Southern Leyte (Filipino:Timog 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. Limasawa, an island to the south is part of the province where the first Christian mass was held and is said to be the birthplace of Christianity in the Philippines.
The province ranks as the second least populated area in the region. According to 2007 census, the province has a population of 390,847 a 1.13% growth compared to last 2000 census with a population record of 360,160.
Southern Leyte’s geological features created several issues in the province after the flooding of Subangdaku River and the awful mudslide in Guinsaugon. Organizations warned the province as susceptible to natural occurrences like landslides and floodings.
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 Norte in Mindanao. The province is well known for its quality abaca products and the country’s major producer of abaca fiber.
As early as 1898 during the Spanish and American periods, there had already been existing as “sub-province” consisting of the municipalities from Palompon to Hinunangan, with Maasin as the center. Some government offices have 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 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 and disposed of.
During the Spanish colonization, the province was sparsely populated. The continued raiding of Moro slaves discouraged the province to grow and develop. However, on 19th century, immigrants from near provinces like Bohol and Cebu populated the area.
On 1942, Ruperto Kangleon held a conference in the town of Sogod, when the first attempt in Malitbog, a town to the east, failed to succeed due to many leaders stayed away. He was trying to unify all guerrillas helped to the Philippine Commonwealth troops during the outbreak of World War II.
On 1944 to 1945, the Allied Philippine Commonwealth Army soldiers and the recognized guerrillas attacked by the Japanese Imperial forces beginning to liberation in Southern Leyte, and the American troops landed in Leyte on October 20, 1944.
Due to change of sovereign powers, all the offices in Maasin except the Fiscal’s Office were abolished and reverted to Tacloban, the capital of Leyte. This created a major problem because of the dearth of transportation, the difficulty in managing the affairs of government in Tacloban and the language barrier between the Cebuano-speaking South-westerners and the Waray Easterners. The difficulty of managing the entire island from the main city suggested the need to separate the island into two provinces.
At first there was a general movement for a Western Leyte and soon after, many prominent men and leaders rallied behind the movement. Six attempts to pass a law for the division of Leyte were made. On the sixth attempt, then Congressman Nicanor Yñiguez introduced into the House a division law similar in substance to that of the Kangleon Bill, but recognizing the impossibility of creating an East-West Division, he instead opted to make his own district a province.
Abandoning the first bill, Congressman Nicanor Yñiguez presented House Bill No. 1318 proposing a new province of Southern Leyte comprising the Third Congressional District of Leyte to include 16 municipalities, from Maasin to Silago in the mainland, and in the Panaon Island.
The bill became Republic Act 2227 otherwise known as an “Act Creating the Province of Southern Leyte” and was signed into Law by President Carlos P. Garcia on May 22, 1959. On July 1, 1960, Southern Leyte was inaugurated as a province with sixteen municipalities and Maasin as the capital town. Thus the third District of Leyte became the province of Southern Leyte and Lone District of Southern Leyte.
For an amazing underwater world experience, plunge into the water of Southern Leyte! Southern Leyte is the is the smaller half of the island whose picturesque landscape blends with the straddling fad of modernization. Situated in an excellent geographical location, the province has long mountain ranges, virgin forest, awe-inspiring caves and caverns, majestic waterfalls, white-sand beaches, rich marine resources, agricultural abundance, exotic flora and fauna and beautiful islets. The province is also written about in the annals of Philippine history with the Limasawa Island, as the traditionally recognized site of the first Catholic Mass on the Philippine soil during the discovery of the Philippines by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. Southern Leyte is home to some of the most spectacular coral reefs in the world, often forming walls of color or small patches on sandy slopes awaiting to be explored. Sogod Bay is a home for a huge diversity of creatures ranging in size from the pygmy seahorses in Padre Burgos to the whale sharks in Pintuyan. Whether you like to be overwhelmed by the enormous or searching for the small and interesting, riding on a fast drift or you prefer a gentler dive looking for turtles, there is something to meet your diving appetite. Other dive areas are found in Limasawa, San Francisco, San Ricardo and Malitbog. For those who prefer adventure in dry land, the Big Plain (Patag Daku) in Libagon poses a major challenge to trekkers and climbers, while the caves at Cambaro and Guisohotan beckon explorers to the unknown. Meanwhile, the less adventurous can while away time at the beaches of San Pedro and San Pablo in Hinunangan and the Sulphur Spring in Anahawan.