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The Philippine province of ALBAY

No. of towns: 18

Total land area: 2,553:6 sq. km.

Date founded: 1565

Location:. Bounded on the north by Camarines Sur, on the northeast by Catanduanes, Marinduque on the west, and Masbate on the south.

Brief History. At that time, a Spanish galleon from Cebu was on its return voyage to Acapulco. It was vigorously plying to cros the hazardous, swirling and tumultuous waters of San Bernardino Strait (formerly called Baligwatan). Meanwhile, its captain Esteban Rodriguez, had sighted the tall Bulusan and Mayon volcanoes continuously emitting smoke. He was overwhelmed by this natural sight on the island.

Immediately after, he was inspired to write in his logbook, "Tomeno las corrientes y nos Ilevaron a la isla de los volcanes". The sight of the volume of smoky fire rising like lightning above the clouds from the craters of the two volcanoes astounded him extensively.

From this ancient record began the recognition of the costal province of Albay.

In 1569, two years after Master de Camp Mateo de Saz and Captain Martin de Goiti were commissioned to stay in the island of Masbad (now named Masbate), one of the members of the fleet, Luis Enrique de Guzman, was deployed to divert its exploration further over the island of Tigao (now Ticao) and Burias.

In this voyage, they crossed a tiny strip of water going to the mainland. They had landed on a coastal barangay which the natives called Ibalon.

A year later, a chapel made of local materials was finally erected on the village as part of their aim of christianization. It was the first chapel to be built by the explorers in the island of Luzon. Anderes de Ibarra, the head of the next Spanish exploration, initiated to baptize their captives who were natives of Panay island whom they brought along on their voyage. Fr Alonzo, and Agustinian friar, conducted the baptism. It was the first baptism ever to be held in Luzon.

Along with the captives, the Ibalong (now called Albayonos) were also baptized. In this event, they became the first inhabitants to be christianized in this part of the island.

The Spaniards continued to explore the island. In july, 1573, Juan de Salcedo, another leader to head a group of explorers, had sailed upward the Bikol River. They were able to find a village located on the vast and sprawling valley by the Bikol River which the natives called Biong. Later, they christened the village Santiago.

The colonization by the Spanish expedition expanded in large measure toward the north which resulted to the vague territorial division of the region. In the early stage, the province of Albay covered the entire Bikol area.

Captain Diego de Artiada, historian, described it as "the island of Ibalon or Luzon which has many rivers abounded in gold mines."

Many years later, in 1636, a Royal decree divided Ibalon into two sections: Partido de Ibalon, covering the west-southeast and Partido de Camarines, covering the north-norhteast.

It was in 1663 when the name of the province was changed to Albay. An official proclamation signed by the Governor General Narciso de Claveria clearly emphasized the delineation of the boundaries of the territories of Albay and Camarines. Albay was to cover the areas from Libon to Masbate. Still, this proclamation was changed.

On May 18, 1872, another royal decree was issued which declared Legazpi as an open port for maritime vessels, both foreign and domestic. Previously, a Spanish collector was assigned to manage the port. After the Philippine-Spanish War when the Philippine Republic was established in Cavite under General Aguinaldo, A Filipino, Colonel Laureano Cruz, was designated by Gen Vito Belamino to take the reins of the port.

Col. Cruz did not serve his term long. When the American forces occupied the province in 1900, 1st Lt Samuel Riggs of the 47th Infantry Regiment took over the commission as the next collector.

On October 17, 1894, another portion of the territory was separated from Albay. It was ceded to the province of Sorsogon, excluding the town of Prieto Diaz (formerly called Montupar). This town belonged to Bacong and Santa Magdalena (locally called Busaingan), a barrio of Bulusan.

Before the province of Sorsogon was formed, together with the town of Prieto Diaz, five big towns of Albay were lost because of the disastrous eruption of Mayon Volcano on Februaty 1. 1814. These towns were burried by the lava flow. Two of them were reconstructed later. They were Guinobatan and Camalig.

