The name ‘Misamis’ is believed to have been derived from the Subano word ‘Kuyamis’ which is a variety of sweet coconut – the staple food of the early settlers in this place. During the years the name persisted as an inference of geographical location and upon the advent of the Spanish settlers, the word ‘Kuyamis’ easily gave way to the more conveniently pronounceable but corrupted word ‘Misamis’.
The Original inhabitants of this area were the Bukidnon who gradually retreated into the interior following the steady influx of settlers from Cebu and Bohol.
The first Spaniards to arrive in Misamis were the Recollect Missionaries. In 1574, Father Jose Ducor, S.J., built the fort of Misamis now (Ozamiz City) as a base for further offensive against the Marauding Muslim form the south. As first constituted, Misamis formed a part of the bisphoric of Cebu. In 1818, it became a Corregimiento, comprised of four partidos or divisions. In 1850, it expanded further until it covered almost fourth of the entire Mindanao Island. During the later on, became one of the seven districts of Mindanao and Sulu at the close of the Spanish era.
At the outbreaks of the Philippine Revolution in 1896. Most of the Recollect Missionaries left the place. By December 1896, they completely abandoned their missionary activity in Misamis. The revolutionary government was in power during the last days of the 19th century and the first months of the 20th century. This ended abruptly, however, since after three brief months of the independence, the American occupation forces took over and forthwith established civil government on May 15, 1901.
In December, 1941, war came to the Philippines and the country was over-run in less than a month. The Philippine Army Capitulated by order but instead organized guerilla units in the province. Three of the well-known figures in the resistance movement were the late Jose Ozamiz who was executed at La Loma Cemetery, Lucas Naranjo, a former vice governor and Patricio L. Atay, Sr., also a
former Vice Governor.
Except for the tragic Calamba Massacre, the province from 1942 to 1943 was relatively peaceful since only a few negligible contingents of Japanese soldiers were stationed in the area. After the war, Gideon Quijano was appointed governor by President Roxas. The incumbent governor is Hon. Herminia M. Ramiro, the first lady governor of the Province.
The province consists of fourteen municipalities, including the lately created Don Victoriano Chiongbian. municipality and three cities namely: Oroquieta, Ozamiz and Tangub. The provincial capital is Oroquieta City. Legislative Act. No. 3537 passed November 2, 1929 divided the old province of Misamis into Misamis Occidental. The Occidental comprise the towns of Baliangao, Lopez Jaena, Tudela, Clarin, Plaridel, Oroquieta, Aloran, Jimenez, and Misamis. The Original nine municipalities of the province grew intothe present three cities of Ozamiz, Oroquieta and Tangub anf fourteen municipalities of Alron, Baliangao, Calamba, Clarin, Conception, don Victoriano, Jimenez, Lopez Jaena, Panaon, Plaridel, Sapang Dalaga, Sinacaban and Tudela with a total number of 490 barangays.
Misamis Occidental is located near the narrow strip of land linking northwestern Mindanao, to the north central part of the island. Shaped like a collapsible fan or a loaf of American Bread or the fourth letter in the alphabet, it is bounded on the northeast by the Mindanao Sea, East by the Iligan Ba, southeast by the Panguil Bay, and the west by the Zamboanga Del Norte and Sur. The fact that three of its boundaries are bodies of water gives away water life as one of its natural resources and findings as one of its main boundaries. Except along the coastal area, hilly and rolling land characterized the provincial terrain. Towards the western border, the terrain is particularly rugged. The province falls between 23033’00’’ to 123051’50’’ east longitude and 8001’15’’ 8040’15’’ north latitude.
The province has a total area of 205,522 hectares representing 0.65% of the total land area in the Philippines. The Municipality of Don Victoriano has the biggest land area equivalent to 16.22% of the total. The municipality of Panaon shares the Smallest area of only 4,268.73 hectares.
Topography and Land Classification
From the vast tracks of rice land along the coastal areas, twelve municipalities and three cities are located. The terrain is rising gently towards the hilly and rolling land westward to Mount Malindang and Mount Ampiro where two municipalities are situated. The soil in the rugged interior are suited to coconuts which is the chief crop grown in this province. The Second major crop is the rice. Other crops like corn, abaca, and cacao also thrive in flat and rolling lands. Under the present land classification system, lands of public domain with slopes of more than 18% (approximately 10 degrees) are retained for permanent forest purposes. Those with 18% slope and below classified as alienable and disposable (A and D) lands. Those lands may be released for non-forest purposes (agriculture, industrial and residential) subject to additional conditions such as contiguity of area and environmental considerations.