Legazpi: Gateway City of Bicol
Legazpi City is the capital of the Province of Albay and the premier city in Bicol Region. Named after the Spanish voyager and conqueror Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, it has an unenviable record of having gained its cityhood status thrice.
Under the Becerra Law of 1892, it became a city which was comprised the towns of Legazpi, Albay Viejo, and Daraga. The American occupation had stripped its city status and consequently dissolved it. On April 20, 1901, by virtue of Act No. 122, The Provincial Government Act of 1901 extended its provisions in creating the Province of Albay, including the islands of San Miguel, Caoraray, Batan and Rapu-rapu, and named Albay as its capital.
On June 18, 1948, President Elpidio Quirino signed into law Republic Act No. 308, otherwise known as the Charter of the City of Legazpi. But on June 8, 1954, President Ramon Magsaysay approved Republic Act No. 993 which recreated the municipalities of Legazpi and Daraga, effectively dissolving the city.
On June 12, 1959, President Carlos P. Garcia approved Republic Act No. 2234, finally reconverting the municipality into city. A marker was erected behind the City Hall to commemorate the reconversion. Furthermore, amendments were introduced by Republic Act No. 5525, signed by President Ferdinand E. Marcos on June 21, 1969.
Legazpi City has a number of natural wonders and important landmarks. The foremost of them is the legendary Mayon Volcano, world famous for its near perfect cone. One of the best places to see the Mayon Volcano is at the 143-meter high Ligñon Hill.
Just a few meters away from the Cathedral and in front of the Capitol is Peñaranda Park. The park was named after Jose Maria Peñaranda, the province’s governor from 1834 to 1840. He was a distinguished military engineer, strengthened the province’s forts and offshore defenses against pirate raids, helped construct the capitol and the cathedral, promoted agriculture and industry, and showed excellent gubernatorial administration. This monument was unveiled by Her Majesty Queen Sofia of Spain and Governor Joey Salceda on July 4, 2012.
At the corner of Rizal Avenue and Rizal Street is the Ibalong Festival Monument, erected in honor of the legendary Bicolano heroes: Baltog, Handyong, and Bantong. The three heroes are the central characters of the Bicolano epic Ibalong.
At the corner of Rizal and Quezon Streets is a rotunda known as Legazpi Heroes Memorial Trylon. On January 23, 1900, around 800 Filipino revolutionaries under Commander Antonio Reyes heroically confronted and engaged the Third Battalion of the 47th Infantry and volunteers headed by Brigadier General William A. Kobie. The vastly superior colonizers bombed the Legazpi trenches that forced them to retreat to San Rafael Bridge. It was in this bridge that these brave Bicolanos engaged their opponents mano y mano. A quarter of the Bicolano defenders including Reyes perished on this fateful day.
Along Magayon Drive near Legazpi Airport is the PAGASA Legazpi Complex Station. One of the five stations in the Bicol Region, the Legazpi Station was originally built in January 1902. Being part of its mandate (Batas Pambansa Blg. 8, December 2, 1978; PD 1149), the Philippine Standard Time can be seen in front of the station.
This waterfront development has changed drastically the landscape of Port of Legazpi which in a way affirms the socio-economic status the city and its role in the Bicol Region.