On October 26, 1945, the vast territorial land area of Albay was finally trimmed down to its present 255,257 hectares because of Republic Act No. 687. This act created Catanduanes as a separate and distinct province and to compose as one of the six provinces of Bicol Region.

Geography. Albay lies at the southern tip of mainland Luzon. It is strategically located at the center of the Bicol Region and bounded by bodies of water.

On the east, the Pacific Ocean. On the west, the Burias Pass. On the northeast, the Lagonoy Bay. On the norhth, a land mass which is occupied by the province of Camarines Sur. On the south, another land mass which is occupied by the province of Sorsogon.

It is less mountainous than the other Bicol provinces. Plains and flat lands constitute two-fifths of the entire land area of Albay. The greater portion of these flat lands is in the northwestern quadrant, forming a large part of the fertile, highly potential basin of the Bicol River system. Mountain ranges provide a natural dichotomy for the entire provincial landscape. On the westeralf-portion lie low and rolling mountain ranges of less than six hundred meters in height. On the eastern si8de, comparatively high and volcanic mountain ranges including Mt Mayon, Malinao and Masaraga sprawl in majestic display.

Political Subdivitions. Albay has seventeen (17) municipalities and a chartered city (Legazpi). Legazpi has been officially designated as the site of the regional offices. The municipalities are politically subdivided into three districts; namely: first district (Bacacay, Malinao, Malilipot, Sto. Domingo, Tabaco and Tiwi), second district (Legazpi City, Camalig, Daraga, Manito and Rapu-Rapu), third district (Guinobatan, Jovellar, Libon, Ligao, Oas, Pio Duran and Polangui).

Climate. The eastern half of Albay has type II climate. Bounded by volcanic mountain ranges, it has no dry season but there is a very pronounced maximum rainful from November to January. The western half is of type IV climate. Rainful is evenly distributed throughout the year. As a whole, the average monthly rainful is 233 millimeters with the lowest at 130 millimeters in April and the highest during December at 389 millimeters. Average monthly temperature ranges from 28.1C in May to a low 25.2C in January.

Language / Dialect. Bicol is the local dialect. Surprisingly, it constitutes a strange variety in words and in diction among the seventeen municipalities composing the provinces. In some towns, there are clear distinctions of variable terminologies in their use of words to convey their messages as compared with the nearest neighboring towns. What puzzles visitors and tourists are the amazing variations of many words of the same meaning for one object or concept among the people in every town. Generally, the Bicol dialect spoken in Legazpi and Albay District is the common tongue used. The big alterations of tone and of words arise when one travels away from the city proper. They also speak Tagalog fluently. English is not difficult for them to communicate with liberal stature.

Major Industries. Like the recent year or even in the early seventies, the province of Albay has continued to direct its efforts toward the development of its industries. Agriculture, however, still accounts for the largest share in the total production and employment. Of the total 6,369 manifacturing establishments of varied sizes in the Bicol region, half is located in Albay. On large-scale manufacturing industries, 48,6 per cent are operating in Albay. Among them are the export-oriented establishments like Isarog Pulp & Paper Mills and Albay Industrial Development Corporation. Handicrafts is a major source of rural income. It continues to provide fairly large share in the small-scale industries of the province. On agriculture, coconut, rice, abaca and corn are its major crops. Burias Pass, Alabay Gulf, Tobaco Bay, Ticao Pass, Cagraray Pass, Pangasinan Bay are the major fishing grounds. They abound in commercial species of fishes such as, among others, round scads, tuna, siganid, big-eyed scad, anchovy and macrel.

Points of Interest


Spanish Galleon Wreck Site. A site which serves as a strong reminder of the rich Manila to Acapulco (Mexico) trade routes during the Spanish era. Found along the shores of Buthan beach at Sto Domingo, Albay, this galleon relic was wrecked by a strong typhoon on its way to Acapulco and crushed on the reefs of Albay Gulf. This historical remains lie at five scuba diving, fishing or boating.


