The town of Libon, founded in 1573, is the oldest settlement in the Bicol Region. It traces its recorded history to the second expedition of Captain Juan de Salcedo to the Bicol Region in 1573, the first being in 1571 thru the northern entrance.
In early 1573, Captain Salcedo retraced the route he took during the first expedition. With the wealth of information that he gathered during his first arrival in the region, Captain Salcedo led his en beyond Paracle. Sailing the Bicol River upstream, Salcedo and His men finally reached its source, Lake Bato. On the banks of this lake, "on suitable terrain" according to a Bicolano Historian, Salcedo set up the foundations of a "Settlement for Spaniards and christened it Santiago de Libong." He then placed it under the patronage of Señor Santiago Apostol.
The story goes that Captain de Salcedo and his men arrived in this place by sailing across the Lake Bato, and entered the river called Quimba. Sailing upstream, they finally landed on the place Linao, (one of the barrios of Libon today and is situated on the banks of Quimba River). Here, Salcedo and his men proceeded to find a town. They explored the area and noted that it was vulnerable to enemy attacks from surrounding mountains since it was located at the foot of a mountain. With this, Salcedo and his men with some natives as their guide decided to move on a more suitable place. Traversing across marshy land, they arrived at a slightly elevated area. Upon looking around and trying to determine where they were, one native guide remarked – "Libongaco" (I am confused). The Spaniards on hearing the word "Libong" understood it to mean the name of the place. Hence, Salcedo christened it "Santiago de Libong". It is not known when and how the letter "G" was dropped. Some writers believe that the Spaniards must have found it difficult to pronounce the word "Libong" with the letter "G", so that in due time Libong became Libon.
Libon was the first town founded in the province of Camarines to which it belonged in 1874. It was also the first place where religious orders exercised their fervourous zeal upon their arrival in the region in 1571.
It appears from the accounts about the founding of Libon that this town, indeed, occupies a prominent place in the history of the Bicol Region for two main reasons. First, it is the first settlement for Spaniards established in the Bicol Region, and by no less than Captain de Salcedo, recognized as the Spanish "Conquistador" of this part of Luzon. Second, Libon, during the early days of the Spanish conquest of Bicolandia, also served as the starting point for the organized propagation of the Christian Faith in this region.
Libon is a first class municipality of Albay, composed of 47 barangays politically subdivided into seven leagues2. Each league plays a distinctive role in the development brought about by its strategic location, features, and current trends in land use. The seven leagues, with corresponding descriptions are shown in Table 1 below.
Table 1: Political league subdivisions of Libon
|St. James||This is the Centro Poblacion (Zone 1 to Zone 7) with seven barangays classified as urban in a lowland area It is the seat of municipal government and is Libon's commercial and educational centre. This area is considered as the center of urban growth in the municipality, aside from being zoned for residential use. It is the home of the Libon Town Centre (LTC), a one – stop – shop centre with terminal.|
|Coastal||Composing seven barangays classified as rural and coastal areas, it is seen as a major economic driver being the site of Bicol (Pantao) Regional Port that will catalyze the growth of small and medium enterprises. Pantao is considered to be a centre of commerce, trade and industry, thus, it strengthens its role as the Bicol Region's main seaport.|
|Interior Nine||Composing nine rural barangays that are upland areas, dubbed as the "salad bowl" of Libon. These areas are distinguished by being abundant in vegetation. Livestock production such as goat and green chicken production, is likewise prevalent in this area.|
|Palayan||In a lowland area, it is composed of four rural and one urban barangays, and is foremost in the rice production of the municipality.|
|Big 5||Composing five barangays, four are rural and two are urban, all are abundant in the production of rice, corn and vegetable.|
|Lakeside||Composing eight barangays, six rural and two urban, located within the vicinity of Bato Lake, another fishery zone of the municipality. One of its barangays - Bonbon, is in a uniquely advantageous location being at the crossroads of the major roads traversing the municipality, thus, it has been performing a significant role as a local trading centre as it services most of the hinterland barangays. This league is also considered as the Gulayan League of Libon.|
|Six Hills||Composed of six upland barangays, five are rural and one urban, mostly planted with and concentrated to coconut production.|
Based on the result of the 2009 survey using the CBMS, the municipality accommodated a total population of 70, 573 in 14,599 households. The average household size is 4.83 and the annual growth rate exhibited is 8.3 percent.
Figure 1 shows the distribution of population in percentage to which the coastal league exhibits the most number of residents, while interior eight shows the least number. The recorded sex ratio based from the survey was 106 males for every 100 females.
The over-all dependency ratio is 50.6, which when translated, gives a picture of 51 dependents (aged 0-14 and 65 up) for every 100 working population (15-64 years old). Half of the population is below 20 years old.
The total working population is 39,501 or about 55.9 percent of the total municipal population. From the said working population, 19,643 are either employed or underemployed; 463 are unemployed but are actively seeking work; and 19,395 belongs to the working age group but are not in the labor force (this include the students, mothers, persons with disability, and those who are sick).
The municipality has a total land area of 22,713 hectares. It consists of 34 rural barangays and 13 urbans. Rural barangays cover 15,228 hectares or 67 percent of the total land area, while 7,485 hectares or 33 percent is occupied by the urban barangays.
Figure 2 shows the distribution of land by type of its utilization and is reflective of the municipality’s principal economic activity allotted to agriculture related occupation.
Location and Boundaries
The municipality lies at the Northwestern Quadrant of the Province of Albay. The distance is about 46-54 kilometers away from Legazpi City and approximately 546 kilometers south of Manila. It is located geographically between 1308’2’’ and 20’354.5’’ north and between 1243014’25.2’’ and 29’19.4’’ east longitude.
Libon is bounded on the North by the Municipality of Bato in the province of Camarines Sur; on the South by the municipality of Oas; on the East by the municipality of Polangui; and on the West by the Burias Pass and Ragay Gulf3.
The topography of Libon is generally characterized as plain to undulating; extensive alluvial floodplain on its eastern flank, gently rolling to sloping uplands and steep mountains on its central western parts.
The elevation ranges from 0 – 400 meters above sea level. More than five percent of the area has elevation ranging from 100 to 150 meters above sea level. The surface terrain is generally plain as shown in its percentage distribution of land use on Figure 4. Barangays in the Big Six, Centro Poblacion, and Palayan League mostly constitute the plain areas. The barangays within the Coastal League occupies the coastal zones of 664 hectares although 40 percent of its area is mountainous surface terrain.
The municipality has six types of soil as enumerated in Figure 5. The predominant soil type is the Agustin Soil or clay-loam which is mostly found in the leagues of Interior Eight, Big Six, and Six Hills. The Magsaysay Soil or the sandy-loam is identified in the coastal areas and is suitable for rice production. The Sevilla Soil or clay and sandy-clay type are principally in hilly landscape.