There is no official record on the meaning of Tagum, but a legend explains how the name Magugpo came about. At the beginning, Magugpo was nothing but a vast wilderness, inhabited by the Mansakas, Manguangans, Mandayas and the Kalagans in the coastal barangays. The name Magugpo was derived from the native word Mago, a name of a certain tree, and ugpo means very high. According to the story, the natives were occupying a river basin inside the thickly covered forest where they could not even see the sun. The creek where the natives dwelt still exists, but the once abundant fresh water is now dead, unfortunately due to pollution.
Physical land developments started to emerge when these migrants organized themselves into the Magugpo Homesteaders’ Association and bought the homestead of Lolo Mandaya, a native. They subdivided the land into residential lots of 750 square meters each and sold these lots at P1.50 each to newcomers. The amount paid by the buyer also served as membership fee to the association.
In 1932, two engineers from Davao City, Engineers Ignacio and Alib, together with 15 laborers surveyed the trail for the national highway. During those times the only means of transportation from Davao City to Magugpo was by boat using the Hijo and Magugpo Rivers as its points of entry to Magugpo. This explains why the seat of government was first located at Barangay Hijo, now the Hijo Plantation in Barangay Madaum. Another seat of settlement during those times was near the river banks of Barangay Pagsabangan, the place where the remains of Datu Bago, the hero of Davao, was buried.
The first physical landmarks of Magugpo therefore were a school building, a teacher’s cottage, a rest house and a chapel, which were all constructed by the Homesteaders’ Association in the early 1930s.
It was in 1941 that Tagum had its first local civil government under the leadership of Manuel Baura Suaybaguio, Sr. and Sulpicio Quirante. Both were appointed as the first Mayor and Vice Mayor, respectively. Before the infant municipality could take -off, World War II broke out. The war badly damaged the Magugpo settlement. Only five houses were left standing at Magugpo after the liberation. From the rubble of war, Suaybaguio and Quirante spearheaded the construction of houses, drugstores, stores and a church (which was constructed at its present site). Moreover, national government infrastructure projects such as the Davao Agusan national highway and the provincial roads to Kapalong and Saug paved the way to the influx of more immigrants to the municipality.
The local government of Magugpo was formalized with the holding of the first local election in 1947, the time of President Manuel A. Roxas of the infant Republic of the Philippines. Suaybaguio retained his position, gaining a new Vice Mayor in the person of Lucio Berdida.
Important changes were imposed such as the renaming of Magugpo to Tagum by virtue of municipal council resolution. In 1948, Mayor Manuel Baura Suaybaguio Sr. transferred the seat of government from Hijo to Magugpo Poblacion. The following year saw the birth of a new municipality, Panabo. The then Vice Mayor Berdida who hailed from the said place was appointed as its Mayor, thereby paving the way for the assumption of Macario Bermudez as Vice Mayor.
In the 1950s, Tagum experienced significant changes, not only in the political arena but also in its physical structures. Under the administrations of Wakan and Baluyo, in 1951 and 1955 respectively, the people of Tagum witnessed some physical transformation of the town. There was massive construction of roads. The Municipal Hall was constructed at its present site. The old municipal health center along Bonifacio St. was also put up. A public market site was also officially acquired.
Economically, Tagum was slowly becoming a convenient place for traders to exchange products with neighboring municipalities. The booming abaca and coconut industries in the early 1950s contributed significantly to the growth of the local economy. Alongside the economic development, came the establishment of two schools/colleges, Holy Cross College (now St. Mary’s College) and Mindanao Colleges (now University of Mindanao Tagum College) which were then the only providers of tertiary education in the province outside Davao City. The presence of these two (2) schools was slowly contributing in making Tagum another possible educational center for Davao.
The very progressive economy then made it easier for Gementiza’s administration to undertake infrastructure development projects such as the expansion of the municipal hall, concreting of the public market (through loan from Development Bank of the Philippines), the asphalting of more municipal roads and opening of more barangay roads. In the process, various offices were created: Municipal Engineering Office, Municipal Planning and Development Office, Municipal Assessor’s Office and the Fire Station.
