TERNATE was originally a sandbar formed at the mouth of the
Maragondon River and popularly called Barra de Maragondon. It was swampy and densely covered with mangroves, providing a resting
place for natives of Maragondon going out to Manila Bay to fish. In the year 1700, seven Merdica Families consisting of about
200 persons were transferred to the Barra de Maragondon from the old Bagumbayan ( now Ermita ), Manila, to establish their
residence there. The Merdicas or Mardicas. Meaning " men of the sea" or "free people" were transferred to Maragondon by the
Spanish Authorities because of their frequent brawls with the Tagalogs of Ermita.
Noted for their bravery. The Merdicas
were Malays from Ternate in the Moluccas Archipelago, who volunteered to come to Manila along with the Spanish garrison that
was pulled out of the Island by Spanish Governor General Manrique de Lara in 1662 to reinforce the defenses of Manila in preparation
for a threatened invasion by the Chinese pirate-patriot Koxinga, after he had conquered Formosa from the Dutch. To forestall
the repetition of the disastrous Limahong invasion of 1574, the Spanish governor-general ordered the withdrawal of Spanish
forces from Zamboanga and the Moluccas and concentrated them in Manila, ready to repel the Koxinga attack. Fortunately for
the city residents, the Chinese warlord fell ill and died before he could make a good threat.
Under an agreement with the Spanish governor general the Merdicas
were required to provide protection against attacks by Moro pirates, and in return for their services they were taken to the
Barra de Maragondon because of frequent Moro raids in that area. The Merdicas chose as a site of their new homes a place near
the mouth of the Maragondon River, calling it Gala-la, derived from the name of a tree grew there. They set up a watchtower
on top of a hill which they called Mira.
Aside from fishing, the Merdicas
cleared the land and tilled the soil. They eventually intermarried with the natives of neighboring villages, building up a
community that grew up rapidly and expanded. The most prominent families of the community bore surnames Pereira, Estuebar,
De leon, Ramos, De la Cruz, Nigoza, and Ninofranco.
In 1850 the burgeoning Merdica
population were able to build from their own funds a stone church, a casa real (tribunal or municipal building), and a school
house Under the leadership of Florencio Ninofranco, the community became a regular pueblo or town, and they named it Ternate
in memory of their ancestral birthplace in the Mollucas. Pablo de Leon, a wealthy Merdica leader, became the first gobernadorcillo
of Ternate. Another source says that Ternate was separated from Maragondon and became an independent municipality in 1863.
The Ternatenos speak a kind
of chabacano (a sort of indigenized Spanish) which they inherited from their forefathers. They still use it as a principal
means of communication among themselves. However, in writing to their relatives and friends or in conversing with strangers
from other towns, they use Tagalog.
Due to the rapid increase
in population, a time came when the natural and other resources of the town became inadequate for its needs. In 1856 the alkalde
mayor (equivalent to provincial governor) of Cavite ordered the fixing of the boundary between Ternate and Maragondon, giving
the former sufficient land for its inhabitants. Ternate was authorized to take under its jurisdiction the barrio of Patungan.
However for some unknown reason, barrio Patungan is still under the jurisdiction of Maragondon. Ternate has three barangays
in the poblacion and four barrios. These are barangays 1, 2, and 3, and barrios are San Jose, San Juan, Zapang and Bucana.
The Philippine Revolution
against Spain (1896-1898) and the subsequent Philippine-American War (1899-1901) had so depleted the population of Cavite
Province that the Philippine Commission on October 15, 1903 approved Public Act No. 947 reducing the municipalities of Cavite
to nine. Ternate was absorbed by Naik, this situation remaining until 1916 when the Philippine Senate restored Ternate to
its former status as an independent municipality.
A most unfortunate happening
took place in Ternate in early 1945 when, due to American incendiary bombing and bombardments from naval units, the town was
almost wiped out from the map. Only seven out of approximately one thousand houses miraculously survived the man-made holocaust.
But the Ternatenos, people of sterner stuff, went on to start life anew, building from the ruins and ashes of war, tilling
their lands, doing their daily chore of fishing in the sea, uncomplaining, looking forward to the dawn of a new day in their