According to pre-Hispanic history, Daanbantayan was believed to be once ruled by a local chieftain or Datu called Datu Daya who was known for his good deeds and bravery by driving away invading foreigners and marauding moros. To help strengthen his defenses, he built strategically placed watchtowers dubbed as “bantayan” which is constantly manned by the natives/residents keeping watch, or in the dialect “daan bantayan”, and so the present name “Daanbantayan” originated. But before the town took on the name Daanbantayan, it was then called Kang Daya, in brief Kandaya, named after Datu Daya, in his honor. Not much has been known as to the actual date of the town’s establishment but as was the custom during the Spanish times, the friars or prayles decided to construct the church, now the Sta. Rosa de Lima Parish Church way back in 1886, hence the establishment of the church marked the establishment of the town as well, being at the center of most settlements at that time.
Daanbantayan is now known globally for its pristine powder white sandy beaches – especially the famous Malapascua Island. It has a vast and rich fishing ground, and dive sites offering unique marine life and beauty. It is only in Daanbantayan the one can go diving alongside huge manta rays and the rarely seen Thresher Shark or Alopias Pelagicus, a type of mackerel shark or Lamniformes. The threshers grow up to a length of 5-6 meters, about half of which is the huge scythe-like tail for which it is named. They normally live in deep water and are nocturnal (night creatures), so are not often seen by divers. Although they are seen occasionally in other locations around the world, we know of nowhere else they can be seen so regularly except here in Monad Shoal near Malapascua, a sunken island at 18-24m whose side drop off to 230m. The thresher sharks live and hunt in this deep water for most of the day, but in the early morning, before it gets too light, they come up to the Shoal, attracted by its cleaning stations. Here they have a symbiotic relationship with the small fish called cleaning wrasse, which eat dead skin and bacteria from the shark’s body, its gills and even inside its mouth. Because the cleaning benefits these huge animals, the sharks would never think of eating the wrasse as an early morning snack. The cleaning stations are like a carwash for fish!
Aside from Malapascua Island and Monad Shoal, Daanbantayan also offers some other tourist spots, such as: Gato Island – famous for its Sea Snakes Sanctuary, manta rays and promising dive spots and Lapuz-Lapuz Islets – one of the area’s dive spots where excellent soft and hard coral species can be found.
Daanbantayan is not defined solely by its beaches: it also has a rich history to boot. Its town plaza commemorates a battle between locals and bandits that transpired in the 19th century. Tapilon Point, or Punta Sampero, is the site of the watchtower the town is named after, although there are no longer any remnants of the tower. San Pedro River’s northern bank is where Datu Daya, the protector of their town in the 19th century, founded a Muslim settlement in the precolonial era. Two historic buildings are situated in the Poblacion (town proper): The Municipal Presidencia built in 1916; and St. Rose of Lima parish church which was inaugurated on April 10, 1858 and finished in 1886. Its facade is still intact with its original design.