Bohol was first settled by Australoid people, like the rest of the Philippines. They still inhabit the island today and are known as the Eskaya tribe. Their population also was absorbed into the Austronesian/Malayo-Polynesian peoples who later settled the islands and form the majority of the population. The Austronesian people living on Bohol traded with other islands in the Philippines and as far as China and Borneo.
The people of Bohol are said to be the descendants of a group of inhabitants who settled in the Philippines called pintados or "tattooed ones." Boholanos already had a culture of their own as evidenced by artifacts unearthed at Mansasa, Tagbilaran, and in Dauis and Panglao.
Bohol's first indigenous people settled in the Anda peninsula. These people came from northeast Mindanao. These people were responsible for the Anda petrographs which are one of the most important indigenous rock writing in the country. Around the 12th century, a group of people from Northern Mindanao settled in the strait between mainland Bohol and the island of Panglao. Those people came from a nation in northern Mindanao called Lutao (probably the animist kingdom of what will soon be the Islamic Lanao). Those people established the kedatuan (kingdom) of Dapitan in western Bohol because the true indigenous people of Bohol in the Anda peninsula and nearby areas were not open to them, forcing them to establish settlement in the western part of the island. They occupied both shores and the entire island of Panglao. The kedatuan was first built with hardwood on the soft seabed. It engaged in trade with nearby areas and some Chinese merchants.
Alcina tales about a rich nation he called the 'Venice of the Visayas', pointing to the kedatuan of Dapitan at that time. A legend tells of a princess named Bugbung Hamusanum, whose beauty caused her suitor, Datung Sumanga, to raid parts of southern China to win her hand.
By 1563, before the full Spanish colonization agenda came to Bohol, the Kedatuan of Dapitan was at war with the Sultanate of Ternate in the Moluccas (who were also raiding the Rajahnate of Butuan). At the time, Dapitan was ruled by two brothers named Dailisan and Pagbuaya. The Ternateans at the time were allied to the Portuguese. Dapitan was destroyed and Datu Dailisan was killed in battle. His brother, Datu Pagbuaya, together with his people fled back to Mindanao and established a new Dapitan in the northern coast of the Zamboanga peninsula. When the Spanish came, the people of Dapitan were influential in the Spanish conquest of the Sultanate of Ternate and in the Christian colonization of northern Mindanao.
Bohol is derived from the word Bo-ho or Bo-ol. The island was the seat of the first international treaty of peace and unity between the native king Datu Sikatuna and Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi on 16 March 1565 through a blood compact alliance known today by many Filipinos as the Sandugo.
Spanish colonial period
The earliest significant contact of the island with Spain occurred in 1565. On 25 March (16 March in the Julian calendar), a Spanish explorer named Miguel López de Legazpi arrived in Bohol seeking spices and gold. After convincing the native chieftains that they were not Portuguese (who raided the islands of Mactan in 1521), Legazpi made a peace pact with Datu Sikatuna. This pact was signified with a blood compact between the two men. This event, called the Sandugo ("one blood"), is celebrated in Bohol every year during the Sandugo Festival. The Sandugo or blood compact is also depicted on Bohol's provincial flag and the Bohol provincial seal.
Statue commemorating the "Blood Compact" in Tagbilaran
Two significant revolts occurred in Bohol during the Spanish Era. One was the Tamblot Uprising in 1621, led by Tamblot, a babaylan or native priest. The other was the famous Dagohoy Rebellion, considered the longest in Philippine history. This rebellion was led by Francisco Dagohoy, also known as Francisco Sendrijas, from 1744 to 1829.
Politically, Bohol was administered as a residencia of Cebu. It became a separate politico-military province on 22 July 1854 together with Siquijor. A census in 1879 found Bohol with a population of 253,103 distributed among 34 municipalities.
The culture of the Boholanos was influenced by Spain and Mexico during colonization. Many traditional dances, music, dishes and other aspects of the culture have considerable Hispanic influence.
