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Map of Leyte showing the location of Baybay
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Baybay is city located in the province of Leyte, Philippines. It is often called by the locals as the "City of Baybay" and it is preferred by the local government officials. It is the largest city in the province in terms of land area. Covering an area of 46,050 hectares, Baybay is composed of 92 barangays, 23 of which are in the poblacion. The remaining 69 are rural barangays. It is situated on the western coast of the province of Leyte.
It has a Type 4 climate, which is generally wet. Its topography is generally mountainous in the eastern portion as it slopes down west towards the shore line. Generally an agricultural city, the common means of livelihood are farming and fishing. Some are engaged in hunting and in forestal activities. The most common crops grown are rice, corn, abaca, root crops, fruits, and vegetables. Various cottage industries can also be found in Baybay such as bamboo and rattan craft, ceramics, dress-making, fiber craft, food preservation, mat weaving, metal craft, fine Philippine furniture manufacturing and other related activities.
Baybay is a major port town on the central west coast of Leyte, Philippines, where ferries leave for Cebu and other islands. With the mountains in the background and the typical old Spanish church with the nice bell tower dominating the town, it makes a most attractive and beautiful picture seen at dawn from a ship just arriving in port.
Baybay has great potential as a tourist destination, especially for tennis players. It is not only rich in biodiversity and history it also houses the campus of the Visayas State University. Likewise, it has river systems fit for river cruising, numerous caves for spelunking, forests, beaches, and marine treasures. This richness coupled with the friendly Baybayanos will be an element for a successful tourism program. Considering the role of tourism in development, Baybay intends to harness its tourism potential.
According to the 2000 census, it has a population of 95,630 people in 19,517 households.
Baybay is politically subdivided into 92 barangays.
Baybay was believed to be the only settlement on the western coast of Leyte known to the first Spanish conquistadors that came with Magellan, as was Abuyog in the eastern part of the province, and Limasawa and Cabalian in the south. In 1620, the Jesuit fathers which belonged to the "residencia" of Carigara, the first and central station of the Society of Jesus in Leyte.
By superior approbation, Baybay was created a parish on September 8, 1835 with the invocation of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. However, the town was erected and independent parish on February 27, 1836.
When the Augustinians took over the administration of the parish after the expulsion of the Jesuits, they opened the first school in Baybay. During their time, the first road leading to Palompon was constructed, thus bringing Baybay closer to her neighboring municipalities. The Augustinian fathers stayed in the town for 75 years - all of which they devoted to the upliftment of the natives in education and in their economic standing.
The first church of Baybay was built in Barrio Punta where it still stands today but is in need of repair. Punta is one of the seven original barrios of Baybay and was even believed to be the original site of Baybay itself, although there are others who say that it was actually in Kabkab, in the vicinity of Barrio Pangasugan.
Chinese invaders attempted to conquer the community, but the brave and staunch natives foiled several attempts. When the Spanish conquistadors spread themselves out to the provinces, an expeditionary force under Felipe Segundo, evidently looking for a bigger settlement, landed in a barrio north of the town which was and still is called Pangasugan. Landing near the river, he pointed to a spot and asked a native in Spanish for the name of the place. Unable to understand Spanish and thinking that Felipe Segundo wanted to ask about the river, he answered in Visayan, " Ang suba nagbaybay sa Pangasugan." This is how Baybay is believed to obtain its name. However, Fegaffeta's chronicle during the Voyage of Magellan to the Philippines clearly showed that the place is already known as Baybay when they sailed from the southern part of the island of Leyte to the island of Cebu.
Baybay also suffered from Moro raids. On October 22, 1605, one such raid occurred and the pirates, after leaving countless dead, carried off 60 men as captives. Again, on November 4, 1663, moors under the dreaded Corralat took their toll of human lives and captives after mercilessly slaughtering the handful of men who defended the town with the aid of the parish priest.
Baybay suffered a great setback in 1866 when a great fire practically reduced the town to ashes leaving only the chapel of the Holy Cross in a miraculous manner.
The civil administration of the town during the Spanish era was placed in the hands of the gobernadorcillo, assisted by a teniente and the different jueces and cabezas. In 1892, in accordance with the provisions of the Mayura law, the head of the municipal government was given the designation of "Capitan Municipal" and his assistants in office were called "teniente mayor indice" and the "teniente de policia." For the first time, a juez de paz was designated and a detachment of guardias civiles was placed in the town.
The construction of the church, which still stands today, was begun under the engineering administration of Mariano Vasnillio during the term of Fr. Vicente E. Coronado in 1852. The construction lagged for ten years after which the work was resumed under Maestro Proceso, who came from Manila for the purpose of finishing the work. The church was finally finished in 1870 after Capitan Mateo Espinoso, a sculptor and painter of renown, put on the finishing touches. The altar and the rails as they stand today are a credit to his genius.
As the Spanish residents moved away in the early months of 1898, the reins of local government passed completely into the hands of the Filipino officials. An election was held and Don Quirimon Alkuino was elected as the first Filipino presidente. However, after about four months, Gen. Vicente Lukban nullified the results of the election and ordered another one to be held, with the same results. Lukban ordered that the barrios of Baybay be named after the tenientes, thus Caridad was renamed "Veloso," Plaridel became "Alvarado," Bitanhuan was named "Coronado." San Agustin "Sabando," Punta "Virgineza," Pomponan "Montefolka," Gabas "Bartolini", etc.
Throughout these years, Baybay developed into one of the biggest towns in Leyte.
