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Christian settlers started arriving in the early part of the 20th century, most of which came from Cebu as evident on the veneration of the Santo Niño de Cebú.
The increasing Christian population prompted the creation of the Parish of Pagadian in 1938 and was administered by the Jesuits, Columban and Filipino priests. Niño Church of Pagadian was right across the city plaza, on the site of the current San Jose Parish church. Niño Cathedral is now located in San Francisco District and was built in 1968.
It is bounded by the municipalities of Tigbao and Dumalinao on the southwest, Lakewood on the west, Labangan on the east and northwest, and Midsalip on the north. Due to its topography, most of the city's 54 barangays do not experience flooding.
About 45% of the total city area is steeply sloping terrain of hills and mountains on the northwestern portion that covers an estimated 15,090 hectares. The low-lying southern and eastern part of the city sometimes experience flooding, most especially during heavy rains.
At one time, Datu Macaumbang requested the assistance of the Philippine constabulary due to the rampant banditry and piracy in the area. Tiburcio Ballesteros stationed at Malangas landed at the place and stationed themselves at Dumagoc Island.
The arrival of the soldiers restored peace and order, thereby attracting the influx of settlers from other places.
who was commissioned by Philippine Governor-General Leonard Wood to find out the possibility of transferring the seat of government of the Labangan municipality to another place.
A conference was first held, together with the Datus and the early Christian settlers as the idea of the transfer was at first largely opposed by the Christians.
Eventually, a consensus was reached when the designated committee led by Datu Balimbingan of Labangan and with the consent of Datu Macaumbang surveyed the western part of the present area and found Talpokan, a part of the barrio of Pagadian, deemed as a suitable place for such transfer.
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