History of Aroroy

by: LUPO “TAPPY” C. ESPENILLA Sangguniang Bayan Secretary Source: National Archives, Manila National Library, Manila Legislative Library, Batasan Complex, Q.C

Part I

The History of Aroroy dates back to 1827, exact month of which was not written in the “MEMORIA DEL DISTRITO DE MASBATE Y TICAO”. A Chinese fleet of seven vessels entered the Lanang River inside the Fuerto Barrera. The expedition sent by the Chinese merchants was guided by a Moro named “TALCON” to explore vociferous veins near the Lanang river. By that time, Masbate was yet a part of Albay Province. Not long before that time, a man by the name of GREGORIO CORDERO, a native of Tondo, Manila and a captain in the Spanish Army was exiled to Masbate as military prisoner for having killed his superior officer in the Spanish Army. Instead of living in Burias where political prisoners were kept, he preferred to reside in Magdalena, a town in Masbate. He had two daughters and a son. Gregorio Cordero had four “fanlas” or Spanish vessels named: “Jesus Maria y Joseph, Sacramento, Salvacion and Santa Ana”. These vessels were used for the vigilance of Moro pirates who preyed on the three islands of Masbate, Ticao, Burias. Cordero was believed to possess amulets or “anting-anting” which made him invulnerable. With his four “fanlas”, he had about 150 men. One day he had an expedition to Lanang River. Accidentally, he encountered the Chinese fleet. Cordero asked and investigated the Chinese as to where they were going. They answered in a Chinese way, “alo-lo”, meaning to the gold mine, in Spanish, “al-oro”.

The Name of Al-oroy

After that incident, Gregorio Cordero with his men camped at the mouth of Fuerto Barrera and established his headquarters in the present site of the town of Aroroy. He befriended the natives. Cordero told the natives about the story of the Chinese explorers. The natives were clarified on the expression “alo-lo”. After a few months, Cordero returned to Magdalena, Masbate. The natives little by little tried to enlarge the sitio, which they named the place “al-oroy”.

Prominent Natives

Among the prominent natives who helped in the development of “al-oroy” were Toribio Bumayog, Jose Pusing, Norberto Pusing and Protacio Fabon.

From Al-oroy to Aroroy

The name “Al-Oroy” lasted until the arrival of the Americans, which was changed to Aroroy up to the present. Before the year 1900, “Al-Oroy” was a sitio and later a barrio under the PUEBLO of San Agustin. But by the year 1903, the two barrios of San Agustin and Baleno were fused to AROROY because of its strategic location in point of contact. Aroroy was chosen as the new PUEBLO, the equivalent of today’s MUNICIPALITY. The American regime saw the retention of forms of the PUEBLOs which made up of Poblacion and its barrios. An innovation largely on paper came in 1931 with the passage by the Philippine Legislature of ACT No. 3861 where it provided for the appointment of Teniente del Barrio formerly called “Cabeza de Barangay”.

Baleno, A Barrio of Aroroy

Under the books “Tracing your Philippine Ancestors” and “History and Cultural Life” both authored by W. Bance, compiled at the Legislative Archive of the House of Representatives, it appeared in index D-4 that BALENO was a barrio of Aroroy from 1903 to 1949. Baleno was formerly called “Daan-lungsod” (Index D-5) It was only on JULY 18, 1949 when Barrio Baleno was created into a municipality along with the towns of MOBO, CAWAYAN, MANDAON, BALUD and USON by virtue of EXECUTIVE ORDER No. 244 E.Q., under REPUBLIC ACT No. 292

