The Municipality is relatively a fifth class municipality, which merely depend its development on Agriculture. It is lying along the ranges of the famous mountain “Amandewing” which is bounded in the north by the Municipality of Pastrana, on the northwest by Albuera, on the south by Burauen, and on the east by the towns of Tabon-tabon and Tanauan.
The employment rate is 63% of the total population workforce in the municipality.
It has a total land area of 20,125.8 hectares whose location is thirty – two kilometers (32) South of the City of Tacloban and fourteen kilometers (14 km) directly from the Leyte Gulf otherwise known as the seashore of the Municipality of Tanauan, Leyte.
Dagami is mostly famous for its local delicacies, the “Binagol” (made with sweetened mashed giant taro called talian and packed in half of a leaf-covered coconut shell), “Moron” (sweetened sticky rice stick with peanuts and chocolate) and “Sagmani”.
Dagami is politically subdivided into 65 barangays and two non-legislative districts. For purposes of education administration, the municipality is divided into Dagami North District and Dagami South District.
HISTORY OF DAGAMI
Long before the Spaniards set foot on Philippine soil, the island of Leyte was divided into kingdoms or sultanates. The most respectable and powerful in the whole island was Dagara-an, the sultanate ruled by Diwatanda Mohammed. He had a daughter named Sayajamaburan who was so beautiful many asked for her hand but all in vain. Nearby were Bumbaran and Kahagna-an, sultanates of King Mapandara and King Mabanig, respectively. King Mapandara had a son named Bantugan who was the commander of his father’s army and sought after by many women because of his strength and good looks. Sayajamaburan was secretly enamored by Bantugan’s physical and intellectual prowess. Bantugan had asked for her hand but was refused although he knew he had hopes of winning her hand in the end. The ruler of Kahagna-an, King Mabanig was also a close rival of Bantugan. He was very wealthy and got along well with everyone. When Sayajamaburan’s father was dying, he chose Bantugan for his daughter’s husband. Two days before the scheduled wedding, there was rejoicing everywhere except for King Mabanig who declared war against Bantugan’s kingdom. Bantugan came out victorious and the wedding took place. Bumbaran, Dagara-an and Kahagna-an then became one by affinity and conquest. The fusion of the three kingdoms made dagara-an more powerful and respected.
In 1478, two hundred years after the fusion of the three sultanates into one kingdom, changes took place. Dagilan, the capital of the whole kingdom, increased in population. The culture and social life of the place was further changed by the entry of the Chinese, Hindus and other Asian peoples. The people engaged in trade both with Asia and Europe.
When the Spaniards arrived in Leyte in 1521, they found out that the center of trade were the villages bordering the sea. Dagilan was a community of a few houses. When the missionary friars introduced the Christian faith, the people were not difficult to convert for they practiced the respect for private property and worshipped one God.
One harvest season, a group of Spanish soldiers happened to pass by a group of men and women harvesting rice. They asked for the name of the community that was a few meters away. The natives thought that they were asking for a definite term for the field after rice had been harvested, so a woman answered, “Dinagami-an, Señor.” The Spaniards had difficulty in pronouncing Dinagami-an several times and the natives laughed at them. Having felt insulted, one of the civil guards shouted angrily in Spanish, “Dagami or Daiwan makes no difference. This place is Dagami, Dagami, Dagami. You idiots. What a queer language you speak.” From that time, Dagilan was changed to Dagami by the village folks thinking that the name was most suited for the place.
In 1599 the first of the moro attacks was repelled by the natives who were armed with bamboo lances and bows and arrows. They proved themselves courageous fighters, but overwhelming odds caused the death of numerous townspeople and the kidnapping of many more for ransom.
In 1600, missionaries of the Society of Jesus arrived in Dagami. The natives began to build their homes around the vicinity of the church and the convento. A church of wood, stone and nipa was constructed at the end of one of two crossroads that bisected three parallel roads – the beginnings of a town. The church and later the whole poblacion was place under the patronage of St. Joseph.
