When Captain Luis Enriquez de Guzman anchored on the shores of Masbate in 1569, he found tiny settlements spread along the coasts engaged in flourishing trade with China. Chinese traders visited Masbate and founded small settlements during the Shri-Vijayan and Madjapahit periods. Ruins of cave-like dwellings resembling "kiva" (possibly built by Indians who accompanied the Chinese traders), were found along the coasts of Aroroy, Palanas, and Masbate. Porcelain jars dating back to the 10th century were excavated at Kalanay (Aroroy) in the 1930s.
Historical accounts show that the Christianization of the Bicol Region actually began in Masbate in 1569:
Father Alonso Jimenez was the first missionary to the islands of Masbate, Burias, Leyte and Samar. Then he went to Ibalon (Bicol) in the province of Camarines, where he resided many years, and made many religious incursions into Albay and Sorsogon. Fray Jimenez is considered the apostle of the island of Masbate
In December 1600 Dutch Commander Admiral Oliver van Noorth, sought refuge at San Jacinto Harbor after his fleet lost to the Spanish Armada in Manila. He was later engaged in a fierce clash with Limahong's fleet at Canlibas-Matabao passage.
At the hieght of the Galleon Trade, Mobo contributed first class lumber for the construction of galleons, making it the center of trade in the province and was the capital of the province in the early part of the Spanish occupation
In 1864, Masbate was declared a separate province from Albay. Guiom was made the capital while Ticao became a commandancia-politicio-militar. Shortly before the declarateion of Philippine independence by President Emilio Aguinaldo, the town of Masbate was established as the provincial capital.
The Americans came to Masbate in 1900 to extend their pacification campaign. In December 1908, Masbate was annexed to theprovince of Sorsogon. A bill declaring Masbate as independent province was approved on February 1, 1922.
As early as 1906, the Masbate representative made the proposal to the United States Congress to grant the Philippines her independence.
The first Japanese elements arrived in Masbate the dawn of January 7, 1942 from Legazpi. They landed in several places without facing opposition- the province was too stunned to mount any resistance.
The Japanese occupation reduced Masbate to total economic shambles. Economic activities were limited to fishing, buying/selling, or stealing. Food production ground to a halt. Camote, pakol, banana blossoms, pith, and even such obscure fruits like barobo were used as food substitutes. Lakad-bulan served as cigarette, tea or coffee. Barter transaction prevailed. For lack of nutrition and sanitation, many people succumbed to beri-beri or malaria. Lice and ticks infestations spared only a lucky few.
Dr. Mateo S. Pecson, who was governor of the province, having refused to cooperate with the Japanese, evacuated the provincial government to Guiom, a command post used by the guerrillas. Pecson was eventually arrested by the Japanese and incarcerated in Cavite. He managed to escape; he later joined the guerrilla movement in Central Luzon.
In 1944, Provincial Board Member Atty. Jose L. Almario was conscripted by the Japanese to govern the province. During the Liberation, he was arrested by the guerrillias and charged with collaboration. He was exonerated and saved from set execution by a letter from General MacArthur.
Dr. Emilio B. Espinosa, the lone house representative of Masbate, fought against a congressional bill authorizing the conscription of Filipinos into the service of Imperial Japan and for this he was detained in Fort Santiago.
When Masbate was formally liberated on April 3, 1945, Pecson was sent to Masbate by President Osmeña to organize the civil government, Pecson took the reins of government on May 11, 1945.
The island of Masbate lies exactly at the center of the Philippine archipelago between latitudes 11o43’ north and 123o09’ east and 124o5’ east. It is bounded on the north by Burias and Ticao Pass, east by San Bernardino Strait, south by the Visayan Sea, and west by the Sibuyan Sea. Relative to mainland Bicol, the province faces the southwestern coasts of Camarines Sur, Albay, and Sorsogon.
The general surface configuration of the province ranges from slightly undulating to rolling and from hilly to mountainous. In each island, the rugged topography is concentrated in the northeastern portion and gradually recedes to blunt hills and rolling areas in the south, southeast, and southwest.
