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.

Historical Background

Even before the coming of the Spanish colonial government, Samal, which was then a flourishing village off the coastal area of Manila Bay, was already a thriving community. The name "Samal" derived its origin from the covering attached to the boat to protect the passengers from the heat of the sun called "samel". This covering was made up of nipa leaves woven together.
Samal was the second town founded by the Dominican friars in the province of Bataan. The town was established on April 20, 1641. In the beginning it was consisted of four barrios; Calaguiman, Santa Lucia, Poblacion and Lalawigan. Then the barrios increased in number; Calaguiman was subdivided into East Calaguiman, West Calaguiman, and Sapa; Santa Lucia was divided into Sata Lucia and Ibaba; Daan Bago was created and lately divided into East Daan Bago and West Daan Bago; Palili was created, then subdivided into Palili and Gugo; San Roque was also created and divided into San Roque and Tabing Ilog; Lalawigan was divided into Lalawigan and Imelda, now totaling fourteen barangays.

Physical Characteristics

The municipality of Samal is located in the northeastern part of Bataan Province. It lies approximately at coordinates 120° 23' 48" to 120° 33' 5" latitude and 14° 44' 12" to 17° 47' 13" longitude. The municipality is bounded on the north by the municipality of Orani, on the south by the municipality of Abucay, Mt. Natib's Peak at the west, and Manila Bay in the east.
Samal has a total land area of 5,630 hectares or 56.30 square kilometers. Compared to other municipalities in the province, Samal ranked 10th in terms of total land area occupied and represents 4.1 percent of the whole land of Bataan Province.

Demographic Features

The total population of Samal, as of 2011, was 36,990 persons. This implies as an increase of 3,033 persons over the 2007 census count of 33,867.
During the 1990-1995 inter censal period, the population of Samal grew at the rate of 2.2 percent annually. This is 0.2 percent point higher than the annual growth rate during the eighties (2.0 percent). If the average annual growth rate continues at 2.2 percent, the population of Samal  is expected to double in about 23 years.
As of 2011, among the 14 barangays of Samal, the largest in terms of population size was Brgy. San Juan with 4,338 persons. It accounted for 11.73 percent of the oppulation of the entire municipality. Brgy. Tabing Ilog came second with 4,325 persons or 11.69% of the total population while Brgy. Lalawigan registered the third largest population with 3,729 persons or 10.08%. The barangay with the smallest population size was Brgy. West Daan Bago with 877 persons or 2.37 percent of the municipality's total population.