Samal Island was settled by indigenous people coming from the northern and eastern coasts of the undivided Davao Province. A large mixed population of Mansakas, Mandayas and Muslims composed the identification of the now so called Sama Tribe. These primeval settlers were organized into communities and were dynastically ruled by a Datu up to the early part of the American Regime.

In the early part of the 18th century, governance shifted when Christianization came in. The first mass was celebrated in Barangay San Jose of Samal District in 1928. On June 8, 1948, Samal became a District Municipality of Davao Province under Executive Order No. 151, which was signed by President Elpidio Quirino. On May 28, 1953, Babak Municipality was created under Executive Order No. 590 which was signed by President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

The Second District which is the government center of the City got its district name SAMAL, from the early indigenous settlers forming into one tribe called “Sama” and its barangay name Peñaplata from the Sama term “Malibasa” which means a place where honorable people who love peace live in perfect harmony.

First District derived its name BABAK from an abundant shrubs called “Tagbak” grown in the area and a big tree which the natives called “Bakbak” which were used as landmark for the people’s trade center. White sand in the local dialect “Puting Balas” is significantly true to the shoreline of the Third District from which its name KAPUTIAN was derived. More developments and settlements happened, population continue to grow as years passed by until the time that Samal Island was tapped as one of the government tourism zones.

In 1996, the high ranking officials of Davao del Norte led by Congressman Rodolfo P. del Rosario and Provincial Governor Prospero S. Amatong with other members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan moved on to usher Samal a new vision of hope before its Golden Anniversary in 1998. During this year a new concept of development strategy cropped up which is the creation of an urban center in a rural environment that would set a new horizon of modernity and prioritize quality public service delivery.

Congressman Rodolfo P. Del Rosario passed the bill that resulted to the passage of Republic Act # 8471, which paved the way for the integration of the three municipalities into one local government unit that is now called the Island Garden City of Samal. This was signed on January 30, 1998 by President Fidel V. Ramos and was overwhelmingly approved by the people of the locality during the plebiscite held on March 7, 1998. Almost four months later, on June 30, 1998, the new city began exercising its corporate powers.


Elected and Appointed Municipal Mayors of the former Municipalities of Babak, Samal and Kaputian, now the Legislative Districts of the Island Garden City of Samal

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Brgy. Peñaplata, Samal District
Island Garden City of Samal



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