Like the rest of the nation, Tagum suffered political instability and serious peace and order problems during the first five (5) years of the decade. The EDSA Revolution in 1986 practically changed the political climate. Baltazar A. Sator who was appointed OIC-Mayor then, was later elected as Congressman in 1987.
Victorio R. Suaybaguio, Jr., eventually assumed the leadership of the town after the 1988 election. In spite of the prevailing political unrest in the early eighties, Tagum continuously enjoyed an expanding economy, though at a slower pace. There might have been a slight slump in the banana industry, but the discovery of abundant mineral resources, specifically gold, in various areas of Davao Province triggered the local economies, not just in Tagum but in the neighboring municipalities as well. Thus, in the later part of the decade, the construction sector grew at an unprecedented pace. Towards the 1990s and onwards, Tagum has been undoubtedly turning itself into a strategic and important growth center in Southeastern Mindanao.
Although, the decentralization policy of the state was very relevant and vital for local and national development, however, there were also problems and issues that were encountered along the process of its implementation. For Tagum, financial and organizational problems were felt by the local officialdom. This was due to the fact that, the former municipality has broader areas of services with only limited financial and manpower resources. But this situation had been gradually resolved through various revenue raising strategies and grants/aids from the national and foreign funding institutions.
One of the significant accomplishments of the officialdom of Tagum during the 1990s was its elevation from a second to first class municipality. This opened a gateway to increase its financial resources through the Internal Revenue Allocation (IRA) from the national government and local revenues.
This was under the leadership of Hon Victorio R. Suaybaguio, Jr. who served as mayor of Tagum for three (3) consecutive terms (1988-1998).As a matter of fact, during the 1995 election, all incumbent elected officials of Tagum, from Mayor down to the municipal councilors, were unopposed, making a significant event in the political history of Tagum.
The fast urbanization of Tagum from the late 80s to 1990 which was attributed to the mushrooming of business establishments and other commercial activities, increasing population and services and other factors, has caused various problems and needs, like roads, drainage, the increasing numbers of squatters, up scaling trend of traffic congestion in major streets, garbage and sanitation, land use and others. Confronted by this situation, the local government of Tagum engaged into the revision of its Municipal Comprehensive Development Plan (MCDP). This was spearheaded by the Municipal Planning and Development Office (MPDO) with the assistance from the University of the Philippines – College of Architecture Foundation, Inc. (UP ARKI), Manila and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), Region XI.
The MCDP was approved in December 1993.And during that year, Tagum was the second municipality in Region XI which had an approved Municipal Comprehensive Development Plan.
Tagum had increased the number of its barangays when the division of Barangay Poblacion which is an urbanized barangay of Tagum occurred in 1995. This resulted to the creation of four (4) new Barangays, namely, Barangay Magugpo North, Barangay Magugpo South, Barangay Magugpo East and Barangay Magugpo West.
Another important event happened particularly in 1997 was the transfer of public market to the new P60 Million public market which is more than a kilometer away from the old market. The new market was constructed in a seven (7) hectare donated land by the Pereyras family. The said area is also the site of the new Tagum Overland Transport Integrated Terminal (TOTIT) worth P 60 Million and the Livestock Auction Center worth P 2.5 Million.
Foremost of the development of Tagum in the late 1990s was its conversion into a Component City of Davao del Norte. Congressman Baltazar Sator sponsored House Bill No.7509 in the House of Congress. Prior to its approval, a public hearing was conducted in Tagum by the Committee on Local Government of the House of Congress, chaired by Hon. Congressman Ciriaco Alfelor. The said law passed all the requisites in the House of Congress, resulting to its approval.
Then, Republic Act 8472 “An Act converting the Municipality of Tagum into a City, to be known as the City of Tagum” was passed to the House of Senate through the sponsorship of Hon. Senator Vicente Sotto III.
