In a land area of 2,141.4 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers the civil Province of Sorsogon.
The Province of Sorsogon is located at the southernmost tip of the Bicol Peninsula. It is bounded on the North by the Province of Albay, on the East and Northeast by the Pacific Ocean, on the South by the San Bernardino Strait and the West and Northwest by the Ticao and Burias Passes. The province has an irregular coastline with good harbors in Bulan, Magallanes and along the shore of Sorsogon Bay.
As of end of 2009 the total population of Sorsogon diocese is 705,600 of which are 93.01 percent Catholics or 656,320. (The country has a total population of about 86 million people).
Close to 97 percent of the household population in Sorsogon were Bicolanos. Other ethnic groups included Tagalog (0.38 percent), Kankanai/Kankanae/Kankaney (0.22 percent), Binisaya/Bisaya (0.17 percent) and Masbateño (0.13 percent).
The Bicol dialect predominates in Sorsogon as a language used by its people. English and Tagalog-based National Language now commonly known as "Filipino" are the official languages used in education and various forms of communications. But Bicol as used in this province has some peculiarities. What is known as "Naga Bicol" is used in written communications and generally understood as a spoken language. However there are Bicol dialects peculiar to certain specific places. For example, people in Bacon, Prieto Diaz and Magallanes speak the Albay or Legaspi Bikol. In Sorsogon town, Casiguran and Juban, Bicol is slightly different for some of the terms used are similar to hiligaynon as spoken in Western Visayas. Barcelona, Gubat, Bulusan, Matnog, Irosin and Sta. Magdalena speak a dialect which uses terms and tones similar to the waray-waray of Samar Island. And again the people of Pilar and Donsol speak a dialect similar but not exactly alike to the "Miraya Bicol" or the dialect spoken by the nearby towns of Camalig and Daraga in Albay province. Castilla dialect is the same as that of Daraga.
Diocese of Sorsogon
Suffragan of Caceres
Created and erected: June 29, 1951
Comprises the civil Province of Sorsogon
Titular: Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, June 29
The Diocese of Sorsogon was originally part of the Archdiocese of Nueva Caceres. When it was made a separate diocese on June 29, 1951, it included the territory of Masbate. When the Diocese of Nueva Caceres was elevated into an archdiocese in the same year, Legazpi and Sorsogon were made suffragan dioceses of Nueva Caceres. On March 23, 1968, Masbate was made into a separate diocese. At present the Diocese of Sorsogon covers simply the civil province of Sorsogon and the City of Sorsogon.
The diocese celebrates the Diamond Anniversary of its erection as diocese on June 29, 2010. When the Papal Bull of June 29, 1959 mandated that Sorsogon become a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Caceres, the hearts of its people were filled with exultation and thankful prayers. To celebrate this great event, the Diocese launched June 29, 2010 a one-year intensive preparation during this "Year of Grace" with the theme: "Remembering, Rejoicing, Responding." A big event will be held on April 29, 2011. Activities in the diocese are already lined-up by the Steering Committee. One of the highlights of the activities is the re-enactment of the First Mass celebrated in 1569 in Mainland Luzon Oct. 17, 2010 as Sorsogon celebrates its annual Kasanggayahan Festival.
Footnote to History: Spanish conquistadores gave Sorsogon its first encounter with Christianity. This was in the year 1569 when Fray Alonzo Jimenez, OSA, chaplain of the expedition under Luis Enriquez de Guzman celebrated the first Mass upon landing on the coast of sitio Gibal-ong (or Gibalon), barangay Siuton, in the town of Magallanes. Christianity, however, was formally established in Sorsogon with the planting of the Cross on the shores of Casiguran town in 1600 by the Franciscan Friars. This was a prelude to the erection of the first church building dedicated to the Holy Rosary, still revered at present as the Patroness of Casiguran. From there, the Franciscan missionaries devotedly spread the faith to the other towns in Bacon (1617), Bulusan (1630) and Donsol (1668. The other twelve towns followed suit in the course of time. In the original geographic division, the province of Sorsogon formed part of Albay province. It seceded as a separate province on Oct. 17, 1984.
A Philippine province is headed by a Governor. A Provincial Council (Sangguniang Panlalawigan) is composed of a Vice Governor (Presiding Officer) and Provincial Board Members. A Philippine city or municipality is headed by a Mayor. A City Council (Sangguniang Panlungsod) or Municipal Council (Sangguniang Bayan) is composed of a Vice Mayor (Presiding Officer) and City or Municipal Councilors. A barangay is headed by a Barangay Captain, who is also the presiding officer of the barangay council. The Barangay Council is composed of seven (7) Barangay Kagawads. A similar unit called a Youth Council (Sangguniang Kabataan) is headed by an SK Chairperson with a similar rank to a Barangay Captain. The council is composed of SK Members.
- Kind of transportation modes
Most of the municipalities in the province do not have terminal for buses, only Bulan has a newly constructed bus terminal and is now in operation. Some of the bus companies lease or rent a small lot or space to serve as a terminal and parking area for the bus. There are 18 bus companies operating in the province. Most of these buses whether air conditioned, first class or ordinary convey passengers to Metro Manila and vice versa. Other buses have regional routes to Albay and Camarines provinces. In addition "colorum buses" likewise, operate in the province especially during peak seasons.
