Southern Leyte

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Southern Leyte Province
Official Seal of the Province of Southern Leyte
Basic data
Region : Eastern Visayas
Capital : Maasin City
Population : 421,750
August 1, 2015 census
Population density : 243 inhabitants per km²
Area : 1,734.8  km²
PSGC : 086400000
Governor : Roger Mercado
Official website:
 - Highly urbanized cities
 - provincial cities 1
 - municipalities 18th
 - Barangays 500
 - electoral districts 1
Location of the province in the Philippines

Coordinates: 10 ° 20 '  N , 125 ° 5'  E

Southern Leyte is a province of the Philippines in the Eastern Visayas region (Region VIII). Southern Leyte was a sub-province of the former large province of Leyte before it was divided into two provinces.

The capital of Southern Leyte is Maasin City ; the governor's name is Roger Mercado.

According to historical sources, Limasawa , an island community in the southern part of the province, is the place where Ferdinand Magellan held the first Christian mass in the Philippines, which is why it is considered the birthplace of Christianity on the island state.


The province of Southern Leyte occupies the southern part of the island of Leyte . It is bounded in the north by the province of Leyte , in the east by the Strait of Surigao , in the south by the Mindanao Sea and in the west by the Canigao Canal , which separates it from the neighboring island of Bohol .


Green hills near the city of Maasin City

The topography of the province is characterized along the coastal areas by relatively flat plains on which the settlement centers are located. Inland, however, the area is rocky and criss-crossed by mountains.

The province has over 93 smaller and larger rivers, including 18 major rivers, including the Amparo River in Macrohon , the Canturing River in Maasin City , the Das-ay and Pondol Rivers in Hinunangan, the Divisoria Rivers in Bontoc , the Hitungao and the Lawigan River in San Juan , the Maag River in Silago and the most important river, the Subang Daku River in Sogod belong.

Southern Leyte also includes four islands: Panaon Island , Limasawa , San Pedro Island and San Pablo Island.

The highest mountain peak in the province is Mount Nacolod in Hinunangan at 948 m above sea level. However, young volcanic rock is found throughout the provincial area and covers the peaks of the mountain ranges of Mount Cabalían on the Pacific side, as well as those of Mount Nelangcapan in the Panaon area.

The total area is 1734.8 km²; this corresponds to ¼ of the area of ​​the island of Leyte.

Geological problems

The Subangdaku River, the largest river in the province, poses a recurring problem for the area. It can be viewed as a river network consisting of many canals that, coming from central areas, first spread and then reunite Unite watercourse. This creates a fan of streams that together form a vast floodplain . As such, during a typhoon and the associated heavy rains , the river quickly turns into a dangerous flow. Sometimes the river overflows its banks and then floods the lower-lying municipal areas of Liloan and San Vicente, with the water masses destroying large parts of the harvested areas. The local administration cites the canalization and the uncontrolled extraction of sand and gravel in quarries along the river as the cause of the flooding.

The province lies within the Philippine reef zone. The main fold line of this zone runs through the communities of Sogod, Libagon and St. Bernard and extends over San Juan to Panaon Island. For this reason, the province is classified as an earthquake prone area. In fact, Southern Leyte was hit by two strong quakes in 1907 and 1948 with a magnitude of 6.9, and on July 5, 1984 by another with a deflection of 6.4 on the Richter scale .

The Bureau of Mines and Earth Sciences issued a warning for the province based on the natural and geological features that make the area particularly vulnerable to landslides and flooding. Four reasons were named as to why the province has an increased risk potential: Unusually heavy rains, numerous fragile and damaged rocks, soaked slopes and the lack of extensive vegetation that consolidates the soil.

Demographics and language

The province has the second lowest population in the district. According to the 2000 census, it has 360,160 inhabitants, making it the 18th most populous province in the country. With a population density of 208 people per km², it only ranks 42nd.

Ethnic groups

While the majority of the population (80.8%) belong to the Bisaya or Binisaya ethnic group , 16.6% belong to the Boholano and 5.1% to the Cebuano. Other ethnic minorities are Tagalog, Waray and some foreign ethnic groups.

On Panao, an island in the south-east of the province, lives an indigenous people who are known under the name Kongking or, on various occasions , Mamanwa , which means something like mountain people. This group is believed to have immigrated from the island of Mindanao , where they still live in parts of Agusan del Norte today. Their migration from the island was based on the growing militarization of Mindanao and the infiltration of logging and mining companies in the early 1980s who displaced them from their traditional areas. The members of this tribe are distinguished by dark complexion, curly hair and a small build. Hunting and collecting as well as the weaving of mats and processing of rattan are the main economic activities of the Mamanwas , which is why they mainly live in the forested areas in the mountainous regions of Southern Leyte.


