Southern Leyte is a province of the Philippines located in the Eastern Visayas region. Maasin City is the capital of the province. Southern Leyte was once a sub-province of Leyte before it was divided from the latter. Southern Leyte includes Limasawa, an island to the south where the first Roman Catholic Mass was held and considered to be the birthplace of Catholicism in the Philippines.
The province ranks as the second least populated in the region. According to the 2010 census, the province has a population of 399,137
Southern Leyte's geological features created several issues in the province after the flooding of the Subangdaku River and the 2006 mudslide inGuinsaugon. Organizations warned the province it was susceptible tonatural occurrences like landslides and floods.
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 Nortein Mindanao. The province is well known for its quality abaca products and is the country's major producer of abaca fiber.
Southern Leyte occupies the southern quarter of the island ofLeyte. It is bounded by the province of Leyte to the north, by Surigao Strait to the east, Bohol Sea to the south, and Canigao Channel, across from Bohol, to the west. Its total land area is 179,861 hectares (444,450 acres).
The province is characterized by relatively flat lands along the coastal areas where population centers lie, but rugged mountains towards the interior.
The province has inland water features. Based on national data, the province has altogether 93 rivers including 18 major ones, namely the Amparo River in Macrohon, the Canturing River in Maasin City, the Das-ay and Pondol Rivers inHinunangan, the Divisoria River in Bontoc, the Hitungao and Lawigan Rivers in San Juan, the Maag River in Silago, and the Subangdaku River in Sogod which is the biggest of all. The province has an inland lake called Lake Danao located in the mountains of San Juan and Anahawan, towns in the eastern region.
Subangdaku, the province's largest river, created an issue over the area. It can be considered a braided river composed of several channels from near areas that divide and reunite forming an alluvial fan with very wide floodplain. As such, the river usually became hazardous during typhoons after heavy rains. The river has overflowed, spilling its waters on the low-lying towns of Liloan and San Vicente and destroyed an ongoing flood control project worth millions of pesos. The river meanders along its course, ever changing its way over time. During the time it floods, it desroys every side of its course. In 2001, portions of the road and banks in Barangay San Miguel along the river were destroyed, including part of the Philippine National Road. Local officials blamed the rechannelization and uncontrolled quarrying of gravel and sand at the side of river as the cause of the flood. At a meeting on March 18, 2002, one of the representatives of a government agency alleged that the reason of the incidents of flood and other environmental problems in the river was due to the "Philippine Fault" which caused rocks to rumble down. However, the reason was contended because the fault is a geological feature and environmental problems in the province just occurred that time.
Along with other mountain forms in the province, Mount Nacolod in Hinunangan town has the highest peak with an elevation of 948 meters above sea level. Young volcanic rocks are discovered in the terrain areas, which cover the top of the southern mountain ranges of Mount Cabalian in the Pacific Area and Mount Nelangcapan in Panaon Area.
The province lies within the Philippine Fault System. The major fault lines traverse the municipalities of Sogod, Libagon, St. Bernard and San Juan to Panaon Island. Based on MGB Region 8 data, these areas had experienced strong earthquakes in 1907 and 1948 with a magnitude of 6.9 and on July 5, 1984 with a 6.4 scale. Bureau of Mines and Geosciences warned that Southern Leyte's natural andgeological features make it susceptible to landslides and floodings. The affiliated group stated that there are four contributory reasons: unusually heavy rains; numerous faults and badly broken rocks; steep slopes; and absence of effective vegetative cover.
The province has numerous types of soil. A special soil type within Maasin Clay, Guimbalaon Clay, Himay-angan Clay, Bolinao Clay, Quingua Clay and Malitbog Clay series is found to be a good raw materials for ceramics and pottery activities of the local residents.
As early as 1898 during the Spanish and American periods, there had already existed a "sub-province" consisting of the municipalities from Palompon to Hinunangan, with Maasin as the center. Some government offices had already been established in Maasin on the southwestern part of Leyte to govern the area.
Historically, the governing city was the depository of cedula tax collections from Palompon to Hinunangan. This was administered by the office of the Administrado de Hacienda, equivalent to the Provincial Treasurer, a position under the Secretario de Hacienda.
There was also established in Maasin a Court of First Instance, then known as the Promoter Fiscal, where all minor administrative and other cases from Palompon to Hinunangan were heard.
During the Spanish colonization, the province was sparsely populated. The continued raiding of Moro slaves discouraged the province from growing and developing. However, in the 19th century immigrants from near provinces like Boholand Cebu populated the area.
In 1942, Ruperto Kangleon held a conference in the town of Sogod, when the first meeting attempt in Malitbog, a town to the east, failed due to many leaders staying away. He was trying to unify all guerrillas helping the Philippine Commonwealthtroops during World War II.
From 1944 to 1945, the Allied Philippine Commonwealth Army soldiers and Filipino guerrillas attacked the Japanese Imperialforces in an effort to liberate Southern Leyte, and American troops landed on Leyte on October 20, 1944.
Limasawa, an island municipality to the south, is believed to be the site of the firstChristian mass and the birthplace of Christianity in the Philippines, when Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese navigator and explorer landed on March 28, 1521. The first Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was held on March 31, 1521 led by Friar Pedro de Valderrama, the chaplain of Magellan during the expedition. The mass marked the start of Christian propagation.
People in the province are generally Roman Catholics. Generally, 87.28 percent of them adhere to the Roman Catholic Church but traditions still influence the people in the province. Aglipayan ranks second with 4.51 percent affiliates and Evangelicalswith 2.03. Other religious affiliations include Iglesia ni Cristo, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church among others.
Erected in 1968 the church can be found in the City of Maasin. The church is embellished with an ornate altar and images of saints believed to be the testament of continuing religiosity of the people in the province.
Most of the people in Southern Leyte go into coconut planting, a widely distributed industry, especially in mountainous and even plain regions. The GIZ of the German Development Cooperation has embarked on a value chain study on one of the most important products in Region 8 — the coconut, particularly in Leyte and Southern Leyte.
In the year 2004, a beetle pest threatened the Philippine coconut industry including Visayas. Brontispa longissima causes great damage to seedlings and mature coconut trees and ornamental palms, killing the young spears and eventually the entire trees.
People in Southern Leyte also go into abaca planting. The province is one of the major producer of abaca fiber in the country along with Catanduanes, Leyte, Davao Oriental, Northern Samar, Sorsogon, Sulu, Davao del Sur, and Surigao del Sur. The fibers from Leyte and the province are recognized as having the best quality. On the year 1990 to 1999, Southern Leyte produced abaca with a rate of 17 percent.
A project, Study on the Abaca Industry Profile of Southern Leyte, was funded by DOST 8 GIA and implemented by the Southern Leyte State University (SLSU), one of the college universities in the province, and the Provincial Government of Southern Leyte. It was aimed to conduct a thorough assessment on the status of the abaca industry of the province being its major crop.
In 2003, Abaca bunchy top virus threatened the abaca industry in the province. Almost all of the abaca-producing municipalities in the area namely Maasin City, Padre Burgos, Malitbog, Tomas Oppus, Bontoc, Sogod, St. Bernard, San Juan, Hinunangan and Silago were greatly affected by the deadly virus except from the municipalities at Panaon Island. Eighty percent of the province's abaca, particularly in Sogod town, was greatly affected while Maasin City was estimated to suffer about 30 percent in damages.