There are also aircon vans operating in some municipalities providing transportation services to the commuters who prefer to have at least a fast and comfortable trip going to Legaspi City and vice versa.
Commercial fast crafts are available in Pilar for passengers sailing to Masbate and back to Pilar.
Likewise, there are ferry boats in Matnog, Sorsogon bound to Allen, Samar; in Bulan, there are big powered-motor boats that ply the Bulan-Masbate and Masbate-Bulan sea-route.
- The infrastructure facilities
The Philippine-Japan Friendship Highway, or known as the Maharlika Highway, is the principal road line traversing the entire length of the province and connects it with other Bicol Mainland Provinces. Linking Sorsogon to the province of Albay is the 104.962 kilometers asphalt overlaid Maharlika Highway, which stretches from Albay Province boundary to the port of Matnog on the southern part or of the province of Sorsogon.
The Province of Sorsogon has a total national road length of 303.6095 kilometers. The total length is divided into 19 spans that serve different points of origin/ destination. The spans vary in length, width and surface type. The Ariman-Junction-Bulusan Lake Road is the longest national road in the province with
Annual per capita income in the diocesan territory is (in Philippines Peso) 19,535 (USD432 as of August 2010).
- Major industries, trade and agriculture
The province of Sorsogon is a major producer of abaca (species of banana native to the Philippines). Other crops widely grown are coconut and rice. In addition, it has several major industries, namely: fishing, gifts and housewares industry, marble industry, pili industry, seaweeds industry, agriculture, fashion accessories, and processed food.
Copra production is one of the main source livelihoods in the province. In the year 2006, the total copra production reached up to 45,270.18 MT. Between the two (2) districts in the province, the second district produced more copra than the first district, Bulan is the highest copra producing municipality, generating 5,127.65 MT in 2006 followed by Magallanes (4,847.31 MT) and Gubat with 4,029.32 MT. Due also to the severe effects of typhoons in 2006, the coconut production in 2007 substantially decreased to only 4,242.48 MT in the entire province.
The areas devoted to abaca plantations for the year 2007 totaled to 7,334.98 HA involving 2,738 farmers in 148 abaca producing barangays. The average production totaled to 2,693,428.00 MT in 2007. The biggest abaca producing municipalities were: Sorsogon City with 1,100,491.00 kilogram Juban with 284,690.00 kilogram Bulusan with 268,310.00 kilogram and Irosin with 243,968.00 kilogram.
- Livestock Industry
Based on the records of the Provincial Veterinary Office, there are 32 Commercial Livestock raises and 20 Commercial Poultry raises in the province in 2007. Majority of the Commercial Livestock raises are found in Sorsogon City (5) followed by Bulan (4) and the municipality of Gubat and Irosin with 3 each. Commercial Poultry raises are mostly located in Bulan which are engaged in duck raising. As of 2007 inventory of the Bureau of
- There are three (3) major telephone companies that serve the province - DIGITEL, PLDT and BAYANTEL. In addition, three (3) cellular mobile phone service providers (SMART, GLOBE and SUNCELLULAR) provide communication service to the people of Sorsogon. The old RCPI, PT&T and the TelOf are also providing telegraph and long distance services that link then province of Sorsogon with other provinces in the region as well as other parts of the country.
- Radio Stations
There are 12 radio stations operating in the province. Nine (9) of these stations are in the FM Band, and the remaining 3 are in the AM Band. These stations broadcast music, ranging from classical to rock; interspersed with newscast and advertising materials.
- TV Stations
There are 2 existing cable providers and 1 Local TV station in the capital city. Except for Casiguran and Matnog all municipalities have cable televisions. The AITV, the only Local TV station in the city, and is free of charge; the signal could be obtained through aerial antenna. The diocese has also its TV station but it has to cease temporarily its operation due to financial problem.
The topography of the province is very irregular. Mountains sprawl along the northeastern part as well as its southeast and western portions. These mountains slope down upon small valleys and plains. The tallest peak is Mount Bulusan, which is 1,560 meters above sea level. It is an active volcano, which was dormant for a long time, lying in the southeastern part of the province. A mountain range stretches from Sorsogon province to Albay. It covers some parts of Castilla and Sorsogon City.
Major water bodies include Sorsogon Bay, Bulusan Lake, Cawayan River in Sorsogon and Putiao River in Pilar.
Sorsogon has 14 municipalities, one city and 541 barangays with two congressional districts.
Simple literacy rate is 94.23 percent according to government census.
- Kasanggayahan Festival
Kasanggayahan Festival is celebrated in the whole province in the last week of October, commemorates the founding of Sorsogon as a province. Festivities include a series of cultural, historical, religious, agro-industrial and economic activities, showcasing the province's abundant agricultural products, particularly food and decorative items.
- Pili Festival
Pili Festival in Sorsogon City honors the Pili nut and tree which is indigenous to province. The festival coincides with the town fiesta of Sorsogon City. Celebrations include street dancing by locals donning pili nut costumes, cooking competitions, fireworks displays, and even a nutcracking session along the road by the locals.
- Town Fiestas
Each town honors their Patron Saint with celebration on its Feast Day. In Sorsogon City, the locals celebrate the Fiesta of the Patron Saints Peter and Paul in June 28-29 of each year.