Province of Samar
Flag of Samar
Official seal of Samar
The Caving Capital Province of the Philippines[1]
Location in the Philippines
Location in the Philippines
Coordinates: 11°50′N 125°00′E / 11.83°N 125°E / 11.83; 125
RegionEastern Visayas
FoundedJune 19, 1965
Largest cityCalbayog
 • TypeSangguniang Panlalawigan
 • GovernorSharee Ann T. Tan (NP)
 • Vice GovernorArnold V. Tan (NP)
 • LegislatureSamar Provincial Board
 • Total6,048.03 km2 (2,335.16 sq mi)
 • Rank10th out of 81
Highest elevation
(Mount Huraw)
890 m (2,920 ft)
 (2020 census)[3]
 • Total793,183
 • Rank39th out of 81
 • Density130/km2 (340/sq mi)
  • Rank64th out of 81
 • Independent cities0
 • Component cities
 • Municipalities
 • Barangays951
 • DistrictsLegislative districts of Samar
Time zoneUTC+8 (PHT)
ZIP Code
IDD:area code+63 (0)55
ISO 3166 codePH-WSA
Spoken languages
Highway routes Edit this at Wikidata

Samar, officially the Province of Samar (Waray: Probinsya han Samar; Tagalog: Lalawigan ng Samar), formerly named Western Samar, is a province in the Philippines located in the Eastern Visayas region. Its capital is the city of Catbalogan. It is bordered by Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Leyte and Leyte Gulf, and includes several islands in the Samar Sea. Samar is connected to the island of Leyte via the San Juanico Bridge.

In 1768, Leyte and modern Samar were created out of the historical province of Samar. In 1965, Northern and Eastern Samar were created.

Fishing and agriculture are the major economic activities in the province.[4]

On 8 November 2013, the province was significantly damaged by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), particularly the towns of Basey, Marabut and Santa Rita.[5]


Samar is said[by whom?] to derive from the word Samad, a Visayan word for "wound" or "cut", describing the rough physical features of the land which is rugged and deeply dissected by streams.



Around 2 million to 8000 B.C, based on geologic findings, during the ice ages (2 million years – 8000 B.C), the islands of Mindoro, Luzon, and Mindanao were connected as one big island through the islands of Samar, Leyte and Bohol.

Early history

In 8550 B.C., diggings in Sohoton Caves in Basey, Samar showed stone flake tools. In 1200 A.D., other diggings along the Basey River revealed other stone flakes used until the 13th century.[6]

Spanish colonial era

In 1543, the explorer Ruy López de Villalobos, first came to the island and named it Las Islas Filipinas.

In 1596, many names (such as Samal, Ibabao, Tandaya) were given to Samar Island prior to the coming of the Spaniards in 1596. The name "Samar" was derived from the local language samad, meaning "wound" or "cut", aptly describing the rough physical features of the island, rugged and deeply dissected by streams. During the early days of Spanish occupation, Samar was under the jurisdiction of Cebu.

On October 15, 1596, the first Jesuit missionaries arrived in Tinago (now Dapdap) in Tarangnan. From Tinago, the missionaries, Fr. Francisco de Otazo, Bartolome Martes and Domingo Alonzo began teaching Catechism, healing the sick and spreading the Christian faith into the interior settlements.

On June 1, 1649, the people of Palapag led by Agustin Sumuroy revolted against the decree of Governor General Diego Fajardo requiring able bodied men from the Visayas for service at the Cavite Shipyards. Like wildfire, the revolt quickly spread to the neighboring town in the Northern and Western coast of Samar and to the nearby provinces of Bicol, Surigao, Cebu, Camiguin and as far as Zamboanga. It was suppressed in 1650 by the combined forces of the Spaniards, Lutaos, and Pampangos.

In 1735, Samar and Leyte were united into one province with Carigara, in Leyte, as the capital town.

In 1747, Samar and Leyte were separated for administrative effectiveness.

In 1762, complaints from the Jesuits that the division was not working well, thus it was reunited again by the approval from the King of Spain.

In 1768, Jesuits were expelled in all Spanish dominions. The Franciscans arrived on September 25, 1768, and took over the administration of 14 of the 17 parishes which were under the spiritual care of the Jesuits for almost 172 years. The administration of the remaining three parishes namely Guiuan, Balangiga and Basey in the south of Samar were given to the Augustinians.

In 1777, the two provinces were divided for the last time, it was approved in Madrid in 1786 and had been effective in 1799.

In 1803, Guiuan, Balangiga and Basey were turned over to the Franciscans for the lack of Augustinian priests.

On August 11, 1841, Queen Isabella II of Spain signed a Royal Decree declaring Samar as a province.

American invasion era

The Battle of Catubig occurred on April 15–18, 1900 during the Philippine–American War.

On April 15, 1900, the Filipino guerrillas launched a surprise attack on a detachment of the US 43rd Infantry Regiment, forcing the Americans to abandon Catubig town after the four-day siege.

In 1901, the Balangiga massacre occurred during the Philippine–American War.

On September 28, 1901, the people of Balangiga, Giporlos, Lawaan and Quinapondan in Eastern Samar surprised and attacked the American forces stationed there, killing 48 American soldiers. To avenge their defeat, American general Jacob H. Smith ordered his men to turn Samar into a "howling wilderness".

