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This article is about the Philippine province. For the municipality, see Biliran, Biliran. For the volcano, see Biliran (volcano). For other uses, see Biliran (disambiguation).
Province of Biliran
Official seal of Biliran
Location in the Philippines
Location in the Philippines
Coordinates: 11°35′N 124°29′E / 11.583°N 124.483°E / 11.583; 124.483Coordinates: 11°35′N 124°29′E / 11.583°N 124.483°E / 11.583; 124.483
Country Philippines
Region Eastern Visayas (Region VIII)
Founded May 11, 1992
Capital Naval
 • Type Province of the Philippines
 • Governor Gerardo Espina, Jr (Liberal)
 • Vice Governor Eriberto Tubis, Jr. (Liberal)
 • Total 536.01 km2 (206.95 sq mi)
Area rank 77th out of 80
Highest elevationMt. Suiro[2] 1,301 m (4,268 ft)
Population (2010)[3]
 • Total 161,760
 • Rank 74th out of 80
 • Density 300/km2 (780/sq mi)
 • Density rank 19th out of 80
 • Independent cities 0
 • Component cities 0
 • Municipalities 8
 • Barangays 132
 • Districts Lone district of Biliran
Time zone PHT (UTC+8)
ZIP code 6560 to 6567
Dialing code 53
ISO 3166 code PH-BIL
Spoken languages Cebuano, English, Waray-Waray

Biliran (Filipino: Lalawigan ng Biliran; Cebuano: Lalawigan sa Biliran; Waray-Waray: Probinsya han Biliran) is an island province in the Philippines located in the Eastern Visayas region (Region VIII). Biliran is one of the country's smallest and newest provinces. Formerly a sub-province of Leyte, it became an independent province in 1992.

Biliran lies less than a kilometer north of the island of Leyte. A bridge-causeway fixed link over Poro Island connects the province to Leyte.[4] Its capital is the municipality of Naval on the western coast of the island.



During the early Spanish era, what is now called Biliran Island was known as Isla de Panamao. The present name, believed to be adopted sometime between the late 17th century and the early 18th century, was, according to many publications, derived from a native grass called borobiliran which once grew abundantly on the island's plains. A contending theory states that the name came from the word bilir, which was defined in an old Visayan dictionary to be the “corner or edge of a boat, vase or anything protruding, like veins, or the furrow made by the plow.” The dictionary also gives biliran as an alternate spelling for bilir. This theory is supported by the fact that Biliran was site of the first large-scale shipyard, built in the 17th century. Galleons were built to support the Galleon trade between Manila and Acapulco in Mexico.[5]


The first town, named Biliran, was founded in 1712 after petitioning for a municipality and parish status. During this time, the island was a part of Cebu Province. Biliran, together with the islands of Samar and Leyte, were constituted into a separate province in 1735. Later when Samar and Leyte were split into two provinces in 1768, Biliran became part of Leyte Province. The first parish priest was assigned in 1765, but its parish status was apparently withdrawn because of Padre Gaspar’s apostasy. The parish was re-established on February 22, 1782.[5]

Sultan Kudarat raid[edit]

In May 1735, representative inhabitants of Leyte petitioned Governor General Fernando Valdes y Tamon to allow them to resettle Biliran Island. They claimed it had been abandoned for the past 50 years and was presently inhabited by bagamundos (vagabonds) due to the frequent Moro raids.

On May 26, 1754, the Moros destroyed Biliran and the town of Catbalogan in Samar. Panamao was reportedly razed to the ground and only the gobernadorcillo (mayor) of Biliran town escaped capture by the raiders. The settlements of Biliran, Caybiran, Mapuyo and Maripipi were also destroyed by the Moros.

The Moros staged their attack by marching inland along a river named Anas for a distance of 1.5-2 leguas (leagues). Having covered part of the interior around a mountain, they managed to capture the inhabitants, with the exception of the gobernadorcillo who escaped. The houses and property of the natives were burned or destroyed. The church building suffered the same fate and its valuables were taken away by the raiders.[5]

Post-Moro invasion[edit]

When the Moro raiders were neutralized in the early 19th century, the local inhabitants went into the business of organizing new towns (then called "pueblos") in the present geography of Biliran Province.

In 1828, Caibiran on the east became an independent municipality and parish, the second to be created in Biliran Island.

Naval became the third town, carved out of the territory of Biliran town. It first became a separate parish in 1860. The Spanish colonial government officially recognized its municipality status on September 23, 1869, following the petition submitted around 1861.

