Metro Manila Map

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.

Encylopedia Britannica Online


World Book Encylopedia