Legazpi City, Albay, Bicol
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Legazpi City, Albay Province and Bicol Region.

Bicol Region is the southeastern peninsula of Luzon,
the largest island of the Philippines. It is comprised
of six provinces, Albay, Catanduanes, Camarines Norte,
Camarines Sur, Masbate and Sorsogon. Legazpi City is
the capital of Albay Province and of Bicol Region. It is
named after General Legaspi, a Spaniard who led an
army in the conquest of part of the Philippines. The
spelling was changed recently from Legaspi to Legazpi
as part of the effort to phoneticize Pilipino spellings,
many people still use the old spelling.

Naga City was the capital of Bicol Region during
Spanish times, it is still the largest city and the
commercial center of the region. Pili, the capital of
Camarines Sur, is only some ten kilometers south
of Naga. The Naga dialect of Central Bicolano is the
standard form of the Bicolano language.

Mayon Volcano, north of Legazpi, and Mount Isarog,
east of Naga, are the two principal mountains and
natural tourist attractions of the Bicol Region. Mayon
Volcano is still somewhat active, emitting smoke and
steam all the time, sometimes causing earthquakes and
putting out some lava. It is reputed to be the most
perfect cone of any volcano. Mount Isarog is inhabited by
the Isarog Agta, a tribal group of pre-Austronesian origin,
related to the Papuan and Melanesian peoples to the
south of the Philippines.

Languages of Bicol
All the languages of the Bicol Region are in the Central
Philippine Sub-branch of the Malay Branch of Western or
Malayan Sub-Family of the Austronesian Family of Languages.
There are three sub-families of Austronesian, the Northern
or Formosan of central Taiwan, the Eastern or Polynesian
(Polynesian, Melanesian and most Micronesian) of New Zealand,
Hawaii, and the islands of the Pacific Ocean south of Japan
and east of Guam, and the Western or Malayan of the
Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Madagascar,
East Timor, Guam, Yap, Palau, the Marianas, and parts
of Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

The waves of occupation of the Philippines are all visible
in the racial characteristics of the population of the
Islands, but not necessarily in the languages. The
original wave, usually called Negrito, was the same
wave that produced the Papuan people of New Guinea
and the Solomon Islands, North Halmaheran people
of Halmahera Island of Indonesia, the Melanesians of
Figi, New Caledonia, etc., and the Andamanese of the
Andaman Islands of India. The Papuan languages of
these people have been lost in the Philippines, where
they are known as Aeta, Agta or Ayta, they now speak
Austronesian (Malayan) languages.

The first Austronesian wave came down from Taiwan
through all the Philippine Islands to the Celebes (Sulawesi)
Islands in eastern Indonesia. The languages of northern
Luzon such as Ilocano come from this wave, but nothing
is left of them in Bicol.

The second Austronesian wave came north from Sulawesi
after a population explosion there supposedly caused by
the introduction of the sweet potato brought from South
America by the Polynesians. The languages of southern
and western Mindanao and of the Sulu Islands are from this
wave, but if it reached Bicol, there is nothing left of them now.

The third Austronesian wave came east from Malaysia and
produced the Central Philippine languages such as Bicolano,
Masbate, Tagalog, Waray, Cebuano and Hiligaynon (Ilonggo),
spoken in southern Luzon, the Visayan Islands and northern
and eastern Mindanao. These languages are all quite closely
related to each other, probably as close as English and
Friesian or French and Italian, but not as close as English
and Scots or Spanish and Portuguese.

The next wave was the Chinese, who mostly came as
merchants and scattered through the Islands and are
found in all cities. In most places, they have retained
their Chinese language, especially among the more
recently arrived groups, but nowhere has it become the
main language.

The Spanish conquest introduced many Spanish words
into the Philippine languages, Bicolano has even more
than does Tagalog. The Spanish assigned Spanish
surnames to most of the Philippine people, so having a
Spanish name does not need to indicate Spanish ancestry.
The Philippines were part of New Spain and governed
from its capital, Mexico City, and most ships came here
from Acapulco and other Mexican ports. Most of the
soldiers in the conquest and occupation of the
Philippines were Indian and Mestizo Mexicans, not
Spanish, so the racial contribution of the Indians of
Mexico probably exceeds that of Europeans from
Spain, but the language is always Spanish, not Nahuatl
or Zapotecan. Zamboanga and other areas of
southwestern Mindanao still speak a Spanish Creole
language, but Spanish is dead in the Bicol Region
except for many loan words, which may or may not
retain their original meaning. F is replaced with p and
v with b in loan words from both Spanish and English.
Familia becomes pamilya and Viernes become Biyernes.

The American conquest and occupation brought many
English words and introduced English as an official
language used in education, etc. There are many
Filipinos with White, Black or Native American ancestry
from this American presence, of course, but as this is a
comparatively recent addition, it is usually still known
and identified.

Most of the Bicol Region speaks some form of Bicolano.
Central Bicolano is spoken in most of Camarines Norte,
central and eastern Camarines Sur, western Catanduanes,
and eastern Albay. Albay Bicolano is spoken in western
Albay. Whether these two should be considered separate
languages, mostly mutually unintelligible, or as dialects
of the same language, I don't know. It would be hard to
tell, because most speakers of one have heard the other
enough to understand even the words which are not
common. The twin cities of Legazpi City and Daraga are
kept separate by this linguistic division, Daraga speaks
Albay Bicolano and Legazpi City speaks Central Bicolano.
The Naga dialect of central Camarines Sur, the Buhi
dialect of eastern Camarines Sur and the Legazpi dialect
of eastern Albay are markedly different even though all
are considered Central Bicolano. The are websites on the
internet devoted to Buhi which regard it as a separate language.

Most of Masbate Island, all of Ticao Island and southeastern
Burias Island speak Masbate. Central Sorsogon Province
speaks Sorsogon Masbate, a closely related language.
Northwestern Camarines Norte speaks Tagalog,
southwestern Masbate speaks Hiligaynon (like Panay),
southeastern Masbate speaks Cebuano, and southern
Sorsogon speaks Sorsogon Waray, similar to the
Waray of Samar and Leyte.