HISTORY OF THE CITY
Cauayan is a city in Isabela situated in the center of this big and naturally rich province. The town got its name from the word “Cauayan” meaning bamboo in the dialect of Gaddang, the early settlers of this place. How it got its name is told vaguely by the natives in the tale about how the early Spaniards who reached the place found abundant growths of bamboo trees along creeks that circled the town site namely Bulod, Sipat, Bungkol, and Marabulig creeks where few families lived. It was also a common sight to see crocodiles basking under the cluster of bamboo along the creeks in the early morning sun.
Cauayan used to be a big municipality in terms of land area, however, with the creation of the neighboring municipalities of Luna (Antatet) Cabatuan, Reina Mercedes (Callering), Aurora and San Mateo, its land area was reduced to about 336.40 square kilometers.
Cauayan was an original town of the province of Cagayan. It was transferred to Nueva Vizcaya when it became a province in 1839. Upon the creation of Isabela as a province by a Royal Decree issued on May 1, 1856, it was reverted as a town of the province. Founded in 1740, Cauayan antedates the establishment of Isabela by 116 years. The town site was first located in a place called Calanusian along the CagayanRiver, but after a series of disastrous floods, the town site was transferred to its present location.
Vague and little information gathered from living descendants of the early inhabitants tell that few families lived in the place and three of the early natives were Enrique Baligod, Sebastian Canciller and Salvador Macaballug. Enrique Baligod was the head of the group of the early settlers. He was succeeded by Sebastian Canciller who served for two terms as “Gobernadorcillo.”
In 1866, a friar by the name of the Father Paulino became the curate of the town. He put up “quita” or chapel, preached God’s words and baptized the people. He put semblance of government by appointing Fructuoso Gannaban as Gobernadorcillo. Sparse settlements are found along the CagayanRiver and these barrios were Turayong, Labinab, Duminit, Baringin and Culalabat, believed to be the first barrios of Cauayan. Father Miguel Bonnet replaced Fr. Paulino who left for Manila. He proved to be a good missionary of God and leader. It was during his leadership that a big adobe and stone church was constructed. As the years passed, the town became well-known for its tobacco industry luring other inhabitants from as far as Ilocos and Pangasinan to work on vast tobacco farmlands of the Tabacalera’s Hacienda de San Luis.
Historical structures still visible to this day are the big adobe stone church located at the Poblacion and the Tabacalera warehouse and La Insular bodegas found at barangay Turayong that date their construction during the Spanish rule.
With the establishment of the government under the United States of America, Don Domingo Damatan was appointed as the first “presidente municipal.” During the Commonwealth, or transitory period before independence the town had the following elected municipal mayors: Guillermo Blas and Federico Acio. The first elected municipal mayor after the inauguration of the Republic of the Philippine was Mayor Jose Africano.
It was during the administration of Mayor Faustino N. Dy, from 1964 to 1972, that the municipality started to bounce from a rather slow development. The town’s development continued at an even faster pace under Mayor Benjamin G. Dy, (1983-1992), who envisioned the municipality to become a city. This vision became a reality under Mayor Faustino G. Dy, III who saw through the introduction of House Bill No. 3163 to Congress resulting in the passage of Republic Act No. 9017 and which was signed by Her Excellency, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on February 28, 2001. Cauayan became a component city of the Province of Isabela after it was ratified in a plebiscite by a majority vote on March 30, 2001. Thus, Mayor Faustino G. Dy, III was the last municipal mayor and the first to seat as City Mayor of the City of Cauayan, Isabela in hold over capacity while Mayor Caesar G. Dy was the first-ever elected City Mayor of Cauayan.