Isabel is the most industrialized town in Eastern Visayas, being the site of Leyte Industrial Development Estates (LIDE). Some of the companies located here are the Philippine Phosphate (PHILPHOS) Fertilizer Corp., Philippine Associated Smelting and Refining (PASAR) Corp., and Lepanto Mining Corp. It has earned its moniker as “Saudisabel” because of the high availability of jobs. Isabelnons enjoy a relatively high standard of living. It is also the home of LIDE Learning Center (LLCI), a prestigious institution, which gained its popularity to its neighbors like Ormoc, Palompon, Baybay and also in Cebu. Isabel has one higher institution of learning which is the Visayas State University – College of Industrial Technology, Isabel campus. It offers undergraduate degrees in education, industrial engineering, business and information technology and various two-year technological courses that caters the need of the local and national industry.
The town was created from the barrios of Quiot, Sta. Cruz, Libertad, Matlang, Tolingan, Bantigue, Apale and Jonan from the town of Merida by virtue of Republic Act No. 191.
Isabel is politically subdivided into 24 barangays.
HISTORY OF ISABEL
The present municipality of Isabel, which was created several years ago by virtue of Rep. Act No. 191, is an example of a municipality that has undergone several metamorphoses before actually becoming an independent municipality. Its history and growth is marked by the constant changing of its name due to petty political rivalries that had characterized its existence from a mere unknown barrio to the present fast-growing municipality that it is.
Two hundred years ago, this municipality was called Dupong after a kind of deadly snake that infested a river found in the settlement. This name however, did not last long.
When the Spanish missionaries ventured to the place to spread Christianity, they were surprised to find the natives lavishly entertaining them with a sweet tasting delicacy, the honey from wild bees. When the Spaniards asked the natives the place where they got the honey, they answered, “dugos sa quiot.” This became the name of the settlement although it was shortened to Quiot.
Several years later, Spanish as well as Filipino missionaries frequented the village to improve the moral religious life of the inhabitants. A spacious Catholic Church made of stones and bricks was constructed in the heart of the village. This was followed by a series of constructions of chapels in the neighboring villages. The people responded to the call of the church. The Spaniards, sensing the unity of the people, made Quiot into a municipality in 1851. This lasted for fifty-two years. Afterwards, by virtue of Act. No. 954 of the Philippine Commission it was incorporated into the town of Merida, Leyte.
A few months before Quiot and Merida were merged into one municipality, the municipal building of the former was burned by lawless elements in a vain attempt to set free a dissident member. Captain Crispulo Cabacoy and Capitan Santiago Martin were the last municipal officials of the old town of Quiot.
There were various attempts made to restore the municipality of Quiot. Prominent leaders of the movement were Eufracio Delalamon, Santiago Martin, Eduardo Alfoja, Ambrocio Ceniza, Alejandrino Santana, Eusebio Suralta, Donato Evangelista, Exequiel Santana, Maximo Linaganay, Sotero Linganay and several others, but all in vain. The younger generation continued in their struggle to keep aflame the dying hopes of the elder folks. So, in the year 1938, headed by Galicano N. Ruiz, the young men and women of Quiot sent a petition to the late Pres. Quezon requesting him to restore the former town of Quiot to be named “Aragon” in honor of the President’s wife who was an indefatigable social worker. This petition was again disapproved.
The people, despite their failures, remained undaunted. They sent a delegation to Malacanang to personally work for the approval of their petition to make Quiot a municipality. Headed by Galicano N. Ruiz and Leodegario A. Conciliado, with the help of Ex-senator Carlos S. Tan, they presented to President Manuel Roxas the petition. After a few months, the town was created by virtue of Rep. Act. No. 191 series of 1947 of the congress of the Philippines, and Proclamation No. 49, series of 1948 by the President. The municipality was called Isabel in honor of the wife of Ex-Senator Carlos S. Tan who fathered the bill, and of Queen Elizabeth of Spain during whose reign the former town of Quiot was officially created.
On January 15, 1948, in conjunction with the celebration of the feast of Sr. Sto. Niño, the titular patron Saint of Isabel, the town of Isabel, Leyte was formally inaugurated and the newly-appointed town officials headed by Mayor Galicano N. Ruiz were inducted into office by the late Deputy Governor Cipriano Macion of Merida, Leyte. The inauguration was indeed a very jubilant occasion for the people of Isabel.