PHOTO BY: JAN M. LEVENT
The Negritoes were the aborigines of the islands comprising the province of Romblon. The Mangyans were the first settlers. Today, these groups of inhabitants are almost extinct with only a few scattered remnants of their descendants living in the mountain of Tablas and in the interior of Sibuyan Island. A great portion of the present population descended from the Nayons and the Onhans who immigrated to the islands from Panay and the Bicols and Tagalogs who came from Luzon as early as 1870.
Romblon was created as a regular province in 1901 but due to insufficient income, it became a sub-province of Capiz in 1907 until December 7, 1917, when Act No. 2724 reestablished the former province of Romblon. Under Commonwealth Act No. 581, enacted without executive approval on June 8, 1940, the province was reorganized with four towns, namely: Tablas (embracing Odiongan, Looc, Badajos, Sta. Fe and Despujols), Romblon (comprising Logbon, Cobrador and Alad), Banton (involving Simara and Maestre de Campo), and Sibuyan (with the towns of Cajidiocan, Magdiwang and San Fernando).
The Japanese Imperial Forces maintained a garrison in Romblon during World War II from 1942 until the Naval Battle of Sibuyan on October 25, 1945. The islands became the center of considerable resistance movement under the direction of General Macario Peralta, Jr. from his Panay headquarters. One of the most exciting incidents of the Pacific War took place in the waters of Romblon, the Naval – Air Battles between Japanese Admiral Kurita’s Fleet from Singapore and Admiral Halseys’s carrier planes from the American Third Fleet then stationed east of the Philippines.
The province of Romblon was liberated on March 12, 1945 by units of the 24th Infantry Division under the command of a Colonel Clifford. On January 1, 1947, Romblon regained her Provincial Status through the passage of Republic Act No. 38, which was sponsored by Congressman Modesto Formilleza. The law not only repealed C.A. 581 but also restored the regular provincial government and the Municipalities of Romblon and created the municipality of Santa Fe.