The City of Ormoc, the center of commerce and industry on the western part of Leyte, is the first non-provincial capital city of the Philippines. It is a showcase of progress and modernity even as its history is a saga of sacrifices, toils and privations of its founders.
Before the Portuguese navigator, Ferdinand Magellan, reached Leyte in 1521, a handful of Malayan families lived in a small settlement called OGMOK – an old Visayan term for lowland or depressed plain. OGMOK was also the name of a spring located between the present barangays of Donghol and Mahayag. The name ORMOC, evidently, is the variation of the original name and came into use with the coming of the Spanish Conquistadores and the migration of people from the neighboring towns and islands to settle in its fertile plains.
The primitive Malayans had some well-developed trade and commerce with the Chinese, Javans and Indonesians who frequented the islands in their junks, vintas and sailboats. Pigafetta, the Spanish historian, mentioned OGMOK in his chronicles as one place in Leyte where Magellan touched in search of food and water in March 1521.
On July 16, 1595, Father Chirino and the other Jesuit missionaries arrived in Leyte. In May 1597, Fathers Alonso Rodriguez and Leonardo Scelsi founded the mission of Ormoc. This date marked the conversion of the Ogmokanons to Christianity.
Ormoc, being a seacoast village, was always raided and constantly harassed by Moro pirates every now and then. Piracy and brigandage were fought by the Malayans of Ogmok, Baybay and Palompon (mother town of Ogmok). These towns established a grapevine communication system- runners from watch towers built to inform and warn the inhabitants of the presence of Moro vintas sighted far out to sea.
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