Bato is politically subdivided into 32 barangays.
HISTORY OF BATO
Bato is a thriving coastal town facing the Canigao Channel and the Camotes Sea. It is a southwestern town, equidistant to Hilongos and Matalom and the western intersection of the traversing Bontoc road.
The Cebuanos and the Boholanos just across the sea have always been attracted to its wide coastal plains. Rice, coconuts and citrus fruits are among the produce of this town which would be more productive if the level lands were irrigated.
In 1933, the inhabitants of Hilongos and Matalom founded the town of Margen at the site of Barrio “Daan Lungsod”. Margen at the time was bordered by two rivers, Panaliwad and Ugayon which in 1840 swallowed the whole town. Because of the catastrophe, the town had to transfer to a safer location, its present site. Largely through the initiative of Padre Leonardo Celesdiaz, parish priest of Hilongos and “vicar forane” in Western Leyte, the inhabitants of the town gathered and piled stones for the construction of the new church. From there on, people working on the project when asked where he was going, invariably answered: “Adto sa bato” (going to bato – stone). as the church was centrally located, the new town became known by the name of Bato.
During this transition, a church, a watchtower which is still existing beside the primary school building in San Roque street (now the provincial road), a tribunal and a Casa Real for Spanish provincial officials were built. One of the old bronze church bells still bears the inscription: “La Purisima Concepcion, Ano 1840″
It is not know as to who was really appointed gobernadorcillo during the transition period. Francisco Tabera records that he was Cornelio Geresala (Kapitan Kiyong), while others believe he was Policarpio German. From the transfer up to the time of the revolution, the following served their terms as gobernadorcillo, in chronological order:
|1. Capitan Capy||7. Capitan Terio|
|2. Capitan Ahoy||8. Capitan Mariano|
|3. Capitan Kiyong||9. Capitan Sebastian|
|4. Capitan Into||10. Capitan Antoy|
|5. Capitan Bigoy||11. Capitan Ponday|
|6. Capitan Poroy||12. Capitan Ariston Bibera|
Boundary disputes arose subsequently between Bato and Matalom but these were settled on May 25, 1860. Bato was formally and officially declared as a town by Royal Decree on February 6, 1886. Its beginnings in 1883 were recorded to contain 17 cabiceras (guinhaupan) or barangays, 2,120 inhabitants and 769 taxpayers. Bolanons who migrated en masse after the battle between Governor Ricafort’s forces and the followers of Dagohoy in 1827 was believed to have formed a large part of the population. Among the oldest names are: Gerodias, Germanos, Halleras, Saplagios, Talabos, Solantes, Taberas, and Tabinas.
Bato became a parish in 1886, as recorded in the old book, BREVE PRESENA DE DIOCESIS DE CEBU. the parish documents recorded Rev. Fr. Pantaleon Veyra as the first parish priest while old folks believe it was Fr. Juan Bibera.
During the Filipino-American War, the Biberas and Flordelises were among the outstanding leaders of Western Leyte. In the early part of the American occupation, Vicente and Ontoy Tabinas and Felipe Kuizon were among the appointed officials. In 1904, the first election was held in Bato with Lt. Joaquin Flordelis as the first presidente. Marcelo Kuizon who was elected in 1919 and served for three terms was among the more progressive leaders of the town. Political factions were then divided between the Bibera and Kuizon groups.
In 1942, Colonel Bo Tay of the Japanese Army organized the puppet government with Ranulfo Sanchez as Mayor. Bato also became the site of the Civil Government of the guerrilla forces of Leyte for a time. Because it was not destroyed during the war, Bato has steadily grown as a trading center.