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Not to be confused with Masbate Island or Masbate City.
Province of Masbate
Provincial Capitol of Masbate
Masbate Provincial Capitol
Flag of Masbate
Official seal of Masbate
Location within the Philippines
Location within the Philippines
Coordinates: 12°10′N 123°35′E / 12.17°N 123.58°E / 12.17; 123.58Coordinates: 12°10′N 123°35′E / 12.17°N 123.58°E / 12.17; 123.58
Country Philippines
Region Bicol Region (Region V)
Founded March 10, 1917
Capital Masbate City
 • Type Sangguniang Panlalawigan
 • Governor Antonio T. Kho
 • Vice Governor Jo Kristine C. Revil
 • Total 4,151.78 km2 (1,603.01 sq mi)
Area rank 30th out of 81
Population (2015 census)[2]
 • Total 892,393
 • Rank 29th out of 81
 • Density 210/km2 (560/sq mi)
 • Density rank 43rd out of 81
 • Independent cities 0
 • Component cities
 • Municipalities
 • Barangays 550
 • Districts 1st to 3rd districts of Masbate
Time zone PST (UTC+8)
ZIP Code 5400–5421
IDD:area code +63(0)56 
ISO 3166 code PH-MAS
Spoken languages

Masbate, officially the Province of Masbate (Masbateño: Probinsya san Masbate; Hiligaynon: Kapuoran sang Masbate; Cebuano: Lalawigan sa Masbate; Waray: Probinsya han Masbate; Central Bikol: Probinsya kan Masbate) is an island province in the Philippines located near the middle of the nation's archipelago. Its capital is Masbate City and consists of three major islands: Masbate, Ticao and Burias. Masbate is at the crossroads of two island groups: Luzon and Visayas. Being administratively assigned to the Bicol Region, it is politically part of the Luzon island group. However, from a biogeographic and sociolinguistic perspective, Masbate has a stronger affiliation with Visayas.


Ruins of cave-like dwellings, possibly built by Indians that accompanied the traders, were discovered along the coasts of Aroroy, Palanas and Masbate. Masbate was then visited by the Chinese merchants, who established small settlements during the Srivijaya and Majapahit periods. Porcelain jars dating back to the 10th century were excavated at Kalanay Cave in Aroroy town in the 1930s.

Historical accounts showed that Christianization of the Bicol Region actually began in Masbate in 1569. When Captain Luis Enriquez de Guzman anchored in Masbate in 1569, he found settlements spread along the coastlines with its people engaged in flourishing trade with China.

Father Alonso Jimenez was the first missionary to the islands of Masbate, Burias, Leyte and Samar.

He then went to Ibalon in Camarines Province, where he resided for many years. He made several religious incursions in the provinces of Albay and Sorsogon, but he was considered as the apostle to the island of Masbate.

In December 1600, Dutch Commander Admiral Oliver van Noorth sought refuge at San Jacinto Harbor after his fleet lost to a Spanish Armada in Manila. He was later engaged in a fierce clash with Limahong's fleet at Canlibas-Matabao passage.

At the height of Galleon Trade, Mobo town contributed first class lumber for the construction of galleons, making it the center of trade in the province. It then became the capital of the islands in the early part of the Spanish occupation.

In 1864, Masbate was declared a separate province from Albay. Guiom was made the provincial capital while Ticao became a commandancia-politicio-militar. But shortly before the declaration of Philippine Independence, the town of Masbate was declared as the capital of the province.

The Americans came to Masbate in 1900 to extend their pacification campaign. In December 1908, Masbate was annexed to the province of Sorsogon. A bill declaring Masbate as independent province was approved on February 1, 1922.

As early as 1906, Masbate lawmakers made proposal to the United States Congress to grant the Philippines independence.

At the height of World War II, the first Japanese elements arrived in Masbate the dawn of January 7, 1942 from Legazpi. They landed in several places without facing opposition - the province was too stunned to mount any resistance.

The Japanese occupation reduced Masbate to economic shambles. Economic activities were limited to fishing and buy-and-sell, among others. Food production came to a halt. Camote, pakol, banana blossoms, pith, and obscure fruits like barobo were used as food substitutes. Barter transaction prevailed. For lack of nutrition, many people succumbed to beriberi, dysentery and malaria. Lice and tick infestations were rampant.

Dr. Mateo S. Pecson, governor of the province, refused to cooperate with the Japanese and evacuated the provincial government to Guiom, a command post used by the guerrillas. Pecson was arrested by the Japanese and incarcerated in Cavite where he managed to escape. He later joined the guerrilla movement in Central Luzon.

In 1944, Provincial Board Member Jose L. Almario conspired with the Japanese to govern the province. During the Liberation, he was arrested by the guerrilla forces and was charged with collaboration. He was saved from execution by a letter from General MacArthur.

Dr. Emilio B. Espinosa, the lone Representative of Masbate, fought against a congressional bill forcing Filipinos into the service of the Japanese Empire, resulting to his detention in Fort Santiago in Manila.

When the province was liberated by joint Filipino and American soldiers on April 3, 1945, Pecson was sent to Masbate by President Osmeña to organize the civil government. He took the reins of government on May 11, 1945.

Beach in Esperanza


Ph fil masbate.png

The province lies roughly at the center of the Philippine archipelago, between latitudes 11°43’ north and 123°09’ east and 124°5’ east. It is bounded on the north by Burias and Ticao Pass, east by San Bernardino Strait, south by the Visayan Sea, and west by the Sibuyan Sea. Relative to mainland Bicol, the province faces the southwestern coasts of Camarines Sur, Albay, and Sorsogon areas. Masbate covers a total area of 4,151.78 square kilometres (1,603.01 sq mi).[4]

The general surface configuration of the province ranges from slightly undulating to rolling and from hilly to mountainous. In each island, the rugged topography is concentrated in the northeastern portion and gradually recedes to blunt hills and rolling areas in the south, southeast, and southwest.