Masbate City is the capital town. The province is composed of 21 municipalities which are politically subdivided into three districts: First District – San Pascual, Claveria, Montreal, San Jacnto, San Fernando, and Batua; Second District – Masbate, Mobo, Milagros, Aroroy, Baleno, Balud, and Mandaon; Third District – Uson, Dimasalang, Palanas, Cataingan, Pio V. Corpuz, Esperanza, Placer, and Cawayan.
Burias and Ticao Island and the western and central parts of mainland Masbate are covered by a climate characterized by no very pronounced maximum rain period, with a short dry season. The southeastern parts have rainfall more or less evenly distributed throughout the year. Masbate has the lowest average annual rainfall distribution in Bicol.
Language / Dialect
The people speak predominantly Visayan with a unique mixture of Tagalog and some shades of Ilonggo. In Burias island, they speak Bicol similarly as the people of Camarines Sur, due to the island’s close proximity to the Bicol mainland. The people generally speak fluent English and Pilipino.
Masbate is endowed with rich natural resources. In line with its agriculture are other industries such as large farming, livestock and poultry raising. Along its coastal areas, fishing industry predominates. Agricultural lands are planted with rice, corn, rootcrops and coconut.
In the livestock industry, Masbate ranks second to Bukidnon as a cattle supplier for the country. Aside from cattle raising, it also consists of carabao, horse, goats and swine.
The province is surrounded with rich fishing areas where all kinds of commercial species of fish teemed in great abundance.
Rich minerals are found in the province. Masbate is described by geologists as a province sitting on a "pot of gold". Other minerals found in the area are manganese, copper, silver, iron, chromite, limestone, guano, and carbon.
Cottage industry is likewise another source of livelihood. They are: furniture and cabinet making, ceramics, garments, handicrafts and metalcrafts.
Masbate can be reached by plane from Manila. Asian Spirit. flies to Masbate from Manila daily. Travel time is about an hour.
Masbate can be reached from Manila by land through South Road to the Port of Pilar, Sorsogon. From there, fast craft can take you for two hours to the port of Masbate or motorized banca for a three-hour ride.
Masbate can also be reached through the sea on board luxury shipping lines from Port of Manila The 18-hour trip is best spent on the ship’s bar or in its all night disco. Other sea trips are via Dalahican, Lucena, Pilar and Bulan, Sorsogon.
Limestone Hills (Aroroy)
Believed to have been inhabited by the Kalanay people. These early inhabitants practiced jar burials. Excavations yielded human bones.
Kalanay Falls (Palanas)
A beautiful scenery, found in Brgy. Nabangig.
Sombrero Island (San Pascual)
Hat-shaped island with stretches of white sand beaches
Underwater Cave (Claveria)
This cave is located within the jurisdiction of Barangay Boca Engaño of the entrance of which is undersea. During high tide, it will take even an unskilled diver only a few seconds to enter the cave; it is neck-deep during low tide. Inside the cave are well-sealed human caskets carved out of solid wood believed to be 500 years old that still contain human remains.
Mataba-Tinigban to Napayuan Iisland
A five-kilometer stretch of glittering white sands. At Napayauan Island, the surrounding water is full of marine life. It is ideal for snorkel and scuba diving.
Bat-ongan Caves (Mandaon)
Found in this mole-like mountain, famous for its numerous chambers and beautiful rock formation towering at about 150 feet. The caves offer tourists a thrilling experience in steep rock-climbing up to the highest peak.
Batongan Underground River (Mandaon)
For daring and adventurous visitors. It is approximately 10 kilometers to Mandaon.
Cagpating Island (Monreal)
Cagpating Island, Monreal. It is noted for its crystal-clear waters and beautiful pebbles on one side and a deep rocky side that provides a panoramic view of Masbate Island.
Tinalisayan Island (Burias Island)
An enchanting place ideal for sunbathing and swimming.
Aroroy Beach (Aroroy)
A fast-becoming attraction among excursionists. Its unspoiled natural beauty is the dominant feature.
Colara Beach (Aroroy)
Neat and white sands ideal for weekend excursions and picnics.
Matangtubig Spring (Monreal)
A unique spring with three sources. The spring comes out of a rock. Trees and lush vegetation give shade in the area around the spring.
Ki-Albay River and Beach (Claveria)
This beach extends east-southeast from the town proper with an approximate length of one and a half kilometers of sandy and well-polished pebbles ending in Ki-albay River.
