In the year 1552 the Spanish Conquistador Juan de Salcedo reached the Pacific shores. Salcedo’s men landed on a settlement called “Kapalongan”. There they did not find gold, instead, they found abundant wild flowers which looked like a cock’s comb. The natives told them that the flowers are called Palong Manok.

Old people say that in early times, Aetas and Dumagats who are believed to be the first inhabitants of the place called the settlement “Apalong” which was derived from the red flower of an ornamental plant found abundantly in its environs. This flower looks like a cock’s comb and was called Palong-Manok. They grow wild in the meadows all the year round. It is said that whenever the settlers of Apalong went to other places and are asked where they came from, the natives commonly replied, “We came from “Kapalongan”. Historical analysts surmise that the natives were either referring to the place where many flowers of “Palong Manok” or cock’s comb can be found or they wanted identification for their settlement which is “Apalong”. Whatever it was, no written record will show neither can any one tell as to the true source of the name of Capalonga. What is clearly known to Capalongueños is that this place, at that time, had an abundance of flowers called Palong-Manok. It was presumed then that the name Apalong became “Kapalongan” until the “n” was dropped and Capalonga sprouted and became its official name.

As to origin of the town’s name, it was first called Capalongan arising from the fact that its rich soil is most conductive to the growth of a shrub with colorful flowers. The flower resembles the cock’s comb and is called Palong in Bicol. Also, the general shape of the town is like that of a cock’s comb. The Spaniards were tongue-twisted with the name and was only able to call it Capalonga. However, the name caught popularity and so remains the name of the town. In his book, F. Mallari, S. J., says:

It is believed also that the first migrants to Capalonga came from the neighbouring province of Quezon, formerly Tayabas. This is the reason why, of the twelve municipalities in the province, Capalonga has the highest number of Tagalog speaking inhabitants. However, with the passage of time and the continuous migration process, there is now a mixture of dialects among the populace. Today like other places in the country, the dialects of the residents of this town are enriched by various mediums of expression both foreign and local, thereby making it no different from the trend in other political units.

Capalonga’s commerce and industry relatively remained localized until the 1950’s. The absence of roads that will link the place to other towns in the province left it virtually isolated. It was only in 1956 when the Capalonga-Bagong Silang road was opened that the town started to grow economically. Items of commerce were no longer carried by pack animals through mountain passages or transported out of the municipality by sea to the ports of Jose Panganiban to the south and Calauag to the north.In 1969, the town of Sta. Elena was established as the 12th municipality in the province of Camarines Norte obtaining ten (10) barangays from Capalonga pursuant to R.A. 5480.

The snail paced economic growth was overtaken by the imposition of martial law in 1972. It was during the years 1992 to 1997 that all the wooden and temporary bridges along the Capalonga-Bagong Silang road were replaced by concrete ones. Likewise, concreting of this road started which is presently on-going. Today there are two ordinary buses with daily trips to Manila while local buses and air conditioned vans ply the Capalonga-Daet route regularly. The present program thrusts of the LGU are directed towards full economic development. To achieve this goal it has adopted liberal investment policies that are expected to spur the influx of business in the municipality which hopefully will improve the quality of life of its inhabitants.

In 2008, Capalonga became a 3rd Class municipality three steps higher from its 6th class municipal classification in 1990. Just recently, on May 5, 2009, the Most Rev. Gilbert A. Garcera, DD, Bishop of Daet, declared the Capalonga Parish Church as Shrine of the Black Nazarene of Capalonga. He also declared May 11-12 & 13 as the annual feast days of the famous icon where “Palong Festival”, now on its 19th year, is also celebrated.

Today, Capalonga is bustling economically and is aiming to be the socio-cultural and ecotourism destination of Camarines Norte in the years to come.