Chronicle states that the aborigines of Guinobatan were the indigenous which formerly inhabited the region bordering Albay Gulf, which was also, named Legazpi Bay. These people frequently bothered by the Mohammedans of Mindanao and Borneo were forced to migrate in the interior reaching as far as Tandarora to Bubulusan and Muladbucad which are presently barrios of Guinobatan. It was said that due to the avalanche of Mindanao moros who constantly harassed the town, the people retreated to the hills of Tandarora on the right side of an abundant river. However, the more invaders followed them there and so they had to run again towards the coast of Panganiran to the present. The town grew progressively with excessive abaca and cacao fields. These were the people that were found by the Franciscan Missionaries of Camalig who arrived in 1578 (circa) to evangelize these parts which was then considered a barrio or Vista of Camalig. When Christianity gained foothold in this place, the missionaries consolidated the converts in a nearby place called Binanuahan which is presently the locality between Mabalod and Tandarora.

In the era from 1672 to 1678, aggrupation expanded considerably and subsequently was recognized as a permanent Visita (settlement) and was designated as Christianity’s outpost in that sector. In the meantime, Mauraro, then a distant barrio or settlement with 217 inhabitants, was also considered a temporary religious station. This was according to Don Sinibaldo de Mas in his report to the Madrid government in the year 1843. In 1846, the towns included in the Yraya sector, from Libog (Sto. Domingo) to Pilar, which were under the jurisdiction of Camarines, were interchanged with the towns in the sector of the Cordillera now named Lagonoy from Sangay to Caramoan. In this way the territorial division between Albay and Camarines started from the east to Oas in place of those from the north to the south which was the prior division. Mauraro and Quipayo (now Jovellar) figured among those places interchanged.

In those years, the civil government was handled by the Tenientes Absolutos, Chief of these tenientes was Don Francisco Bagamasbad who can be considered the founding father of Guinobatan. Together with Don Ambrocio Balagan, Don Diego Catinod. Don Juan Labao and Don Raymundo Dimasibot, they elevated a petition to the Governor General through the Franciscan missionaries requesting that the settlement be declared independent town. After ten years (1688) the request was granted by the decree making Guinobatan a town and independent from Camalig. By virtue of his initiative, Don Francisco Bagamasbad was appointed Gobernadorcillo and recognized as the first Civil Admnistrator of Guinobatan. The rest of the petitioners were designated Cabezas de Barangay. That was then how Guinobatan came into being. The poblacion grew fast in progress especially its local trade. Market days were Thursdays and Sundays. Traders from all parts of the province including those of Donsol and Pilar of Sorsogon flocked to Guinobatan.

How this town acquired the name “Guinobatan” can be drawn from the word “Gubat” which in its substantive form in the Bicol idiom means barren and uncultivated. Used as a verb, “Gubat” denotes armed physical encounter. These encounters emanated from the depredation of the moros who frequently pillaged and plundered the town. The token resistance put up by the natives had given the name “Guinobatan” to this town which signified as a place of armed clashes. So the word “Gubat” used in the past participle combined with events of those times, plus the actual physical conditon of the settlement, gave the name “Guinobatan” to this town.

On January 7, 1895, the biggest institute of learning, then Colegio de San Buenaventura de Magno, a Franciscan school was solemnly inaugurated. In 1899 prior to the famous battle of Legazpi between the Filipino revolutionaries and the Americans, the Provincial Government of Albay was transferred to the town of Guinobatan particularly at the Colegio de San Buenaventura de Magno who at the same time serves as the armory of the revolutionary troops. These were the two main reasons that could be attributed for the burning of the aforesaid college by the revolutionary troops in 1900. The establishment of said college was through the efforts of Fr. Carlos Cabido who did not leave any stone unturned in building the edifice 1906, another church to replace the one burned by the revolutionary troops arose on the charred debris. Mons. Julian Felipe Ope worked very hard to reconstruct the church. He went to the extent of selling his properties just to acquire the needed funding for the construction of the new church that is now the church of Nuestra Senora de Asuncion. In his memory a modest monument was created in the church patio.

Researched by ART OSIA