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Origin of Name
Historically, the city was named Legazpi, to perpetuate to the memory of Adelantado Don Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. This was the agreement made between the original inhabitants of the place and the Spaniards during the former’s quest for autonomy. It took them 21 years, in which they sought the help and support of the Spaniards, then living in the town. As a sign of gratitude, the people readily accepted the name, which was also then proposed by the Spaniards upon fulfillment of their efforts.
On September 22, 1856, through a Royal Decree, the name Legazpi was officially adopted to include the visitas of Lamba, Rawis and Bigaa, and declaring it an independent town. It was formally inaugurated on October 23, 1856. It began as a barangay called Sawangan (now Legazpi Port) whose inhabitants were mostly fishermen and farmers.
In 1587, Franciscan friars of the Doctrina of Cagsawa began to convert the settlement to Christianity and in 1616 they transformed it into a separate town and parish called Albay. Its first parish priest built a small chapel and established the “Mission de San Gregorio Magno de Sawangan.”
The progress of two centuries was razed to the ground in the eruption of Mayon Volcano on February 1, 1814. The people was evacuated to Makalaya (now Taysan) and on the decree of the Gobierno Superior on October 1, 1829, prohibiting the founding of another town they finally settled in Taytay (Bagumbayan). In 1818, Sawangan, then already known as the town of Albay, was separated from Cagsawa and was made the capital of Partido de Ibalon (the old name of Albay Province).
Some of the people, however, remained in the old town and began anew as a barrio. In lieu of their former patron saint, St. Gregory the Great, which had also been transferred to Albay, they adopted St. Raphael, the Archangel and transformed the ermita into a church. They finally regained their old status but never changed the name of the place as Albay Viejo or Banwang Daan. Even after their autonomy in 1856, they called it “Binanuahan”, meaning the former sit of a town.
Legal Bases of Existence
Now autonomous, and with a fast paced progress and prosperity, Legazpi was declared a Royal Cedula in May 18, 1872, open to world trade. Legazpi first became a city under the Becerra Law of 1892, which constituted the municipalities of Legazpi, Albay Nuevo and Daraga, into the Ayutamiento de Albay. With the American occupation in 1900, the city was dissolved.
Upon restoration of peace, the three towns were re-established and in 1908 became the Municipality of Albay, the provincial capital. In 1922, the town of Daraga was separated from the capital, realizing the merger was doing more harm than good to their interests.
Legazpi became a city for the second time on July 18, 1948 when Daraga and Legazpi were combined again to constitute its territory, under Republic Act No. 306. With the re-creation of the two municipalities, the city was dissolved in June 8, 1954. Finally, on June 12, 1959, Legazpi became a city once more under Republic Act No. 2234. This was later amended by Republic Act No. 5525.
On February 27, 1973, the City of Legazpi was declared under Presidential Decree No. 125, to comprise its present territorial jurisdiction and the adjacent Municipality of Daraga. With the onset of the Integrated Reorganization Plan however, the decree was permanently mothballed. This plan also made the city as the regional administrative center of the Bicol Region (Presidential Decree No. 1).
Today, Legazpi is a bustling and progressive city that is home to 179,481 citizens.