San Isidro Beach (Claveria)
This beach is located in barangay San Isidro extending south to east from the barangay proper with an approximate and aggregate length of four (4) kilometers. Its fine and silvery white sand can easily accommodate over a thousand people. The bottom of the sea is clear and sandy extending some one hundred meters from the shoreline with a gradual (depth of 5 to 7 feet) during high tide. Further from the shoreline are beautiful and colorful coral reefs which are inhabited by a wide variety of fishes. The beach is lined by coconut trees.
Catandayagan Falls (Ticao Island)
One of the most beautiful falls in the province. It cascades from 60 feet to its base where multi-colored fishes cavort. It is one hour by motorboat from the capital.
Talisay Beach (San Fernando)
Famous for the rocks which serve as natural diving board for swimmers. Smooth, shiny pebbles of various sizes abound.
Dacu Beach (Mobo)
A favorite site for picnics during weekends .
Ubo Falls (Mobo)
Locally known as "Little Pagsanjan Falls".
Tagoron Waterfalls (Monreal)
Located along the sea, found in the barrio of Tagoron. A good place for picnics and excursion. Cascading at the height of 60 feet. Different species of varied-colored fishes swim at or close to the base of waterfalls
Deagan Island (Palanas)
A scenic island off Palanas coast noted for its beautiful beaches and colorful fishes. It is a haven for yacht enthusiasts and skin divers.
Famous for its wide beach and white sand. Ideal for board surfers because of the Sibuyan waters
Isla de Paraiso
A small islet covered with powder white sand and crystal water and a "breathtaking sunset". Mangroves covering the different sides of the islet.
Bit-un Beach Resort (Mobo)
Ideal for group picnic, conferences and party.
Bugui Point Lighthouse (Aroroy)
Located at barangay Gumahaang, constructed during the Spanish era.
Colorado Lighthouse (Aroroy)
Believed to have been built during the Spanish era but renovated during the American regime.
Jintotolo Lighthouse (Balud)
Picturesque in its 19th century architecture.
San Pascual Church (San Pascual)
Oldest existing church built by the Spaniards in the Bicol Region
Special Area of Interest
Tacdogan Reef (San Jacinto, Ticao Island)
One of only two areas where Manta Rays abound, the giant mantas come to the area to feed. The reef is a six hectare shoal of coral formation 60 feet below the surface. Proof positive of the thriving marine ecosystem in the area.
Rodeo Masbateño (Masbate)
Cattle raising is a trademark of Masbate and a major source of livelihood for the province. The rodeo will highlight the Masbate Livestock Week. The festival held every November 26, 27, and 28 will feature a grand Rodeo Parade, Agro-Livestock Fair and Individual Group Competitions in Bull Riding, Steer Wrestling, Lassoing, Post Driving, Calf Casting, Food Chopping, Carabao Race and other traditional Filipno games.
Himag-Ulaw Festival (Placer)
A celebration of praise and thanksgiving for the bountiful farming or good catch in fishing expressed through various forms of activities like street dancing, beauty competition, games and food fairs.
Wacky Rodeo (Aroroy)
An annual entertaining and amazing event during full moon of the month of May. The festival depicts the participants skills in handling the crustaceans in various events which include crab tying, crab races and relays, crab hunting, crab retrieving and tetracathlon.
"Pagdayao", in the Masbateño dialect, loosely means the act of praising, of honoring and thanksgiving. It manifests the Masbate religiosity as a people, a trait most Bicolanos are noted for. The festival is held on June 11-12, coincides with annual fiesta of Masbate in honor of St. Anthony de Padua.
A harvest rite among moncadistas in San Ramon, Uson. Famous for people dancing barefoot on the glowing embers. The celebration is a ritual for thanksgiving after a plentiful corn harvest.
A unique tradition in the town of San Jacinto where 2 to 7 years old children are blessed by the parish priest with mounted angel wings at their back. The children offered bread and eggs as a sign of prosperity. This religious activity is to set free children from various illness and diseases.
The political history of the town dates back to the 1850s when the Spaniards established their government under a Spanish Gobernadorcillo. The Masbateños’ vassalage to Spain ended sometime in the early part of 1898 as an offshoot of the libertarian campaign waged by General Emilio Aguinaldo.
