by Alan S. Cajes
While Rizal was exiled in Dapitan, he wrote a letter to Blumentritt, his friend, on April 5, 1895. In this letter, Rizal gave a "careful answer" to his friend's question about the meaning of "Dapitan". Rizal even told his friend that he was the "right man" for the job.
To prove his point, Rizal cited a historical document that he bought from the descendants of Lagubayan, the founder of Dapitan. The document, as Rizal claimed, is dated 7 July 1818 and signed by Fernando Man. De Bustillo Bustamante y Rueda, the former governor-general who was assassinated. It contained information about Dapitan and its founders.
Based on Rizal's letter, it was Lagubayan who founded Dapitan. Lagubayan was a Boholano who has resided in places like Baclayon, Mansasa, and Duis in Bohol. He later went to Mindanao, particularly in Iligan. Later, he settled in Dapitan. Lagubayan was known as the "lord of the Subanons" and the "terror of the whole Moroland". It was he who gave the Spaniards pilots and guides, who took them to Catunas (Raja Sikatuna) in Bohol, and then to Cebu.
Dapitan means "a place for rendezvous or meeting place". Dapit means "invite". Probably, Lagubayan invited other Boholanos to the place, hence, the name.
Dapitan was not the only place with Boholanos as the first settlers. Villaba in Tacloban was discovered by Boholano traders in the later part of the 18th century. The Boholanos were also the first settlers of Zamboanga, where many people up to now speak Cebuano with a Boholano accent.
 "Subanon" literally means "from the river". This is the way the natives identify the residents. Perhaps the early Boholanos, who went to Mindanao, established their settlements near a river just like those who first settled in Villaba, Tacloban. Settlements along river banks were common in prehispanic Philippines, as it is now, because the river was the primary mode of transportation.
 Rizal did not elaborate on this.