31 May 2010


Long before any westerners reached the region, the ancient Bikols (the people) already has the culture of their own. They called their land IBALON, possibly after their chieftain-DATU GAT ABAAL, who ruled the inhabited territories from his seat of power at Sawangan on the mouth of Makabalo River which is now the present day Legazpi City.

The sword and the cross of Spain reached Ibalon in 1570 when part of Legazpi Urdaneta expeditionary force headed by two Augustinian friars, Fr. Alonzo Jimenez and Fr. Juan Orca landed at the southwestern coast of the western peninsula. The named the southern part of the peninsula "TIERRA DE IBALON" and the northern part , "TIERRA DE CAMARINES". Tierra de ibalon is also referred to as the first Christian settlement in the island of Luzon.

After the Christianization and colonization of Ibalon , the peninsula was divided in to two encomienda. The eastern portion. The encomienda de Busaingan went to Pedro Arnedo, while the pther half was given to Rodrigo Arias Giron. Busaingan which means "breaker" was the name given to the coastal settlement of the southern tip of Luzon, The present town of Santa Magdalena in Sorsogon Province.

Ibalon had a port call for galleon plying the Manila-Acapulco route. Historians believed that this could be what is now known as the port of Legazpi City. It was at this port that Bishop Salazar, the first bishop assigned to the Philippines was stranded for the few weeks during he was able to learn the abuses of encomienderos.

It was believed that the report of Bishop Salazar could have been one of the causes for the abolition of the encomienda system in Ibalon, thus, paving the way for the birth of two original Bikol provinces- AMBOS CAMARINES which included Albay and Sorsogon.

The boundaries of the Region were clearly delineated in a decree issued by Spanish Governor General Narciso de Claveria on October 19,1836, fixing the territorial limits between Ambos Camarines underwent a series of divisions and fusions until 1919 when the Philippine Legislature enacted Act. No. 2809, creating the separate province of Camarines Sur.

Partido de Ibalon, which comprise the eastern part of the peninsula had changed in name very much earlier when a decree was issued in 1663 renaming this political subdivision Albay. Some of the town of Ambos Camarines and Ibalon were interchanged. The islands of Catanduanes and Masbate were declared seperat military districts.

Sorsogon which used to be part of Albay beacame a province in 1894. Byy virtue of an executive order issued by Governor-General in 1908, Masbate was made a sub-province of Albay by the American Civil Government. It became an independent province on October 26, 1945 by virtue of the Commonwealth Act No. 687.

But presently, as the Bikolanos go back to redicover their beginnings, their stirred up the trend to favor the more native name: KABIKOLAN or simply BIKOLANDIA.


Bikol Region lies at 122A to 124A east longitude and 12A to 14A latitude or generally at the midsection of the country. Occupying the southern stretch of Luzon, the Bikol Peninsula is surrounded by natural barrier. Actually, seas that can by highways for contact with other people. The area is bounded on the north by Lamon Bay and Pacific Ocean on the East, the Sibuyan Sea and Ragay Gulf on the west. It has land access to the rest of Luzon through its neighbor on the north, Quezon Province.

The Bikol Region stretches towards the Pacific Ocean for more than 160 miles from the province of Camarines Norte in the northwest, to Sorsogon in the southwest. The underbelly of Bikol is composed of the provinces of Catanduanes and Masbate which stand guard on the northern and southern approaches.

The Bikol region is composed of four contiguous provinces: ALBAY, CAMARINES SUR, CAMARINES NORTE, and SORSOGON; two island provinces of CATANDUANES and MASBATE and seven cities namely Legazpi City, Naga City, Iriga City, Tabaco City, Ligao City, Sorsogon City and Masbate City.

It has a total land area of 1,763,249 hectares of approximately 17,632,400 square kilometers. Cmarines Sur is the biggest with 526,682 (naga City and Iriga City included) and Catanduanes, the smallest with 151,148 hectares. The other provinces have the following areas: Albay-Legazpi – 255,257 has.; Camarines Norte – 211,249 has.; Masbate – 404,769 has. Of this land area, 1,250,460 hectares are alienable and disposable while 359,789 hectares are public forest areas.


