History of Inopacan
Inopacan is a tiny western coastal municipality occupying a mere 182 square kilometers of green rolling hills bordered by narrow coastal plains. From the sea, it looks like a little coconut-convered rural community with a backdrop of high blue-greenish mountains. Beyod these mountains are the boundaries of Mahaplag and portions of Sogod, Southern Leyte and Hilongos. To the north is the progressive town of Baybay and the south is the equally small and peaceful Hindang town. The rich Camotes Sea Bound the western part.
The Town has twenty barangays, eight of which, including the poblacion, are along the coast. One is an island barangay and the rest are in the interior part. Sixty-five percent of the people live along the coast.
It is believed that the early settlers of Inopacan came from Cebu and Bohol. The Present site has been its original location because it had never been subjected to attacks from the moros. This was because of a dragon-sized snake that once lived in a cape located at the western sea approach to the town. This huge reptile would reportedly attack boats that would pass by it, so it prevented moro “pangkos” from landing at the settlement.
After the snake was killed, the settlement continued to enjoy a life of peace and safety because there appeared another protector of the people, a legendary hero by the name of “Inong.” The hero was said to be a leader of a well-trained band of men who successfully defended the pueblo from depredating moros. Believed to have possessed supernatural powers, Inong was said to be able to jump from hill to hill or from moro boat to boat wreaking havoc on the invaders so much so that he was commonly believed to have some kind of wings. Wings in the dialect means “pako” so that one who possessed wings is called “pak-an.” Inong therefore was known far and wide as Inong Pak-an, the winged Inong – which has been transformed to its present Inopacan for easier pronunciation.
Unfortunately, the town has lost all records and documents that could be make as the basis of a historical account since the archives of the parish church and the records of the minicipal building were burned during the war years. From the scanty and fragmentary records and references available. However, the town began its organized existence, then as a barrio sometime 1852. The barrio was under the jurisdiction of Hindang. As one of the most progressive barrios of Hindang, its inhabitants petitioned for its establishment as a municipality. With the help of an “ilustrado” from the town of Baybay – the late Don Quirimon Alkuino – the town’s leaders finally succeeded in convincing the Spanish authorities to create the municipality of Inopacan. On October 22, 1885, the petition was granted.
In 1887, the new municipality was erected as an independent parish.
During the years of the revolution, Inopacan enjoyed the fame of being selected as the site of the headquarters of the Filipino nationalist forces at one time or another. Shortly after the fall of Spanish rule in the archipelago and especially during the fight against the Americans, Inopacan was selected several times as the site of the conference between the pacifists and leaders of the resistance movement in the campaign for peace.
Just after the outbreak of the Second World War, long before the invading Japanese forces arrived at the municipality, the townspeople of Inopacan experienced a reign of terror that presaged the coming years of occupation. A certain Julia Manapsal, wife of an American and self-styled as the “Joan of Arc of Inopacan” terrorized the municipality and neighboring towns and barrios. With a following of well-armed men, she took complete control of the town and instituted a veritable “juez de cuchillo” where her word was law. Judge and executor at the same time, she cowed people with a brutality that matched that of the Japanese. men and women of any age were liquidated at the merest suspicion of non-cooperation. many were condemned without trial. Security of property was unheard of and everything that the bandits wanted, were taken. Fortunately, government forces quelled the movement that threatened to grow into an uprising.
Just before the japanese, a faction of the Leyte Area Command occupied Inopacan, a guerrilla force under General Kangeleon used the town for its headquarters. At this time, the unfortunate struggle for supremacy between the guerrilla forces took place.
The Japanese occupation did not bring any notable change in the town other than the fact that public building were denuded of records and furniture which the Japanese used as fule ot form some kind of barricade for their trenches.
Inopacan was one of the few towns that suffered heavily from the bombing of liberation forces. The shelling took a heavy toll of lives and property. Municipal building to rubble. On December 8, 1944, three years after the Philippines became involved in the Second World War, Inopacan was a miserable heap of ashes an stone.
Shortly after the war, a slow period of recovery took place. A Catholic school was founded by the prominent citizens of the town through the efforts of Fr. Emiliano Sudario, the parish priest and the late Judge Broneo. A short period of relative prosperity reigned in the town.
Then, in 1951, a strong typhoon destroyed a great protion of the town. Before the people had hardly recovered from the effects of the typhoon, a big fire in 1953 razed the center of the community, reducing to ashes almost all of the homes in the heart of the town.
Inopacan is primarily an agricultural town. The residents are proud of the fine abaca in the region, about 50,000 kilos of which are shipped to Cebu every month.
The fish supply of the town comes form its own fishing grounds along the coast or in the waters around and near the islands of Apid, Mahaba, and Digyo.
Another source of livelihood of the people is from business. There are business establishments like dry goods store, hardware, drug stores and eateries, among others. The town has six rice mills and has a wharf under construction.
On the educational aspect, Inopacan has the Inopacan Institute, a private high school established 30 years ago. There are four rural high schools and eleven elementary schools.
These and many other achievements have considerably promoted the growth of the town and the fact that is has been choosed as the site of the first cooperative rural bank in Leyte is a sign of its continuing progress.
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