Among the priests who took charge of Dagami were Fathers Chirino, Mateo Sanches, Ignacio de Acebedo and Francisco Luzon. Fr. Chirino was the rector of Dagami in 1613. He was kidnapped by the moros and later ransomed by a moro chieftain who was a friend of the mayor of Cebu, Don Alonzo de Pedraza. He proceeded to Manila to report to his superior the harm, which Visayans were suffering from the moro depredations. He died in Cavite on May 3, 1643.
Fr. Mateo de Plascencia who arrived in the islands in 1595 died in Dagami on February 9, 1618. He was called “Varon Apostolico” for his contributions in the conversion of the natives. He wrote a Visayan dictionary, and one time with God’s intervention, multiplied bread to the edification of the natives. In 1711, Fr. Jose de Velasco, the Jesuit Provincial, gave him the title of Venerable.
In 1655, the Jesuites took charge of the Parish until 1768. In 1799, the Augustinians came. The first Augustinian priests were Father Jose Herrero and Cipriano Barbasan. The reconstruction of the church schools and the government buildings were credited to them. Two other priests, Father Jose Montenegro and Francisco Martinez constructed four schoolhouses in the barrios of Tabontabon and Manaybanay.
When the Augustinians left the place in 1843, the Franciscans took over the administration of the parish. They remained until September 1847.
The rapid progress of the town may be noted in the increase of its population. In 1864 the population was 13,034; by 1896 the inhabitants numbered 15,595.
Dagami suffered from tyranny of Spanish rule for five years starting from 1879 during the term of Governor Jose Fernandez de Teran. Agriculture was neglected leading to famine in which numerous inhabitants died.
The governor, in his zeal to collect the “real haber” and the “sancta sanctorum” punished the cabezas de barangay severely for their failure to meet his demands. The cabezas were whipped and tortured, their properties and settlements confiscated and sold at auction. The tenants were castigated cruelly for slight delays in turning over part of their harvest to the governor.
Gobernadorcillo Patricio Mauro and three other employees of the tribunal were ordered to be dragged by carabaos. Mauro died instantly. The three employees who survived the ordeal were imprisoned at Tacloban were no relatives were allowed to visit them.
The unjust collection of taxes and the inhuman treatment of the people inflamed the fury of the peace-loving people. Some prominent people of Dagami, Don Simon Canete, Don Fernando Sudario and Don Ubaldos formed the first resistance movement against the Spaniards. However, the Spanish forces stationed in the town prevented bloodshed.
A few years after the Spaniards evacuated Dagami following the Spanish-American war, a fanatic group of “nationalists” commonly known then as the “pulahanes” owing to their red uniforms wrought havoc in the countryside. American forces came to Dagami to investigate the initiators of this resistance movement.
Sporadic fighting ensued leading to the death of the leader of the “pulahanes” – Don Pedro Sudario. His death weakened the resistance offered by the movement. men came down from the mountains, laying down their arms and pledging their cooperation to the Americans. They were welcomed and given food and clothing. To further show their goodwill, the Americans appointed Capitan Fabian Perido as municipal president.
The soldiers established schools and clinics with military men as teachers and physicians. Supplies were distributed to the people. In 1907 an election was held in Dagami for the first time. Don Cecilio Chaypo was elected municipal president.
During the Japanese occupation, Dagami reeled under the heavy demands of the Japanese troops which were garrisoned in the town. On November 17, 1943 guerrilla forces under the command of Alejandro Balderian stormed the town and burned all buildings which were occupied by the enemy. The Japanese evacuated to Tacloban momentarily but returned later on. Farmers suffered from hunger after the Japanese exacted from them the major part of their harvests.
When Gen. MacArthur and the forces of liberation landed, the Japanese at Dagami took to the hills. There heavy fighting took place until the last vestige of Japanese occupation was at last wiped out.
During the three years after liberation that the Americans stayed in Dagami, roads, bridges, houses and public buildings were rebuilt. In 1945, with the granting of war damage claims, Dagami was well on the road to recovery and self-sufficiency.