Location of the Visayas within the Philippines
|Area||71,503 km (27,607 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||2,435 m (7,989 ft)|
|Highest point||Kanlaon Volcano|
|Largest settlement||Cebu City (pop. 922,611)|
|Pop. density||292 /km (756 /sq mi)|
The Visayas // və-SY-əz or the Visayan Islands (Visayan: Kabisay-an, local pronunciation: [kabiˈsajʔan]; Tagalog: Kabisayaan, [kabiˈsɐjaʔan]), is one of the three principal geographical divisions of the Philippines, along with Luzon and Mindanao. It consists of several islands, primarily surrounding the Visayan Sea, although the Visayas are considered the northeast extremity of the entire Sulu Sea. Its inhabitants are predominantly the Visayan people.
The major islands of the Visayas are Panay, Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Leyte and Samar. The region may also include the provinces of Masbate and Romblon, whose populations identify as Visayan and whose languages are more closely related to other Visayan languages than to the major languages of Luzon.
There are four administrative regions in the Visayas: Western Visayas (4.47 million), Negros Island Region (4.41 million), Central Visayas (6 million), and Eastern Visayas (4.44 million).
The term Visayas was derived from the name of the 7th-century thalassocratic empire of Srivijaya (Sanskrit: श्रीविजय) in Sumatra. In Sanskrit, sri (श्री) means "fortunate," "prosperous," or "happy" and vijaya (विजय) means "victorious" or "excellent". The archipelagoes of Visayas and Sulu were once Hindu-Buddhist and were either subject states or tributaries of the empire.
The early inhabitants of the Visayas were the Austronesian peoples and Ati peoples, who migrated to the archipelago about 6,000 to 30,000 years ago. These early settlers were animist tribes. In the 12th century, settlers from the collapsing Hindu-Buddhist Srivijaya Empire led by Datu Putih and his retinue, settled in the island of Panay and its surrounding islands. It was also during the 12th century that Visayans are said to have made a series of raids along the southern coasts of China. They were said to have a fearsome reputation, and the mention of their names would cause many to flee in horror and terror. By the 14th century, Arab traders and their followers, venturing into Maritime Southeast Asia, converted some of these tribal groups to Islam. These tribes practiced a mixture of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Animist-Polytheist beliefs. Besides the neighbouring Southeast Asians, there is evidence of trade among other Asian peoples. The Visayans were thought to have kept close diplomatic relations with Malaysian and Indonesian kingdoms, since the people of Cebu were able to converse with Enrique of Malacca using the Malay language when the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in 1521. The Visayas is subsequently home to several Precolonial kingdoms, like the Kedatuan of Madja-as (now Western Visayas), the Rajahnate of Cebu and the Kedatuan of Dapitan. Among the archaeological proofs of the existence of this Hiligaynon nation are the artifacts found in pre-Hispanic tombs from many parts of the island, which are now in display at Iloilo Museum. There are also recent discoveries of burial artifacts of eight-foot inhabitants of Isla de Gigantes, including extra-large Lungon (wooden coffins) and pre-Hispanic potteries.
After the Magellan expedition, King Philip II of Spain sent Miguel López de Legazpi in 1543 and 1565 and claimed the islands for Spain. The Visayas region and many kingdoms began converting to Christianity and adopting western culture. By the 18th and 19th centuries, the effects of colonization on various ethnic groups soon turned sour and revolutions such as those of Francisco Dagohoy began to emerge.
Various personalities who fought against the Imperial Spanish Colonial Government arose within the archipelago. Among the notable ones are Graciano Lopez Jaena and Martin Delgado from Iloilo, Aniceto Lacson, León Kilat and Diego de la Viña from Negros, Venancio Jakosalem Fernandez from Cebu, and two personalities from Bohol by the name of Tamblot, who led the Tamblot Uprising in 1621 to 1622 and Francisco Dagohoy, the leader of the Bohol Rebellion that lasted from 1744 to 1829. Negros briefly stood as an independent nation in the Visayas in the form of the Cantonal Republic of Negros, before it was absorbed back to the Philippines because of the American takeover of the archipelago.
In May 23 of 2005, Palawan (including its highly-urbanized capital city of Puerto Princesa) were transferred from MIMAROPA (Region IV-B) to Western Visayas (Region VI) under Executive Order No. 429, signed by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who was the president at that year. However, Palaweños criticized the move, citing a lack of consultation, with most residents in Puerto Princesa and all Palawan municipalities but one preferring to stay in MIMAROPA (Region IV-B). Consequently, Administrative Order No. 129 was issued on 19 August 2005 that the implementation of E.O. 429 be held in abeyance, pending approval by the president of its Implementation Plan. The Philippine Commission on Elections reported the 2010 Philippine general election results for Palawan as a part of the Region IV-B results. As of 30 June 2011, the abeyance was still in effect, with Palawan and its capital city remaining under MIMAROPA (Region IV-B).
In May 29 of 2015, the twin provinces of Negros Occidental (including its highly-urbanized capital city of Bacolod) and Negros Oriental were joined together to form the Negros Island Region under Executive Order No. 183, signed by President Benigno Aquino III. It separated both, the former province and its capital city from Western Visayas and the latter province from Central Visayas.
