How Guinarona got her name


The Guinarona River, now a major irrigation system in Leyte, Philippines. (Photo credit: Fabian-Ausa)

Guinarona is a thriving village between Dagami and Burauen in Leyte, Philippines.  So thriving, in fact, that it is composed of four small government units, i.e. Guinarona Proper, Lubi-lubi East, Paraiso and Sampaguita.

Guinarona serves as a buffer, a way-station if you will, for trekkers and merchants, both in the Spanish times and in contemporary history.  The place is famous throughout Leyte and Samar as where San Pascual Baylon is enshrined.  In fact, thousands of pilgrims go to Guinarona to satisfy a panata for or pledge to San Pascual.

When we were at the elementary school, we could not escape the research assignment of how Guinarona got her name.  Oral history is usually the source for such a research.  Well, ours was Terio, our tatay.

Tatay relayed to us thus:

During the Spanish times, there was this barrio called “Lunayan”, which means a swimming hole for carabaos (water buffaloes).  Lunayan was a very important trading center and outpost, and in those times belonged to Burauen.  When Dagami was formed, her officials made overtures to those of Burauen to cede Lunayan to them.  In as sense, they were asking (“aro”) Burauen for Lunayan.  Or that “Guin-aro na an Barrio Lunayan han Dagami tikang ha Burauen” (Dagami asked for Barrio Lunayan from Burauen.)  Thus the name Guin-arona stuck, this time without the hyphen.

Central District, Guinarona. (Photo credit: Nilo Malate)

The other short version is that Guinarona got her name from the Guinarona River that traverses her.  So convenient, isn’t it?

Aside from San Pascual Baylon, Guinarona is also known as the place where a famous personage, Mrs. Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, spent part of her childhood.  Mrs. Marcos had her cousins in Guinarona, the Lopez branch of her family.  In fact, the young Mrs. Marcos almost lost her life while swimming across the swollen Guinarona River, trying to gather taro leaves.  One Candido Balatar saved her from the clutches of death.

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