During the 16th century, a ground of Lapu-Lapu’s descendants from Cordova, Mactan crossed the Visayan Sea and found a safer place in the northern side of Isla de Panamao. They built a settlement along the shore beside a tall rocky hill known as Subingsubing. The hill would later serve as their watchtower. An assigned lookout would sound the budjong (conch) to alert the villagers of incoming dangers, particularly from Moro marauders that were rampant during those days. Subingsubing was regarded as safe haven plying the Visayan Sea, and thus, attracted more Cebuano-speaking natives to migrate in this new-found land.
The village was later named as Barrio Telegrafo (This same settlement became Barangay Balacson at present.)
As the village slowly becoming populated, more families move northwards to find a place where there is potable water and a land suitable for agriculture. Some of them apparently the farming families, settled in the plains (between Kansanoc and Poblacion) where they make kaingin and started planting rootcrops and corn. The rest, who were probable fishermen, put up their houses near the Sanggabon, (a spring located in the vicinity known today as Balite) and in Tubig Señora (a spring located along the seashore of the present Poblacion). Still skeptical of their safety, the natives planted bamboo trees along the shoreline to hide them from hostile intruders.
This dense growth of bamboo or kawayan so impressed travelers that the settlement was soon known as Barrio Kawayan. Capitan Basio was reputed to be the founder of the barrio with Racundo Sañosa as juez de paz. Barrio Kawayan was then a part of Almeria, one of the four pueblos in Isla de Panamao (the others being Naval, Biliran, Caibiran).
The visit of General Ambrocio Mojica landed in Telegrafo on his way to the mainland to assume as the military-political governor of Leyte on instruction from General Emilio Aquinaldo. To memorialize his arrival, the general either recommended or agreed that the name of the place be change to San Clemente, after the name of his only son, Clemente. In exchange, Mojica presumably created a pueblo out of the barrio, there being on record a captain municipal and some officials for this place during the Revolutionary period. His companion, Lieutenant (later General) Kapili, a tagalog officer, organizes a company of revolucionarios from the area.
During the American occupation, a religious disparity ended in a controversy which paved the way for 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 Kawayan were against the idea that ended in a heated debate in the consejo. Sabornido’s decision also provokes and 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 counsilors 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 midways 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 effected 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 officials from Almeria that they decided to remain and hold office in the former town hall out of desperation.
In 1938, after the Commonwealth period, Simplicio Jaguros, the last of the Municipal President was appointed as the first Municipal Mayor of Kawayan. He won the local election in 1939, but his term was cut short when he died in 1943. Teodorico Nierra took his place as Municipal Mayor but later went into hiding during the Japanese occupation.
In 1945 to 1947, after the war, Maximo Salloman was appointed as Municipal Mayor. It was during, his term that Municipal Resolution No. 55 was passd recommending the creation of Almeria as a separate municipality. Finally, on September 1; 1948, Pres. Elpidio Quirino, by Executive Order 292, granted township to Almeria, thereby reducing the scope of Kawayan until Tabunan in its southern area. Thus, ended the long-drawn Almeria-Kawayan controversy.
Subsequently, in 1951, Inasuyan, Tucdao and Ungale of the Municipality of Caibiran were annexed after a plebiscite conducted by the Leyte Provincial Board making Sitio Baras as the boundary.
On May 1, 1955, Kawayan became a parish with Rev. Fr. Gregorio Tupa as the first parish priest. He was consecrated as parish priest on October 24, 1955 to coincide with the town fiesta in honor of their patron, Saint Raphael the Archangel.