100 Istoryang Albayano, Segment 8

By Abdon M. Balde Jr.


The village of Sawangan grew into a town, a Spanish pueblo, an ayuntamiento, and a modern city. It was a long and arduous march to cityhood. In fact it became a city three times over.

The fishing village of Sawangan became a Spanish pueblo consequent to a decree from the Gobierno Superior de las Islas Filipinas signed on July 17, 1856 under the sponsorship of Don Ramon Montero. The pueblo consisting of the villages of Lamba, Rawis and Bigaa was inaugurated on October 22, 1856. This is recognized today as Legazpi’s foundation day.

The Spanish government ended in 1898 and it ceded the Philippines to the Americans. Under the American period Legazpi City was reverted to the Municipality of Albay, separate from the Municipality of Daraga, on January 1, 1922. This Municipality of Albay was declared the seat of the provincial government by virtue of Order no. 3247 of the Senate and the House of Representatives of the Philippines on December 3, 1925.

Legazpi became a city for the second time in June 18, 1948 under Republic Act no. 306 after the country gained “independence” from the Americans. This time the Municipality of Daraga was again merged with the City of Legazpi. In June 8, 1954 Legazpi City was reverted into the Municipality of Legazpi by virtue of Republic Act No. 993, and again separated from the Municipality of Daraga.

It was created a city for the third time under Republic Act 2234 in June 12, 1959, still separate from the Municipality of Daraga. The said Act stated under Section 3. Corporate character. “The City of Legazpi constitute a political body corporate and as such is endowed with the attribute of perpetual succession and possessed of the powers which pertain to a municipal corporation, to be exercised in conformity with the provisions of this Charter.” The day of the approval of this Act is celebrated as the Charter Day of the City of Legazpi. This Act was amended by President Marcos through Presidential Decree 125 declaring the Municipality of Daraga as part of the territorial jurisdiction of the city. This decree was not implemented with the onset of the Integrated Reorganization Plan, which involved the restructuring of local governments. On September 24, 1972, President Marcos designated Legazpi as the administrative center of Bicol Region through the Integrated Reorganization Plan of 1972. This is the reason why almost all of the regional branches of the government agencies are located in Legazpi City.