Almeria became a separate town in 1886 and was named after the City of Almería in Spain.

Maripipi used to be a barrio of Naval. It was officially inaugurated as a town in 1867, two years ahead of its mother town, then folded up and was reduced into a barrio of Almeria, and then became a town again in 1899. Maripipi and the new towns of San Clemente (later Kawayan), Culaba and Esperanza (later Cabucgayan) were created around 1899 by the revolutionary government under Pres. Emilio Aguinaldo.[5]

World War II[edit]

During the World War II, Biliran had its own guerrilla forces under the Leyte command of Colonel Ruperto Kangleon. The guerrilla operation was of invaluable assistance to the successful landing of the American liberation forces at Palo, Leyte, on October 20, 1944 just before the Battle of Leyte Gulf.[5]

In 1945, Biliran was liberated by the Philippine Commonwealth forces of the 9th Infantry Division of the Philippine Commonwealth Army who landed in Biliran. Aided by the local guerrilla forces, they attacked the Japanese troops on the island during the Battle of Biliran during World War II.[5]


On April 8, 1959, Republic Act No. 2141 was signed into law effectively making Biliran a sub-province of Leyte. The island became an independent province on May 11, 1992, by virtue of Republic Act No. 7160, making it one of the newest provinces in the country.


Biliran Island
NASA Landsat image of Biliran
Location Samar Sea
Coordinates 11°31′23″N 124°32′06″E / 11.523°N 124.535°E / 11.523; 124.535
Archipelago Visayas
Area 555.4 km2 (214.4 sq mi)
Highest elevation 1,340 m (4,400 ft)[6]

Biliran has a total land area of 53,601 hectares (132,450 acres), making it the fourth smallest province in the Philippines.[1] The island lies off the northern coast of Leyte island across Biliran Strait. To the southeast is Carigara Bay, to the northeast is the Samar Sea, and across this sea is Samar. To the west is the Visayan Sea and Masbate lies 30 kilometres (19 mi) to the northwest. The province is composed of two major volcanic islands: the main island also named Biliran and Maripipi, a smaller island to the northwest. Other smaller islands include Higatangan and Dalutan.


The main volcanic island of Biliran features mountainous interiors with very narrow coastal areas. Only the municipalities of Naval and Caibiran have wide plains extending about 7 km (4.3 mi) from the coast suitable for agriculture. Mount Suiro, an inactive volcano, is the highest point on Biliran Island with an elevation of 1,301 m (4,268 ft).

The only known historical volcanic activity at Biliran was a phreatic eruption and possible debris avalanche at a thermal area on September 26, 1939.[2] Ashfalls were reported at Caibiran and adjoining areas with maximum deposits at 6.35 centimetres (2.50 in) thick.[6] There are five active solfatara fields on the island. The solfatara on the west side of Mt. Giron contained more than 400 tones of sulfur in 1880.[7]

Maripipi is a 924-metre (3,031 ft) volcanic island with the Maripipi Volcano located in the center and the Municipality of Maripipi surrounding its shores and lower slopes. The volcano is classified as potentially active but has had no historical eruptions.[8]


Biliran has a combination of warm and cool climatic zones, thus the prevailing climate is ideal for the cultivation of a wide range of agricultural crops. There is no distinct dry season but the heavy wet season generally occurs in December.[9]

Climate data for Biliran
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 29.2
Average low °C (°F) 23.9
Average precipitation mm (inches) 290.5
Average rainy days 21 17 16 14 13 15 16 16 15 18 20 21 202
Source #1: Storm247 (for average temperature and rainy days)[10]
Source #2: WorldWeatherOnline (for average precipitation)[11]

Administrative divisions[edit]

Biliran is subdivided into 8 municipalities, with a total of 132 barangays. All municipalities are located on Biliran Island, with the exception of Maripipi, which is an island municipality located to the northwest. The largest among the towns in terms of land area is the provincial capital Naval, while the smallest is Maripipi.

