|The region known as Eastern Visayas is one of
the 12 regional subdivisions of the Republic of the Philippines and is composed of two
main islands, Leyte and Samar, and its surrounding smaller islets. As its name implies,
the region is in the eastern part of the Philippines with Samar being the easternmost
point of the archipelago.
The six provinces
comprising the region are some of the poorest provinces in the country. The economy is
deeply agricultural. Farming practices in some parts of the region date back to the early
1800's. Agricultural development has been slow and highly selective to few pockets of more
enterprising (and well-off) farmers.
|Because of the typically rugged
interior of the two main islands, agriculture has been limited to mostly the coastal areas
and small inland valleys. Heavy industry has been confined to a small industrial zone on
the northwest of Leyte island. Much of the hinterlands, especially in Samar, is now
heavily forested having had a chance to recuperate from the devastating logging operations
in the 1970's and 1980's.
If one was to search
for one-word adjectives to describe the region, then "rustic,"
"historic," and "unspoiled" would be the best choices. Eastern Visayas
figures prominently in Philippine history being twice made the entry point of the West to
this archipelagic country. It was Samar and Leyte which the renowned Portuguese exlporer
Ferdinand Magellan first saw and landed on after his long voyage across the Pacific in
1521. The first Christians in Southeast Asia were the people of Limasawa where the first
mass was held. Five centuries later, General Douglas MacArthur led the Allies to victory
in the Battle of Leyte wherein the ensuing naval battle, now known as the Battle of Leyte
Gulf, became the biggest naval battle in history in terms of ships deployed. Leyte
became the secure foothold of the Allies in conquering back the archipelago, and
eventually the rest of Asia, from the Japanese.
Eastern Visayas region (officially known as Region VIII in
the Philippines) is made up of the provinces of Leyte, Samar, Biliran, Northern
Samar, Eastern Samar and Southern