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Last Tuesday, 4 August 2015 the town of Jagna, Bohol experienced flooding after torrential rains from 2:00 A.M. to 10:00 A.M.  The Poblacion of Jagna and its environs were inundated.

To the present generation it seems to be an unusual occurrence, but if you will know its history, the name of the town signifies a place where flooding will occur.



The word Jagnà is the Hispanized spelling of the Bisayan word hágnà.  The Bisayan-Spanish dictionary Vocabulario de la Lengua Bisaya (finished 1618 but officially published in 1711) has the definition, Hagnà = Cienaga (marshy moor).

The 1852 “Diccionario Español-Bisaya” has the entry, Hagnà = Basác.  One of the definitions of Basác is Cienaga; cenagal de agua dulce (A marshy moor having fresh water).

Lobocanon Settlers

In 1631, Fr. Jose Sanchez, S.J. gathered a group of people from Loboc, Bohol or Lobocanons to be taken to Mindanao to reinforce a Jesuit Mission field.  However, the trip was aborted by bad weather before the group could sail for the open sea.

The group hid at the hagnà.  The entrance from the sea is the present day small river with a bridge near the Municipal building.  The hagnà or marshy moor was protected from the winds by the Ilihan Hill.

After the passage of the bad weather the Lobocanons refused to proceed to Mindanao.  To salvage the situation, Fr. Sanchez decided to build a church at the marshy moor.  The church building was finished on September 29, 1631 and advocated to Saint Michael the Archangel.


Imagine the Old Location


The hagnà was the natural wash-plain or flood plain of rain waters coming from the mountains.  It was impounded by the promontory where the present church is built and the promontory where the present municipal building is built.

The present location of the Jagna District Hospital and towards the other side of the present highway was also a promontory.

The main outlet of water from the mountains is the present Pajena River.  When this river will overflow, the excess water will be deposited in the hágnà.


The marshland surrounding the church had mixed type of water.  Some were sea waters, some were brackish, and some were fresh water where the rice fields were cultivated.  In front of the church where the present plaza is located was a large salty pool of water.

Engineering Interventions


We can wee the situation of the Municipality of Jagna today.  Can you imagine how many engineering interventions were done to change the face of Jagna from 1631 to today’s situation, which is 384 years later?

There have been many changes done by man but one thing is consistent, in every change made there is no regard to where the water will go when it is denied its natural access.

Even today you can see our Highway Engineers constructing roads without regard to the water drainage.  They even forget that the highway they build will act as a huge impounding dike for the rain waters that are denied its natural drainage flow.

Difference in Culture

We copied our highway construction procedures from the Americans without considering the different in culture.

American highways connecting towns to other towns also do not have provisions for drainage.  They just let the water flow from the pavement to the side of the road.  We also copied this practice.

However, the Americans have one cultural behavior; they do not like to construct their houses near the side of the road or highway. So when the rain waters flow from the pavement, it can be absorbed by the soil beside the road.

However, in the Philippines and in Bohol, we like to construct our houses as close to the side of the road as possible.  When the rain waters will flow from the road pavement to the side of the road we will block it from entering our houses.  Since there is no provision for drainage, the water will return to the road and cause flooding in the streets.  I do not know who is to blame.  Shall we blame the engineers for copying American procedures or the people for desiring to construct their houses beside the road?

Urbanization and Flooding

In the urbanization of towns and cities there is a tendency to cement any open area.  Fewer and fewer areas are available for water to be absorbed into the ground.  The Metro Manila area is now all cement surfaces and a little rain will flood the streets.

Tagbilaran City is also imitating the urban centers of the Philippines and it now experience flooding in the streets.

The problem is very easy to solve because we know that water will always flow towards the lowest portion of the place.  Our only problem is we do not consider the overall situation.

When I was a City Councilor of Tagbilaran (1988-1995) and Chairman of the Committee on Engineering, I moved for a comprehensive drainage plan for Tagbilaran City.  The firm “Asiatic Consultants” was hired for P7 Million to develop the plan.

I do not know what happened to the plan because the present spate of road cementing is not following the drainage plan.  In effect the P7 Million went down the drain and not the rain and waste waters. (By Jes B. Tirol)

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