Sometime after General Aguinaldo inaugurated the Philippine Independence at Kawit, Cavite, he issued a military order to overthrow the Spanish Government in the Visayas and Masbate. General Justo Lucban and General Diego de Dios acted on this order with the help of Masbateño rebels under the legendary Pedro Kipte. The defeat of the Spanish Crown in Masbate could be largely credited to Pedro Kipte. Immediately thereafter, the military government under the Republic of the Philippines was established. But when the American forces reached the Municipality of Masbate in November 1900, it took over the government of Masbate without any resistance from the Masbateños.
After a devastating typhoon in 1908, an Executive Order was passed annexing the Province of Masbate to the Province of Sorsogon. Masbate, by force of circumstance, became a sub-province of Sorsogon until 1922 when its provincial status was restored. Shortly before the restoration of Philippine Independence in 1946, the town of Masbate was established as the provincial capital.
Masbate forms part of the second congressional district. In the mid-90s, the idea of converting the municipality into a city was pushed by 2nd District House Representative Luz Cleta Reyes Bakunawa. Her successor, Congressman Emilio Espinosa, Jr., together with the Municipal Mayor Juan P. Sanchez, Sr. and some local officials and employees took over where she left off. On August 16, 2000, President Joseph E. Estrada signed RA 8807 converting the Municipality of Masbate into a component city. In a plebiscite held later that year, Masbateños voted 7,800-3,200 in favor of cityhood, and on September 30, 2000, the Commission on Elections Regional Office in Region 5 officially proclaimed Masbate as a component city.
The City of Masbate lies on the shores of the province at 12.2 degrees north latitude and 123.3 degrees east longitude On the Northeast, it is bounded by Masbate Pass, the Municipality of Mobo and Tugbo River on the Southeast, Municipality of Milagros on the Southwest and the Municipality of Baleno and portion of Milagros town on the Northwest. The City of Masbate is well protected by Ticao Island against the hazard of typhoons from the northeast. It is 212.5 aerial miles or 362 nautical miles from Manila. The city is composed of 30 barangays.
Masbate City has a total land areas of 18,789.2811 hectares and lies at the heart of Masbate Province. Terrain is primarily rolling hills.
Masbate City has 30 barangays.
Dry from March to June and rainy from September to Februrary.
Language / Dialect
The dialect is a blend of Bicol, Hiligaynon, Tagalog, Cebuano and Waray.
Agriculture and Fishing
HOW TO GET THERE:
Asian Spirit flies from Manila to Masbate and vice versa daily
Masbate can be reached from Manila by land through the Maharlika Highway to the port of Pilar, Sorsogon. From there, fast craft can take you for two hours to the port of Masbate or motorized banca for a three-hour ride.
Masbate can be also be reached through the sea on board luxury shipping lines from the port of Manila for eighteen hours. Other sea trips are via Dalahican, Lucena, Pilar and Bulan, Sorsogon.
A coral island, noted for the immaculate white sand. Its beautiful surrounding water teems with exotic coral reefs. It is ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving.
This house was constructed in 1880. In its dining room, Spanish authorities enjoyed the best wines from Manila and Acapulco and the largest lobsters from Masbate Bay. During the Commonwealth period, President Manuel L. Quezon is said to have danced the tango in its halls and slept in its finest bedroom. The Japanese used it as their garrison. In 1944, the American liberators shelled and bombed the capital but the big house was spared. It came under guerrilla siege to dislodge the Japanese, but it remained unscathed.
In 1946, President Roxas visited Masbate and stayed in this house briefly to dance the waltz. His hosts were Don Francisco Bayot and his granddaughter, 1937 Miss Philippines Chita Zaldarriaga.
Lapay Bantigue Dance Festival
Last week of September
It is a local dance art festival that organized from the graceful movements of hovering birds knows as seagulls or the LAPAY, found abundant in Brgy. Bantigue. Flocks of seagulls created a marvelous scenery and inspired the old folks to come up with a local folk dance, that since then has exited and has become an important aspect of the local culture of the people of Brgy. Bantigue and the entire Masbate.