Part II


From the years 1827 to 1846, Masbate was part of the Province of Albay, until it was separated on October 19, 1846 where Masbate was annexed to the Provincial Government of Sorsogon. In 1898 however, the Military Government under the then Republic of the Philippines, appointed VICENTE TRIVINO of Boac, Marinduque as the first Civil-Governor of Masbate. His government lasted some 20 months when in March 1900, the American occupation Army occupied the Province of Masbate. When civil government in Masbate was restored on January 18, 1909, BONIFACIO SERRANO, a native of Pandacan, Manila and a bemedalled soldier in the Korean War was elected as the first Governor of the Province of Masbate. The election was held on February 24, 1902. Eleven months after, Governor-General William H. Taft issued a “CODEGO MUNICIPAL LEY NUMERO 82, PARA LA ORGANIZACION DE GOBIERNOS MUNICIPALES EN ESLAS FILIPINAS”, where AROROY was created into MUNICIPALITY on January 26, 1903 per “GACITA OFFICIAL P-81 FECHA DELA PROMULGACION QUE CREA LA MUNICIPIO Y RIVERA FUERTOS” and enacted into law on November 17, 1903 by virtue of Act No. 993. On February 01, 1904, AROROY elected its first “Presedente” in the name of MATIAS INOPIA. Ma. Joaquin Z. Bayot was also elected as Provincial Governor of Masbate where confirmation of their election was contained under “EJECUTIVA ORDEN NUMERO 12 FECHA 7 DE MARSO 1904” signed by LUKE E. WRIGHT, Governor-General. Their terms however ended in 1906 when the Province of Masbate was again annexed to the Province of Sorsogon due to the economic slump experienced by the Province. MATIAS INOPIA was succeeded by FRANCISCO VALDEMORO, SR., who served as MUNICIPAL PRESIDENT from 1906 until 1908. On February 15, 1921, by virtue of the representations made by Congressman DON PABLO DELA ROSA, Masbate was restored as a province, separate and independent from Sorsogon. To make this write-up authentic we have included a complete list of all the Municipal Presidents or Mayors that has served the municipality of Aroroy, namely:
1903 Florentino Vital – First Appointed Mun. President
1904-1906 Matias Inopia – First Elected Mun. President
1904-1906 Matias Inopia – First Elected Mun. President
1906-1908 Francisco Valdemoro, Sr.
1908-1912 Valentin Caperiña
1912-1916 Pio Rubia
1916-1919 Elpidio Cortes
1919-1922 Isidro Albao
1922-1925 Fausto Magallanes
1925-1928 Pio Zaragosa
1928-1934 Edilberto Geres
1934-1937 Tomas Mingez
1938-1940 Edilberto Geres
1941-1943 Mateo Pusing
Mateo Pusing’s term was cut short when Japanese soldiers occupied the town of Aroroy
1943-1944 Tomas Marcaida (Japanese Occupation)
1944-1946 Ramon Alejo, Sr. (Post Liberation)
1946-1948 Paulino Abada
1948-1949 Gregorio Virtucio
1949-1955 Panta Rubia
1956-1971 Agustin C. Capinig
1972-1986 Moreno C. Dela Rosa
1986-1988 Eias C. Castillo (OIC) Edsa Revolution
1988-1998 Herminio L. Valdemoro, Sr.
1998-2007 Arturo Vicente P. Maristela
2007-Present ENRICO Z. CAPINIG


From the discovery of gold dusts in the river beds by the early Chinese settlers of the town, the municipal economy grew because of full scale mining operations by the Americans. There were influxes of recruited workers mostly from mainland Bicol Area. The outbreak of the Second World War and during those lean years after the war saw the closure of mining sites at Balete, Syndicate and Capsay. The town’s mining economy was greatly affected and shifted towards an agricultural economy. Population growth rate also declined because of out-migration exodus of those transient populations who are mostly recruited mine workers. Atlas Mining resumed mining operations in the late 70’s and saw again the resurgence of the municipal economy, population growth and infrastructure development for almost fourteen years. The Municipality of Aroroy was reclassified from a mere 8th Class to a 4th Class municipality until the mine closure of Atlas Mining in 1994. The Local Government Unit of Aroroy supported by the municipal population was resilient despite this adversity. Most people engaged in small scale business such as 1.) Gold Panning which later became full scale in some barangays like Bangon, Syndicate, Balete, Tinago, Luy-a and Bari-is; 2.) Fishing; 3.) Farming; 4.) Buy and Sell; etc. to address the problem of unemployment by those populations who chose to stay instead of migrating elsewhere. The economy of Aroroy was not totally displaced and was actually sustained as commerce continue to flow, progress was manifested in the areas of transportation and communication. It was two (2) years thereafter that some interested mining companies negotiated to buy-out the defunct Atlas Mining. The lucky mining company was the Base Metals Mineral Resources Corporation in which the final turn-over was made in September 1996 but for some reasons, the company likewise had to close. Not long though, Filminera Resources Corporation came into the picture bringing us high hopes for regaining the productive mining industry of Aroroy. Today, the Municipality of AROROY is a 1st CLASS MUNICIPALITY because of its considerable share in the Internal Revenue Allotment taking into consideration its: 1.) Land Area – being the second largest municipality of Masbate Province; 2.) Population – being second also as far as largest population size in Masbate Province and 3.) Other factors considered in the IRA distribution. It has maintained its role as primary source of gold coupled with agricultural activities such as 1.) Cattle Raising – because of its vast pasture land and 2.) Fishery – because of its numerous fishponds and lucrative fishing trades. It establishes trade linkage with nearest municipalities of: Mandaon and Baleno of Masbate Province and Pilar of Sorsogon Province off Masbate Pass. God-willing and with the extreme support of the people of Aroroy, we can be a city, the soonest! It is still and will always be our obsession to see Aroroy rise into some heights of peace and progress and be one among the progressive communities not only of this Island Province but of the entire Philippines as well.