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Not to be confused with Masbate Island or Masbate City.
Beach in Esperanza, Masbate
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 V)
Founded March 10, 1917
Capital Masbate City
 • Governor Vicente Homer B. Revil (NPC)
 • Vice Governor Jo Kristine C. Revil (NPC)
 • Total 4,151.78 km2 (1,603.01 sq mi)
Area rank 33rd out of 80
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 834,650
 • Rank 30th out of 80
 • Density 200/km2 (520/sq mi)
 • Density rank 42nd out of 80
 • Independent cities 0
 • Component cities 1
 • Municipalities 21
 • Barangays 550
 • Districts 1st to 3rd districts of Masbate
Time zone PHT (UTC+8)
ZIP Code 5400-5421
Dialing code 56
ISO 3166 code PH-MAS
Spoken languages Bikol, Masbateño, Hiligaynon, Cebuano, Waray-Waray

Masbate (Tagalog pronunciation: [masˈbate]) is an island province in the Philippines located near the middle of the Philippine 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 stronger affiliation with the Visayas.


Masbate was visited by Chinese, who established small settlements during the Srivijaya and Majapahit periods.

Ruins of cave-like dwellings, possibly built by Indians that accompanied the traders, were discovered along the coasts of Aroroy, Palanas and Masbate.

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 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.



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.

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 is subdivided into 20 municipalities and one city, all encompassed by 3 congressional districts.

City or
District[4] Area
(per km²)
No. of

Aroroy 2nd 440.3 76,139 172.9 41 5414 1st 12°30′42″N 123°23′51″E / 12.5118°N 123.3975°E / 12.5118; 123.3975 (Aroroy)
Baleno 2nd 204.38 24,401 119.4 24 5413 4th 12°28′26″N 123°29′51″E / 12.4738°N 123.4975°E / 12.4738; 123.4975 (Baleno)
Balud 2nd 231 35,841 155.2 32 5412 4th 12°02′15″N 123°11′35″E / 12.0376°N 123.1930°E / 12.0376; 123.1930 (Balud)
Batuan 1st 56.28 13,764 244.6 14 5415 5th 12°25′16″N 123°46′53″E / 12.4211°N 123.7815°E / 12.4211; 123.7815 (Batuan)
Cataingan 3rd 191.64 49,078 256.1 36 5405 2nd 12°00′01″N 123°59′48″E / 12.0002°N 123.9966°E / 12.0002; 123.9966 (Cataingan)
Cawayan 3rd 260.19 63,115 242.6 37 5409 2nd 11°55′42″N 123°46′08″E / 11.9284°N 123.7689°E / 11.9284; 123.7689 (Cawayan)
Claveria 1st 182.98 41,572 227.2 22 5419 3rd 12°54′10″N 123°14′45″E / 12.9029°N 123.2457°E / 12.9029; 123.2457 (Claveria)
Dimasalang 3rd 148.07 25,245 170.5 20 5403 4th 12°11′32″N 123°51′32″E / 12.1923°N 123.8590°E / 12.1923; 123.8590 (Dimasalang)
Esperanza 3rd 67.49 17,357 257.2 20 5407 5th 11°44′11″N 124°02′31″E / 11.7365°N 124.0420°E / 11.7365; 124.0420 (Esperanza)
Mandaon 2nd 280.8 38,161 135.9 26 5411 3rd 12°13′34″N 123°17′03″E / 12.2262°N 123.2841°E / 12.2262; 123.2841 (Mandaon)
Masbate City 2nd 188 85,227 453.3 30 5400 4th 12°22′08″N 123°37′14″E / 12.3689°N 123.6205°E / 12.3689; 123.6205 (Masbate City)
Milagros 2nd 565.3 52,619 93.1 27 5410 1st 12°13′06″N 123°30′30″E / 12.2182°N 123.5082°E / 12.2182; 123.5082 (Milagros)
Mobo 2nd 143.47 34,896 243.2 29 5401 4th 12°20′18″N 123°39′32″E / 12.3383°N 123.6588°E / 12.3383; 123.6588 (Mobo)
Monreal 1st 128.67 25,366 197.1 11 5418 4th 12°38′35″N 123°39′49″E / 12.6430°N 123.6636°E / 12.6430; 123.6636 (Monreal)
Palanas 3rd 171.1 25,501 149 24 5404 4th 12°08′45″N 123°55′18″E / 12.1459°N 123.9218°E / 12.1459; 123.9218 (Palanas)
Pio V. Corpuz 3rd 89.33 23,292 260.7 18 5406 4th 11°53′01″N 124°02′59″E / 11.8837°N 124.0498°E / 11.8837; 124.0498 (Pio V. Corpuz)
Placer 3rd 193.03 55,438 287.2 35 5408 2nd 11°52′05″N 123°54′43″E / 11.8681°N 123.9120°E / 11.8681; 123.9120 (Placer)
San Fernando 1st 77.5 21,309 275 26 5416 5th 12°29′01″N 123°45′45″E / 12.4835°N 123.7625°E / 12.4835; 123.7625 (San Fernando)
San Jacinto 1st 122.4 27,974 228.5 21 5417 4th 12°34′01″N 123°43′54″E / 12.5669°N 123.7318°E / 12.5669; 123.7318 (San Jacinto)
San Pascual 1st 246.65 44,753 181.4 22 5420 3rd 13°07′36″N 122°58′56″E / 13.1267°N 122.9821°E / 13.1267; 122.9821 (San Pascual)
Uson 3rd 163.2 53,602 328.4 35 5402 3rd 12°13′31″N 123°47′00″E / 12.2253°N 123.7834°E / 12.2253; 123.7834 (Uson)
 †  Provincial capital and component city      Municipality
  • Coordinates mark the city/town center vicinity, and are sorted according to latitude.
  • Income classifications for cities are italicized.
Political map of Masbate
Population graph of Masbate


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%
Source: National Statistics Office[2][1]

The Province of Masbate had a population of 768,939 in the 2007 Census of Population with 397,524 registered voters (as of 2004). Its population increased to 834,650 in the 2010 census with 380,037 registered voters. It consists of 20 municipalities, 1 component city and 550 barangays.[3]


Languages Spoken (2000)[6]
Language Speakers in '000

The people speak predominantly Bikol, Masbateño (or Masbateño, the language unique to the province), some Visayan languages with a unique mixture of Tagalog and some shades of Hiligaynon (sometimes also known as Ilonggo). 26% of the population of Masbate province speak Cebuano. In Burias Island, they speak Bicol similarly as the people of Camarines Sur, due to the island’s proximity to the Bicol mainland. The people generally speak fluent English and Tagalog.


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%.


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. About 70% of these are sold to Metro Manila and other provinces in Luzon. 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.


Masbate Provincial Capitol Building

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "List of Provinces". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 24 January 2013. 
  2. ^ 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 2013-01-21. 
  3. ^ a b "Region: REGION V (Bicol Region)". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 24 January 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Province: Masbate". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: Philippine Statistics Authority - National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 27 December 2015. 
  5. ^ "2010 Census of Population and Housing: Population Counts - Cordillera Administrative Region" (PDF). National Statistics Office (Philippines), April 4, 2012. Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  6. ^ Table 4. Household Population by Ethnicity and Sex: Masbate, 2000

External links[edit]