HomeThe Journal of Historyvol. 49 no. 1-4 (2003)

Dapitan Kingdom: A Historical Study on the Bisayan Migration and Settlement in Mindanao, circa 1563

Jonathan B. Catubig



When the Spaniards came to the Philippines, they did not bring a hoard of military personnel to occupy the entire Philippine islands. They subjugated and employed natives to augment their forces, and then made the subjugated natives/indios form part of their military contingent for their military operations. The result was the Spanish occupation in Mindanao. To understand better the pacification campaign of the Spaniards in Mindanao, one has to look back to the important role played by the Bisayans, specifically the Boholanos, in colonizing Mindanao.


The glory of the Bohol "Kingdom" came to its end following a Ternatan raid in the 1560s. These and other circumstances led the Boholanos to move their settlements from Bohol to Dapitan in northwestern Mindanao. These Dapitanons, or Boholanos of Dapitan, were already known for their bravery and commerce even before the establishment of the Philippines as a Spanish colony. Throughout the Spanish conquest in the Philippines, these people were used by the Spaniards in their pacification campaign in Mindanao, particularly against the Moros. The performance of the Dapitanons was impressive that many Spanish documents referred to them as the "noblest and bravest" among the other nations in Mindanao.