U.S. intervention and occupation
After the United States defeated Spain in the Spanish–American War, the U.S. bought the entire Philippine islands. However, under the newly proclaimed independent government established by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, which was not recognized by the U.S., Bohol was governed as a Gobierno de Canton.
During the resulting Philippine–American War, American troops peacefully took over the island in March 1899. However, in January 1901, Pedro Sanson led 2,000 in rebellion, due to the harsh treatment imparted by these troops and the destruction they caused. General Hughes led a campaign of repression in October 1901, destroying a number of towns, and threatening in December 1901 to burn Tagbilaran if the rebels did not surrender. Pantaleon E. del Rosario then negotiated the rebel surrender.
On 10 March 1917, the Americans made Bohol a separate province under Act 2711 (which also established most of the other Philippine provinces).
Japanese occupation and liberation
Japanese troops landed in Tagbilaran on 17 May 1942. Boholanos struggled in a guerilla resistance against the Japanese forces. Bohol was later liberated by the local guerrillas and the Filipino and American troops who landed on 11 April 1945.
A plaque placed on the port of Tagbilaran commemorating the liberation reads:
One thousand one hundred seventy two officers and men of the 3rd Battalion of the 164th Infantry Regiment of the Americal Division under the command of Lt. Col. William H. Considine landed at the Tagbilaran Insular Wharf at 7:00 o'clock in the morning of April 11, 1945.
The convoy taking the Filipino and American liberation forces to Bohol consisted of a flotilla of six landing ships (medium), six landing crafts (infantry), two landing crafts (support), and one landing craft (medium-rocket). Upon arrival, the reinforced battalion combat team advanced rapidly to the east and northeast with the mission of destroying all hostile forces in Bohol. Motor patrols were immediately dispatched by Col. Considine, Task Force Commander, and combed the area to the north and east, approximately halfway across the island, but no enemies were found during the reconnaissance. Finally, an enemy group of undetermined strength was located to the north of Ginopolan in Valencia, near the Sierra-Bullones boundary.
By 17 April the Task Force was poised to strike in Ginopolan. The bulk of the Japanese force was destroyed and beaten in the ten days of action. Bohol was officially declared liberated on 25 May 1945 by Major General William H. Arnold, Commander of the Americal Division. About this time, most officers and men of the Bohol Area Command had been processed by units of the Eighth United States Army.
On 31 May 1945, the Bohol Area Command was officially deactivated upon orders of Lt. General Robert L. Eichelberger, Commanding General of the Eighth United States Army, together with the regular and constable troops of the Philippine Commonwealth Army, Philippine Constabulary, and the Boholano guerrillas.
During the Second Battle of Bohol from March to August 1945, Filipino troops of the 3rd, 8th, 83rd, 85th and 86th Infantry Division of the Philippine Commonwealth Army and 8th Constabulary Regiment of the Philippine Constabulary captured and liberated the island province of Bohol and helped the Boholano guerrilla fighters and U.S. liberation forces defeat the Japanese Imperial forces under General Sōsaku Suzuki.
On 12 April 2017, 11 Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) terrorists staged an attack on Bohol. Three soldiers, a police officer and at least 4 of the armed men, including their leader Abu Rami, were killed in the clashes that started at 5 am. Also killed were two Inabanga villagers, though it was not clear whether they were killed in the crossfire or executed by the cornered militants. Security officials relentlessly hunted down the remainder of the ASG who landed in Bohol from the hinterlands to a neighboring island in the province which ultimately led to the neutralization of Abu Asis, the last of the remaining bandits, in May. He was gunned down by police Special Weapons and Tactics operatives in Barangay Lawis, Calape while fighting it out to the end along with Ubayda. Despite their nefarious intents, all 11 ASG members killed in the intrusion were given proper burials under Muslim tradition.
The tourism industry in Bohol was negatively affected by the ASG militants' incursion on the island, though tour operators believe the industry can recover.