On April 10, 1910, upon the papal bull of Pope Pius X separated the islands of Samar and Leyte from the Diocese of Cebu and erected the Diocese of Calbayog comprising both islands. Pablo Singzon de Anunciacion was named first Bishop and consecrated on June 12, 1910.

Japanese occupation era

In 1942, the occupying Imperial Japanese forces arrived in the province of Samar.

On October 24, 1944, the Battle off Samar took place as Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita's Center Force warships clashed with several allied naval vessels in a collision course. His forces sank escort carrier USS Gambier Bay (CVE-73), destroyers USS Hoel (DD-533) and USS Johnston (DD-557), and escort destroyer USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413), but at a cost of his cruisers Chikuma, Chokai, and Suzuya. Despite being a tactical victory for the Imperial Japanese Navy, it did not alter the course of the Philippines campaign.

Philippine independence

On June 19, 1965, the Philippine Congress along with the three Samar Representatives, Eladio T. Balite (1st District), Fernando R. Veloso (2nd District) and Felipe J. Abrigo (3rd District), approved Republic Act No. 4221 dividing the region of Samar into three divisions: Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, and Western Samar. Each region adopted a new capital: Catbalogan (Western Samar), Borongan (Eastern Samar), and Catarman (Northern Samar).[7]

On June 21, 1969, under Republic Act No. 5650, Western Samar was renamed Samar with Catbalogan still as the capital.[8]


On November 8, Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Typhoon Yolanda hit Samar province.[9] More than 300 people perished on the first day it hit the province.[10]

In June 2018, a friendly fire incident happened between Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines under the administration of Rodrigo Duterte. The incident led to the death of numerous police officials of Waray ethnic origin.[11][12]

On January 22, 2019, House Bill No. 8824 was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Edgar Mary Sarmiento to establish a new province called "Northwest Samar", consisting of nine municipalities and one city of Samar's 1st congressional district, of which Calbayog would be the designated capital. The bill is yet to be reviewed.[13]


Samar province covers a total area of 6,048.03 square kilometres (2,335.16 sq mi)[14] occupying the central-western sections of the Samar island in the Eastern Visayas region. The province is bordered on the north by Northern Samar, east by Eastern Samar, south by Leyte and Leyte Gulf, and west by the Samar Sea.


Karst islets off the coast of Marabut, southern Samar.

Samar province is hilly, with mountain peaks ranging from 200 to 800 metres (660 to 2,620 ft) high and narrow strips of lowlands, which tend to lie in coastal peripheries or in the alluvial plains and deltas accompanying large rivers. The largest lowlands are located along the northern coast extending up to the valleys of Catubig and Catarman rivers. Smaller lowlands in Samar are to be found in the Calbayog area and on the deltas and small valleys of Gandara and Ulot rivers. Slopes are generally steep and barren of trees due to deforestation. Run-off waters after heavy rains can provoke flooding in low-lying areas and the erosion of the mountains enlarges the coastal plains of the province.

Climate and rainfall

Areas near the eastern coast of the province have no dry season (with a pronounced maximum rain period usually occurring from December to January), and are thus open to the northeast monsoon. Municipalities in the southeastern section of the province experience this type of climate.

Areas located in the northwestern portion of the province have a more or less evenly distributed rainfall throughout the year.

Administrative divisions

The province of Samar comprises two congressional districts, 24 municipalities and two component cities. It has a total of 952 barangays.


Catbalogan, the provincial capital
Population census of Samar (province)
YearPop.±% p.a.
1903 118,912—    
1918 168,668+2.36%
1939 236,909+1.63%
1948 331,521+3.80%
1960 368,823+0.89%
1970 442,244+1.83%
1975 478,378+1.59%
1980 501,439+0.95%
1990 533,733+0.63%
1995 589,373+1.88%
2000 641,124+1.82%
2007 695,149+1.12%
2010 733,377+1.97%
2015 780,481+1.19%
2020 793,183+0.32%
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority[15][16][16]

The population of Samar (province) in the 2020 census was 793,183 people,[3] with a density of 130 inhabitants per square kilometre or 340 inhabitants per square mile.


Samar (Western Samar) is predominantly Roman Catholic. The Catholic Hierarchy (2014) states that 95 percent of its population adhere to Roman Catholicism. Some other Christian believers constitute most of the remainder such as Rizalista, Iglesia Filipina Independiente, Born-again Christians, Iglesia ni Cristo, Baptists, Methodists, Jehovah's Witnesses, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Seventh-day Adventist and Members Church of God International (MCGI). Muslims are also present and a few mosques are located within the province.

Languages and dialects

Languages Spoken (2000)[17]
Language Speakers
Not Reported

Residents of Samar are mostly Waray, the fifth largest cultural-linguistic group in the country. 90.2 percent of the household population speaks the Waray-Waray language, while 9.8 percent also speak Cebuano; 8.1 percent Boholano; 0.07 percent Tagalog; and 0.5 percent other languages.

There are two types of Waray spoken in the province, Waray Lineyte-Samarnon which is spoken from the southernmost tip of the province up to the municipality of Gandara and Waray Calbayog, an intermediary between the Waray of Northern Samar and the Waray of Samar, spoken in Calbayog, Santa Margarita, and in some parts of Tagapul-an, Santo Niño, Almagro and Matuguinao.


Former governors

Main article: Governor of Samar

Samar Provincial Capitol

Notable personalities

19th & 20th Centuries

21st Century


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