In January 30, 1998, the said Republic Act was signed into law by His Excellency Fidel V. Ramos and it was ratified through a plebiscite in Tagum on March 7, 1998.
The incumbent Municipal Mayor, Hon. Victorio R. Suaybaguio, Jr., who served his last term in the office, became the first City Mayor of Tagum. His incumbency as the first city mayor was only for a short period because he resigned from the office to seek for a higher political position.
In May 1998 election, Suaybaguio run as Vice Governor in Davao del Norte. By virtue of the law of succession, Arrel R. Olaño, the incumbent City Vice Mayor took over the position as the City Mayor. However, he only served in his capacity as the mayor for short period because he also resigned and sought for higher political position as Provincial Board member in the provincial government.
The next higher in rank in the officialdom was the number one city councilor in the person of Hon. Octavio R. Valle. By this capacity, he took over the position as the Vice Mayor and became the Acting City Mayor of Tagum while running as Vice Mayor in the May 1998 election. The first elected City Officials of Tagum assumed office in July 1, 1998 under the leadership of Mayor Rey T. Uy and Vice Mayor Gerardo R. Racho.
The new administration introduced dynamic reforms in the local governance. Political will in the implementation of various programs and projects become the foundation that guides the city development in various sector most importantly the infrastructure. The incumbent Local Chief Executive with the support of the City Council and the LGU, initiated to forge new brand of public administration. The mayor as a corporate man, replicate some of the management principles and strategies of the corporate world in local governance. This opens a gateway towards an efficient and effective delivery of public services and massive implementation of important infrastructure and socio-economic programs and projects.
All these efforts are translated into development as evidenced by the fast growing urbanization and physical transformation of Tagum City. Nevertheless, the gains and achievements of Tagum in the present have become a reality because of the people who worked and dedicated their services in the past and the present generation.
The ushering of the year 2000 signals the city’s unparalleled growth not only in terms of infrastructure but also in its Local Revenue Generation. Massive infrastructure developments were made in the city, opening, concreting and asphalting of roads, construction of government buildings including the still to be finished New City Hall Building located at Barangay Apokon.
Big business establishments had also come to invest in the city led by the Gaisano’s who had established the Gaisano Grand Mall and the Gaisano Mall of Tagum. This era also marks the year wherein Tagum City was known as the Music Capital, Palm City and the City of Festivals of the Philippines.
Year 2013 marks a change in the leadership of the City with the election of the then Vice Mayor Allan Lopez Rellon, DPA as City Mayor, Mayor Rellon not only changed the political landscape of the city but also rein forced the field of doing business and running the affairs of the City with his “Doing Best in Public Service: ACTION WITH PASSION”. With his God centered and people oriented administration anchored on his Ten point Agenda which is the EAGLE WINGS Program, the city has gained the confidence of the business community thus paved the way for the entry of a billion peso investment by the Robinsons group in Barangay Visayan Village.
True to its branding of Tagum, Tagumpay!, the city had been cited not only in the region but also Nationally as it had been awarded by different award giving bodies including the award Galing Pook awards for the Night Market, Hall of Famer in the National Literacy Awards and a recipient of the Special Award of Excellence in Literacy, Best PESO in the Philippines, Best E-Gov Customer Empowerment (finalist), Most Child Friendly City and was cited by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce as one of the finalist Most Business Friendly LGU in the entire Philippines.
Recognizing its critical role in regional development, the current Regional Physical Development Plan named Davao City as a Metropolitian City and identified Tagum City as the center for regional commerce, finance and trade and public/private services. The Plan also distinguished Tagum City as the region’s primary Agro-industrial hub and major service center to serve as conduit for development of the Metro Davao area. Finally, the Plan defines the city, as Davao Regions’ major link to the National Capital Region (NCR), Metro Cebu, Metro Davao and other regions of the country.