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People and culture
The province of Masbate lies exactly in the center of the Philippine archipelago. The main island looks like an arrowhead with its tip pointing north. Its southern portion encloses the Asid Gulf, while the Jintotolo Channel separates it from Panay Island. The Masbate Pass separates the two islands of Burias and Ticao from the main island of Masbate.
Ethnically, as well as geographically, the province is part of the Sibuyan Sea group of islands which includes Romblon, Marinduque and many other small islands. This accounts for the admixture of cultures in the area, and their dialect which is a strange blend of Tagalog, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Bicol and Waray.
The islands of the Sibuyan Sea were well known to the Spanish explorers of the sixteenth century. Legazpi, from Cebu, had made exploratory trips to the islands of Masbate, Burias and Ticao. In later centuries Masbate had shipyards that built ships for the Manila-Acapulco trade. Other than this, there was not much development in the area during the Spanish regime.
Names of places scattered over Masbate's 121 islands are reminders of the missionary journeys and church foundations that were made by the Spanish soldiers and missionaries long ago: San Pascual and Claveria in Burias, San Jacinto and Monreal in Ticao, Corpus and Esperanza in Aroroy. Masbate town is the most important foundation however, and is now the seat of the diocese as well as the civil capital of the province.
New settlements sprung up in Masbate just before American troops landed on Philippine soil at the turn of the century. The cattle industry was started with the discovery of good grazing lands. Another development was the discovery of rich good veins. Migrations began soon after this, although the mines in Aroroy town came to be developed only during the American era.
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.
Masbate's land area of 7000 square kilometers holds a population of 598,813 of which 85 per cent are Catholics. 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.
|Regions and Provinces of Luzon|
|Ilocos Region:||Ilocos Norte | Ilocos Sur | La Union | Pangasinan|
|Cagayan Valley:||Batanes | Cagayan | Isabela | Nueva Vizcaya | Quirino|
|Central Luzon:||Aurora | Bataan | Bulacan | Nueva Ecija | Pampanga | Tarlac | Zambales|
|CALABARZON:||Batangas | Cavite | Laguna | Quezon | Rizal|
|MIMARO:||Marinduque | Occidental Mindoro | Oriental Mindoro | Romblon|
|Bicol Region:||Albay | Camarines Norte | Camarines Sur | Catanduanes | Masbate | Sorsogon|
|Cordillera Adm. Region:||Abra | Apayao | Benguet | Ifugao | Kalinga | Mountain Province|
|Metro Manila:||No provinces|