BRIEF Municipal Profile OF CANAMAN


The municipality of Canaman is a 4th class municipality within the 3rd Congressional District of the Province of Camarines Sur. It has a total land area of 43.27 km2. According to the 2007 census, it has a population of 31,583 with a growth rate of 2.64%.  Canaman is situated in the Bicol River basin bounded by the municipalities of Magarao on the north, Libmanan on the northwest, Sipocot on the west, Gainza and Camaligan on the south, and the city of Naga on the east. It is 6 kilometers from north to south and 14 kilometers from east to west.

Covered within its administrative jurisdiction and political subdivision are 24 barangays namely Baras, Del Rosario, Dinaga, Fundado, Haring, Iquin, Liñaga, Mangayawan, Palo, Pangpang, Poro, San Agustin, San Jose East, San Jose West, San Juan, San Francisco, San Nicolas, San Roque, San Vicente, Santa Cruz, Santa Teresita, Sua, Talidtid and Tibgao.

Hon. Emmanuel S. Requejo is the current chief executive of the municipality. Hon. Henry P. Ragodon is the presiding officer of the Sangguaning Bayan. Among its member are Hon. Nelson Legaspi, Hon. Pat Sayson, Hon. Digno Caudilla, Hon. Larry Nico Basmayor, Hon. Rolando Espiritu, Hon. Joseph Sanchez, Hon. Loreto Trampe, and Hon. Honesto Bermudo. Its two ex officio members include ABC President Hon. Gerardo Ramos and SK Federation President Amaaman Capsa.

Etymology of Town’s name


It is now part of the collective memory of taga-Canaman that the area that is now Canaman was thickly forested ages before the place entered western consciousness and recorded annals. According to Jesuit anthropologist Frank X. Lynch, the town’s name derived from “cana,” a tree called used as building material suffixed with “man.” Canaman native Bicol historian Danilo M. Gerona argues that the town’s name derived from a kind of wood used as a decorative material.

Canaman’s antiquity is demonstrated by the native terms carried by many early barangays such as Poro which is an ancient Bikol word for island; Calambog which is a variety of mambog tree; Baras which derived from a heap of palay accumulated during threshing; Taculod which is an ancient term for little humps of land; Tibgao which came from a specie of hemp; also, Gogon which is a grass.

Historical Background


According to Gerona, Canaman has been in existence as a thriving Christian community for over 400 years. Through the centuries, its landscape has transformed into a developing suburban town from a cluster of isolated barangays of timbers and kamaligs along the trail of Kulakog’s masculinity, the Bicol River.

From a mere visita of Nueva Caceres, Canaman became a doctrina during the third Franciscan Chapter meeting held in Manila in June 1583 presided by Fray Pablo de Jesus. This marked the birth of the municipality as a vibrant Christian community. The first concrete church was constructed in 1590s through its first parish priest Fray Pedro Matias de Andrade who was later elected fifth bishop of Nueva Caceres in 1613. It was dedicated to Our Lady of Assumption which feast falls on the 15th of August. The church was reconstructed in 1669 during the tenure of Fray Acacio de la Concepcion.

In February 1711, a few years after Miguel Robles de Covarrubias introduced the devotion to the Virgin of Peñafrancia to Bicolanos, Canaman was said to have witnessed one of its earliest miracles. The whole town went to Peñafrancia shrine in Nueva Caceres with Fray Matias Guadalupe to appeal for rain due to the severe drought blighted the whole province that year. It rained heavily after the High Mass in such a manner that the rains continued, with a few days break, up to the last week of March. Rice fields recovered and everyone had good harvest. Other connections of the municipality to the Peñafrancia devotion were Don Angel Rosales’s contribution to the beautification of the shrine in 1865 and the publication of Apolonio Sto. Tomas’s verses on story of the Our Lady in 1933.

For centuries, the town remained as one of the most faithful subjects to Spain in the province. Even in the late 19th century, the absence of a strong intellectual base preserved the municipality’s highly conservative outlook both in politics and in religion. In 1900, militant taga-Canaman burned their church after they heard that Americans are closing in. It was an act of self-immolation and effort to save the old church from desecration at the hands of the invaders. Several taga-Canaman were suspected of collaboration with the Filipino Revolutionary Army which resulted to the establishment of a garrison in the town and the replacement of the local force. The municipality was dissolved in 1902 however six years later Canaman regained its former status as an independent town. This was through Rep. Tomas Arejola, brother of Gen. Ludovico Arejola and over-all commander of the Filipino Revolutionary Army in Ambos Camarines.


