Region XIII – Caraga (Overview)

A research project about Region XIII Caraga.


Region XIII – Caraga



The history of Caraga can be traced back to 15th century when explorers discovered the existence of Kalagans, believed to be of Visayan Origin in one of the three districts in Mindanao. The word Caraga originated from the Visayan word Kalagan: “Kalag” meaning soul or people and “An” meaning land. The Kalagans have a long history of being brave and fearless. Thus, the region was called by early chroniclers as the “Land of the Brave and Fierce People.”

The Kalagans, called Caragans by the Spaniards, occupied the district that was composed of the two provinces of Surigao, northern part of Davao Oriental and Eastern Misamis Oriental. The two Agusan Provinces were later organized under the administrative jurisdiction of Surigao and became the independent Agusan province in 1914. In 1960, Surigao was divided as Norte and Sur. And in June 1967, Agusan followed suit. While Butuan then was just a town of Agusan, by virtue of Republic Act 523, the City Charter of Butuan was approved on August 2, 1950.

On February 23, 1995, Republic Act No. 7901, “An Act Creating Region XIII To Be Known As Caraga Administrative Region And For Other Proposes”, was signed into law by President Fidel V. Ramos, constituting the provinces of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and the cities of Surigao and Butuan, which serves as the regional center. On August 24, 2006, Republic Act No. 9355 created a new province from Surigao del Norte, the Dinagat Islands province which constituted the fifth province of Caraga.
Political Divisions

Caraga is subdivided into 5 provinces, one highly urbanized city (HUC) 5 component cities (CCs), seventy (70) municipalities and 1,346 barangays.

Province/City                Capital             Pop.              Area(km²)       Pop. density (per km²)

Agusan del Norte        Cabadbaran        285,570          1,773.2            161.0
Agusan del Sur             Prosperidad       559,294          8,966.0            62.4
Dinagat Islands             San Jose                                   802.1
Surigao del Norte        Surigao City        481,416         1,936.9            175.8
Surigao del Sur             Tandag             501,808          4,552.2            110.2
Butuan City (HUC)                                  267,279         817.3               327.0

Component cities
•    Bislig City, Surigao del Sur
•    Tandag City, Surigao del Sur
•    Surigao City, Surigao del Norte
•    Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur
•    Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte

Location and Size

Caraga Region, situated in the northeast section of Mindanao, is located between 8 00’ to 10 30’ N. latitude and 125 15’ to 126 30’ E. longitude. It is bounded on the north by the Bohol Sea; on the south by the provinces of Davao, Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental of Region XI; on the west by Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental of Region X; and on the east by the Philippine Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

The region has a total land area of 18,846.97 km². This represents 6.3% of the country’s total land area and 18.5% of the island of Mindanao. 47.6% of the total land area of the region belongs to the province of Agusan del Sur.

The region is characterized by mountainous areas, flat and rolling lands. Mountain ranges divide Agusan and Surigao Provinces and sub-ranges separate most of the lowlands along the Pacific Coast. The most productive agricultural area of the region lies along the Agusan River Basin. The famous Agusan Marsh also sits in the middle of Agusan del Sur. Among the lakes in the region, Lake Mainit is the widest. It traverses eight (8) municipalities: Alegria, Tubod, Mainit and Sison in the Province of Surigao del Norte and Tubay, Santiago, Jabonga and Kitcharao in Agusan del Norte.


Caraga Region has Type II kind of climate, with no pronounced wet and dry season. It has been observed that during the months of November to February, occurrence of heavy rains is usually experienced in the region.

Cultural Groups

The majority of the inhabitants of the region are of Visayan heritage. The province is also home to several minority groups, totaling 675,722 in 1995, representing 34.7% of the region’s population. Most numerous were the Manobos with 294,284 or 43.55% of the total population of ethnic minorities. Other cultural groups in the region with significant population were the Kamayo, Higa-onon, Banwaon, Umayamnon, and Mamanwa. Most members of these cultural groups reside in the province of Agusan del Sur.

It is reported that during the early years of the Caraga region, its inhabitants came from mainland Asia, followed by Malayans, Arabs, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and Americans. Migrants from the Visayan and Luzon provinces later settled in the area. Most of its inhabitants speak the Cebuano dialect and reside in the rural areas.


Cebuano was spoken by 43.79% of the household population in the region. Other dialects spoken were Surigaonon, spoken by 25.21%; Kamayo, by 7.06% ; Boholanon, by 5.87%; Manobo, by 4.73%; Butuanon, by 31.9%; Hiligayon, by 2.87%; and other dialects by 7.20%.


The 1995 census revealed that the dominant religion in the region was Roman Catholic, with the population of 1,397,343 or 79% of the total household population in Caraga. Most numerous in this census were the manobos with 294,284 or 43.55% of the total population of cultural communities. Most of them reside in the province of Agusan del Sur. Other cultural communities in the region with significant population were the Kamayo, Higa-onon, Banwaon, Umayamnon, and Mamanwa. Surigaonon is a local Philippine language spoken in the province of Surigao del Norte, and some portion of Agusan del Norte especially in towns near Mainit Lake. It is related to the Butuanon and Tausug languages.

Natural Resources

Rich in natural resources, the region has large tracts of land available for development. The region is noted for its wood based economy, its extensive water resources and its rich mineral deposits such as iron, gold, silver, nickel, chromite, manganese and copper. Its leading crops are palay, banana and coconut. It has excellent tourism potentials because of its unspoiled and beautiful beaches, abundant and fresh seafood, ancient and historical landmarks, hot and cold springs, evergreen forests and balmy weather.