The western and southern parts of the Bikol Region along Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte and Albay do not have pronounced dry and wet seasons. Rainfall in this areas are evenly distributed the year round, which make them suited to agriculture. The eastern and northern portion of the region are characterized by a definite absence of dry season with a very pronounced maximum rain period from November to January.9


As of 2000, the Bikol Region registered a population of about, 4,755,076 which represented 8 percent of the country's total population.

In terms of the distribution of the region's population, Albay has the biggest population followed by Camarines Sur. Catanduanes has the smallest population.


The region is generally hilly and mountainous except for a few stretches of plains extending from Camarines Sur to the southwestern part of Albay and several smaller coastal and inland plains in other parts of the peninsula. It has many rivers, lakes, bays, mountains, volcanoes, and waterfalls, caves and springs. The beautiful and interesting spots are well distributed in the area. The region is dotted with volcanoes with the imposing and majestic Mayon Volcano as the most domiant.


Investors looking for a favorable busiess environment will find Bikol an ideal place. Currently, the region is identified in the national map as a tourism and maritime zone due to its accessibility to Manila and Visayan Provinces.

The region manifests a mixture of dynamic culture, resilient and religious people, and literate workforce.

Bikol is accessible to Manila and the rest of Luzon through air, land, rail and sea. Manila is about 9 hours away fro those taking the south road of the Manila—Bikol route and about 45 minutes by air transportation.

In terms of telecommunications, the regionâ's network consists of wired and wireless telecommunications. Communication lines with the latest technology had been installed throughout the region ranging from landlines using fiber optics and cellsites for cellular phones. An array of radio and television networks, postal services, Internet Service Providers (ISP) and cable networks are also growing in number rendering their utmost services to the public.

The region is a major supplier of geothermal energy with its Tiwi and Bacon-Manito Geothermal Plants. A wide selection of places for conferences, conventions and training are available. The region also prides itself of having a literacy rate of 96% with schools and universities at par with those in Manila.

Money transactions are made easy through the services of different banking institutions and ATM Networks in major urban centers. Aside from being highly literate, the Bikolano workforce is skilled and hardworking. Majority of the workforce is English speaking.

The regionâ's economy is based on light industry and agriculture. Its main products consists of rice, coconut, corn, cement, abaca products, cutlery, and ceramics. The region also plays host to varied types of large companies belonging to local and multinational investors.

Bikol Region or Bikolandia is one of the 16 regions of the Philippines occupying the Bikol Peninsula at the southeastern end of Luzon island and some other islands.

It consists of six provinces, namely, Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate, and Sorsogon. It has one independent chartered city, Naga City, and six component cities, Iriga City, Legazpi City, Ligao City, Masbate City, Sorsogon City, and Tabaco City. The inhabitants speak Bikol, and the commercial/financial centers and transportation hubs are Naga City, the Heart of Bikol, and Legazpi City, the regional center.

The Bikol region is often the epicenter of the counterculture and liberal politics in the Philippines.

Political Divisions

Bikol is composed of six provinces and 7 cities.

Component Cities

Iriga City, Camarines Sur
Legazpi City, Albay
Ligao City, Albay
Masbate City, Masbate
Naga City¹, Camarines Sur
Sorsogon City, Sorsogon
Tabaco City, Albay

Naga City is an indepedent component city.

Bikol Region has had various names since the time of Spanish conquistadores who called its northern part Tierra de Camarines and its southern part Tierra de Ibalon. Some historians claim that it was originally referred to Ibalon but the Spaniards later divided it into Partido de Ibalon and Partido de Camarines.

Though described by the Spanish missionaries as the friendliest race in the Philippines, gentle, temperate and religious, the Bikolanos fiercely resisted the first attempts to subdue them in 1573. Fr. Martin de Rada reported how they refused to surrender unless forced into it by superior arms. Their chiefs bravely opposed the Spanish forces led by Salcedoâ's officer, Captain Pedro Chavez, who established the Spanish city of Caceres next to the indigenous village of Naga.