On 8 March 1942, taga-Canaman formally organized the Tangcong Vaca Guerilla Unit, one of the least known local fighting forces in the province in response to Japanese oppression. The guerilla unit was founded by Elias V. Madrid in barangay San Nicolas. Maj. Juan Q. Miranda, his nephew, served as the Commanding Officer while Leon SA. Aureus, from Libmanan acted as the Executive Officer. Miranda became the representative of the district after the War and he authored the cityhood of Naga. The battle for the liberation of Naga launched on 9 April 1945 produced an authentic hero in 22 year-old guerilla Lt. Delfin C. Rosales whose roots were from Canaman.

Language and Literature

A taga-Canaman takes pride of being a Bicolano who speaks the standard variety of Bikol or the Central Bicolano language, which is the lingua franca in Bicol region. Not all people in the region speak Bikol as their mother tongue. Moreover, this language is not even the dominant language in all municipalities of Bicol.  People of Canaman proudly claim they speak the “real” Bikol as a form of political protest on the cultural level. They manifest no antagonism to Filipino language – the National Language, or even to Tagalog language, the mother tongue of the taga-Ilog, as do some other cultural-linguistic groups in the country.


Bicol’s eminent writers and poets during the first quarter of the 20th century included Canaman natives. The Academia Bicolana, an organization of Bicolano writers which published the famed Sanghiran nin Bikol from 1927 until 1931 enjoyed the membership of taga-Canaman. Clemente B. Alejandria’s works included an award-winning short story entitled Panike (1927), the poems Paglanat nin Puso (1931), Estrella del Sur (1933), An mga Kahoy (1960), Arin Ngani…? (1974) etc., the song Ika an Ilaw ko, and two plays namely Prinscipe Lizardo and Prinsipe Fernando.

Angelo N. De Castro, described as “Burak kan Naga,” wrote one of the earliest Bikol translations of Himno Nacional Filipino and poems such as Pagkamoot and Bulanon.  Apolonio B. Sto. Tomas was a gifted orator and the author of the lengthy verse Macauiuiling caaguihan kan ladauan ni Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia published in 1933. Lorenzo I. Rosales, also called “Siling Layas,” was popular for his funny and profound commentaries in his column Piltik na Malanit. He wrote Huring Paaram, a translation of Jose Rizal’s Mi Ultimo Adios and edited Sanghiran nin Bikol, Tingog nin Banuaan and other political papers. Other writers from this town included Juan Requejo, Nemesio Puertollano and Luis General.


Five books have been published and a couple of researches have been written about the rich history and culture of Canaman including Frank X. Lynch’s Social Class in a Bikol Town (1959). Jose V. Barrameda’s Canaman Through the Centuries (1982) is probably the first history book of a Bicol town. In 2007, Barrameda also told the story of the Tangcong Vaca Guerilla Unit in his book In the Crucible of an Asymmetrical War. Regarded by many as a “cultural bible” of the municipality, Canaman: Through Four Centuries (2008) was written by Bicol historian Danilo M. Gerona. The works of two women of Canaman, Illuminada Balbas’s research and Elsa Mampo’s master’s thesis focused on the Lagaylay tradition.

In 2010, Ireneo C. Sto. Tomas versified Canaman history and published it in his book Canaman: Girà kan Banwáan.

Culture and Tradition

American Jesuit anthropologist Frank X. Lynch stayed in Canaman for few years and undertook his research entitled Social Class in a Bicol Town leading to a doctoral degree in an American university. Lynch presented a view of Philippine society as divided into two, symbiotic classes of rich and poor, the dakulang tao and the sadit na tao. In rural areas, Lynch argued, the pattern was established four centuries ago and remains unchanged despite the growth of a new urban middle class and modernization. He noted that the datu-servant distinction of pre-colonial times had transmuted into a peasant-landlord relationship, and took on forms not based on land-holding, but on money-wealth and influence.


