Butuan is believed to be derived from the sour fruit "Batuan". Others say it came from the chieftain's name who once ruled Butuan "Datu Buntuan". Other insist it was derived from the word "But-an" which literally means a person who has sound and discerning disposition


Butuan's history, culture, arts and people date back to the 4th century as showcased in museums which makes Butuan an exciting source of cultural artifacts in Mindanao. As early as the 10th century, according to the Chinese Song Shi (history), people from Butuan had already established trading relations with the kingdom of Champa in what is now South Vietnam. By the 11th century, Butuan was the center of trade and commerce in the Philippines. The best evidence to prove this fact is the discovery of 9 balangays (called the Butuan boat) and other archeological finds in the vicinities of Butuan City, particularly in Ambangan, Libertad near the old El Rio de Butuan and Masao River.

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