Bikol Region is situated at the southernmost tip of Luzon landmass. It is straddled between 11-30â' to 14-20â' North latitude and 122-20â' to 124-30â' East longitude.
Generally, the Bikol land is wild and lush. Its abundant vegetation and fertile valleys merge with numerous rivers and teeming seacoasts.

The regionâ's economy is basically agriculture with close to 50 percent of its workforce on the industry. Abaca and copra is exported to many parts of the world. Owing to its location, the region has 13 major fishing grounds supplying fish markets as far as Metro Manila. Mining is also one of the contributors to the regionâ's economy. There is an abundant supply of gold, copper and iron in the area. It is also the site of two major geothermal fields-the Tiwi Geothermal Plant and the BACMAN Geothermal Plant which contributes to the Luzon Power Grid.

The region covers an area of 18,130.4 square kilometers or six percent of the countryâ's total land area. It is politically subdivided into six provinces, one chartered city, six component cities, 107 municipalities and 3,471 barangays. At present it has 14 congressional districts.

The province of Albay which is strategically located in the center of the region is the home to the world famous Mayon Volcano. Legazpi City, also in Albay and is called the Gateway City of Bikol, is the Regional Center. On the northernmost part of the region Is the province of Camarines Norte whose capital Daet, holds the distinction of being the first town to erect the monument of the countryâ's national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal. Naga City in the province of Camarines Sur is host to Colegio de Sta. Isabel, the first known normal school for girls in the Orient. The province of Catanduanes which boasts of white beaches and resorts, is an island paradise in the Pacific. The province of Masbate, which lies exactly at the center of the Philippine Archipelago, is known for its mining and cattle industry while Sorsogon, the provinceknown for its historic and panoramic places, shelters the worldâ's largest fish-the whale shark locally known as “Butanding.â€

The Bikol Region has the distinct advantage in terms of tourism because of the presence of Mt. Mayon as the worldâ's most perfect natural cone. Add to this are beaches, natural parks and other historical, religious and archeological sites, which are favorite tourist destinations. The warmth and hospitality of Bikolanos are among the other tourism assets of the region.


Location: Southermost tip of Luzon


Northwest-Quezon Province
East-Pacific Ocean
Southeast-Samar Sea
Southwest-Sibuyan Sea

Total Land Area: 18,140.4 square kilometers

Political Subdivisions:
No. of Province: 6
No. of Cities: 7 (one chartered city: Naga and six component cities, namely: Legazpi, Iriga, Tabaco, Ligao, Masbate and Sorsogon
No. of Municipalities: 107
No. of District: 14
No. of Barangays: 3,471

Land Use

Agricultural: 50.76%
Forest: 13.56%
Grasslands: 30.23%
Miscellaneous: 2.42%

Topography: From Slightly Modulating to Rolling and from Hilly to Mountainous

Highest Elevation: Mayon Volcano 2,462 meters above sea level

Coastal Waters
Ragay Gulf
San Miguel Bay
Lagonoy Gulf
Albay Gulf
Sorsogon Bay
Alinang Bay
Nin Bay
Asid Guld


Type II: Catanduanes and Camarines Norte
Type III: Masbate and Albay
Type IV: Camarines Sur and Sorsogon


Pilipino is the official dialect although the English language is widely used especially in schools and in business transactions.

Bikol is the official dialect. This varies, through, among the different municipalities and provinces.


With its strategic location in the Philippine archipelago, the region is easily accessible by land, air and sea transportation facilities.

The region maintains and operates eight functional airports, Legazpi Airport, the only trunkline airport in the region has landing facilities that can accommodate aircrafts like Boeing 737 jets.

By sea, the region can be accessed via the Legazpi City Port, which is the base port, the Tabaco City Port, which is classified as an international port and through numerous other ports that have Roll-on-Roll-off ramp facilities for traveling convenience.

Traveling by land is most convenient as bus services can be availed of either during day or nighttime travel.


National and international direct dial services, mobile telephone network facilities, network systems for e-mail and internet services, express postal delivery and courier services are readily available.

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