands, 235.90 square kilometers as uplands; 2,263,48 square kilometers as hilly lands; and about 2,154.35 square kilometers as mountainous areas. The remaining 17.05 square kilometers are covered by creeks, braided river beds, lakes and quarries.Davao Oriental is strategically located in the Easternmost part of the region XI. It is bounded by the Pacific Ocean in the East, Davao Province in the West, Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur in the North and Davao Gulf and Celebes Sea in the South. Its proximity to the Pacific justifies the efforts of grooming Davao Oriental as the gateway to the Pacific.


The Literacy rate (simple literacy) is 88.94 percent in the diocesan territory.


  • Sambuokan Festival Sambuokan (oneness/unity) is derived from the word "buok", a Mandaya term that literally means "one". Mandaya is the ethnic group that inhabited mostly in the hinterlands of Davao Oriental. Sambuokan Festival is the showcase of Mati's diverse culture and tradition, sports and adventure. It is also an expression of thanksgiving. This is a weeklong celebration observed during the commemoration of the founding anniversary of the Municipality of Mati every October 29. This festival is highlighted with neo-ethnic Indak-Indak-Streetdancing Competition, and fun-filled nightly activities. It is also characterized by investment and promotions as one of the major tourism event by establishing an annual tiangge sa sambuokan (bazaar in sambuokan).

  • Kaimunan ng mga Lumad "Kaimunan ng mga Lumad" is another traditional event where all tribal communities or indigenous peoples are converged to demonstrate their aspirations to preserve their customs and traditions. The event is expressed with dancing, singing and demonstration of intrinsic skills and talents of their folks. This also serves as a venue where they can articulate their present situation.

  • Banayan Festival Banaybanay, Davao Oriental A thanksgiving celebration giving tribute to the town's main product

  • Lubmahuma Festival (Provincial) July 1
  • Kutoo Festival (Cateel) October 29
  • Fish Festival (Gov. Generoso) July 30
  • Bauldayawan Festival (San Isidro) June 28
  • Niyog Festival (Baganga) October 29
  • Manayan Festival (Manay) October 24-25
  • Kagang-kagang Festival (Caraga) July 7-15
  • Karadya Festival (Lupon) December 18-19
  • Pabolig Festival (Boston) June 21
  • Naluponan Festival (Lupon) August 8


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