In a land area of 2,505.65 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers the province of Southern Leyte and the six Municipalities of Baybay, Inopacan, Hindang, Hilongos, Bato and Matalom of the Province of Leyte.
Southern 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.
As of year end 2016 the total population of Catarman diocese is 829,000 of which 89 percent is Catholic.
While ethnicity of the province is widely Bisaya, most people of the province are farmers and fisherfolks.
In Panaon, an island situated in the southernmost part of the province, a certain aboriginal folks are found locally known as Kongking or variously called Mamanwa which means mountain people. They were believed to be migrants from Mindanao, inhabiting the portions of Agusan, after their migration from the island to evade militarization and the logging/mining corporations' intrusion to their ancestral domains in the early 1980s. Literally, their physical attributes are dark complexion, curly-haired and short in height. Hunting and gathering, mat weaving and rattan craft are among the main economic activities of the Mamanwas, so they prefer to inhabit the forested areas in the newfound Southern Leyte mountain. However, they were again displaced by threats of the recent incidents of landslides in the province.
Maasinhons and Southern Leyteños speak either the Cebuano or Boholano dialect. The speech variety however used by natives has also Boholano influences because of its proximity with the province Bohol. Furthermore, Tagalog and Waray-Waray are widely spoken as second languages. Natives also understood foreign language such as English and Spanish.
Comprises the province of Southern Leyte and the six Municipalities of Baybay, Inopacan, Hindang, Hilongos, Bato and Matalom of the Province of Leyte Titular: Our Lady of the Assumption.
On Aug. 14, 1968, the Diocese of Maasin was canonically erected through a papal decree issued March 23, 1968. In June of the same year, the Father Vicente T. Ataviado, D.D. who was up to then a parish priest of Masbate, Masbate, was appointed as its first bishop. He was ordained on Aug. 8, 1968, and installed as the First Bishop of Maasin on Aug. 14 at Our Lady of Assumption Parish Church in Maasin, the capital of Southern Leyte.
From 1595 to 1910, the area which now comprises the Diocese of Maasin belonged to the diocese of Cebu. From 1910 to 1937 it belonged to the Diocese of Calbayog. From 1937 to 1968 it came under the jurisdiction of the Diocesan of Palo in Leyte. Today it is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Cebu.
Thus the vision that was planted and took root when Father Pedro Valderrama celebrated the first mass in the Philippines on March 21, 1521, has borne new fruit, say the locals.
A Philippine province is headed by a Governor. A Provincial Council (Sangguniang Panlalawigan) is composed of a Vice Governor (Presiding Officer) and Provincial Board Members. A Philippine city or municipality is headed by a Mayor. A City Council (Sangguniang Panlungsod) or Municipal Council (Sangguniang Bayan) is composed of a Vice Mayor (Presiding Officer) and City or Municipal Councilors. A barangay is headed by a Barangay Captain, who is also the presiding officer of the barangay council. The Barangay Council is composed of seven (7) Barangay Kagawads. A similar unit called a Youth Council (Sangguniang Kabataan) is headed by an SK Chairperson with a similar rank to a Barangay Captain. The council is composed of SK Members.
There are five designated bus terminals in Southern Leyte: Maasin, Liloan, Sogod, Hinunangan, and Silago. These terminals are just open spaces used by buses as parking/passenger waiting areas, and not equipped with buildings and other facilities.
There are at least four bus companies taking the Manila-Maasin route: Philtranco, Cedec, Inland Trailways, and Ciudad. Bachelor takes the Ormoc-Maasin-Davao route.
From Maasin City, by land, it takes approximately five hours to travel to Tacloban City; twenty three hours to Pasay City or Quezon City; and, nineteen hours to Davao City via Liloan ferry boat.
The existing road network crisscrossing Southern Leyte consists of major arterial highways that link to the province of Leyte, passing through two major outlets - on the western part, the Maasin-Mahaplag-Baybay route; and, on the central part, the Mahaplag-Sogod route via the Maharlika Highway.
The province has only one existing airport which is located in Panan-awan, Maasin City. Panan-awan Airport also known as Maasin Airport, is an airport serving the general area of Maasin City, located in the province of Southern Leyte in the Philippines.This airport is considered a feeder airport with a total runway length of 1200 meters and a width of 30 meters. At present, however, the airport does not service any commercial flights. It has no terminal and can only accommodate general aviation aircraft weighing up to 12,000 pounds during daytime hours.
The airport derives its name from its location, being located in Barangay Panan-awan in Maasin City.
Of the twelve seaports in Southern Leyte, two (Maasin City and Liloan) are declared as national ports while the other ten are considered municipal ports. Travel by sea from Cebu to Maasin, and vice-versa, by ship takes about six hours, and about two hours by Supercat and Waterjet. A ferry boat from Liloan to Surigao takes about three hours.