The mother tongue of most of the residents is Cebuano . In second place is Wáray-Wáray , followed by the Boholano dialect, which is due to the proximity of the island of Bohol . Furthermore, Tagalog , English and Spanish common communication facilities.


Madonna of Assumption, Cathedral in Maasin City

From Limasawa , an island community in the south, is believed to the scene of the first Christian Mass and the birthplace of Christianity was in the Philippines.

The absolute majority of the population, 87.28%, is Roman Catholic , with traditional pagan belief tendencies simultaneously present in the religion. In second place are the Aglipayan followers with 4.51% and the evangelists . Other religious groups represented in the province are the Iglesia ni Cristo , Jehovah's Witnesses, and Seventh-day Adventists .

A church from the time of Spanish colonial rule can be found in the city center of Maasin. The church is equipped with an ornamental altar and portraits of various saints.

However, the people of the province are still marked by pagan influences from pre-Hispanic times and often offer gifts to the nature spirits before they plant their fields. Even today, farmers sacrifice chickens or pigs to please the elements and fate.


Generally speaking, rice and corn are the staple foods of the province's residents. The hill tribes prefer root vegetables , which thrive in abundance in their areas. Other crops are bananas , sugar cane , coconut and abacá . In addition, various other types of vegetables are also grown.

The fiber of the abaca plant is the most important source of life in the province. Many women in particular have specialized in the artisanal processing of abaca fibers , which is known in this area as tagak or wound abaca fiber . Sinamay or hand-woven clothing is made from the semi-finished product, or it is processed into Tinagak , a finished intermediate product for other products. The goods produced in the province are finally exported to Japan via Manila .

In addition to the products based on abaca fibers, ceramics and handcrafted objects made of coconut and bamboo are also produced. Other economic factors in the province are fishing, animal husbandry and poultry farming.

A blue-spotted stingray on the provincial coast

The province, with its ferries, highways, and crossings to Samar, is an important part of the country's inland transportation system. Southern Leyte has 12 seaports, two of which are declared national ports. Goods and people are exchanged between Liloan and Surigao City on Mindanao via ferry connections . The crossing takes about three hours. A second sea route connects the province via the port of Maasin City with the neighboring island of Cebu .

The province has only one airport, which is located in Barangay Panan-awan of Maasin City. This small airport has a runway of 1,200 m and a width of 30 m, making it only suitable for short-haul flights.

Due to its extensive coastline and the islands belonging to it, the province is also an interesting starting point for bathing and diving tourism, which has steadily gained in importance in recent years.

Political structure

Southern Leyte is politically divided into 18 independently administered municipalities and one city. These are in turn subdivided into a total of 501 barangays (districts).

The province is further divided into a Congress - district .




General history

Ferdinand Magellan , the Portuguese navigator and explorer , landed on the island of Limasawa on March 28, 1521 . Here he met the local ruler Rajah Kolambu and his brother Rajah Siagu, the chief of Butu (on Mindanao ). It was here that the first friendship treaty in the form of a blood brotherhood between Magellan and Rajah Kolambu was concluded and the first Christian mass was held. The first Holy Mass on Filipino soil took place on March 31, 1521 and was held by Chaplain Friar Pedro de Valderrama, who accompanied Magellan on his expedition.

During the Spanish colonial period, Southern Leyte was established as a sub-province to the large province of Leyte. At that time it comprised the communities from Palompon to Hinunangan , with Maasin being the administrative center. Some ministries of the provincial government had already been stationed in Maasin at that time in order to administer the southern part of Leyte from there.

Historically, the government city was the repository of the tax revenue of the area between the places Palompon and Hinunangan. These were administered by the Administrado de Hacienda, a position which was hierarchically classified under the Secretario de Hacienda and which corresponded in importance to the treasurer of the province. In addition, a court of first instance was established in Maasin, in which all matters of the subordinate administrations and other cases from Palompon to Hinunangan were heard and ordered.

During the Spanish colonial period, the area of ​​what is now Southern Leyte was only sparsely populated. The constant raids by Moro pirates prevented the development and growth of the province for a long time. In the 19th century, immigrants came from nearby provinces and islands such as Bohol and Cebu and settled in what is now the province.

