Tunga is a 6th class municipality in the province of Leyte, Philippines. According to the 2007 census, it has a population of 6,222 people in 1,307 households, or an average of 4.76 individuals per household.
On March 4, 1948, “Pag-urosa han mga Tunga-on”, the association that led the campaign to make Tunga a municipality, was organized and it elected Domingo A. Ponferrada, President; Martino Ariza, 1st Vice President; Blas Uribe, 2nd Vice President; Vicente Catenza, 3rd Vice President; Primitivo Geraldo, Secretary; Norberto Quintana, treasurer; Ramón Santillan, Sr (who in 2004 turned 100 years old) and Juan Avila, auditors; Paulo Cotoner, Magno Buñales and Arsenio Carit, Sergeants-at-Arms. The last of these Tungaon pioneers, Ramón Santillan, Sr, died on October 13, 2005, at age 101.
These officers invited and apprised Atilano R. Cinco, Congressman for the 5th District of Leyte, of the desire of Tunga to become an independent municipality. Cinco promised to file a bill in congress when all supporting papers that he had suggested were ready. Thus, a committee on consensus was created. Martino Ariza was elected as chairman; the members being some of the students of Tunga Institute.
Subsequently, Philippine President Quirino issued Executive Order No. 266, dated September 24, 1949, creating the independent municipality of Tunga, however the appointed local officials had to assume their posts a few days after the elections.
On November 15, 1949, Provincial Board Secretary Ricardo Collantes, representing Leyte Governor Catalino Landia, proclaimed the Municipality of Tunga before a huge crowd of joyous Tunga-on and distinguished visitors.
The patron saint of Tunga is Saint Antonio of Padova. The Tunga-on celebrate their town’s fiesta on August 13 every year.
Tunga is politically subdivided into 8 barangays.
HISTORY OF TUNGA
The municipality of Tunga existed as early as 1860 as a barrio of Barugo. At that time only about fifty families were residing there, most of them coming from the different towns of Barugo, Carigara and Jaro. There are different versions that have been told as to why the place was called Tunga. Due to their stronger credibility, only two of these legends have been selected as the possible ones. One states that according to our forefathers, before Tunga became a barrio, people from Ormoc, Carigara, Barugo, Jaro and Tacloban engaged in trade with each other and they had to stop by or pass this place. Some of them even made it their contact point for conducting their business. Through their exchange of ideas and conversations, they concluded that this place was halfway between Ormoc and Tacloban or Carigara and Jaro. Since it had no name at the time, people started calling it Tunga, the dialect for half. When it became a barrio, the residents, due to their familiarity with the name christened the place Tunga.
The other version states that Tunga acquired its name when at the time it was organized into a barrio, there was a river cutting the place in half.
Tunga had only a Teniente del Barrio as its local official when it was organized into a barrio. The first Teniente del Barrio was Magno Arguilles and the last was Paulo Cotoner. It had no school and the chapel, which used to stand on the present school grounds, was rarely visited by a priest. In order to have formal education and to fulfill their religious duties, the people had to travel fifteen kilometers to Barugo, their mother municipality. By 1908, the first formal education (first grade only) was introduced. That same year, the chapel was transferred to the present market site and so Sunday mass was always held. By the year 1909, a permanent school building was constructed and second grade was added, saving the young children from the arduous task of going to and from Barugo to attend classes there. Finally in 1936, a complete elementary education was established.
During this year, Tunga was considered the biggest and most progressive of all barrios of Barugo in terms of population, area, income and revenue derived from taxes of merchants, traders and businesses. The municipality of Barugo, realizing the potential of the barrio constructed a public market in the area.
With the population, complete elementary school facilities, market and adequate revenue derived from taxation, Tunga could have passed as an independent municipality.
In 1941, World War II came. Progress and development in Tunga came to a standstill. When the Japanese forces occupied the barrio, most of its residents fled into the woods, leaving Tunga almost deserted. Elementary education was stopped and although the Japanese forces were at a minimum, emotional and physical damages to the barrio people were evident.
When the nation was liberated in 1944, Tunga, once a progressive and populous barrio was reduced to an underdeveloped one. However, the people who fled during the war started coming back to rehabilitate the place. With strong determination, the barrio grew into a prosperous one in just a few years. By 1946, only two years after the liberation, secondary education (first and second year) was established. Aside form having a complete elementary education, the distinction of being the only barrio in this part of Leyte with secondary education attracted more people to set up their residence in Tunga thus increasing the population. In the later part of 1948, the local intellectuals headed by Domingo A. Ponferrada, then a high school principal, began considering Tunga as an independent municipality for some reasons. The first consideration was due to its area, population, per capita income, revenues, business and educational facilities. Secondly, since Tunga was still under the jurisdiction of its mother municipality, Barugo, which was 15 kilometers away, all transactions with the government had to be made there, and this proved a continual burden for the people of Tunga. The mere getting of a residence certificate had to be done there as well as the blessing and burial of the dead. It was difficult for them to walk 15 kilometers to the cemetery which was found in Barugo. These reasons proved justifiable so in early 1949, they began gathering the necessary data and endorsed them to Congressman Atilano Cinco who was then the representative of Leyte, second district. In February 1949, Congressman Cinco presented a bill to Congress calling for the creation of Tunga as an independent municipality. By April of the same year, the bill was unanimously approved both in the lower house and the Senate and was submitted to then President Quirino for approval. However, for political reasons, the bill was vetoed by the President in May of that year.
Undaunted by their failure, the same people who worked for the creation of Tunga into a municipality searched for another way by which it could become one and by September they decided that the only means was through an Executive Order. They accomplished all necessary and pertinent papers and submitted them to the President through the Secretary of the Interior. Their efforts finally paid off, for on September 24, 1949, Executive Order No. 266, creating the barrio of Tunga into an independent municipality was signed by President Elpidio Quirino. On November 15, 1949, the municipality of Tunga was formally inaugurated and the following first appointed town officials took their oath:
|Domingo Ponferrada||Municipal Mayor|
|Norberto Quintana||Municipal Vice-Mayor|
When Tunga was created an independent municipality, its total land area was 38.20 square kilometers including the sitios of Banawang, Balire and Astorga (formerly Upat). The town had its own elementary school building, public market and chapel. High school facilities were privately owned. The population was over five thousand and the revenue was sufficient to maintain an independent municipality.
An election was held in 1951 and Domingo Ponferrada was elected for the second term. He was succeeded by the following with their respective terms of office:
|1956-1959||Vicente Catenza, Sr.|
|1960-1963||Primo E. Obsequio, Sr.|
|1964-1967||Flor M. Uribe|
|1968-1970||Eufracio B. Cosio|
|1971-||Simeon A. Ongbit, Sr.|
Today, the municipality of Tunga has eight barangays, a population of over nine thousand, complete elementary and high school facilities, cemented roads, a good government and better maintenance of peace and order.