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Visayan languages: Kabisay-an) is one of the three island groups in the Philippines, along with Luzon and Mindanao. It consists of several islands, primarily surrounding the Visayan Sea. It is the homeland of the Visayans.
The major islands are:
Culturally it may also include the following whose inhabitants identify as Visayan:
Up to now the history of the Visayas before the arrival of the Spanish remains a mystery. Although legends exist that tell about the history of the Visayans, many still doubt their authenticity. One of this legends tells about a legendary king, known as Kalantiaw, who created a code of law. Another implies that the Visayans are from Borneo.
The first known mention of the Visayas in history is in the 12th century, when the region is thought to have been ruled by the empire of Srivijaya.
Visayans were thought to have kept close diplomatic relations with the various Javanese and Malay kingdoms since the locals of Cebu were able to converse with Enrique of Malacca using Malay when Ferdinand Magellan in 1521.
After Magellan’s expedition, the Spanish became interested with the archipelago and sent Ruy López de Villalobos and Miguel López de Legazpi in 1543 and 1565, respectively, to explore and colonize the islands.
At first, the Visayans accepted this colonization and many began converting to Christianity and started to accept the Santo Niño as their patron. However, the situation soon turned sour and revolutions such as those of Francisco Dagohoy began to emerge.
On May 23, 2005, Palawan was transferred to Region VI (Western Visayas) by Executive Order 429. The Department of the Interior and Local Government announced in June 2005 that the transfer had been completed. However, Palaweños criticized the move, citing a lack of consultation, with most residents in Puerto Princesa City and all municipalities but one preferring to stay with Region IV-B. Consequently, Administrative Order No. 129 was issued on August 19, 2005 to address this backlash. This Order directed the abeyance of Executive Order 429 pending the approval of an implementation plan for the orderly transfer of Palawan from Region IV-B to Region VI. Hence, Palawan is currently (as of May 2007) still part of Region IV-B.
Administratively, Visayas is divided into 3 regions, namely Western Visayas, Central Visayas and Eastern Visayas. Each region is headed by a Regional Director of the different executive offices in the country. All of these positions are appointed by the Secretary of a particular Department (e.g. Department of Education).
However, it is made up of 16 provinces politically speaking. The Visayas comprises 16 provinces, each headed by a Governor. A governor is elected by popular vote and can serve at the maximum of three terms of three years each.
As for representation in the Philippine Congress, the Visayas is represented by 44 Congressmen elected the same way as the Governors.
Western Visayas (Region VI)
Central Visayas (Region VII)
Eastern Visayas (Region VIII)
There are legends, which are compiled in the book Maragtas, 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. While these are stories, they are believed to be based on actual facts and events which were compiled into a 1907 book by Pedro Alcantara Monteclaro.
A contemporary theory based on a study of genetic markers in present-day populations that Austronesian migrants from Taiwan populated Luzon and headed south to the Visayas, Borneo, modern day Indonesia, then to the Pacific islands to the east. The study, though, may not explain interisland migrations, which are also possible, such as the Tagalog migration to Luzon.