Geothermal Electric Power Plant. An electric generating project with geothermal energy as soruce. It is designed to generate more than 40 megawatts, operated jointly by NPC/NEC and Union Oil (USA). Located in Tiwi, mostly visited for its high educational values.

Salt-Making Project. Another Tiwi-pilot industrial project using geothermal steam as main ingredient. It is established hand in hand with the development of Tiwi Geothermal Power. It is aimed to provide economic opportunities among the people in the area.


Putsan Beach. The original source of ancient ceramics and potteries industry in the Bicol region until today. Sweeping in a long graceful curve the beautiful white surging surfs of the ocean form a sharp contrast with the jet.-black volcanic sands. Adding to this natural wonder is the fishing venture of the villagers and the natural formations of the beach which invites photographers to display their skills. Located at Tiwi, it is very accessible by any type of motor vehicle.

Mayon Rest House. It nestles on the eastern slopes of Mt Mayon at an altitude of 2,700 ft. An excellent summer resort with almost similar temperature with that of Baguio at 28C. It is popularly known as "heaven on earth" because of the hanging clouds and the pleasant climate where cool and invigorating air could be experienced. From this height, visitors see the panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean and the different towns, lakes, villages, field and other mountains, Accessible through Tabaco, motor vehicles of any type could be used to reach it. It could also accommodate overnight visitors.

Mayon Volcano. The world's nearly perfect cone. It stands majestically at 7,946 ft from the broad base about 10 km in radius. The crater is 2,451 meters above sea level and with a diameter of .5 kilometer. It has a notched rim where a pool of building hot lava boils and rich coal deposits could be found. Sulfuric steams and gases continually emit from these craters. It derived its name from the word "magayon", meaning beautiful. Its name has been regarded as the symbol not only of Albay but also of the Philippines within the Orient. Since 1616, Mt. Mayon was recorded to have erupted 40 times and the worst was on February 1, 1814 which buried the settlements of Cagsawa and Budiao in the town of Daraga. The lastest recorded eruption was in September 1984.

Hanging Road to Joroan. Steep cliffs hug along the highway going to Joroan which keeps one's breath hanging as one traverse these road. It overlooks the wide blue Pacific Ocean and a breath-taking trip over these roads bring a memorial experience for visitors and tourists. A stopover on one of the spots of the highway is always a must for travellers.

Sogod Beach. In Bacacay, it is the most popular beach. Well-known for its enclaves of white sandy beaches with towering coconut palms and lush vegetation providing cool shades. These beaches are closely adjacent to the national highways. Almost unspoiled, it is an excellent place for bathing and fishing. A convenient place to spend the summer.

Bugsucan Falls. Another natural phenomena in Tiwi besides the road to Joroan is this tiered waterfalls set on a beateous mountainside. It is a recommended site for bathing, picnicking and photography.

Palale Falls. In Malinao, this falls have been branded as a source of disastrous floods. During good weather, its cascading water like the Bugsucan falls is a splendid site because of its lush surroundings. It is very accessible by foot trails.

San Lorenzo Beach. The clear and almost unspoiled beach has lured hundreds of tourists to this place in Tabaco. Its strategic location has commanded a breath-taking view of Tabaco Bay and the green soft-looking and quiet island of San Miguel.

Busay Falls. Busay Falls is located in the town of Malilipot, Albay. It is a major tourist attraction of Malilipot. Busay Falls is considered as one of the highest waterfalls in the Philippines because of its seven-tiered cascading white foam. It is estimated to have a total of 800 feet from the top. The first catchbasin forms below where hundreds of bathers could refresh from the scorching heat of the summer. It is accessible only by foot trail.

Kalayukaii Beach Resort. If one is familiar with the famous South Pacific Island, this beach resort is its duplicate. The sunrise is very beautiful to see on this beach. Gazebos and bancas are available for hire for visitors who would like to see the clear blue water where eye-catching corals of varied forms could be viewed even without the use of water glasses.

