History of Visayas in brief

The history of Visayas is actually a prominent part of the history of the Philippine islands. In fact, these islands in the central part of the country have played prominent roles in the Philippines’ past.

The history of Visayas dates back to the 12th century before the Spaniards were even aware of the existence of this part of the world. The earliest settlers of the island were Austronesians and Negritors who came to Panay and its surrounding islands after neighboring empires have collapsed. Trade in the island flourished in the 14th century as Arabs began venturing into the Malay archipelago so that eventually, Muslim communities were formed in the region.

Visayas was the first region of the Philippines to come into contact with the Spaniards in the 16th century. It was in 1521 when explorers led by Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the island known as Homonhon in Eastern Samar and then later claimed the island for the kingdom of Spain. He named the island Islas de San Lazaro and even established friendly ties with a number of local leaders, most prominent of which was Rajah Humabon, known as one of the first natives to be converted to Roman Catholicism.

Obviously, there are a lot of natives who did not take kindly to the invasion and the reintroduction of cultures. Magellan continued to explore the region but apparently, Lapu-Lapu and his people had other ideas for them. When the Portuguese explorer came to Mactan, he was welcomed with a battle that led to his demise.

Over the next several decades, Spanish expeditions will be dispatched to what the conquerors call the Islas de los Pintados or the Island of the Painted People. Known expeditions include the ones led by Ruy Lopez de Villalobos and Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in the latter part of the 16th century which later led to the colonization of Visayas as well as the rest of the Philippine Islands.

By the 18th and 19th centuries, the natives have started getting fed up with the colonization because revolutions have grown more prominent in the history of Visayas as it was in other regions of the Philippines. Visayan natives also had a hand in the Philippine American War with the island of Negros starting the revolution. After the Second World War, the region became an established community with a proper form of local government.

Fast forward to the present, Visayas is currently being shaped as the tourism hub of the Philippines. Its historical, cultural and natural attractions are inviting millions of tourists from all over the world each year.