Visayan Islands are a group of islands in central Philippines, lying
between Luzon and Mindanao. The six main islands are Samar, Negros,
Panay, Leyte, Cebu, and Bohol. The island of Masbate and nearby smaller
islands are sometimes classified with the Visayas, and sometimes classified
with the Philippines' northern island group. The island group of Palawan
used to belong to the region of Luzon and was transferred to Visayas
in 2005. The Visayan Islands group is divided into three geographical
areas: Eastern Visayas, Western Visayas, and Central Visayas. They
have a total area of 23,582 square miles (61,077 square km).
The Bisaya people or Visayans are a
group of Austronesian people who originate from the central and southern
regions of the Philippines. Several linguistic groups in the Philippines
are primarily of Bisaya descent. The largest of these groups are the
speakers of the languages of Cebuano, Illongo, and Waray-Waray, which
are sometimes mistakenly considered dialects. More than 40% of Filipinos
have Visayan ancestry.
Some well-known leaders of the Philippine Revolution in the late 19th
century are Visayans. Also, there have been three Philippine presidents
from the Visayas: the Cebuano Sergio Osmeña (1878—1961);
the Ilonggo Manuel Roxas and the Bolhano Carlos P. Garcia (1896—1961).
Based on facts compiled in a book Maragtas by Pedro Alcantara
Monteclaro, written in 1907, there are legends which tells the story
of the ten chiefs (Datus) who escaped from the tyranny of Datu Makatunaw
from Borneo to the islands of Panay. The chiefs and followers are believed
to be the ancestors of the Visayan people. The arrival is celebrated
in the Festival of the Ati-Atihan in Kalibo, Aklan.