Before the armed rebellion of the MNLF in the early 1970s, Bongao is merely a backwater village ruled by the prominent noble Halun family, who used to own about 3/4 of the island.
The capital of the province is Bato-Bato in the mainland situated in a cove with deep waters suited for anchors of the Philippine Navy. At the height of the armmed rebellion and fearing that the provincial capitol might be overrun, the government transferred it to Bongao. The white-washed, Taj Mahal-inspired provincial capitol building is located on a hill overlooking the bay and the whole town to the North of the Island against the backdrop of Mount Kabugan and the famous Bud Bongao (Bongao Peak).
The transfer of the seat of government ushered the rapid development of the island as the southernmost center of commerce and trade. Suddenly, the population swelled as individuals (and their families) who are in government service moved to town.