Municipality Area
(per km²)
No. of

Almeria 57.46 16,495 287.1 13 6544 5th 11°37′13″N 124°22′54″E / 11.6202°N 124.3816°E / 11.6202; 124.3816 (Almeria)
Biliran 70.3 16,183 230.2 11 6549 5th 11°28′00″N 124°28′31″E / 11.4666°N 124.4752°E / 11.4666; 124.4752 (Biliran)
Cabucgayan 54.19 19,621 362.1 13 6550 5th 11°28′22″N 124°34′30″E / 11.4729°N 124.5749°E / 11.4729; 124.5749 (Cabucgayan)
Caibiran 83.55 21,473 257 17 6548 5th 11°34′20″N 124°34′53″E / 11.5723°N 124.5813°E / 11.5723; 124.5813 (Caibiran)
Culaba 73.42 12,252 166.9 17 6547 5th 11°39′20″N 124°32′26″E / 11.6555°N 124.5406°E / 11.6555; 124.5406 (Culaba)
Kawayan 61.02 20,238 331.7 20 6545 5th 11°40′48″N 124°21′25″E / 11.6799°N 124.3570°E / 11.6799; 124.3570 (Kawayan)
Maripipi 27.83 6,699 240.7 15 6546 5th 11°46′43″N 124°20′58″E / 11.7787°N 124.3494°E / 11.7787; 124.3494 (Maripipi)
Naval 108.24 48,799 450.8 26 6543 2nd 11°33′46″N 124°23′50″E / 11.5629°N 124.3972°E / 11.5629; 124.3972 (Naval)
 †  Provincial capital


Population census
of Biliran
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1903 21,661 —    
1918 35,751 +3.40%
1939 54,367 +2.02%
1948 67,661 +2.46%
1960 87,285 +2.14%
1970 90,499 +0.36%
1980 111,421 +2.10%
1990 118,012 +0.58%
1995 132,209 +2.15%
2000 140,274 +1.28%
2007 150,031 +0.93%
2010 161,760 +2.78%
Source: National Statistics Office[3][1]

Based on the May 2000 census, Biliran had a total population of 140,274, which made it the fifth least populous province in the country, and the smallest in the region. There were 27,907 households in the province with an average size of 5.02 persons, slightly higher than the national average of 4.99. In the 2010 census, the population had increased to 161,760 persons. In 1995 survey, Roman Catholicism had a 95% adherence in the province.


The inhabitants of Biliran primarily speak Cebuano and Waray, both Visayan languages. The majority of the residents also speak and understand Tagalog and English.


The economy of Biliran is largely based on fishing. Most of its towns, especially Naval and Biliran, have excellent seaports. There are 95 hectares of brackish water fish ponds which produce prawns, shrimps and milkfish. Another 30 hectares of seawater are suitable for seaweed farming and 10 more hectares for fishcage culture.

Being mountainous, Biliran can support various agricultural crops. The warm lowlands are conducive to palay production and other tropical crops. The cool highlands are favorable to high-value crops such as cut flowers and varieties of vegetables traditionally grown in Baguio City or Tagaytay City.

The inhabitants also engage in hunting, lumber, and manufacturing. The principal raw material produced is copra and coconut oil. Processed goods include white clay ceramics, dried fish, raw gulaman, and citronella oil.

The untapped natural resources of the island include geothermal power and the abundant sulfur and gypsum deposits.

Major industries includes fashion bags, Romblon bags, shellcrafts, placemats, hot pads, baskets, beverage coasters and trays.


  1. ^ a b "List of Provinces". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Biliran". Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  3. ^ a b "Population and Annual Growth Rates for The Philippines and Its Regions, Provinces, and Highly Urbanized Cities" (PDF). 2010 Census and Housing Population. National Statistics Office. Retrieved 2013-01-30. 
  4. ^ "Poro Island, Biliran, Eastern Visayas, Philippines". Google Maps. Retrieved on 2013-11-15.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Borrinaga, Rolando O. "History of Biliran". Biliran Island Undiscovered Paradise. Retrieved on 2013-11-06.
  6. ^ a b "Biliran". Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. Retrieved on 2013-11-13.
  7. ^ "Biliran, Philippines". Volcano World. Retrieved on 2013-11-06.
  8. ^ "Maripipi". Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. Retrieved on 2013-11-06.
  9. ^ Local Government Unit: Province of Biliran
  10. ^ "Weather forecast for Biliran, Philippines". Storm247. Retrieved 30 January 2016. 
  11. ^ "Biliran Monthly Climate Average, Philippines". World Weather Online. Retrieved 30 January 2016. 
  12. ^ a b c "Province: Biliran". Philippine Statistics Authority - National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 12 December 2015. 
  13. ^ "2010 Census of Population and Housing: Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay:as of May 1, 2010 (Eastern Visayas)" (PDF). National Statistics Office. Retrieved 12 December 2015. 

External links[edit]