Long before the Spaniards came to the Philippines in the 16th century, Cuartero was a dense forest inhabited by some tropical animals, bats, rodents and some man eating animals. As time went on, after the ten Bornean Datus established their settlements in the archipelago, some members of the Sumakwelan settlers happened to reached this place using the river now known as Panay River, as their means of passage. The settlers begun cutting down big trees to pave the way for their future dwellings. They established their settlement along the river so that transportation from one place to another could be easily reached by means of their “balangays” or bancas. Other settlers came by the hundred, so that clearings were made wider and expansion of settlements was made possible. In order to protect themselves from fierce animals, tribal quarrels and other enemies, they grouped themselves into “barangay”, an organized community named after “balangay” and selected an elder as a chief.
The early settlers were the Mendoza, Sanchez, Holipaz, Hornachoz, Funcion, Florino, Hortillano, Hijosa, Homina, Hundana, Hurtada, and many more. Others came from the neighboring municipalities of Dumarao and Dumalag. The most prominent and original settlers were those initial sounds of surname starting with the silent “H”. As it expanded and widened, the settlers agreed to give name to their settlement. The first name was Binudhian, named after the term “Mabudhi” or treacherous because strangers or travelers who happened to pass by in the place, were either robbed their money, merchandise, goods or even their personal belongs. The natives did not like the name because of its connotation.
After a decade, the place was named Mapanag after a creek or stream called the Mapanag Creek, one of the natural boundaries of the place from the Municipality of Dumalag, whose tributary happened to pass across the place, into the Panay River. Groups of people, businessmen and traders from the neighboring municipalities came to reside in the place. The barangay at this time, was an arabal of Dumarao. The name Mapanag did not stay long. An influential businessman named Anacleto Habana, a resident of Dumarao who frequently traded with the natives and later permanently resided in the place, called the local leaders and agreed to change the name to Fonda, a name derived from Fondador or Founder. Still, Fonda is an arabal or barrio of Dumarao.
During this period, the barangay leaders had an organized government held by a Chief or Kapitan. Due to their leadership and knowledge in running the local government, such personalities like Kapitan Tiago of Santiago Funcion, Kapitan Goyo or Gregorio Holipaz, Kapitan Bido or Buenvinido Florino, and a few local judge like Juez Mateo or Mateo Flotilde, were the early executivesc hosen by the natives. The residents of Fonda found it very difficult to transact business in Municipality of Dumarao because of the distance and difficulty in traveling on ragged foot trails. The residents moved to become independent and establish their own municipal government but were unsuccessful. Tax collection was too small to run, finance and manage the affairs of the proposed municipality. The moves of the leaders were futile.Though still part of Dumarao, the leaders felt the need of having a parochial church, the people combined efforts and worked for the construction of the church, which was completed in 1890. The residents work under the “pintakasi” system where in they finished a span assigned to them in a designated time. The construction was under the supervision of the Spanish Agustinian Friars. The completed church had thick stonewalls taken from nearby and far barangays and munnicipalities through hard labor. The church was inaugurated on the some year when the barrio was recognized as a Parish by the Diocese of Jaro, Iloilo City, during the Pastorial visit of the Bishop of Jaro, Very Reverend Monsignor Mariano Cuartero, Who also officiated the first mass. In his honor and memory, the name Cuartero was given to the place and is known as such up to the present time.
For almost half a century of concerted efforts and stuggle to become an independent municipality, Cuartero was still a part of Dao. Businessman and influential residents such as Manuel Funa (a resident of Cuartero and one-tme Vice Mayor of Dao), Pascual dela Torre, a Spaniard but resided in the place, Emilio Pimentel,benito Onas, Emilio Fajariillo, Jose Holipas, Angle Faciolan, Primitivo Alba, Silvesrte Alba, Martin Funa, Zoilo Pimemtel, Salvador Hallegado, Salvador Villagracia, Marina Hundana, Caridad dela Cruz, Anthonio Hurtada, Salvador Almonzor, Ramon Miguel Sr., Silvestre Flotilde, Juan Veto, Emilio Himan, Leopoldo Habana, to name few, met and offerd their free services and knowledge for the welfare of the residents. This group of intellectuals created a committee requesting for the separation of Cuartero from Dao, to be sent to the President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, His Excellency Manuel L. Quezon.
The Municipality of Cuartero was formally inaugurated on January 1, 1939 with Honorable Manuel Funa at First Alcalde Mayor and Honorable Pascual dela Torre as Vice MAyor. The first elected Mayor was Honorable Rafael Villagracia while Leopoldo Habana was his Vice Mayor. The first Councilors were: Hon. Emilio Pimentel, Hon. Victoriano Mjiquel, Hon. Emilio Fajarillo, Hon. Benito Onas, Hon. Braulio Derafera and Hon. Silvestre Flotilde.