- Power / Energy
The principal source of power / electricity in Southern Leyte is the Tonongan Geothermal Power Plant in Ormoc via National Power Corporation through the Southern Leyte Electric Cooperative (SOLECO). The major power transmission lines in the province emanate from 69 KV Tolosa, Leyte which is connected to 69 KV Bontoc, Southern Leyte then to Maasin City, and 69 KV Baybay, Leyte to Maasin City in case of power failure.
A mini-hydro electric power plant in Hinabian, Catmon,
The annual per capita income (in Philippine Peso) is 21,263 (USD493 as of April 2011).
Copra, abaca fiber, banana, rice, corn, root crops, cut flowers, fruits and vegetables, fish, balut, and meat from hogs and chicken.
Ceramics products and handicraft items made from abaca, coconut and bamboo.
The mineral deposits in the province are: gold, copper, Copper-Lead-Zinc, Manganese, Iron, Magnesite, Red Burning Clay (for pottery and clay), Limestone/Marble, Sandstone/ Marble, Serpentine/Black Marble, Sand & Gravel and Mactan Stone.
Coastal & Marine Resources
Southern Leyte has three bays namely: Sogod Bay, Cabalian Bay and Hinunangan Bay.
The main fishing grounds in the province include Sogod, Bay, Cabalian Channel, Hinunangan Bay, Surigao Strait, Canigao Channel, Camiguin Strait and Bohol Strait.
The fish species caught in these fishing grounds include: tuna, flying fish, skipjack, herrings, anchovies, shell fishes, lobsters, and spanish mackerel.
Fishpond areas in the province total to 139 hectares found in Bontoc, Hinunangan, Liloan, Maasin City, Macrohon and Padre Burgos. Mangroves in the province occupy an area of 334 hectares.
- The province has fish sanctuaries located in these places:
- Tabugon, Liloan
- Manglit, Pintuyan
- Son-ok, Pintuyan
- Catbawan, Pintuyan
- Napantao, San Francisco
- Maujo-Juangon, Malitbog
- San Antonio, Tomas Oppus
- Otikon, Libagon
- Biasong, Libagon
- Benit, San Ricardo
- Lipanto, St. Bernard
- Himbangan, St. Bernard
- Hindag-an, St. Bernard
- Cogon, Anahawan
- Ambao, Hinundayan
- Sabang, Hinundayan
- Tahusan-Biasong, Hinunangan
- Calag-itan, Hinunangan
- Ingan, Hinunangan
- San Pedro Island, Hinunangan
- Lagoma, Silago
- Hingatungan, Silago
- Sta. Cruz-Molopolo, Macrohon
- Bilibol-Guadalupe, Maasin City
- Buenavista, Padre Burgos
- Sea grasses, marine reserves & coral reefs, Bontoc
- Bobon A, San Juan
- Bobon B San Juan
- Agay-ay, San Juan
- Sua, San Juan
- Timba, San Juan
Using a kilometer scale instrument, Southern Leyte has an estimated length of coastline of about 300 kilometers representing about 0.88 percent of the total coastline in the Philippines of 34,000 kilometers.
- Postal communication system is the major means of communication in the province located in every city/municipality through Philippine Postal Corporation. Cellular phone services are already available in the province through SMART and GLOBE cell sites.
There are 4 telephone companies operating in the province namely: PLDT, BAYANTEL, GLOBE and BUTEL. Some of the municipalities have public calling office via GLOBELINES and BUTEL telephone lines. The city of Maasin and the municipalities of Sogod and Bontoc are already served with telephone landlines through GLOBE and BAYANTEL.
The province has two internet service providers for internet cafe services namely: The SYNET at Asuncion, Maasin City and Catholic Media Center Sales & Services, Tunga-tunga, Maasin City.
Other modes of communications include SSB radios, telefax machines and cargo/envelope forwarders (JRS Express, Aboitiz Express, Fast Pack and LBC Express).
The province has two AM band radio stations: DYDM in Maasin City and DYSL in Sogod. It has also 5 Cable TV stations namely:
- Dream Cable TV in Tagnipa, Maasin City
- Maasin Cable TV in Abgao, Maasin City
- Happy Dove Cable TV in Abgao, Malitbog
- Sogod Cable TV in Poblacion, Sogod
- Fiesta Cable, Inc. in Sto Niño, San Juan
Southern Leyte is characterized by relatively flat lands along the coastal areas where population centers lay, but rugged and mountainous towards the interior. It has numerous small rivers in addition to, at least, eleven major rivers which include Canturing River in Maasin City, Amparo River in Macrohon, Divisoria River in Bontoc, Subang Daku in Sogod, Lawigan and Hitongao Rivers in St. Bernard, Camugao River in Hinundayan, Magcasa River in San Juan, Das-ay and Pondol Rivers in Hinunangan, and Maag River in Silago.
