From the later half of the 16th century to 1919, the land area of the town of Cantilan was roughly 130,000 hectares which is approximately one fourth of the present area of the province of Surigao del Sur. This was the whole of Cantilan, which is now known, with the acronym of CARCANMADCARLAN, which is derived from the first three-letter syllables of the towns of Carrascal, Cantilan, Madrid, Carmen and Lanuza.

The original acronym of the whole area was CARCANLAN, which comprised Carrascal, Cantilan and Lanuza. On December 10, 1918, Executive Order No. 52 of American Governor General Francis Burton Harrison that was signed by Charles Yeater, divided Cantilan into three parts. On February 2, 1953, it became CARCANMADLAN when Madrid was created as a municipality and detached from the mother town by virtue of Executive Order by PresidentElpidio Quirino. When barangay Carmen of Lanuza was created as a town by Republic Act No. 6367, on August 16, 1971, the indigenous naming of the whole area that was once Cantilan finally became CARCANMADCARLAN.