Catarman is a first class municipality in the Philippines, and is the capital and largest town of Northern Samar, Philippines. According to the 2007 census, it has a population of 81,067. It lies on the northern part of Samar Island and southeast of the Philippine capital, Manila. It is bounded to the east by Mondragon, to the west by Bobon, to the south by Lope de Vega, and to the north by the San Bernardino Strait. At present, there are 55 barangays, 22 of them in the poblacion. In 2003, its application for cityhood but was deterred after officials of neighboring towns Bobon and Mondragon opposed the planned Catarman City conglomeration, which was necessary to meet the criteria for the approval of bid for cityhood. At that time, the municipality couldn’t meet the population requirement of at least 150,000, and the income requirement of Republic Act 9009, which stated that the minimum annual income of Philippine cities should be 100 million pesos. The town is in the process of renewing its image as a poor and underdeveloped town in the 1980s.
Before the coming of the Spaniards, Catarman was called Ibabao and was part of the extensive Maguindanao Kingdom, which extended from Mindanao to Bicol. Ibabao extended from the southernmost tip of Samar Island to the territories close to Bobon in the northernmost part of the island. The Spanish Conquistadores freely applied the name Ibabao to the island when it established its civil government. The similarities in the dialects both in words and in tones of these areas traces to their single root as a people. The word Catarman is derived from the Turkish word attar (oil of the roses) and inman (holy men).
The town was one of the 13 pueblos established by the Spaniards in Samar Island and was one of the settlements in the northern parts of the island. The pueblo was named Calatman and was one of the pueblos in the Samar and Leyte islands, then collectively referred to as Islas de Pintados.
Catarman is home to the University of Eastern Philippines, the largest university in Region 8 in terms of real estate properties and curricular offerings. The University has satellite campuses in the province, one in Laoang and the other in Catubig (officially known the Pedro Rebadulla Memorial Campus), and has several extension programs offered across satellite campuses in the region.
If one enjoys the lay-back life amid a pastoral setting but with the amenities of a city, then Catarman, the Capital town of Northern Samar is for you. Daily flights from Manila and thrice weekly from Cebu will bring you to this town of your dreams, a “university” town, and home to the biggest university in Eastern Visayas. Fishing and agriculture are the towns main source of livelihood; hence one can savor the fresh bounty of the earth and sea in every meal you take in any of the restaurants around the town. Life in Catarman is no hurry; laze around in any of its beach or mountain resorts… Enjoy a day exploring the market, curio shops, the Church, the University… and learn what is it to be “ibabaonon” or nortehanon.