Southern Leyte belongs to Eastern Visayas region (Region VIII). Southern Leyte is subdivided into 18 municipalities and 1 city.
Anahawan, Bontoc, Hinunangan, Hinundayan, Libagon, Liloan, Limasawa, Macrohon, Malitbog, Padre Burgos, Pintuyan, Saint Bernard, San Francisco, San Juan (Cabalian), San Ricardo, Silago, Sogod and Tomas Oppus.
- Literacy rate (simple literacy) is 92.19 percent in the diocesan territory.
Schools are classified into public (government) and private (non-government). Classes start in June, and end in March. The majority of colleges and universities follow a semester calendar from June to October, and November to March.
The general pattern of formal education follows by five stages:
- Pre-primary level - nursery and kindergarten offered in most private schools;
- Primary level - six years of basic education;
- Secondary level - four years of high school education;
- Tertiary level - usually takes four years, sometimes five and in some cases as in medical and law schools.
- Graduate level - additional two or more years of schooling.
- The island of Limasawa in Southern Leyte carved a very significant place in Philippine history. In 1521, a Portuguese-born Spanish explorer and navigator, Ferdinand Magellan and his crew came ashore and celebrated the first Roman Catholic Mass on the island. Incidental to the historic event, Magellan made peace with two Filipino rulers, Rajah Kolambu and Rajah Siani who subsequently were converted to Christianity. A marker notes the spot on Limasawa where their blood compact of frienship and alliance was sealed.
- Sinugdan Festival (Limasawa Island)
Commemorating the noteworthy First Christian Mass held in Limasawa Island in 1521. The people of Southern Leyte holds on every 31st of March the annual festival called the "Sinugdan" which means "beginning". The festival reenacts the early settlement in the island headed by Rajah Kulambo and the eventual conversion of the tribesmen. The portrayal is done in dances and chants along with reverberating beats of the drums and bamboo percussion called the "karatong" and attention-calling blows of the "budjopng" or the triton's shell.
- Pilipig Festival (Libagon)
The Pilipig Festival of Barangay Bogasong and Barangay Tigbao is a fitting attempt at reviving a fading tradition in the rice-producing villages of Libagon. Drawn from nostalgia and recognizing that the youth of today has not come to know the taste or pilipig, as well as the folk practices and rituals associated with it, the barangay officials of Bogasong decided to come up with the Pilipig Festival during its annual Fiesta Celebration.
Pilipig making is one of the unique practices among the rice producing villages in Libagon some two generations ago. It used to be an advent to a rice harvest, usually a festive event that happens just before the rice fields turn amber and the rice grains still bear streaks of green.
In anticipating of great harvest, pilipig-making is a ritual of thanksgiving, an offering to the patron saint for his intercession and to the Divine Providence for a good harvest. This is usually held at night on a full moon. Young people, men and women, gather together in the front yard of the landowner or rice tenant. Newly harvested rice grains, more green than amber, are brought in and laid in the yard. Men bring mortar and pestle for pounding, and a large carajay where whole rice grains are roasted before the pounding.
Pilipig making is a festive social event in the villages. Everyone present is there to participate in making pilipig and partaking of it. Together, everyone has their fill of the taste of pilipig. While everyone is excited over making pilipig, the activity also becomes an occasion for singing, drinking and dancing. It is a village celebration! It also becomes a time when courtship begins or culminates. Amidst the fun and the gaiety of pilipig-making there too, lies the natural and rustic camaraderie, the bayanihan spirit in typical Filipino rice-producing villages like Bogasong and Tigbao in Libagon.
- Pabulhon Festival (Maasin City)
A grand display of Maasin City's agricultural abundance is the main attraction of the Pabulhon Festival which opens on the city's charter day (August 10) and usually lasts after the fiesta celebration on August 15. The festival also showcases coking contest, bankarera or boat race, pig catching and many other local games.
- Karomata Festival (Buenavista, Pintuyan)
This is a cultural celebration depicting the role of the farmers and their way of life. Other highlights include poster-making, house decor contest and children's contest. Its main event is the Karomata Race. It is held during the fiesta of Barangay Buenavista, Pintuyan every 3rd to 5th of April.
- Tangka-tangka Festival (Tangka-an, Padre Burgos)
Celebrated together with the fiesta of Barangay Tangka-an every 26th to 28th of August, the Tanka-tangka Festival includes fun and fitness games, outdoor activities like rappelling and ascending culminating in a beach jam party at the very popular Tangka-an beach. Tangka-an means "attempt". The beach offers the best view of Limasawa Island in the whole of Southern Leyte.