Historical documents written in 1907 by Visayan historian Pedro Alcántara Monteclaro in his book Maragtas tell the story of the ten leaders (Datus) who escaped from the tyranny of Rajah Makatunaw from Borneo and came to the islands of Panay. The chiefs and followers were said to be the ancestors (from the collapsing empires of Srivijaya and Majapahit) of the Visayan people. The documents were accepted by Filipino historians and found their way into the history of the Philippines. As a result, the arrival of Bornean tribal groups in the Visayas is celebrated in the festivals of the Ati-Atihan in Kalibo, Aklan and Binirayan in San Jose de Buenavista, Antique. Foreign historians such as William Henry Scott maintains that the book contains a Visayan folk tradition. Panay boasts of the Hinilawod as its oldest and longest epic.
A contemporary theory based on a study of genetic markers in present-day populations is that Austronesian peoples from Taiwan populated the larger island of Luzon and headed south to the Visayas and Mindanao, and then to Indonesia and Malaysia, then to Pacific Islands and finally to the island of Madagascar, at the west of the Indian Ocean. The study, though, may not explain inter-island migrations, which are also possible, such as Filipinos migrating to any other Philippine provinces.
According to Visayan folk traditions, the Visayas were populated by Malays from the collapsing empires of Srivijaya and Majapahit migrating from Borneo to Mindanao and to the Visayas, while other Malay groups crossed to Palawan through Sabah. Other Malays were suggested to have crossed from the island of Samar to the Bicol Region in Luzon. The theory suggests that those ancient tribal groups who passed through Palawan may have migrated to what is now the island of Luzon.
A supplementary theory was that at that period, the Malay people were moving north from Mindanao to the Visayas and to Luzon.
Administratively, the Visayas is divided into 4 regions, namely (from west to east): Western Visayas, Negros Island Region, Central Visayas and Eastern Visayas. The Visayas is composed of 16 provinces, each headed by a provincial governor. A governor is elected by popular vote and can serve a maximum of three terms consisting of three years each. As for representation in the House of Representatives, the Visayas is represented by 44 congressmen elected in the same manner as the governors.
|06||Iloilo City||7010128289700000000♠12,828.97 km
(4,953.29 sq mi)
|Negros Island Region
|18||Bacolod City & Dumaguete City
(5,154.75 sq mi)
|07||Cebu City||7010101021600000000♠10,102.16 km
(3,900.47 sq mi)
|08||Tacloban City||7010232511000000000♠23,251.10 km
(8,977.30 sq mi)
Below is a list of cities and major towns in the Visayas by population.
|km||sq mi||/km||/sq mi|
|Cebu City||866,171||315.00||121.62||2,700||7,000||Cebu||VII||HUC||1st||Capital of Cebu; regional center of Region 7|
|Bacolod||511,820||162.67||62.81||3,100||8,000||Negros Occidental||NIR||HUC||1st||Capital of Negros Occidental; de facto interim/temporary regional center of Region 18 (joint with Dumaguete)|
|Iloilo City||424,619||78.34||30.25||6,200||16,000||Iloilo||VI||HUC||1st||Capital of Iloilo; regional center of Region 6|
|Tacloban||221,174||201.72||77.88||1,100||2,800||Leyte||VIII||HUC||1st||Capital of Leyte; regional center of Region 8|
|Roxas||156,197||95.07||36.71||1,600||4,100||Capiz||VI||CC||1st||Capital of Capiz|
|San Carlos||129,981||451.50||174.33||290||750||Negros Occidental||NIR||CC||1st|
|Dumaguete||120,883||33.62||12.98||3,600||9,300||Negros Oriental||NIR||CC||1st||Capital of Negros Oriental; de facto interim/temporary regional center of Region 18 (joint with Bacolod)|
|Tagbilaran||96,792||331.80||128.11||290||750||Bohol||VII||CC||1st||Capital of Bohol|
|Catarman||84,833||464.43||179.32||180||470||Northern Samar||VIII||Municipality||1st||Capital of Northern Samar|
|Maasin||81,250||211.71||81.74||380||980||Southern Leyte||VIII||CC||1st||Capital of Southern Leyte|
|Kalibo||74,619||45.75||17.66||1,600||4,100||Aklan||VI||Municipality||1st||Capital of Aklan|
|Borongan||64,457||475.00||183.40||140||360||Eastern Samar||VIII||CC||Capital of Eastern Samar|
|La Carlota||63,852||137.29||53.01||470||1,200||Negros Occidental||NIR||CC||1st|
|San Jose de Buenavista||63,852||137.29||53.01||470||1,200||Antique||VI||Municipality||1st||Capital of Antique|
|Naval||48,799||108.24||41.79||450||1,200||Biliran||VIII||Municipality||1st||Capital of Biliran|
|Jordan||34,791||126.11||48.69||280||730||Guimaras||VI||Municipality||1st||Capital of Guimaras|
|Siquijor||25,231||82.06||31.68||310||800||Siquijor||VII||Municipality||1st||Capital of Siquijor|
Languages spoken at home are primarily Visayan languages despite the usual misconception that these are dialects of a single macrolanguage. Major languages include Hiligaynon or Ilonggo in much of Western Visayas and Negros Occidental, Cebuano in Central Visayas and Negros Oriental, and Waray in Eastern Visayas. Other dominant languages are Aklanon, Kinaray-a and Capiznon. Filipino, the 'national language' based on Tagalog, is widely understood but seldom used. English, another official language, is more widely known and is preferred as the second language most especially among urbanized Visayans. For instance, English rather than Tagalog is frequently used in schools, public signs and mass media.
Regions of the Philippines
/ 11.000; 123.500