The discovery of the advancing communities of Palo dates back to the early 16th Century A.D. along the banks of Bangon River. However, local historians believe that the settlement of Palo started as early as the 10th to 13th century A.D..
The first known settlement were the kingdom of Takuranga, first name of Palo under King Guban, and the Kingdom of Kaluugan, the second name of Palo under King Pitik. From the 14th to the 16th centuries, some other settlements were formed which also became the succeeding names of Palo, until finally in 1550 Don Miguel Lopez de Legaspi coalesced the settlements and named the new confederation “Palo”. The other settlements were Kasangitan, Binangalan, Kasuguran, Bunga, Bangon and Guindapunan. The settlers of Bunga played a vital role in the history of Palo, having formed the settlement of Bangon which is now the town center. Palo formally became a town in 1768 with Kapitan Balasabas as its first administration.
Accordingly, the early settlers of Palo were the clans of Panganuron, Kadampog, Manlangit, Kumago, Kawaring, Kabalhin, Kumagong, Maglain, Bilyu and Dilyu.
Palo is considered to be one of the most historical towns of Leyte. It is well known as the site of Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s return to the Philippines together with Philippine and American military forces after a period of exile in 1944. Hill 522, a hill located near the town center, was the site of fierce fighting between Allied and Japanese forces during the Second World War. The metropolitan cathedral of the archdiocese, located right across Palo’s municipal hall, was used as a hospital for wounded Filipino and American forces. A memorial now stands at the beach site where MacArthur and his troops landed, locally known as the MacArthur’s Park. The first Gabaldon Building is also situated in Brgy. San Joaquin Palo, Leyte. It was inaugurated by President Sergio Osmena.
The town is very active in commerce and in tourism. It attracts a significant number of tourists every year. The town also has its historic Municipal Building which was the former Seat of the Provincial Government of Leyte. Its location is conducive to and ideal for trading and commerce.
Palo is strategically located in the northern part of the Province of Leyte, 8 miles from the capital city of Tacloban. It is composed of 33 barrios (barangays) with a total population of 40,000. The main source of income for most of the citizenry is the buying and selling of farm products and the production and fermentation of the local wine “tuba”.
Palo is a town that takes pride not in its material wealth, which rates poorly in terms of economic growth, but in the fame and glory of its being a rare “Town of Firsts”—culturally, historically and spiritually.
The landmark that has brought Palo to the annals of world history is the Red Beach, in barangay Candahug, where Gen. Douglas MacArthur first landed to liberate the Philippines from the Japanese occupation on October 20, 1944. Palo was also once the capital of Leyte. The town’s Purissima Bridge was the first steel bridge built in the province.
On the spiritual side, Palo is believed to be a sacred place by clerical observers. It is the seat of the ecclesiastical province, the Archdiocese, where the Roman Catholic Archbishop resides in Bukid Tabor. One can find the Metropolitan Cathedral in Palo. Also, the seedbed of vocations to the priesthood is found at the Sacred Heart Seminary and the St. John the Evangelist School of Theology. Two Paloan nuns were also Superior Generals in their respective congregations. To date, there are 79 ordained priests and 106 nuns from the town alone.
Palo has established its identity as a conservative and religious town with a highly cultural characteristic that makes Paloans extremely proud of their birthplace.