Historical Background

Long before the coming of the Spaniards, the town was first settled by the Gaddangs. They landed somewhere in  Mountain Province and moved later towards the plains of the Mallig Region. In the latter period, the Ibanags coming from the north, moved southward and settled in this area. The customs of these inhabitants is to settle near the river or its banks for better and sufficient water supply. Beside the geographic and topographic features, the place is located at the bank of Cagayan River where the area is plain and much suited for agriculture. Thus the place became one of the home of the Ibanags, so-called because the inhabitants lived along the banks of the “bannag”,  native word for river. The ancient Ibanags had their own ways of living. They lived in Nipa Huts in villages along the banks and at the mouth of rivers and creeks. By force of necessity and application of the native ingenuity, the Ibanags converted metals, bones and rocks into bolos, spears, arrow heads and other weapons. They were engaged in farming and fishing. They were endowed with literacy and musical talents. Their literacy pieces which were often sung, depicted the heroic deeds of their chieftains, and   were written on barks of trees and on bamboos. Life had so much meaning to the Ibanags until the arrival of the Spaniards.

As early as 1598, thirty three (33) years after the first Spaniards settlement was erected at Cebu by Legaspi, there were already encomienda in Pillitan (now Sta. Isabel, a barrio of Ilagan). Early accounts state that Furao, a barangay of Gamu was an encomienda in 1617. An encomienda  was a land grant, including the inhabitants, which  was given by the King to the early Spaniards colonizers as a reward for their sincere services. The holder of an encomienda, called encomiendero, ruled over the inhabitants and collected taxes within his encomienda. The original motive of the encomienda was to facilitate the conversion of the inhabitants to the Catholic faith.

The Catholic faith in Gamu and her surrounding area was propagated in 1609. The first Dominican Missionary, Fr. Luis Flores and his assistant, Fr. Juan de Sta. Ana established here the mission of San Gabriel de Batuag, composed of  seven (7) small  towns and officially accepted in the chapter of the Dominicans in 1612. The original location of the mission was Batauag ( Now Lullutan, a bario of Ilagan). On May 28, 1615, the residents of Batauag, influenced by superstitious belief and anitos fled to the mountains and started a great revolution caused by the greed, injustice and maltreatment by the Spaniards. The armed revolution spread very fast Northward to Cagayan and thousands of families were rendered homeless. Throughout the region, on November 6, 1612, the citezens of Abutuan (now Bangag, a barrio of Ilagan) staged the biggest uprising in the Cagayan Valley. This revolt spread up to Tuguegarao in the north and down to Furao in Gamu in the South. The friars were forced to abandon their work in the whole region.

In 1623, the idea was brought up to restore the mission. Fr. Pedro Sanchez and Fr. Geronimo Alloa came back and were welcomed by the people in the lowlands. However, the ones who fled to the mountains refused to come down because they felt threatened by some bad Christians in the area and by the Spaniards.

In 1628, Fr. Pedro Jimenez was appointed Ambassador of Peace to the people in behalf of the King in Spain who gave amnesty and general pardon to all the natives who took up arms against the Spaniards. Fr. Jimenez came down to Batauag from Cabagan  and was able to get 300 followers. Among this group, some moved to Cabagan, some stayed in Batauag and others settled in Itugud (now Lenzon, a barrio of Gamu). In this way, three of the four town that were doomed to disappear because of the rebellion were re-established. Encouraged by the success of Fr. Jimenez, Manila sent Fr. Jose Tomas Martin who came to join him. With the support from the people, he went down with some non-Christians and former rebels to Itugud.

In 1686, Sta. Rosa de Gamut was founded as a mission, most probably on the same place where San Gabriel de Batauag was established before.  Nuestra Señora de las Victorias de Itugud became a separate mission in 1686, and got a parish priest, Fr. Domingo Muata who took over Fr. Jimenez who worked there already for seven years. Fr. D. Muata was not able to repair the damages of the church and he was transferred to Ilagan. Records in the Gamu Catholic Church showed that the first baptismal rites was officiated in Furao on March 15, 1738. The first native who was baptized Christian was Juan Alarcon. The San Martin de Furao, the old mission as it was called, was created as a mission in 1741, the same year when Sta. Rosa de Gamut was created by Fr. Martin Hernandez. The mission was annexed to Gamut in 1744 even though it had an independent mission until 1779, when the two missions was fused into one through the efforts of Fr. Sandin, procurator of the province, with Gamut as the central seat of the mission. Sta. Rosa de Gamut and Nuestra Señora de las Victorias were fused on December 5, 1741 under the petition of both towns who felt the necessity of being united so that they could carry the responsibilities of their councils. They did not agree however to fuse in the same place because Itugud refused to be fused to Batauag and likewise Batauag refused to be fused to Itugud, So they agreed to settle in the place of the actual town of Gamut.

