History of Almeria

The first emigrants of Almeria came from Jagna, Bohol.  Stories have it that a group of Boholanos crossed the Visayan sea bound for Oquindo in Samar Island, presumably to visit a long lost relative. On the course of their trip they met a strong typhoon, so they were forced to find a haven for their safety and landed on a place unknown to them. When the bad weather was over, the group discovered that their newfound-land has fertile soil suitable for planting root crops, and seawaters teeming with fish and seashells.  They liked the place very much that they decided to stay. They started building their huts and tilled the land for their living. The settlement was earlier called Bagongbong but was renamed Solano in honor of Capitan Solano, the first chieftain.

In 1834, a missionary together with some Spanish soldiers passed by the place on an inspection trip in the Visayan Islands. Its scenic beauty and the native’s hospitality pleased the Spanish visitors. They called it Almeria after the hometown of the missionary, Almeria, Spain.

Upon their return to the place, they built a watch tower on top of a hill (Baluarte Hill) to alert the natives from moro marauders that were rampant then.  A Roman Catholic chapel was also built. In 1886, a decree was issued by the Govierno Militar de Leyte creating Almeria into a pueblo or municipality.

During the American occupation, a religious controversy triggered the transfer of the seat of government from Almeria to Kawayan. It started in 1905 when Alcalde Margarito Sabornido together with some councilors decided to bring in Aglipayan priest, Fr. Fernando Buyser, to administer their religious affair. The councilors from Barrio Kawayan were against the idea that ended in a heated debate in the consejo. Sabornido’s decision also provoked the ire of the devout Roman Catholics from the north who immediately reported the case to the Roman Catholic authorities in Cebu. Likewise, a protest was filed with the American Civil Governor of Leyte, Colonel Peter Borseth.

Acting on the official complaint instigated by Eugenio Obispo, huez de paz of Almeria, Borseth, suspended Sabornido and the three of his six councilors “for three months.” Then he reorganized the municipal government by installing a former American soldier, Matthew MacFarland, as acting municipal president. He also appointed new councilors and officials to replace the suspended ones. The three-month suspension turned out to be permanent.

MacFarland, a resident of the island barrio of Maripipi, and Obispo, from Kawayan, insisted on the convenience of transferring the seat of the municipal government in the barrio of Kawayan which is located midway between Almeria and Maripipi.  In 1907, seemingly upon the persistence of the two, Governor Borseth and the Provincial Board of Leyte concurred to the idea and affected the transfer of the Poblacion, including the names of key streets, to Kawayan.

The transfer caused a perennial problem between the people of Almeria and Kawayan so that a Plebiscite was conducted through the Secretary of Interior. The result which favored Kawayan, thwarted the suspended oficiales from Almeria that they decided to remain and hold office in the former town hall out of desperation.

Almeria was under the Municipality of Kawayan  for  more  than  four decades. In 1945 to 1947, during the term of Mayor Maximo Salloman, Municipal Resolution No. 55 was approved by the Municipal Council of Kawayan endorsing the creation of Almeria as a separate municipality. Finally, on September 1, 1948, Pres. Elpidio Quirino, by Executive Order 292, granted township to Almeria. Thus, ended the long-drawn Almeria-Kawayan controversy.