The port of Baybay was closed in 1899 by the American coast guards. The price of commodities soared and products like copra and hemp accumulated in the docks. The order was lifted, but only after 14 ships, the greatest number to dock in port at one time, had stayed in port for days waiting for the order to leave.
On February 10, 1901, the first Americans arrived in Baybay on the ship "Melliza", their arrival caused great confusion and the people evacuated to the barrios. Only a few officials stayed in the town. The next day, soldiers scoured the countryside convincing the people to return to their homes.
Even while the local government was under Don Quirimon Alkuino, he was under orders to follow Capt. Gilmore's (commander of the American attachment) advice. Eventually, this caused conflicts in the local government, and Filipinos took to the hills to join the fight against the Americans.
There were several attempts to attack the American garrison in the town, but practically all of them failed because the Americans had superior arms. Don Guilermo Alkuino and Don Magdaleno Fernandez led the first attack with more than 200 men. The American soldiers fought another in Barrio Pomponan that resulted in the death of 30 men and the destruction of the barrio.
A group of Hilongosnons under the renowned Francisco Flordelis made an attempt in 1901 but they were driven off in a battle at Barrio Punta.
Filipino nationalist made Baybay one of the areas where they made their last stand against the Americans. Later, the surrender ceremonies were held in the town, but only after numerous conferences between American officers and Filipino pacifists were held to effect the surrender of the resistance leaders. The surrender of Capt. Florentino Penaranda who was the last to give up the fight was a colorful one. All his men and officers, thousands of them, gathered at the banks of the Pagbanganan River. From there, they marched to the plaza in front of the municipal hall where the American officers were waiting. Before the Filipinos laid down their arms, Penaranda delivered a speech that even today is considered one of the most stirring addresses made in the province. To commemorate the event, a sumptuous banquet was held for the Americans and the Filipino nationalists. The following day, the Filipino soldiers trekked home in their uniforms to start another life of peace and work.
A sect of the Protestant religion entered Baybay for the first time sometime in 1900. They established their own church in the poblacion. In 1902, the Philippine Independent Church established itself in the barrio of Caridad; shortly afterwards, the Seventh Day Adventists came in.
At the turn of the century, a provincial high school was founded in Baybay, one of the first high schools in Leyte. The government also established the Baybay National Agricultural School for young farmers of Visayas and Mindanao.
The Japanese forces came to Baybay in two waves in 1942. A puppet government was established shortly after their arrival wherein Paterno Tan Sr. was the mayor.
In 1944, American planes passed the town in bombing missions in Cebu. They bombed a ship at anchor in the port of Baybay and left it in flames. The Japanese Imperial Forces left the town on October 19, 1944.
Baybay was used by liberation forces as a springboard for patrol units in the south and for forces that went north for the great battle of Ormoc, where a fierce battle was raging. The hospital was taken over by the provincial government and is still functioning today.
Baybay today is one of the biggest cities in Leyte in terms of land area. (The land area is 410.5 sq. Km.) It leads in the category of a third class city in the province of Leyte.
Population Based on the 2002 NCSO report, Baybay registered a total population of 99,689 showing an increase of over that of 1990 NSCO report which was established at 82,281. The city has ninety-two (92) barangays. Among the 92 barangays, the poblacion is composed of 23 zones which retained the highest number of 17,391 in population, and 82,289 for the 69 rural barangays. In the latest edition of the CLUP for Baybay, only 10 barangays were identified as urban barangays in accordance with requirements by Philippine National Government.
Urban-Rural Population Distribution In the year 1990, the urban population of Baybay was 15,034 or 18.27% while the rural population was 67,247 of 81.73% of the total population. The 2000 NCSO population count revealed a population of 17,391 or 17.44% showing a difference of 2,357, which indicates that there is an increase in population. The rural population registered a total of 82,298 or 82.56% of the total population with an increment of 14,941 from that of the 1990 count.
Experience Baybay’s unique blend of culture reflected in its various traditions and its dialect. As a melting pot in the western part of Leyte, Baybay has developed an interesting mix of culture through the influence Cebuanos, Waray and the Surigaonons. And although most Baybayanos have adopted a modern lifestyle, they have retained their distinctive traits and traditions, which makes Baybay an interesting and pleasant place to visit.
The commercial service sector in the city is on the upswing. Banks,virtual assistance center, restaurants, cafes, night spots and sports centers dot the city. There are also many giftshops, videoshops, cellshops, pawnshops, bookstores and whole-sale stores around the city. The Baybay Barbeque Plaza is a long lane of food paradise for both travellers and locals. The City's Seaside promenade is the most visited lounging areas in the city.
Recently Baybay lost its cityhood, along with 15 other cities, after the Supreme Court of the Philippines granted a petition filed by the League of Cities of the Philippines, and declared the cityhood law (RA 9389) which allowed the town to acquire its city status, unconstitutional. The said cities, the court ruled, did not meet the requirements for cityhood.
However, more than a year later, on December 22, 2009, acting on the appeal of the so-called "League of 16 Cities" (of which Baybay is a prt of), the Supreme Court reversed its earlier ruling as it ruled that "at the end of the day, the passage of the amendatory law (regarding the criteria for cityhood as set by Congress) is no different from the enactment of a law, i.e., the cityhood laws specifically exempting a particular political subdivision from the criteria earlier mentioned. Congress, in enacting the exempting law/s, effectively decreased the already codified indicators." As such, the cityhood status of Baybay is effectively restored.