Compostela Valley (Cebuano: Kawalogang Kompostela) is a province of the Philippines located in the Davao Region in Mindanao. The province, called Comval for short, used to be part of Davao del Norte until it was made independent in 1998. It is the fourth newest province of the Philippines, behind Dinagat Islands, Zamboanga Sibugay and Davao Occidental. Its capital is Nabunturan. The province borders Davao del Norte to the west, Agusan del Sur to the north, and Davao Oriental to the east. To the southwest lies the Davao Gulf. Its first elected governor was Jose Caballero, formerly a lawyer for a mining group in the province.
Compostela Valley, the 78th province in the country, was carved out of Davao del Norte Province by virtue of Republic Act No. 8470, signed by President Fidel V. Ramos on January 30, 1998. On March 7 of the same year, the law was ratified through a plebiscite conducted in the twenty-two (22) municipalities of the mother province.
The movement to create a separate province from Davao del Norte started in the 1980s during the time of Congressman Lorenzo S. Sarmiento, Sr., himself the author of the division of the original province of Davao into three (3) provinces of Davao Oriental, Davao Del Sur, and Davao Del Norte. Believing that the sheer size of Davao Del Norte, then the 8th largest province in the country, had greatly hindered the realization of the province’s full potentials, he filed a bill in Congress seeking to create a new province to be composed of Mawab, Maragusan, New Bataan, Nabunturan, Montevista, Monkayo, and Compostela, with the latter as the capital town. However, this was not realized until his death in the late 1980s. His son, Rogelio M. Sarmiento, who became his successor in Congress, made way for the passage of the bill creating the province.
Upon consultation with the governor of Davao Del Norte, Prospero S. Amatong, the province’s other two legislators, 3rd District Congressman Rodolfo P. Del Rosario and 2nd District Congressman Baltazar A. Sator, and other provincial and municipal officials, it was decided that the addition of four municipalities, namely Maco, Mabini, Pantukan, and Laak to the proposed province would be the most ideal and equitable configuration as this would make both provinces on an almost equal footing in terms of area, population, and development opportunities. It was also decided that Nabunturan would be the capital town because of its more central location.
The name originally proposed for the province was Davao Del Norte, the former name, or so it was thought, of the mother province. However, the House of Representatives’ Reference and Research Bureau which conducted the research and legal work on the creation of the province found out that the mother province continues to be officially referred to as Davao Del Norte in most official documents including the 1987 Philippine Constitution despite the passage of RA No. 6430 on June 17, 1972 renaming it as Davao Province. Tedious technical and legal issues needed to be resolved before the name could be adopted, the proposal was thus, shelved and the name finally agreed upon was Compostela Valley, referring to the great fertile plain in the heartland of the province.
The origin of the province’s inhabitants came from the ethnic tribes of the Mansaka, Mandaya, Manobo, Mangguangan, Dibabawon, Aeta, Kamayo, Davaweño and Kalagan. Similar to the history of other Mindanao provinces, most of the present populations of the province are descendants of migrants who came from Luzon and Visayas islands during the pre-war and post war eras. The bigger wave of immigrants came during the time of President Ramon Magsaysay wherein the policy of attraction adopted by the national government was to offer parcels of land to tenant-farmers. Although a virtual melting pot, the Visayans (mostly Cebuano-speaking) are the dominant group in Compostela Valley.
New, as it is, Compostela Valley has achieved a distinction of sorts with the succession of three governors during the first four months of its existence. The first governor of the province was Prospero S. Amatong, the three-term governor (1986-1998) of the then undivided province of Davao Del Norte, who held the position only for a day. As provided for in the law creating the new province, “incumbent elected officials (of Davao Del Norte) are given option to serve the remainder of their term in Compostela Valley,” Amatong took this option and assumed the governorship of Compostela Valley on March 26, 1998. The following day, he resigned and filed his candidacy for the congressional seat of the 2nd district of the new province. The governorship was turned over to Luz M. Sarmiento, by virtue of a presidential appointment.
Luz M. Sarmiento, wife of the late Congressman Lorenzo S. Sarmiento, Sr. served the province from March 27, 1998 to June 30, 1998. She was succeeded by Jose R. Caballero.
Jose R. Caballero, a practicing lawyer and former vice governor of then undivided Davao Del Norte (1988-1992) was the first elected governor of Compostela Valley.
Arturo T. “Chiongkee” Uy is the fourth governor of Compostela Valley. He first served the province as member of the 3rd Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Compostela Valley (2004-2007) before he was elected as governor in May 2007 national and local elections. Among his first acts as governor is the forging of genuine unity among political leaders and among all sectors in the province in order to have synergy in crafting the province’s development and the delivery of public services. He is now serving the province in his second term of office as governor as he ran for the post unopposed during the May 2010 national and local elections.