Visayas Philippines


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Discover the beautiful islands and beaches of the Visayas - without the hassles of getting lost!

Use this EZ Map® to plan your routes around the islands and cities of the area such as Panay, Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Leyte, Samar, Siquijor and Camotes.


About Visayas Philippines

According to Visayan folk traditions, the Visayas were populated by Malays migrating from Borneo to Mindanao and to the Visayas, while other Malays crossed to Palawan through Sabah. Other Malays were suggested to have crossed from Samar island to the Bicol region in Luzon. The theory suggests that those ancient tribal groups who passed through Palawan may have migrated to what is now the island of Luzon.


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A supplementary theory was that at that period, the Malay people were moving north from Mindanao to the Visayas and to Luzon. Various groups of Europeans and Chinese also integrated with the native population during that period.

The group of islands includes Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Masbate, Negros, Panay, Samar, and hundreds of smaller islands. Samar and Leyte, on the east, act as buffers, protecting the other islands from storms and giving them a mild, Mediterranean-type climate that permits intensive cultivation. The coastal plains of Samar and Leyte are densely populated. Cebu, Negros, and Panay are the commercial heart of the Visayan Islands. Cebu city is one of the region's trade, transportation, industrial, and cultural centers.

It was in Cebu that Magellan planted the Cross making it the first Christian settlement in the country. But it was also in Cebu that the early Filipinos put up their first heroic resistance to Spanish colonization. Led by Lapu-Lapu, the courageous chieftain of Mactan, the Filipino warriors repulsed the advance of the Spaniards and took the life of Magellan. But freedom for the Philippines would be short lived because after 44 years the foreign colonists, driven by their lust for gold and exotic spices of the East, would return with a vengeance. On April 27, 1565, Miguel Lopez de Legaspi landed in Cebu to reestablish an oppressive Spanish dominion over much of the country that would last for the next three hundred years.

Under Spanish rule, Cebu became the country’s first city—ahead of Manila by seven years. As such, many of its attractions, structures and institutions would necessarily have the distinction of being the oldest in the country. The Basilica Minore del Santo Niño in downtown Cebu is the oldest church; Fort San Pedro, the oldest yet smallest fort; San Carlos University, the oldest school; and, Colon Street, the oldest avenue in the country.