The Subanen, a peaceful tribe, living along the riverbanks amidst the hinterlands, may be considered as the first inhabitants of Pagadian City.
Eventually, the Muslims inhabited the coastal areas of what are now the barangays of Muricay, Tawagan Sur, White Beach and the present location of the city proper then named “TALPOKAN” meaning “a place of numerous springs”.
The livelihood of the early inhabitants was cultivating a small area of rice production. After planting season they engaged in fishing while waiting for the harvest time.
The early inhabitants were under the leadership of Datu Akob whose daughter caught the fancy of Datu Macaumbang of Tukuran. With the approval of Datu Akob, Datu Macaumbang married the former beautiful daughter.
Upon the death of Datu Akob, his son-in-law, Datu Macaumbang, assumed leadership, then, he established the territorial boundaries of the present city proper, from Balangasan River in the West of Tawagan Sur River in the East. Beyond the river of Tawagan Sur was the territory of Datu Balimbingan.
At one time, Datu Macaumbang requested the assistance of the Philippine Constabulary due to the dreaded banditry and piracy within the territory. A detachment led by Col. Tiburcio Ballesteros stationed at Malangas landed at the place and stationed themselves at Dumagoc Island.
The arrival of the soldiers restored peace and order in the whole territory, thereby attracting the influx of settlers from far-flung regions as far as Luzon and Visayas, and from the neighboring places of Mindanao.
As it had been told that early Christian settlers upon their arrival here had to negotiate with the territorial leader Datu Banca. They had to ferry themselves to Dumagoc Island where the soldiers were stationed with their families. A large number of those early Christians died of Malaria the most dreaded diseases at that time, so that they started naming the place “PANGADYE-AN” which means, “Place to be prayed for”.
Another version revealed that a group of people believed to have come from Luzon arrived at an unknown place of the Zamboanga Peninsula. This group of people happened to reach the royal palace of Datu Macaumbang where natives met them. The natives of the place did not understand the stranger using his own dialect. Incidentally, when the stranger raised a question, he was looking up a flock of birds called by the natives thinking that the stranger was asking about the birds ,then the natives replied “GAGADIAN”. This was how the name “PAGADIAN” originated.