One of Canaman’s most spectacular and unique features of the May festival is the Lagaylay which started in 1858. Held every third day of May, it is the reenactment of the discovery of the Holy Cross by St. Helena participated by lovely maidens with sweet melodious voices. The tradition originated from a pre-Hispanic ritual called Halea, which is a song and dance ceremony performed for the moon. Its earliest trainors included Gaspar Advincula, Antero Gomez, Sabas Chica, Hugo Gomez, Juan Nuñez, Geronimo Nuñez, Ignacio Alano and Melecio Porcioncula.

The annual performance of Lagaylay began in 1963 when Guillerma Arlante became Hermana Mayor of the Cofradia de Hermanidad. Innovations in the presentation and music of the nine-night religious event were introduced by Carlos Salcedo Sr. He was succeeded by Lucila Nuñez Astrologo, Aida Gervas, Hilaria Saavedra, Pedro Nava and Felimon Sto. Tomas. Currently, Aurora Lara, Letty Chavez, Carlos Salcedo Jr. and Noel Salcedo maintained the tradition.

During Lenten season, Canaman Youth Performing Arts presents a play on Jesus Christ’s Passion. Staged on a Maunday Thursday, “Senaculo” in Canaman started in the 1970s with Juan Ragrario as the first director and Sabas Chica as the lead character. Other directors were Alfonso Salvador, Danilo Gerona, Felicisimo Altamarino and Boy Regulado. Past lead actors included   Wingwing Sibulo, Marvin Bayot, Fortunato Morata Jr., Redentor Manalo, and Alquin Astrologo. The group has also performed in different towns such as Lupi and San Jose, Camarines Sur.


The festivity of the prosperity and identity that abaniko has given the people of Canaman gave birth to Abaniko Festival. It was introduced during the 421st foundation anniversary of Camarines Sur in 2000, which gave LGU Canaman one of the grand prizes in the Kaogma street dancing contest. Canaman Central School teachers namely  Ireneo Sto. Tomas, wife Gregoria Nelly Sto. Tomas and colleague Elaine Presentacion conceptualized and trained its participants, respectively.

The local government reintroduced the festivity of the abaniko fan making by christening the 426th Foundation Anniversary as Abaniko Festival. Abaniko street dancing contest and a weeklong fair of abaniko products highlighted the festival.

Economy and Development


Farming, fishing, employment and small business are the primary sources of most household income of in the municipality. It is estimated that more than 60 percent of the households depend in agriculture and agriculture related activities for their main livelihood. Bicol River Basin Management Project in 1950s envisioned to deliver unprecedented improvement in the economic life not only of Canaman but the entire district.


Various types of small cottage industries like handicraft, furniture, tiklad making are also conducted in this town to augment household income, and are considered as minor activities. Taga-Canaman have valued the uses of Livistona rotundifolia or anahaw, National Leaf of the Philippines, and it cultural significance. They have also recognized its importance, albeit not indigenous, to their livelihood. Anahaw does not only serve as raw material for roof shingles but it has also become an alternate material for other forms of products such as bags, purse, mats, slippers, costumes and others. Abaniko fan making in Canaman started in 1960s in barangay Sta. Cruz as a leisure pursuit by Macario Adolfo and wife Victoria Bobis.

Small sari-sari stores are also prevalent in all barangays while big business establishments are sprouting in barangays adjacent to Naga City and along the national highway. Among the notable Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) located in the municipality are Arrow Feeds Corporation in barangay San Vicente, Daluro Shell Station in barangay San Agustin and J Emmanuel Pastries in barangay Haring. The Canaman Public Market serves as the hub of economic activities in the poblacion area.


A boost to Canaman’s image as an emerging entertainment center came with the establishment of radio industry in 1950s. ABS-CBN’s DZRB radio station pioneered broadcasting industry in Camarines Sur. The station became the center of talented local broadcasters who became big men in the broadcast media industry. Within the area, Senator Edmundo B. Cea from Tigaon set up DZGE and later DWEB, the first local AM and FM radio stations in Bicol region. Nordia Complex, an entertainment district composed of a hotel resort and a cockpit arena was constructed the following decade. It became one of the major destinations of local travelers until early 1990s.


Several subdivisions can also be found in Canaman such as Progress Homes, RJ Village, Nueva Caceres Subdivision, Villa Salvacion, Leticia Heights and others. A number of institutions from different sectors of the society including Mariners Polytechnic Colleges Foundation, Aeronautical Academy of the Philippines, Kolping Society, Church of Latter Day Saints, Our Lady of Prompt Succor, and several private preparatory schools have sprouted in the municipality.