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Mount Mayon, Legazpi City, Luzon Islands, Philippines

Mount Mayon, Legazpi City, Luzon Islands, Philippines (Known places)

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The City of Legazpi (Bikol: Ciudad nin Legazpi; Filipino: Lungsod ng Legazpi) is a first class city and capital of the province of Albay, Philippines. With 179,481 inhabitants according to the 2007 (12 years ago) census, it is the largest city in the Bicol Region in terms of population, though not in land area. It is also the regional center of the Bicol Region.

Located in the geographical center of the peninsula and between the two island provinces of Catanduanes and Masbate, Legazpi City is the southernmost terminus of the Philippine National Railways Main Line South, though it will be extended up to Matnog in Sorsogon. It also services sea-going vessels through its port.

The city is the ecclesiastical seat of the Diocese of Legazpi, and most of its inhabitants are Roman Catholics.

History

Legazpi was named after Miguel López de Legazpi, the Spanish conquistador who conquered the Philippine islands in 1565 (454 years ago), and whose family name came from Legazpi, a town in Guipuzcoa, Spain.

Legazpi was founded by the ancient settlers of the old barangay of Sawangan in the domain of Gat Ibal, a chief who ruled Albay. Spread in small groups of huts made of nipa and rattan, the small settlement occupied a conscription of low and swampy land known as Banuang-gurang or Binanuahan, which means old town or place in which a town was built. The indigenous name Sawangan was a corruption of Sabang, signifying natural wharf formed by the waters of the sea. It was built on mangrove swamps, which once bordered its magnificent deep water port. In 1587 (432 years ago), Franciscan friars of the Doctrina of Cagsawa began to convert the settlement of Christianity; in 1616 (403 years ago), they transformed it into a separate town and parish called Albay. Its first parish priest built a small chapel and established the "Mission de San Gregorio Magno de Sawangan".

The eruption of Mayon Volcano on Feb. 1, 1814 (205 years ago) left a wide swath of destruction on two centuries of progress. It also forced inhabitants of the town to evacuate to Taysan (then known as Makalaya). They finally settled in Taytay (now Bagumbayan) as a result of the decree of the (Gobierno Superior issued on Oct. 1, 1829 (190 years ago) prohibiting the founding of another town. In 1818 (201 years ago), Sawangan, then already known as the town of Albay was separated from Cagsawa and was made the Capital of the Partido de Ibalon (the old name of Albay Province).

Some of the people, however, remained in the old town and began anew as a barrio. In lieu of their former patron saint, St. Gregory the Great, which bad also been transferred to Albay, they adopted St. Raphael the Archangel and transformed the ermita into a church. They finally regained their old status but never changed the name of the place as Albay Viejo or Banwang Daan. Even after their autonomy in 1856 (163 years ago), they called it "Binanwahan" meaning the former site of a town. In their fight for autonomy which took 21 years, they sought the support of the Spaniards living in the town and as a sign of gratitude for their help, they readily accepted the name Legazpi for the town proposed by the Spaniards upon the fulfillment of their efforts to perpetuate the memory of the Adelantado Don Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. A royal decree dated sep. 22, 1856 (163 years ago) officially gave the name of Legazpi to Old Albay, and with the visitas of Lamba, Rawis, and Bigaa made it into an independent town. It was inaugurated on Oct. 23, 1856 (163 years ago) with Lorenzo Hac as the first elective gobernadorcillo and the Rev. Camilo Abainza as acting parish priest.

Now autonomous and mixed with the progress and prosperity it attained, Legazpi was declared by Royal Cedula in May 18, 1872 (147 years ago) open to world trade.

Legazpi first became a city under the Becerra Law of 1892 (127 years ago). It constituted the municipalities of Legazpi, Albay Nuevo, and Daraga into the Ayuntamiento de Albay. The first set of officials - Alcalde, Teniente de Alcalde, Sindico, Secretario and Regidores (councilor) -took office in 1898 (121 years ago). With the American occupation in 1940 (79 years ago), the city was dissolved. Upon restoration of peace, the three towns were re-established and in 1908 (111 years ago) became the municipality of Albay, the provincial capital of Albay. In 1922 (97 years ago), the town of Daraga was separated from the capital. Legazpi became a city for the second time on Jul. 18, 1948 (71 years ago) when Daraga and Legazpi were combined to constitute its territory under Republic Act No. 306. With the re-creation of the two municipalities, the city was dissolved on Jun. 8, 1954 (65 years ago).

Finally, on Jun. 12, 1959 (60 years ago), Legazpi became a city for the third time under R.A. 2234. Amendments were introduced under R.A. 5525. Presidential Decree 125 issued on Feb. 23, 1973 (46 years ago) declared the town of Daraga as part of the territorial jurisdiction of the city. This decree, however, was not implemented with the onset of the Integrated Reorganization Plan, which involved the restructuring of local governments.

The city went through raids by Dutch and Muslim pirates before the arrival of the Spanish and was a horrifying sight of a much bloody battle during the Fil-Am war and WW II. The monument at the intersection of Quezon and Rizal Streets were built to commemorate the defeat of Filipino fighters by American forces in 1900 (119 years ago).
In 1941 (78 years ago) and 1942 (77 years ago), Japanese troops landed and occupied Legazpi City.

In 1945 (74 years ago), American and Filipino liberation forces supported by Bicolano guerrillas liberated Legazpi City from Japanese Imperial forces during the Second World War.


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