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An Overview of Southern Leyte

S. Leyte occupies what once constituted the southernmost portion of Leyte. It was created as a separate province on May 22,1959 under Republic Act #2227 & organized on July 1,1960. Its provincial boundaries are defined by Leyte on the north and north-west, the Canigao on Southwest, the Bohol Sea on the south, and Surigao Strait on the east.

The small island of Limasawa, off the southern coast of the province, figures prominently in Philippine history. In 1521, Magellan’s expedition landed on this island where the first Catholic Mass was celebrated by Father Pedro de Valderrama on March 31. And this small historical island was maded into a municipality, when President Corazon C. Aquino signed Proclamation #390 on March 31,1989 through the efforts of Congressman Roger G. Mercado. Separating Limasawa from its mother municipality of   Padre Burgos made it the 19th municipality of the province of S.  Leyte.

The province is one of the five provinces comprising Region VIII, namely: Easterrn Samar, Northern Samar, Western Samar, Leyte and S. Leyte. S. Leyte occupies the lower extremities of the regional land mass that was Leyte and, as such is the southern most member of Region VIII.

The province covers only about one-fourth of the entire land mass of the island of Leyte. Its northern boundary includes the northern territorial limits of the municipalities of Maasin, Tomas Oppus, Bontoc, Sogod, and Matalom, Bato, Mahaplag, and Abuyog of the province of Leyte. To the south, the province is bounded by Surigao Strait, in the east, by the Pacific Ocean, and in the west, by the Canigao Channel and
the Visayas Sea.

Georgraphy

Southern Leyte (Filipino:Timog Leyte) is a province of the Philippines located in the Eastern Visayas regionMaasin City is the capital of the province. Southern Leyte was once a sub-province of Leyte before it was divided from the latter. Limasawa, an island to the south is part of the province where the first Christian mass was held and is said to be the birthplace of Christianity in the Philippines.[1]

The province ranks as the second least populated area in the region. According to 2007 census, the province has a population of 390,847 a 1.13% growth compared to last 2000 census with a population record of 360,160.[2]

Southern Leyte’s geological features created several issues in the province after the flooding of Subangdaku River and the awful mudslide in Guinsaugon. Organizations warned the province as susceptible to natural occurrences like landslides and floodings.[3]

Southern Leyte contributes to the economy of the country. It forms an important part of the inter-island transportation system of the country, with ferries transporting people and goods between Liloan and Surigao del Norte in Mindanao. The province is well known for its quality abaca products and the country’s major producer of abaca fiber. [Wikipedia]

The Creation of the Province

As early as 1919, ther were moves to divide the island of Leyte into two provinces. In this year, the Honorable Ciriaco Kangleon of Macrohon, representing the second Kegislative District of Leyte, sponsored a bill to create the province smoothly through the House if the Representatives. However, it bogged down in the Senate by one vote.

In 1922, Assemblyman Tomas Oppus presented House Bill #254. This was enacted as Act #3117 by the Philippine Legislature. This Act provided for the division of Leyte into Occidental Leyte and Oriental Leyte. The law however, had a major flaw in the provision that the division would take effect only upon the offiicial proclamation by the Governor General. The much awaited proclamation was never made.

Senator Ruperto Kangleon presented Senate Bill # 2140 during his term. This suffered the fate of the 1919 predecessors. It was shelved to gather dust in the House of Representatives.

Congressman Nicanor Yniguez filed the bill which was enacted into law on May 22,1959 as Republic Act #2227. The Act finally gave birth to the province of S. Leyte on July 1,1960. The new province was organized out of the Third Congressional District of Leyte; there were 17 municipalities. Today, there are 19 municipalities in the province.

Political Subdivision

The province is politically subdivided into 19 municipalities, with a total of 503 barangays. Maasin, the capital town, has the most number of barangays with 70, followed by Sogod with 45 barangays, then Bontoc with 44 barangays, Anahawan and Libagon, have the lowest number of barangays with 14 each in the years before 1989. Today, the newly created town of Limasawa has the least number of barangays comprising only those in the island and other islands formerly belonging to Padre Burgos which has only 6 barangays in all.

For facility, the towns are grouped into the ff:

District I (Maasin,Macrohon,Malitbog,Padre Burgos,Limasawa)
District II (Tomas Oppus,Bontoc,Sogod,Libagon)
District III (Liloan, San Francisco, San Ricardo, Pintuyan)
District IV (Saint Bernard,San Juan,Anahawan, Hinundayan, Hinunangan,Silago)