Major Products

Its long stretch of shoreline promises abundance in production of fisheries and aquatic products. With its large tract of fertile lands, the region has a great capacity in producing varied commercial crops as well as livestock and poultry. Major agricultural products of the region are palay, corn, coconut, gold, banana, rubber, oil palm, calamansi, prawns, milkfish, crabs, seaweeds and mango. Caraga’s proximity to Cebu and Manila makes it a favorable shipping point for products to and from these markets. Nasipit Port can serve as a secondary shipping hub to Cagayan de Oro when traffic volume from other points in Mindanao increases. With a roll-on, roll-off (RORO) ferry service now in place, Surigao City serves as a vital transportation link for trucks and buses bound for Luzon.

Regional Economy/ Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP)

The region performed fairly well in terms of regional output contributing 8.01% in 1998, 8.25% in 1999 and 8.29% in 2000 to the Mindanao GRDP. The region contributed 1.44% in 1998, 1.48% in 1999 and 1.50% in 2000, to the Philippine economy. In terms of growth rate, the region accelerated faster and outpaced the other regions in Mindanao from 1998 to 2000, except for the Southern Mindanao Region which posted a 6.06% increase in 1999-2000. Caraga Region recorded a 5.42% increase during the same period.
GRDP in 2000 amounted to P14.336 Billion as against the 1999 performance of P13.599 Billion. The deceleration of the region’s economy from 6.03% in 1999 to 5.42% in 2000 was attributed to the slowdown of the Agriculture, Fishery and Forestry (AFF) and Services sectors. The improved performance of the Industry sector, from 5.69% in 1999 to 6.69% in 2000, cushioned the effects of what could have been a slowdown of the region’s economy.
From 2001-2003, Caraga Region consistently maintained its performance vis-à-vis other regions in Mindanao, Philippines. Caraga posted a 0.9% growth rate compared to the 9.5% growth rate of Region 12 and the 2.6% growth rate of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Caraga’s growth rate in 2001-2002 and the 2002-2003 period was the same (0.9%). This was much less than the growth of the population. This performance was better however than the region’s performance in 2000-2001 period, where the region’s economy declined by 1.4%.
The region’s contribution to Mindanao’s domestic product is 7.58% in 2003. In terms of per capita income, Caraga has the second lowest per capita income among Mindanao regions and nationwide. In 2003, the region accounted for 1.35% of the country’s GNP.

Health and Nutrition

All the vital health indicators from 1992–1997 showed a decreasing trend except for maternal mortality rate. The crude birth rate decreased from the 1992-1996 five-year average of 21.02 to 18.71 in 1997. The crude death rate also decreased from 3.60 in the 1992–1996 average to 3.0 in 1997. The infant mortality rate increased from an average of 1.33 in 1992–1996 to 1.56 in 1997.
All of the leading causes of morbidity from 1992–1997 were communicable diseases, and showed a reduction in rates for every 1,000,000 population, except for pneumonia (836.30 to 1,200.23), diarrhea (1,059.40 to 1,133.11), influenza (655.36 to 926.74), and malaria (216.80 to 366.5). With regards to the leading causes of mortality, lifestyle-related diseases like cardiovascular diseases and cancer top the list, replacing the communicable diseases.
The region is faced with problems of endemic diseases like schistosomiasis and malaria. Although there was a slight reduction in its prevalence for the past three years, still Caraga ranked as number two in schistosomiasis cases and number six in malaria cases nationwide.
Malnutrition rates were posted at 49.25%, of which 34.05% were classified as mildly underweight, 11.66% as moderately underweight, 1.43% as severely underweight and 3.60% as overweight.
Life expectancy for the region, based on the 1995 census, was 65.73 years old for males and 70.98 years old for females.
As of 1997, there were 62 hospitals in the region, of which 35 were government and 27 were private. Out of the 27 private hospitals, 20 were primary, 4 secondary and 3 tertiary. Out of the 35 government hospitals, 18 were primary, 14 were secondary and 3 were tertiary. There were 73 main health centers, 489 barangay health stations manned by 76 doctors, 147 nurses, 35 medical technologists, 45 dental aides, 52 dentists, 608 midwives and 137 sanitary inspectors. All of these were devolved to the local government units in accordance with the 1991 local Government code.

Foods and Delicacies

Food lovers will delight in the various delicacies, fruits and food from the region. Mouthwatering kakanin from Butuan city include special bibingka, galapong, ube biko, tikoy with latik, kalawa ube, cassava buko and galapong ube. Popular fruits as Pomelo, jackfruits, lanzones different varieties of bananas and even durians could be found here especially in food festivals celebrated across the region.
In different Trade Fair organized across the region you will find various food items like Durian ice cream, pure Kalamansi concentrate, crunchy coconut biscuits Salvaro and Patatas, and the tastiest noodles. Locally called Udong, these noodles, have recently been exported to Japan because the Japanese reportedly prefer this over their own noodles. Daing at manggang hilaw with bagoong is a popular side dish particularly in Agusan del Sur.
Seafood treasures include large crabs, prawns, dried Dalag from Agusan Marsh and even exotic marine foods as tamilok.


In-depth infos on the Provinces/Cities of Caraga will be posted soon…

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3 thoughts on “Region XIII – Caraga (Overview)

  1. shiela says:

    what are the festival in caraga, and the livelihood there,

  2. Jasmin says:

    good day CARAGA, where can i get cultural minorities for indigenous people reside Butuan.

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