The Story of Mainit
By Magelle Labrador-Resullar
The Lake. The spring. The first is the recipient of the latter. The latter pours out to the former in a never-ending cycle of ebbs and flows. And so goes the tale of the town of Mainit, interminably twined to the tales of both.
Mapaso Hot Spring is the sulfuric spring that flows into the town’s eponymous river that spans the periphery of the town. The Mainit River is the main tributary to the tranquil Mainit Lake, which in turn feeds thousands of inhabitants of the lakeshore and nearby towns.
The first peoples were the nomadic Negritos*, which inhabited the shores of the lake. The Negritos first set up a village now called as Daang Lungsod (now Barangay San Isidro). There, families lived together for filial affinity, order, security, and economic reasons. The villagers experienced many violent forays of invaders. The first invasions were by Moro pirates who looted homes and captured members of the village. These intrusions paved the re-settlement of the villagers eastward in what is now the present town site, Mainit.
Christianity reached the place with the arrival of Spanish Jesuits, among them, Padre Urios, in the 1800’s. A convent was built and a Catholic school was opened. A local government was put in place. The first administrative officials were known as capitans or cabezas. The following were the first Capitans: Bonifacio Mupas, Macario Francisco, Saturnino Libarnes, Hilario Villamon Mosende, Pio Murcilla and Lino Libarnes Mozar.
Mainit had its share of other foreign invasions interspersed in its dynamic history reflective of fluxes that was happening to the whole country. The Chinese came. Early records show, Carlos Lo Hernandez, a son of a Chinese trader, married a Mainitnon. This was among the first intermarriages that brought forth descendants who became the decisive personalities in the political growth of the town. The American came and mandated the creation of Mainit as a barrio of Placer municipality in 1904. The succeeding years were a territorial tug-of-war between Agusan and Surigao provinces for jurisdiction of Mainit. Eventually, Surigao Province won the case and Mainit was again reverted into a barrio of Placer.
Two decades later, Ceferino Lozada, the grandson of the Chinese trader, was elected Presidente of Placer together with two other Mainit locals, Juan Moselina as Vice Presidente and Antonio Grecia Mozar as councilor. Another decade later, Mainit was re-organized into a municipality under Executive Order No. 290 in December 27, 1930, signed by Governor General Dwight Davies. Antonio Grecia Mozar was appointed Presidente of the new town and Vedasto Mosende was Vice-Presidente. In the ensuing elections, Antonio G. Mozar became the first elected Presidente, or Mayor of the municipality. Vedasto L. Mosende was Vice Presidente
The councilors were Tomas de la Costa, Marcial Beltran, Baldomero Reyes, Victor Buyser and Pablo Ugay.
The leadership of the municipality changed from then on as the town matured into its present state. The following were the municipal mayors of Mainit: 1931-1934 Antoio G. Mozar, 1934-1937 Gardenia S. Beltran, 1937-1940 Baldomero S. Reyes, 1940-1942 Ceferino P. Lozada, 1944 (3 months) David M. Montañer, 1945 (2 months) Tomas de la Costa, 1946-1951 Agapito R. Montañer, 1952-1967 Jose M. Mondano, 1968-1970 Yolanda L. Mondano, 1970-1980 Cain C. Behagan, 1981-1986 Robuam M. Relliquette, 1986 Hilario S. Mosende , 1986 Felix S. Mosende, 1987 Robuam M. Relliquette, 1987-1991 Sarah M. Behagan, 1992-2001 Ramon B. Mondano, 2001-2007 Rogelio M. Gatpolintan, 2007-2016 Ramon B. Mondano, 2016-present Crisanta O. Mondano.
With its glorious past and lessons of history, Mainit continues to grow as an independent progressive municipality. It has twenty-one barangays, namely: Binga, Bobonaon, Cantugas, Dayano, Mabini, Magpayang, Magsaysay, Mansayao, Marayag, Matin-ao, Paco, Quezon, Roxas, San Francisco, San Isidro, San Jose, Siana, Silop, Tagbuyawan, Tapian, and Tolingon.
The municipality has a population of 26,741 (as of the 2015 census) comprised of professionals, business folks, farmers, fisher folks, and laborers. Like the rest of the country it has its share of overseas foreign workers (OFWs). Industries include mining, agriculture, and fishing. Barangay Siana is a mining barangay still turning large gold returns. Majority of townspeople are Catholics while the rest are Protestants, Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists, Mormons and a small group of other sects.
Scattered around the municipality are exquisite wonders of nature. On top of the list is the mystical Mapaso Hot Spring – from which the town is named after. Townspeople and now tourists flock there to bathe for its therapeutic effects. Visible from many vantage points is the focal point of the town, Lake Mainit. It boasts of endemic variety of fish including hayuan, agok-ok, kasili, tilapia, bogwan, luyab and the all-time favorite, pidjanga. Local shellfish include igi, hapyuson, bajun-on among several others. The now developed Togonan Falls is situated in Barangay Marayag about 7 kilometers from the Poblacion. To reach the bottom of the waterfall, pilgrims need to descend a 70-foot drop. The water below is crystal-clear and refreshingly cool with the surrounding verdant forest as the dramatic backdrop for that long-awaited dip in the natural pool. There is also now a man-made pool next to the natural body of water. Families can luxuriate in the warmer pool as they enjoy the views. Lake Silop is mysterious in many ways. It is a 2.5 hectare-lake at the top of the mountain barangay of Silop. The species of fish in this lake are known to appear, disappear and re-appear at various times of the year. Other wild creatures that inhabit the lake and its vicinity are ducks and large animals like carabaos.
Almost always, a place gets to be known for its people. Nowadays, the Mainitnon is both modern and conservative. While technology has reached this beautiful town, beliefs and traditions still grow strong in the hearts of the people and are practiced up to the present. Modernity and globalization have worked well in the preservation of the Mainitnon culture and in its growth and march to progress. The warmth and the charm of its people have remained. It is an unspoken source of pride – being a Mainitnon. For what could be the one of the core reasons for coming home after many years of staying abroad or being out-of-town other than claiming one’s roots and beginnings.
In this great cycle of life, we remain true to our beginnings. The Lake. The Spring. The namesake. Mainit. The Mainitnon.
*Anthropologically, Negritos are descendants of the people now called Austronesians. They originated from East Africa and were able to migrate to Asia during the original dispersal of the modern humans many thousand years ago. The Austronesians were sea voyagers who dispersed into the Philippines by way of Taiwan or southern China or Celebes Sea area (Island SouthEast Asia, ISEA). They are the same ancestors of the Aborigines of Australia, New Guinea, the Polynesians and peoples of Hawaii, Indo-Malaysia and as far westward as the original people in Madagascar. This migration from Asia is estimated to be around 60,000 to 75,000. The original modern Homo sapiens existed >160,000 years ago. The oldest carbon-dating of the human remains in the Philippines (Callao Cave excavation in Cagayan) is 26,000 year old. This means that there were people and a way of life in the Philippines (albeit less documented at this time) way before the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines in 1851.