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Bicol, Region V, Philippines

Last modified: 2007-02-14 by rob raeside
Keywords: bicol | albay | legazpi city | camarines norte | camarines sur | iriga | naga | catanduanes | masbate | sorsogan |
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The Philippine Republic's Region V, Bicol, comprises six provinces: Masbate, Catanduanes, Sorsogon, Albay, Camarines Sur, and Camarines Norte on the southern end of Luzon island.

Flag images here drawn after Symbols of the State, published by the Philippines Bureau of Local Government.

See also:


[Albay, Philippines] by Jaume Ollé, 12 January 2001

Northwest from Sorsogon we reach the Province of Albay, area 2,554, population 1,108,000 in seventeen towns and one chartered city, Legazpi, also spelled Legaspi, which is the provincial capital and the regional headquarters. I suppose but cannot be sure that it is named after the Miguel Lopez de Legaspi who explored and organized the Philippines for the King of Spain. The Province of Albay is the lineal continuation of a Spanish province created in the sixteenth century. It was reduced to its present dimensions in 1945.

Albay's archaeology shows concrete evidence of trade with China and Malaya/Indonesia going back two thousand years. The first Spanish contact was in 1565, when a treasure-galleon returning to Cebu from Acapulco, Mexico, was swept off course and the captain recorded his awe at the sight of Mt. Mayon erupting. Mt. Mayon is the most prominent of the several volcanoes in the province, and one of the most famous jewels of the Pacific Ring of Fire; its eruptions have repeatedly inflicted disaster on the province, and enriched the survivors. When at peace, it is a particularly beautiful mountain. Albay has a large amount of rich flat land, and agriculture is the largest component of the provincial economy. Coconuts, rice, abaca, and maize are the chief crops. Handicrafts bolster rural incomes. Commercial fishing is also important, and the province has several thousand manufacturing enterprises. There are plenty of places to visit, offering opportunities to swim at beautiful beaches, scuba-dive to wrecked galleons, explore caves, climb volcanoes, admire waterfalls, lush vegetation, Baroque architecture, etc.
John Ayer
, 4 March 2001

Legazpi City

[Legasbi City, Philippines] by Dirk Schönberger, 12 January 2001

Source: Symbols of the state

Camarines Norte

[Camarines Norte, Philippines] by Jaume Ollé, 12 January 2001

The northernmost province in Region V Bicol is Camarines Norte, with a population of just about exactly half a million people on 2,334 in twelve towns, of which Daet is the capital. Daet is also the northern end of a regional development project, the LIND Growth Corridor, with its other end at Legaspi in Albay and running through Iriga and Naga in Camarines Sur.

The Spaniard Juan de Salcedo, a lieutenant (and grandson) of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, visited here in 1572 and found the natives mining gold and living in prosperous settlements. Gold-mining and jewelry manufacture continue to distinguish the province. Agriculture and fishing are major factors in the province's economy, and several handicrafts and small-scale industries are widely practiced. Tourism is insignificant, though Daet has become a destination for surfers.
John Ayer
, 28 February 2001

Camarines Sur

[Camarines Sur, Philippines] by Jaume Ollé, 12 January 2001

Northwest of Albay on the Bicol Peninsula is the Province of Camarines Sur, population 1,600,000, area 5,445, in two cities (Iriga and Naga) and thirty-five towns, of which Pili is the capital. The name comes from the Spanish "Camarine," meaning "granary," the Spanish explorers having found storehouses for rice a notable feature of the area. The landscape is dominated by a chain of mountains with several volcanic peaks, but the coastal plains reward agriculture. The chief agricultural products are rice, coconuts, bananas, and abaca. There is some mining, and considerable cottage industry of several crafts. They also fish. Large-scale industry is concentrated in Naga City, though the government is trying to disperse it into some other centers.

In the town of Del Gallego is the PNR Memorial Park, preserving the place where President Manuel Quezon of the Commonwealth of the Philippines drove a  golden spike to complete the Philippine National Railroad. Visitors can hike in the mountains, explore caves, frolic on the beaches, swim and dive among the coral reefs, shop, dine, etc.
John Ayer, 5 March 2001

Iriga City

[Iriga City, Philippines] by Dirk Schönberger, 12 January 2001

Source: Symbols of the state

Naga City

[Naga City, Philippines] by Dirk Schönberger, 12 January 2001

Source: Symbols of the state


[Catanduanes, Philippines] by Dirk Schönberger, 12 January 2001


[Masbate, Philippines] by Jaume Ollé, 12 January 2001

Masbate, the southernmost, lies quite near the center of the Philippine archipelago. Its largest island is Masbate, on which is located the town of Masbate, capital of the province. The islands of Ticao and Burias are large enough to support towns of their own. There are, of course, many small islands included in the area of the province. The total area is 4,077 The population is about 692,000 in twenty-one towns. They speak quite a variety of languages. Their principal means of livelihood are agriculture (growing rice, maize, and coconuts) and stock-raising, chiefly horses, cattle, carabao, goats, pigs and poultry. There is fishing along the coast. Gold has been mined since the fourteenth century. There are also deposits of silver, copper, iron, manganese, marble, limestone, quartz, and other minerals. There are also various cottage industries and a significant tourist trade, centering on the water, salt and fresh, and the remarkably varied landscape.
John Ayer, 1 March 2001


[Sorsogon, Philippines] by Jaume Ollé, 12 January 2001

The end of the Bicol Peninsula is occupied by the Province of Sorsogon, whose flag depicts its location and reminds the world that even before the coming of the Spanish it had traded with the outside world through Chinese and Arab trading ships. The province is divided into sixteen towns, of which the capital is also named Sorsogon. Its principal products are abaca, copra, and hemp. Fishing is also significant, and could be expanded. The chief tourist attraction is Bulusan Lake, in the crater of a volcano in a national park. There are also springs, caves, waterfalls, tropical vegetation, and plenty of opportunities for water recreation and hiking. The province's area is 2054, its population 634,000.
John Ayer
, 1 March 2001