Tacloban was formerly known as Kankabatok, named after the first settler Kabatok who occupied the area around the present Sto. Nino Church. Other inhabitants who came later were Gumoda, Haranging and Huraw who settled in the nearby areas. The Kanhuraw Hill where the City Hall is presently situated was formerly Huraw’s domain. The whole settlement area was called Kankabatok, meaning Kabatok’s property.
Kankabatok was formerly under the political administration of Palo but under the parochial jurisdiction of Basey, Samar. The Augustinian Mission discovered Kankabatok in 1770 and the Franciscans came later in 1813. During this period, Kankabatok was changed to “Tarakluban” which means the place where the inhabitants used the “Taklub”, a bamboo contraption, to catch crabs, shrimps and fish. Later, the name of the place evolved from “Tarakluban” to its present name, Tacloban.
Although no official records show, it is commonly believed that Tacloban was officially proclaimed a municipality in 1770, after the provinces Leyte and Samar were separated in 1768. Since then, Tacloban became a trading point between the two provinces because of its strategic location. On February 26, 1839, Tacloban became the capital of Leyte because of the ideal location of its port which is well sheltered and had adequate facilities.
Colonel Murray arrived in Tacloban in 1901 and became the first Military Governor of Leyte. He opened the Tacloban port to world commerce, especially for copra and abaca, which were exported in large quantities. Before World War II, Tacloban was the center of commerce, education, social and cultural activities in Leyte. The educational institutions were: Leyte Normal School, now the Leyte Normal University; Leyte High School now known as the Leyte National High School; Leyte Trade School which today is the Eastern Visayas State University; Holy Infant Academy, which is now known as Holy Infant College and the Tacloban Catholic Institute.
On June 20, 1952, Tacloban was proclaimed a chartered city virtue of Republic Act No. 760 which took effect on June 12, 1953. The charter was signed by President Elpidio Quirino and witnessed by then incumbent Mayor, Ildefonso Cinco, who apparently became the first City Mayor.
On June 30, 1954, on the Feast Day of Sr. Sto. Nino, the Patron Saint of Tacloban, Speaker of the House of Representatives Jose B. Laurel did the honor of laying the cornerstone for the Tacloban City Hall at Kanhuraw Hill. As a new city, Tacloban attracted businessmen looking for sound investment prospects while people from neighboring towns slowly began to look for opportunities and laid roots in the city.
On June 12, 2003, Tacloban City celebrated its Golden Anniversary with fitting rites and activities with Mayor Alfred T. Romuladez at its helm. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Talcoban’s city hood showed the long trail of significant activities leading to the present status of Tacloban by which economic, infrastructural and social gains were achieved.
From its beginnings, Tacloban City has grown to be the premier city of Eastern Visayas, gateway of the region and the center of trade and industry, culture, education, communication and tourism.