MacArthur is politically subdivided into 31 barangays.
HISTORY OF MacARTHUR
The town of MacArthur, named after the famous American general who led the American Liberation forces in 1944 and redeemed the pledge of America to return to this country, lies between the towns of Abuyog and Mayorga, on the east coast of Leyte.
In the olden times, the area that is now called MacArthur used to be a forest where wild animals lived. As the people during those times were nomadic, it was not unusual that a group strayed there. The place was discovered by a man from Abuyog who was enticed by its fertile soil and so decided to build his house there. But he was not alone in his discovery. As time went on, other people from Dulag, Abuyog and Burauen who heard about this land of “milk and honey,” migrated to the place. A settlement was slowly being formed among people who all derived their livelihood from the fertile soil and from hunting. A name had to be given to the settlement so the people christened it “Bagacay,” after a species of slim but strong and sturdy bamboo that abounded in the place.
Spanish missionaries from Abuyog often went to Bagacay to convert the inhabitants to the Catholic faith. Although the houses were far apart, the Spanish priests were able to gather the people together in order to indoctrinate them in the Catholic principles. They were taught the Catholic rituals and prayers. The Spanish priests succeeded in their mission and the people embraced the Catholic religion. As there was no church in Bagacay, they went to Abuyog to observe holy days of obligation and to hear Mass.
The Spanish missionaries introduced religious celebrations. The people appreciated these fiestas and chose St. Isidore as their Patron Saint. May 15 was selected as the date celebrated for their Patron Saint. In one of these Patron Saint days’ celebration which is important and serves as a memorable date to the people of MacArthur, the name of Bagacay was changed to Tarragons, a city in old Spain. This name was to stay through the centuries until it was changed to MacArthur in honor of the “Great Liberator.”
Years of prosperity followed the conversion of the region to Christianity. Agriculture and finishing flourished. It was natural that the bordering towns of Dulag and Abuyog would dispute over Tarragona.
The dispute over the settlement erupted in the latter part of the 19th century. The conflict became so vehement that it reached the ears of Don Jose Fernandez de Teran, governor of Leyte at the time. To settle the dispute, Governor Teran ordered the people of both contesting towns to build a road from Abuyog to Dulag, passing through Tarragons to determine the boundary. Capitan Celestino (Tinoy) Remanos, the President of Abuyog then, had set his heart on getting Tarragona, and complied with the order of the Governor. The boundary dispute was decided in favor of Abuyog to which was officially annexed Tarragona. When Capitan Tinoy Remanos saw that the sitio was big enough, it was inaugurated a full-fledged barrio of Abuyog.
In 1920 a parish priest, Father Agnes, was installed in Tarragona. He was succeeded by Father Gorgonio Tupa. During the Japanese occupation, Fr. Molon was the parish priest. After him came Fr. Narciso Cordilla and Fr. Alejo Regis.
Tarragona performed a creditable role during the Japanese occupation. A guerrilla force was organized under the command of Jesus Olmedo which harassed the Japanese soldiers and did their bit to keep the fires of democracy burning during that dark period of our country’s history.
On October 20, 1944 General Douglas MacArthur, with his forces of liberation, landed on Palo, Leyte. Shortly thereafter, these forces spread out, blasting the Japanese strongholds, occupying towns and barrios, including Tarragona. In gratitude to America, especially to renamed MacArthur. Finally, on October 20, 1954 – on the 10th anniversary of the liberation of Leyte – MacArthur was inaugurated a full-fledged municipality.