Hoyop-Hoyopan Cave. A natural tunnel-like structure in Camalig, Albay. Legend says that these caves were the primitive habitats of the natives in the area. It is one of the most popular attractions in Albay. It could be reached by any type of motor vehicles.

Pariaan Mainit Spring. A popular swimming and picnic resort in Camalig. A thermal swimming pool and cottages are also available. Found adjacent to the main highway.

Calabidong Caves. The name really means "Caves of the Bats". There is a grotto-like formation inside which astounds visitors. It is found in Camalig.

Mataginting Falls. A broad waterfalls cascading into a river. It is accessible only by foot trail. Located in Jovellar, Albay.

Naglaus Underground River. Another natural formation in Jovellar is this largely unexplored underground river. It is 300 meters long. A bamboo craft is used to negotiate the tunneled river. It looks very mysterious and weird. But an excellent place to form a bewildering and strange experience. Accessible by foot trail.

Del Rosario Caves. Found in Jovellar, this grotto-like cavern is naturally formed on a hillside. It is still largely undeveloped. To reach the place, hiking is suggested.

Minaroso Caves. In Rapu-Rapu, this natural cavern is situated close to the sea. It is a haven of seabirds and swallows. Still unexplored. The cave is located in Villahermosa, a barangay of Batan Island.

Balubagon Boiling Lake. A geothermal-like formation. The steam pressure is described as stronger than the Tiwi Geothermal. The lake has an outlet near the seashore, just a hundred meters away from where the steaming sands and corral-like rocks emits the geyser in a fountain-like formation. The best to see this natural wonder is on ow tide. The steaming geyser shoots upward. It could be seen from miles. Accessible by any type of motor vehicle. Located in Manito, Albay.

Ilologan Beach. Long stretch of coral sands. So white that is glistens when it is struck by the rays of the sun. A big potential for construction as a resort. It is excellent for bathing, skin-diving and fishing.

Roca Baluarte. Today, this fort-like formation has been converted into a beach resort. The tower was used as a look-out for any invasion of Muslim pirate fleets which disturbed the natives time and again.


Japanese Garden. A hectare-size garden at the center of Tiwi proper. Developed by Japanese Peace Corps Volunteers and expert landscape technicians. Unique and extraordinary because of the Japanese style of landscaping are blended with local materials and native flora.

Dannys Swimming Resort. The central attraction is the swimming pool. The source of water supply comes from a natural fresh water spring which continually pours into the pool. It is very accessible by any type of motor vehicle. Location: Polangui, Albay.

Kimantong Sky Drive. Along stretch of road at Dagara, Albay. Concrete and newly-built. It connects the Pan Philippine Highway going to Sorsogon. It zigzags against a scenic mountain side. The panoramic view of Daraga and Legazpi is spell-binding especially at night. Has become a favorite stopover and resting place for motorists who want to relax from a very tiring trip.

Seven Hills Resort. Cottages, picnic area, parks, swimming pool and a restaurant are distinct facilities provided by this resort in Polangui, Albay. It is located amidst an airy and wide citrus plantation which punctuates its attraction enormously.


Daraga Catholic Church. Built in 1773 by Franciscan missionaries, that is, three years before the declaration of American Independence from the British colonizers. This is highly prized by art enthusiasts because of its rich barogue architecture. Its very huge structure is considered above standard. Standing on a massive hilltop, it dominates among the other structures of the town of Daraga.

Camalig Catholic Church. It is another missionary church built out of volcanic rocks. Today, relics from Hoyop-Hoyopan caves are carefully stored and displayed for viewing. These relics excavated from the cave reflect historical origins. They manifest the early Malaysian influence through the burial jars excavated. Glazed ceramics reveal Chinese influx while the primitive potteries are derived from the flourishing Philippine culture 2,000 years ago.

How to get there. Albay can be reached from Manila by the country's flag carrier, Philippine Airlines, or by bus, train or special tourist vans, all on daily, regular schedules.

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