The name Camiguin is derived from the native word Kamagong, a species of ebony tree that thrives near Lake Mainit in the province of Surigao del Norte, the region from which the earlier inhabitants of the islands, the Manobos, came. Kinamigin, the local language of Camiguin, is closely related to the Manobo language.
An earlier Spanish geography book spells the island as Camiguing. There is reason to suppose the Spaniards dropped the final g. Today it is rendered as Camiguín.
The island of Camiguin is believed to first have been inhabited by the Manobo people of Surigao del Norte, as evidenced by the distinctly connected language between the two groups. The island was used as a trading stop point by various merchants and traders from the Rajahnate of Butuan, the Kedatuan of Dapitan, the ancient people of the Anda peninsula, and possibly the Rajahnate of Cebu and the animist Maranao of Lanao before the Islamization of the Lanao provinces.
Spanish colonial era
Old Spanish documents indicate that the renowned explorers Ferdinand Magellan and Miguel Lopez de Legaspi landed in Camiguin in 1521 and 1565, respectively. The first Spanish settlement was established in 1598 in what is now Guinsiliban. Guinsiliban, which comes from the old Kinamiguin word Ginsil-ipan has an old Spanish watchtower where the Camiguinons kept watch for Moro pirates.
The first major Spanish settlement, established in 1679, was called Katagman or Katadman(known as Catarman). The settlement grew and prospered but was destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Vulcan in 1871. The former location is what is now Barangay Bonbon of Catarman.
Sagay, located south of Catarman, was formally established as a town in 1848. The word Sagay is derived from the name of poisonous fruit trees that grow in the area. Mambajao became a town in 1855. The name was coined from the Visayan terms mamahaw, meaning to usher breakfast, and bajao, which is leftover boiled rice. In the early 1900s, Mambajao prospered and became the busiest port in Northern Mindanao.
Mahinog was established as a municipality in 1860. The name Mahinog comes from a Visayan word meaning "to ripen" or "to become ripe". Although Guinsiliban was the oldest settlement in the island, it was only in 1950 that it became a municipality. Mahinog was formerly governed by Mambajao while Guinsiliban was formally governed from Sagay.
American colonial era
In 1901, in the middle of the Philippine-American War, American soldiers landed in Camiguin to assume political control over the island. A group of Camiguinons, armed with bolos and spears, led by Valero Camaro, fought them in a short battle in Catarman. Valero Camaro was killed by a bullet in the forehead and became one of the Camiguin patriots of the early independence movement. In 1903, the first public school in Camiguin was built in Mambajao, and in 1904 the first public water system was installed.
World War II
On June 18, 1942, the Japanese Imperial Army landed in Camiguin and set up a government in Mambajao. They gutted central Mambajao in reprisal to guerrilla activities in the area. The remains of some of these buildings still exist today.
On July 4, 1946, the Philippines gained independence from the US. Camiguin was then part of Misamis Oriental. In 1958, it became a sub-province. It was made into a separate province on June 18, 1966, and formally inaugurated in 1968.
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