The settlement was formerly known as Cuambog, named after a tree species of the family Dilleniaceae.In 1953, by virtue of Executive Order No. 596 of President Elpidio Quirino, the municipality was created from the eastern part of Tagum and the northern part of Pantukan. Barrio Cuambog became the seat of the municipal government.
The municipality was named Doña Alicia after President Quirino’s wife Alicia Syquia, who was killed by Japanese soldiers during the Second World War. In 1954, the municipality was renamed in honor of revolutionary leader Apolinario Mabini.