The Gamut Roman Catholic Church was constructed in 1750 as a masterpiece of Fr. Martin Hernandes who also made the planning of the town. The church still stands as a symbol of culture. These were the Spanish settlers who introduced the Spanish’ culture which enriched them the existing customs, traditions and culture of the ancient Ibanags. Several Spanish missionaries arrived later. They did not only convert the Ibanags to Catholic faith but also taught them agricultural practices.

Generally, the Ibanags are peace-loving people. The presence of Kalingas surrounding the area who were fierce natives known of being head-hunters disturbed regularly the inhabitants. The Ibanags found the Kalingas to be hostile, there were pitch battles fought between the two tribes. Leading the Ibanags tribes were two great leaders at that time, namely DAVID CAUILAN and MELITON RAMIREZ who have believed to have amulets. Under their leadership, they were able to drive the Kalingas away from the place and stopped their attack. The Ibanags retained their place in the end.

There were two versions of Gamu’s etymology. One version is when the Spanish explores reached  this part which is now the town, came upon some native Ibanags who were removing big roots to prepare the soil for planting. They asked in Spanish language, “Camu se Llama tu pueblo?” “ What is the name of this town?”, the name of the place where they are now. The natives thinking that the Spaniards were pointing the ground, answered them “Gamut”, which means roots. The Spaniards expected that the natives answered their questions correctly wrote “GAMU” in their map. Since that time on, the Spaniards called the place, “GAMU”. The other version is, the name of the town was derived from the Ibanag word “Gamut” which means roots from a big tree where the present ancient Spaniards Catholic Church was erected.

The original name of the town is Gamut as in the old text, later the letter “t” was dropped shortening the word to GAMU which is the name of the town, that remained to these days. Up to May 24, 1839, Gamu belonged to the province of Cagayan. From 1839 on, it belonged to Nueva Viscaya until March 31, 1856 when the province of Isabela was erected by Royal Decree which took effect on May 1, 1856. Gamu, itself is an actual place, was founded by Royal Decree of the Spanish Government on December 5, 1741, but before that, Gamu was already for a long time a center of Christianization.

Today, Gamu is considered the roots of the many progressive municipalities like Naguilian, Aurora, Roxas, Mallig, Quezon, San Manuel, Quirino and Burgos.


1741 to Present

1. Manuel Martines
2. Mariano Mondeñedo
3. Mariano Cabal
4. Dimas Martinez
5. Porfirio Cauilan
6. Pedro Monforte
7. Vicente Lagutao
8. Luis B. Cumigad
9. Zosimo Cauilan
10. Jose Molina
11. Sotero Nuesa
12. Florentino Villanueva
13. David Matusalem 
14. Rodolfo T. Cabal
15. Jose C. Cataluña
Spanish Time
Spanish Time
Presidente Municipal
Presidente Municipal
Presidente Municipal
16. Alfredo P. Burkley, Sr.
17. Reynaldo U. Ramirez
18. Isabelo L. Salvador
19. Jose Valeros Uy
20. Eliseo A. Pardo
21. Tomas Tobon Uy
22. Jose C. Neyra
23. Tomas Tobon Uy
24. Jose C. Neyra
25. Alfredo P. Burkley, Jr.
26. Arthur M. Uy
27. Fernando O. Cumigad
28. Nestor Malasig Uy
Jan. to June 2004
July 2004 to 2013
July 2013 to Present





1. Gobernador Cillo
2. Alcalde
3. Capitan Municipal
4. Presidente Municipal 

5. Alcalde Municipal

6. Municipal Mayor 

1988 to Present
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Spanish Government
Spanish Government
US & Commonwealth
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