Sogod is a 2nd class municipality in the province of Southern Leyte, Philippines. Sogod is located 58.8 kilometers northeast of Maasin City via Bato, Leyte and 72 kilometers northeast via Malitbog, Southern Leyte. It is the third largest municipality (in terms of land area) of the province following after Silago having 23,690 hectares/236.9 km2 (91.5 sq mi) of its land area. According to the 2007 census, it has a population of 39,864.
The municipality is home to Southern Leyte State University (SLSU) Main Campus, a premier and the foremost state university in the province of Southern Leyte, and the Saint Thomas Aquinas College (STAC), one of the leading catholic institutions in the province and in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Maasin. In the northern part of the town, Sogod is also prone to landslides due to heavy rainfall allowing to declare a state of calamity.
Within the bay, the town is the center for trade, commerce and industry.
Before it officially became a municipality in 1853, Sogod was already a trading center in the southern portion of Leyte Island. Natives of then Sugut village found a settlement near the banks of the great Subangdaku River in the enclaves of Seilani (present-day Southern Leyte province) in what the Spaniards named baluarte (Barangay Zone III, formerly known as San Lorenzo Ruiz, named after the latter’s patron saint) which has retained its name until today, where the ruins of an old church and a watchtower can be found.
In 1543, during the era of Villalobos expedition, folks living in Abuyog, Leyte informed the navigators that a certain area in the southeastern part of the island lies a village named Sugut. It is although a thriving center of trade and commerce, Chinese traders are frequently visiting the settlement and traded the natives with gold and slaves. This information was later confirmed when the Legazpi expedition in 1565 came to visit the country. It was described as a large and thickly populated village facing the island of Panaon. Seventeen years later, the Spanish chronicler Loarca noted that Sugut was one of the aboriginal villages in Leyte, together with Cavalian (San Juan, Southern Leyte), Ormog (Ormoc City) and Tandaya (Carigara, Leyte). On September 6, 1571, Sogod became a part of the Spanish encomienda (commission).
The community was object to frequent Moro raids so that a baluarte (watchtower, its ruins still visible today) was built to warn villagers against the approach of the raiders. In such crisis, a colorful personality emerged – Datu Mangkaw. His real name was Bankaw, the person who led the Leyte revolt in 1622 against the Spaniards. He was known as a net-fisherman. Already a fishing ground that it is today, Sogod then had houses clustered close to shore around the watchtower. Datu Mangkaw, an expert in the art of casting the net, laya, he could send out the casting net in a perfect circle in the sea. As the community grew bigger, the residents agitated for a name for their place. Meetings after meetings were held presided by Datu Mangkaw. But every time a meeting is ongoing, a shoal of fish would be seen by the subtle ripplings and dimplings of the surface or quick shifting shadow beneath the surface and the eyes of Datu Mangkaw kept stalking it, interfering with the meeting. Satisfying his unequalled fisherman’s instinct, he would leave the meeting unattended and his body language was being watched by the attendees, feasting their eyes on the artful slide of the feet of Datu Mangkaw so as not to disturb the surface, his eyes fixed on the school. Then, he shared his catch with the people for the asking, even by strangers. After which, shouts of “Sogod, sogod” (begin) would reconvene the meeting. Thus the word “SOGOD” became the name of the village then and the town as it is today. (Atoy Manlunas III (NORTHERNHASHBERRY) – October 17, 2010)
Sogod was founded by the Jesuit missionaries as a mission in 1616. It was at the baptism of Datu Mangkaw, the village chieftain and his household, that Father Fabricio Sersali laid the foundation of the Christian faith in Sogod. A church of light materials was constructed near the seashore, and a mission was established and serviced by the Jesuits from Carigara, Hilongos and Cabalian Residencias. During the Muslim raids in 1603 and 1634, the church was burned and Father Ventura Barcena was brought as captive in Tawi-Tawi. In 1634, during a Moro raid Father Francisco Lauzon was killed and Sogod was subject to frequent Moro raids as it faced Mindanao. Another incident occurred again on September 27, 1705, when the Moros attack the seashore and killed Father Pedro Oriel. On account of this, the Jesuit missionaries in Cabalian (San Juan) undertook the construction of the concrete church and a watchtower in 1718 upon the order of Bishop Sebastian Faronda, Diocese of Cebu (now Archdiocese of Cebu. In 1720, the Jesuits formally assigned priests into the settlement together with the newly constructed watchtower and concrete church. These were razed to the ground and the Kampanang Bulaw (Golden Bell) was thrown into the rice fields when the Moros returned and raided Sogod in 1754.
Sogod was officially established as a barrio (district/ward) on May 18, 1700. Later it was incorporated as a barrio of Maasin in 1755. It was placed under the jurisdiction of Malitbog in 1768, after obtaining separation from Maasin and became an independent pueblo (municipality).
Through the efforts of the political leaders of Sogod, Buntuk (Bontoc town) and Maak (present-day Barangay Consolacion) led by Juan Cavales (Cabales), Antonio Prima, Enero Cegales (Segales), German Catajoy, Silverio Bilisa (Billesa), Juan Barcelon, Miguel Tubia and Juan Dagaas, Sogod became a fully-pledged municipality by virtue of a decree signed by Governor-General Antonio de Urbiztondo on June 10, 1853. The first gobernadorcillo is Don Juan Cavales, which its leadership lasted for two years. On August 8, 1869, thirteen year after its inauguration, Sogod was raised with a parochial status under the patronage of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception by virtue of a Real Aprobacion, an Episcopal decree dated May 14, 1866. Sogod was separated from the mother municipality, Malitbog, in terms of parochial and municipal status. However, on 1886, Father Redondo reports that the church, which was made of light materials, and the convento were in the bad condition.
There are no remains of Jesuit architecture in Sogod. The old church traces to the initiative of the secular priest who built the church in the late 19th century. (Atoy Manlunas III (NORTHERNHASHBERRY) – October 17, 2010)