Administrative divisions[edit]

Masbate comprises 20 municipalities and one city, all encompassed by 3 congressional districts.

  •  †  Provincial capital and component city
  •      Municipality


Population census of
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1903 43,675 —    
1918 67,513 +2.95%
1939 182,483 +4.85%
1948 211,113 +1.63%
1960 335,971 +3.95%
1970 492,908 +3.90%
1975 533,387 +1.60%
1980 584,520 +1.85%
1990 599,355 +0.25%
1995 653,852 +1.64%
2000 707,668 +1.71%
2007 768,939 +1.15%
2010 834,650 +3.03%
2015 892,393 +1.28%
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority[2][5][5][6]

The population of Masbate in the 2015 census was 892,393 people,[2] with a density of 210 inhabitants per square kilometre or 540 inhabitants per square mile.


Languages Spoken (2000)[7]
Language Speakers in '000

The people speak predominantly Masbateño (or Minasbate, the language unique to the province related to Visayan languages) and to lesser degree, Bicolano. Other Visayan languages are also spoken, with 33% of the population speaking Hiligaynon/Ilonggo, mainly in the towns of Balud, Mandaon and the southwestern part of Milagros, while the remaining 9% speak Cebuano, especially in the towns of Esperanza, Pio V. Corpuz and Placer. In northeastern Burias Island, they speak Bicolano similarly as the people of Camarines Sur and Albay, due to the island’s proximity to the Bicol Region mainland. The people generally speak fluent English and Filipino, though is seldom used everyday.


About 91% of the population are members of the Catholic Church (Statistics by Diocese Hierarchy, 2014). Devotional practices such as the rosary, novenas to saints, and other religious manifestations as processions, the Misa de Gallo and Holy Week traditional activities are still very much part of the way of life of most parishioners. The Diocese of Masbate was created on March 23, 1968, separating it from the Diocese of Sorsogon. It comprises then, and now, the civil province of Masbate with its 121 islands including the two larger ones Burias and Ticao. It is now a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Caceres. Its titular patron is St. Anthony of Padua.

There are a total 22 parishes in the Diocese of Masbate, ministered to by 43 priests and 11 religious sisters. It has 1 minor seminary, 4 pastoral centers, 3 elementary schools, 6 high schools, 1 college and 7 kindergarten schools. And among its faith communities are 20 BEC's 46 neo-catechumenal communities, 11 mandated organizations and 3 charismatic groups. Other denominations include the Aglipayan Church, the Members Church of God International, popularly called Ang Dating Daan, Jesus Miracle Crusade, Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ) which also functions many religious and social events in the province, as well as Baptist, Methodist, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventist and other Christians. Non Christians are also present which is commonly represented by Moslems.


The literacy rate of the province stood at 95.90%.[citation needed]


Masbate is endowed with rich natural resources. In line with its agriculture are other industries such as large farming, livestock and poultry raising. Along its coastal areas, fishing industry predominates. Agricultural lands are planted with rice, corn, rootcrops and coconut.

Masbate ranks second only to Bukidnon in raising cattle.[citation needed] About 70% of these are sold to Metro Manila and other provinces in Luzon and Visayas. Farming is the main source of livelihood. Copra is the leading product, followed by corn, rice and rootcrops. Fishing is a major industry along the coast.

Manufacturing firms are in the copra industry, handicrafts, furnituremaking and fish processing.

Rich minerals are found in the province. Masbate is described by geologists as a province sitting on a "pot of gold". Other minerals found in the area are manganese, copper, silver, iron, chromite, limestone, guano, and carbon.

Cottage industries such as furniture and cabinet making, ceramics, garments, handicrafts and metalcrafts, are likewise source of livelihood.


An agricultural province, Masbate remains a net importer of consumer and industrial products. The supply of goods came from Metro Manila, Cebu, Panay and Bicol Provinces. Construction materials, particularly cement, are sometimes sourced as a far as Iligan City in Mindanao.


Major institutions of higher learning in the province include the state-supported Dr. Emilio B. Espinosa Sr. Memorial State College of Agriculture and Technology in Mandaon and in Masbate City, Osmeña Colleges, Masbate Colleges, Liceo de Masbate (a Catholic school with primary, secondary and tertiary educations under the directorship of the Diocese of Masbate), Southern Bicol College, Cataingan Municipal College. Masbate also has national schools in Cataingan, Placer, San Jacinto, Mandaon, Mobo, and Masbate City.

Other educational institutions include public and private schools such as the Masbate National Comprehensive High School in Masbate City that has three campuses — (MNCHS-Bolo Campus, MNCHS-Main Campus, MNCHS-Annex Campus), Holy Name Academy (a Catholic institution run by the Augustinian Recollect Sisters in Palanas, Masbate) and Lucio Atabay Memorial Elementary School (formerly, Nipa Elem. School) in Nipa, Palanas, Masbate.


  1. ^ "List of Provinces". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 24 January 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Region V (BICOL REGION)". Census of Population (2015): Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay (Report). PSA. Retrieved 20 June 2016. 
  3. ^ "Region: REGION V (Bicol Region)". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 24 January 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c "Province: Masbate". PSA. Philippines: National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c "Region V (BICOL REGION)". Census of Population and Housing (2010): Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay (Report). NSO. Retrieved 29 June 2016. 
  6. ^ "Census 2000; Population and Housing; Region V" (PDF). Philippine Statistics Authority (National Statistics Office - Region V). Retrieved 29 June 2016. 
  7. ^ Table 4. Household Population by Ethnicity and Sex: Masbate, 2000

External links[edit]