After a meeting in Malitbog , a town in the east, did not take place in 1942 because many leaders did not appear, Ruperto Kangleon invited to another conference, which this time took place in Sogod parish. The aim of the meeting was to unite all guerrilla forces to support the armed forces of the Commonwealth of the Philippines after the outbreak of World War II .

After American troops landed in the north of the island in October 1945, the Filipino defense troops and guerrillas in the southern areas of the island began to attack the Japanese Imperial forces and initiate the liberation of Southern Leyte.

Independence of the province

Due to the change of colonial power to the United States at the beginning of the 19th century, all administrative offices in Maasin, with the exception of the tax authority, were abolished and transferred to Tacloban City , the capital of Leyte . This brought with it some significant problems, as on the one hand there was a lack of transport, which made it difficult to cope with government duties from Tacloban, and on the other hand there was a language barrier between the Cebuano- speaking Southwest Islanders of Southern Leyte and the eastern Wáray-Wáray speakers duration. All of these difficulties soon pointed to the need to divide the island into two independently administered provinces.

At the beginning there was a fundamental movement in favor of a Western Leyte, which shortly afterwards was supported by many celebrities and leaders. Six attempts have been made to have a law passed dividing the province of Leyte. At the sixth attempt, Congressman Nicanor Yñiguez submitted the proposal for the division, and he quickly came to the conclusion that the desired east-west separation had no prospect of success. Instead, he suggested converting his own district, which occupied the southern part of the island, into a province.

After the first bill was rejected , Nicanor Yñiguez presented House Bill No. 1318 to Congress , which recommended the formation of a new Province of Southern Leyte, consisting of the 3rd Congress District of Leyte and 16 parishes from Maasin to Silago on the mainland and the island Should include Panaon Island .

The bill was passed on May 22, 1959 under Republic Act No. 2227, also known as the "Ordinance Establishing the Province of Southern Leyte", with the signature of President Carlos P. Garcia . On July 1, 1960, Southern Leyte was inaugurated and Maasin was designated the seat of the provincial government.

In 2000 the municipality of Maasin was finally raised to city status.


The 2006 landslide in Southern Leyte

In December 2003, a catastrophic landslide occurred that destroyed much of San Francisco and killed 200 people. The trigger for the disaster was heavy rains that had hit the province in the days before.

On February 17, 2006, heavy rainfall of over 2,000 mm per m², supported by a simultaneous smaller earthquake , triggered several mudslides that destroyed a town and large parts of the economic infrastructure and claimed hundreds of lives. The parish of Saint Bernard was one of the hardest hit areas. Many national and international rescue workers were called in, but their work was severely hampered by poor access routes and the lack of heavy equipment. The mountain village of Guinsaugon, a suburb of the municipality of Saint Bernard, was completely razed to the ground. Of the 1,857 inhabitants, more than 1,800 did not survive the accident.


In the province of Southern Leyte there are two climate categories, climate types II and IV.

Type II is characterized by the absence of a dry season with a simultaneous heavy rainy season during the months of November to January . This climate predominantly dominates the eastern half of the provincial area and influences the communities of Libagon, Liloan, San Francisco, Pintuyan, San Ricardo, St. Bernard, San Juan, Anahawan, Hinundayan, Hinunangan and Silago.

On the other side of Southern Leyte, the type IV climate prevails, with more or less rainfall throughout the year. The communities Macrohon, Padre Burgos, Limasawa, Malitbog, Tomas Oppus, Bontoc and a small part of Sogod are significantly affected by this.

The province is located in an area that is partially frequented by typhoons . However, these annual typhoons only touch the northern part of the island, which belongs to the province of Leyte. When a typhoon passes the province, you can expect heavy rains and occasional stormy winds. Southern Leyte is mostly influenced by typhoons that pass over Surigao.

In 2004 a maximum temperature of 30.95 ° C and a minimum temperature of 20.09 ° C were measured. The average temperature was 25.24 ° C. A total of 163 days of rain were recorded in the province this year, with a total rainfall of 1,729.2 mm.


  • Limasawa Island
  • Bitu-on Beach
  • The Kuting Beach Resort
  • The Magsuhot Park
  • The Guinsohotan and Busay Falls
  • Maamo Beach
  • The stalls of San Pedro and San Pablo
  • Panaon Island
  • Maasin Cathedral



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  4. Stop Quarrying and Rechanneling Subang Daku of Sogod, Southern Leyte ( Memento from January 23, 2005 in the Internet Archive )
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  20. Col. Jesus A. Villamor: They Never Surrender . Vera-Reyes Inc., Quezon City , Philippines 1982, p. 127.
  21. ( Memento from January 19, 2005 in the Internet Archive )

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