- Manhaon Festival (Macrohon)
This is a cultural presentation in the form of dances and chants accompanied by drums and beat from improvised bamboo percussion instruments. It depicts how the Municipality of Macrohon (Manha-on) got its name. It is held every 29th of September coinciding with the town fiesta.
- Malitbog Sinulog Festival (Malitbog)
Like the Sinulog celebrated throughout in the country, it is a street dancing contest honoring the feast of the Holy Child hels every January. The winner is a constant finalist in the Sinulog Mardi Gras in Cebu.
- Paujog Festival (Tomas Oppus)
Paujog Festival gives a closer look at the Musical and Dance tradition of the town folks of Tomas Oppus, that they feels a great variety and riches and affinity with the day to day activity of the people. Every success that comes along, the town folks would say " Paujog ta Bai", there language of expressing happiness and joy. The towns people of the Tomas Oppus perform the Paujog which means "To Shake", as a part of group merry-making dance steps consist of the stamping of feet, the wiggling of hips, with the female dancers performing the shake movements around one and another, with chants to cast-away evil spirits. This is also a form or merrymaking of their bountiful harvest and blessings expresses through a fast wiggling and shaking dance steps.
- Dayan-Dayan Festival (Hinundayan)
In the olden times, harvest season of rice in the place where in the months of March and April. And by May, all the barangays comprising the town celebrate fiesta to pay tribute to their respective patron saint for the bounty of products and until the onset or June, the town fiesta is also celebrated in honor of Saint Joseph, a good provider and earthly father of Jesus Christ.
With the blend of the town legend "Dayan-Dayan" which means decors, the tranquil town in the north-pacific area of the province got its name - Hinundayan - as a place with the beautiful decoration during fiestas that once captured the attention of the Spanish conquistadores.
Dayan-Dayan Festival is a blend of livelihood, music, color and decors making the joyful celebration. The occasion highlights the creativity and beautiful produce of the people in a "pajag" or rest cottages. Other colors of the celebration are street parades, presentation of dances to the patron Saint Joseph, to pay tribute to the bountiful harvest of family endeavors. Hospitality and simplicity are the best descriptions of Hinundayanons - a respective character of Saint Joseph maintaining a simple and humble lifestyle even in the midst of blessedness.
- Karatong Festival (Bontoc)
Another unique cultural presentation honoring the Sto. Niño. The sounds of the beat derived prominently from a bamboo-made musical instrument locally called "karatong".
- Murcielago Festival (Silago)
A cultural dance presentation held during the town fiesta every July 25. It depicts how the Municipality of Silago gopt its name from the word "Murcielago". Murcielago is the Spanish name for "bats" which was prevalent in the town during the early period.
- Tamulayag Festival (Padre Burgos)
The history of Padre Burgos started in the middle of the 18th century when a man named Venancio Leyson established a settlement called Pueblo Viejo (now Lungsodaan) and constructed a Moro Watch Tower to warn and protect the inhabitants from the havoc and plunders of Moro pirates who were prevalent at the time along the coastal barrios of Sogod Bay. Later, as population grew, the settlement was moved to Matnog (Marshland) which had bigger land mass and a better prospect for economic activities.
Matnog grew and became a trading center. Later, it was renamed Tamolayag, a short word for "tana molayag" which meant "let us sail" as the area is surrounded by water and sailboats abounded plying commerce. Finally, in the early 19th century, Tamolayag was renamed Padre Burgos in honor of Father Jose Burgos, one of the three Filipino Martyrs who championed the secularization of the clergy during the Spanish era.
Limasawa Island - It is located at the southern tip of Southern Leyte; can be reached by motorlaunch-ride from Padre Burgos in about 45 minutes. It is the historic site of the celebration of the First Catholic Mass in the Philippines when Ferdinand Magellan came in 1521, and the location of the historic Shrine / Marker where the blood compact was performed between Magellan and two other rulers.
Maasin Cathedral - Located in Maasin City; features olden images of saints which date back to the Spanish era.
Macrohon Reef - Nice site for scuba diving just off the shores of Macrohon town-proper. Nice underwater beauty linking to the fish sanctuary.
Magsuhot Park - Located in Sogod and approximately 3 kilometers from the Phil-Japan Friendship Highway. This national park features a forested area of about 500 hectares. It has 4 waterfalls that converge into one basin.
Panaon Island - Located in Liloan; a part of the Mindanao Deep (second deepest body of water in the world!). An ethnic tribe called "kongkings"(small, curly-haired and dark skinned people) that is believed to be the migrants from Mindanao resides in this island. They normally come down from their mountain hideouts during market days to trade.