Created by virtue of Executive Order No. 559 signed by then President Elpidio Quirino, Cagwait became a town on January 20, 1953.
Situated at the central part of the province of Surigao del Sur, Cagwait was discovered by young sailors who escaped from slavery of Spaniards and called the place “mao rag wait” in Visayan word after passing through the bay that resembled a human mouth. When inhabitants living in the area increased, they later called the place “Cagwait.”
Location and Accessibility
Cagwait is a coastal town situated at the central part of the province of Surigao del Sur with a global position between latitude 8°50΄ to 8°57΄ N and longitude 126°09΄ to 126°21΄ E. It is approximately 32 kilometers away from Tandag City, the capital of the province, and 181 kilometers away from Butuan City, the seat of Regional Government Offices. It is bounded on the north by the Municipality of Bayabas, on the south by the Municipality of Marihatag, on the west by the Diwata Mountains and on the east by the Pacific Ocean.
Cagwait is one of the 13 municipalities comprising the first congressional district of the province of Surigao del Sur. Being one of the central municipalities, it lays itself as the center of the economic alliance of the MaCaSALTaBayaMi municipalities because of its all-weather port and proximity with the capital town, now City of Tandag.
Cagwait is accessible by air and water through Manila-Davao, Manila-Butuan, Manila-Surigao, Cebu-Davao, Cebu-Butuan, and Cebu-Surigao routes and by land through Davao-Cagwait, Butuan-Cagwait and Surigao-Tandag-Cagwait routes.
Cagwait comprises about 21,410 hectares of land. Its topography is characterized by mountain ranges, rolling hills, flat lands, swamps, beaches and vast coastal areas.
The type of soil in the Municipality ranges from Bantog Clay (191 has.), Butuan Clay (200 has.), Hydrosol (2,152 has.), and Matho Clay (14,174 has.). There is a type of soil that according to BSWM in their survey conducted in 2012, can only be located in Cagwait and they called it “Cagwait Series” with an aggregate total land area of 4,693 hectares.
Cagwait falls under the second type of climate characterized by rainfall distributed throughout the year.
The rainy months in the Municipality start on November and December (wettest) which continue until May; while the sunny months fall on June, July, August, September (driest), and October. The observed rainy days in the locality is 223 days with an average rainfall of 495.3 mm; while its average (mean) temperature throughout the year is 25.3 degrees Celsius.
Cagwait has 27,000 hectares of municipal waters, which is part of the western portion of the Pacific Ocean, and utilized as fishing and navigational area of the municipality. Per approved Tourism Master Plan of 2010, the said area is potentially be utilized for adventure, sea and ecological tourism.
Cagwait has inland waters – potential rivers that can be tapped for agricultural purposes (e.g. irrigation and potable water system) that are located in the barangays of Bacolod, Poblacion, Aras-asan, Bitaugan West, Unidad, Bitaugan East and Tawagan. In addition, they can also be potentially utilized for adventure and ecological tourism.
Existing irrigation facilities are being utilized by the riceland farmers particularly from the rivers of Tagmalinao and Bitaugan that enabled them to plant rice twice a year.
Population and Barangay Subdivision
Cagwait is a home to 20,364 inhabitants (NSO, 2015). It has an average household size of five members with a population density of 95 persons per square kilometer growing at an average growth rate of 0.17 percent over the last decade.
Cagwait has 74 puroks and 11 barangays which are categorized into urban (Aras-asan, Bitaugan West, La Purisima Poblacion, Tubo-tubo and Unidad) and rural (Bacolod, Bitaugan East, Lactudan, Mat-e, and Tawagan). Barangay Poblacion is the heart of the town and the seat of government for local, provincial, and national offices while Aras-asan is the center of trade and commerce.
Income and Income Class
The Municipality of Cagwait is a fourth class municipality with a total income of P82,793,428.00 (MAccO, 2016). Local revenue amounts to P6,803,775.00 with a 91.78% dependency on Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) and External Grants.
Primary, secondary and tertiary sources of income in the Municipality include farming, fishing and business enterprising, respectively.
Cagwait is an agricultural town with 8,500 hectares devoted to agriculture. Coconut production, coupled with palay production, is the main source of income of the Cagwaitnons. The Municipality is also a good fishing ground as the place is geographically situated along the Pacific Ocean.
Souvenir items, made of abaca (hemp), nito (rattan) and magkono (iron wood) and creatively produced in various designs, delight tourist and excursionist.
Being close to highly mineralized mountains of “Noventa” in Surigao del Norte, Cagwait is potentially rich of mineral deposits. Evidently, it is abundant of manganese which is currently being mined by individuals with Small Scale Mining Permits issued by the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board. Sites with signs of coal deposits have also been observed within the Municipality’s timberland area.
Sights and Sounds
A must-see ecotourism destination in the town is the famous U-shaped Cagwait White Beach or Waikiki Beach in the Philippines because of its calm and crystal blue sea waters and powdery white sand. It is also a best place to gaze the dramatic sunrise.
Island hoppers can take a trip to the Arangasa Island, which has a sufficient community that relies on solar power for energy and fresh water channels. There, remnants of the Spanish conquest which include an old lighthouse can be found. Its closest neighbor is a 105-hectare marine sanctuary and mangrove mini forest where diverse species of birds, marine life and coral reefs thrive.
Rarely seen, the Tukat Bird (Wattled Broadbill), an endemic bird in Cagwait, is a bird watcher’s gem. Other sights include: the Japanese Stone structures that were built by Japanese soldiers and were used as their rest and recreation spot; the Avatar tree which is more than hundred years old and considered as the oldest witness of Cagwait’s history; and, the breathtaking Tagbalidbid and Baogo Falls which remain to be pure and unexplored.
The Municipality celebrates its Araw ng Cagwait every 20th of January which marks the founding anniversary of the town. The event is highlighted with the Diana, Pinoy Games, State of the Municipality’s Address (SOMA) and Legislative Report by the current administration.
The Kaliguan Festival is also celebrated annually every 3rd week of June where it highlights the Search for Perlas ng Kaliguan and Kaliguan Beach Dancing Contest. The event is an offer in honor of Saint John the Baptist.