Pambujan evokes many image and memories in the minds and hearts of its sons and daughters. The charm of a moss-covered ancient stone church, turn of the century wooden houses, and tropical nipa huts among endless rows of coconut trees.
A childhood spent in the old meant growing up by a great river that snaked its way down the mountain, flowed seamlessly into a gently sloping coast and emptied into a turquoise sea. It meant warm beige san and romantic sunsets at Paninirongan Beach, and picnic gateways at Caohagan Island.
Still for others, Pambujan means the hardly “Nalucaban kids” who faced all odds and defied class and pedigree to surpass and outshine fair-skinned batters from First World countries to bring home a world-class trophy not too many of their own townmates understood and appreciated.
Amazingly, returning Pambujanons from all over the country and from foreign shores finds these snippets of memory in the exact places where they left them, still as they are or sculpted into a concrete monument to immortalize a scene from the past.
In the old days, when Pambujan was only a barrio of the old port town of Laoang, it was called Bayogo, after a plant that grew abundantly in the area. Bayogo, or gugo in the Tagalong dialect, was used extensively b the locals as a natural cleanser for hair and dishes because of the plant’s soapy extracts.
The people’s homes were clustered close to the mouth of the river, as traditionally practiced by early settlers. But because the settlement was frequently attacked by Moro pirates, the families moved upstream, away from where the bayogo plants grew, but more importantly, safer from menacing Moro pirates.
The new settlement was initially called Binongtoan, purportedly founded by two brother’s surnamed Catangcas, who cleared the former forest land with the help of Bayogo’s capitan del barrio and other volunteers.
As soon as the grounds were cleared, they decided to settle in the bew community and invited their friends and former neighbors to join them, until it became a major settlement of its own. Asie from the Catanca brothers and the capitan del barrio, the other original settles of the new community were the Siervos, Atencios, Jazmins, Morales, Merinos, Bomitibos and Lucas.
The name Binongtoan, a generic Samarnon term for settlement, is believed to have been the old name of present-day Brgy. Ginolgan. It has not been definitely determined when and how the present bongto or town center of Pambujan was established. But a number of local folk today cite the fact that the town’s present name could have been derived from the word bubo, referring to the bamboo traps traditionally used to catch crabs.
From the root word bubo, the term pambubuhan was used to describe the place where crabs were abundant and bubo was commonly used as trap. Over time, the term pambubuhan was shortened to Pambujan and applied to refer to the present municipality. The letter h was changed to j presumably by the Spaniards who generally used j in place of the Filipino alphabet h.
After being a barrio of Laoang for many years, Pambujan officialy became a pueblo on August 4, 1863, with its own separate parish church in honor of Saint John the Baptist. It was originally a large town that included the present towns of San Roque and Silvino Lubos.
With the increased population, the former barrios of Lao-angan, Corocong, Dale, Balnasan, Bantayan, Pagsang-an, Malobago, Lawaan, Ginagdaan, and Balud were separated from Pambujan to become the town of San Roque, while the mountain barrio of Suba, located upstream of Pambujan River, was established as the town of Silvino Lubos.
As a coastal town, Pambujan is rich in marine resources. Bubo traps still abound in the coastal waters and riverbanks to catch crabs. Many local families are still engaged in fishing and crab fattening. Inland, it has its own complex of hidden caves, waterfalls, and other landmarks that make for good tourist destinations once the roads are paved and travel becomes less arduous than it presently is.
Unfortunately, not too many people have been to these places due to the lack of paved roads leading to more scenic mountain attractions. For now, centrally-located 16th century fortress church of St. John the Baptist Parish makes for a logical “must stop and see” for tourist who wishes to explore various destinations in historic Northern Samar. Some of the Barangays are located in virtually untouched valleys and along streams with unique and exotic plants and dancing fireflies that attest to a healthy ecology. The town is home to Mount Cagbigajo, a sanctuary of pure mountain air and a wealth of flora and fauna resources.
The fine san and crystal clear waters of Paninirongan Beach, which literally means a place of shelter, is located in a seaside barangay of the same name. It is considered one of the most beautiful places to see in Pambujan.
Aside from the coastal seawater which people can bask in all day along, it has a natural swimming pool located within a nature-crafted seawall of sands and rocks. The beach also offers one of the most romantic twilight views in the entire province, with the settings sun casting a radiant mantle of innumerable hues across the sky as it sinks into the sea.
Paninirongan Beach is not a fun place, but a haven for fishermen who cast their nets make a living from its teeming marine resources. If they are lucky, a wizened fisherman shares, they can harvest in a day all the catch they need for a month… if lucky.
For people with a more indomitable spirit for discovery and adventure, Caohagan Island off the coast is definitely not to be missed. Divers frequent the island for its beautiful corals and underwater landscapes and are rewarded with clear views 15 meters deep and 10 meters at a horizontal distance.
The island itself is home to many centuries-old trees and a haven for fruit bats and other animals. Unfortunately – and yet perhaps not – not too many people are drawn to this nature preserve, where plant and animal life are free to complete their normal course and life cycle, without man’s oftentimes destructive intrusion.
Wittingly or unwittingly, this too has happened to Pambujan – as indeed to most of Northern Samar – a bane perhaps, if economic growth were the only measure of development. But a blessing too, if having had to wait at the sidelines of the so-called march to modernity has meant allowing nature’s creative juices to flow over long periods and create seemingly divinely masterpieces for mortals to witness and delight in.
Pambujan continues to epitomize small-town charm, a cozy laidback environment, with sufficient grounds for natural beach resorts, lush mountain scenery, organic vegetables, free range cattle and freshly caught seafood.
Coming back to Pambujan is revisiting a childhood of warm luminescent memories. Coming to Pambujan for the first time is realizing why.