The Municipality of Leon

Leon is known as the citadel of freedom. A frontier town Leon was founded in 1730 by its first capitan, Bernabe Bungkag. In 1738, it became the pueblo of Camando (from Camandag Tree). Its first parish priest was Fray Andres Solar.

It had a plaza, church, convent, belfry, casa real, and school (Escuela de las Primeras Letras). Because of the frequent floods and expanding population, the poblacion was moved to its present site in Sitio Capan owned by Melchor Capacillo.

It was named Leon after the home city in Spain of its parish priest Fray Agustin Castro. In 1869, a church was built (the biggest Panay in point of area (30 feet by 100 feet) by Fray Melquiades Aresmendi.

Of ancient Byzantine exterior and Renaissance-Romanesque interior, the church was destroyed during the war with its façade still standing intact. When the Phil. Revolution broke out in 1898, the townspeople rose against Spain led by Sgt. Ananias Estores, a member of an expeditionary force from Luzon under General Ananias Diokno, Nicolas Cambronero’s president.

In 1904, Leon absorbed San Miguel and Alimodian as its barrios.

However, in 1915 and 1918 they again became towns respectively.

During the war, barrio Bucari was the capital of the civil assistance government of Governor Tomas Confesor. Among the towns in Panay, Leon suffered the most from Japanese brutalities with hundreds of people killed. Among the victims were former Mayor Severo Cajilig and his family.

Many Leon residents joined the guerilla, among them were Major Epifanio Cabalfin, Capt. Ben Camina, Lt. Policarpio Cajayon, Lt.Quirico Calasara, and Lt. Jaime Capaque. The town produced the only Filipino who was awarded the United States Congressional Medal for Honor during World War I, Sgt. Jose Calugas for heroism in Bataan.

During the Hukbalahap dissidence in the ’50s, Leon was the hotbed in the insurgency. The town was attacked by the Hukbalahap where former Mayor Francisco Cabarles was killed. During the NPA period in the 80’s, it was also the hotbed of dissidence.

Some interesting places in Leon are Bucari – the Baguio of Iloilo which is 2,000 feet above sea level, Barrio Camandag where the Huk “Stalin University” was located, Bobon ni Sumakwel in Loyong-loyong, Agan River Reforestation Project, St. Catherine Catholic Parochial School the oldest existing private high school in Iloilo province founded in 1910 by Mill Hill Father Everard van de Kampf and Leon National Agricultural College.

Source: The League of Municipalities (Iloilo Chapter) | “A Testimonial Program” | Pototan, Iloilo | January 8, 1998


Sheila is a digital marketing enthusiast. She is a kdrama fan, a dog person and a certified foodie!

Next Post

The Municipality of Bingawan

Fri Mar 1 , 2024
Bingawan is situated at the heart of Panay Island. It is bounded on the north by the Municipality of Tapaz, Province of Capiz; on the northeast by the Municipality of Dumalag, also of Capiz; on the northwest by the Municipality of Passi; and the southeast by the Municipality of Calinog, […]

You May Like