Legend of Samal
A group of Spaniards were on their way to this town by boat when their attention was attracted by something floating on the water. With unusual curiosity, they looked at the floating object. Each one of the Spaniards asked the natives who were with them, what was the name of the floating object? One native answered “samel”, which meant that it was covering attached to the banca to protect the passengers from the hot sun or rain. This covering was made of nipa leaves and woven together. The Spaniards repeated, “Samel, samel”. After the natives. Ever since that time, the town has always been called “SAMAL”.
Origin of Samal
The early settlers in Samal, Bataan came from Sulu, in Mindanao. These people belonged to the scattered tribes of “Badjaos” who resided for many years in Maubac, Lambayung, Tanjung, Pata, Tapul, Lugus, Bangos, Pagasinan, Parang, Maimbung, Karugdung and Talipaw, all in Mindanao.
These people belonged to the so-called “sea gypsies” of Mindanao. But they are more popularly known as “Samal,” which was derived from the unique dialect they were using during the olden times. It was a dialect different from the regular Muslim, Tagalog and Pampango dialects.
From Mindanao, they traveled to the Visayas and Luzon to participate in the growing trading business in Manila.They were famous for their pearls and other shell crafts. They reached Luzon in the early 14th century But Manila, at that time, was a Maranaw country. To avoid conflict, the Samals crossed Manila Bay and settled in Bataan, in the vicinity of Abucay which was occupied by the Tausogs. It was in Samal where they propagated the pearl and capiz culture.
This explains why it is only in Samal among the more than 100 towns located along the coasts of Manila Bay where capiz is still being grown and harvested up to the present time. Capiz is also grown in the Province of Capiz where the Samals also settled for some time before travelling to Luzon.
In addition to the Samals of Bataan, Davao also has the same tribe of sea gypsies at present time. They thrive in the so-called Samal Island where the best cultured pearls and shell crafts are being produced.