9 Mindanao cities you’ve probably never heard of

My homecity is ‘Iligan’, and when I tell my friends in Manila where I was from, they would ask, “Nasaan yan?”

I bet, some of you reading this would wonder where Iligan is. But I wont include Iligan in this list, this city is probably getting slightly popular nowadays. Maybe, thanks to Typhoon Sendong?

Refer to the map at the bottom of the page, while you read each city, so you’ll have an idea of its location.

1. Bayugan – This city started off as a barangay through a resolution created by Jose Joson in 1960. The following year on August 6, it became a municipality.

The term Bayugan has two meanings. In Manobo is means “pathway”. Bayugan could be interpreted as “the place of bees”, which could be a variation of the Cebuano word “buyugan”.

Cityhood date: July 3, 2011
Province: Agusan Del Sur
Region: 13 (Caraga)
Official website: http://www.bayugan.gov.ph/

2. Bislig – Famous for its majestic Tinuy-an Falls, this city’s name was derived from a rattan plant called locally as Bislig which was abundant prior to the arrival of the Spanish.

Cityhood date: September 18, 2000
Province: Surigao del Sur
Region: 13 (Caraga)
Official website: http://www.bislig.gov.ph/

3. Cabadbaran – There are two stories of where the origin of the name Cabadbaran came from. First, it was from the Cebuano word “badbad”, which is “untie” in English, this after the release of two captives. The second story is from the phrase “badbaran sa kawad-on” or “freedom from lack” in English. People from other places flock to Tolosa to find work and do business.

Tolosa was the former name of Cabadbaran.

Cityhood date: February 2007
Province: Agusan del Norte
Region: 13 (Caraga)
Official website: http://cabadbaranadn.gov.ph/

4. El Salvador – El Salvador is a Spanish word for “the Savior”. Their official tagline is “City of the Savior”.

Don’t confuse this with a country in South America of the same name.

This is where the Divine Mercy shrine is located, one of the largest Catholic shrines in the Philippines.

Cityhood date: June 27, 2007
Province: Misamis Oriental
Region: 10 (Northern Mindanao)
Official website: http://elsalvadorcity.gov.ph/

5. Gingoog – Gingoog is pronounced as Hi-ngo-og, and it means “good luck” in Manobo because the place was originally a progressive place inhabited by a Manobo tribe.

Cityhood date: June 18, 1960
Province: Misamis Oriental
Region: 10 (Northern Mindanao)
Official website: http://www.gingoog.gov.ph/

6. Isabela – Many of the locals speak Chavacano, a dialect with mixture of Spanish and a Malay language. The city was named by the Spanish colonizers which means “God of bounty” in English.

Cityhood date: April 25, 2001
Province: Basilan
Region: 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula)
Official website:

7. Lamitan – This city is just located a few kilometers from Isabela City. Lamitan was founded by Datu Kalun, whose Christian name was Pedro S. Cuevas.

Cityhood date: June 18, 2007
Province: Basilan
Region: Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)
Official website: http://lamitancity.gov.ph/

8. Tacurong – Was once named as Pamansang after a creek which provided living and access for the inhabitants. Later, changed it to Talakudong, a Maguindanaoan dialect for head covering, and the name evolved into a shortened Tacurong.

Cityhood date: September 18, 2000
Province: Sultan Kudarat
Region: 7 (Soccsksargen)
Official website: http://www.tacurong.gov.ph/

9. Tangub – According to its official website, the word Tangub “came from the word “tangkub”, a Subanen word for rice container made of tree bark woven together by rattan strips.”

How the place was named has an interesting history:

“A Spanish soldier on patrol in the area found a dead man whom the Subanens described as bitten by a snake inside the “tangkub” when he checked if there was still rice in the container. Not understanding the dialect, the soldiers reported that there was a dead man from “tangkub” and the name stuck, which later on was changed to Tangub.”

Cityhood date: June 17, 1967
Province: Misamis Occidental
Region: 10 (Northern Mindanao)
Official website: http://tangubcity.gov.ph/


Refer to this map for location purposes.

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