Abuyog, Leyte is a hidden gem located in the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines. This 1st class municipality is the largest town in terms of land area on the island of Leyte, and is bordered by Javier to the north, Mahaplag and Baybay to the west, and Silago in Southern Leyte to the south. With a population of 61,216 people according to the 2020 census, Abuyog offers a peaceful and quaint escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Abuyog got its name when Spanish bread sailors came ashore in an early settlement at the mouth of the Abuyog River to replenish their supplies. Swarms of bees were all over the shore. The Spaniards asked the natives ¿Cómo se llama el pueblo?, not knowing that the Spaniards asked for the town’s name, the natives answered Buyog. Repeating after the natives, the sailors muttered, Ah! Buyog. Eventually, the town came to be known as Abuyog to which some Spanish chroniclers often used in reference to the whole island of Leyte.
Abuyog’s history is rich and fascinating. In 1588, the inhabitants revolted due to the mal-administration of the incumbent encomendero. Capitan Juan Esguerra had to send a punitive force to chastise the assassins of the encomendero. In 1613, Sanguiles and Caragas plundered and marauded the town. In 1655, the Jesuits made Abuyog their second post, with Dagami as the center. The year 1716 saw the founding of the town and parish under the patronage of St. Francis Xavier, the apostle of the Indies. During World War II, Abuyog became a Japanese occupied area, but Pedro Gallego, the mayor at the time, retreated to the mountains to administratively lead the guerrilla resistance while encouraging his people to continue working on agricultural lands. After liberation, elementary school education was resumed on December 4, 1944, under the supervision of the Philippine Civil Affairs Unit (PCAU).
Despite its rich history, Abuyog remains an obscure destination. However, there are plenty of exciting things to see and do in this charming town. One of the most popular attractions is the Church of St. Francis Xavier. The church was first built with nipa, wood, and bamboo in 1718 by the Jesuits and was later restored by the Augustinians. The church’s design was changed in 1781 to conform with the architecture of Roman Renaissance. A more durable church and convent of masonry were later built, with a galvanized iron roof and wooden floor. Today, the church remains an important landmark and symbol of Abuyog’s rich history.
Another must-visit attraction is the Kuapnit Balinsasayao National Park. Located along the Mahaplag-Baybay Rd., this 364-hectare campsite offers a wide panorama of primeval forests, rolling hills with many attractive picnic spots, caves, and a view of Mt. Lobi. The 7-m. high, 10-tiered Malaguicay Falls, in Barangay Malaguicay, has a 3-m. deep pool. From Tab-ok Port, take a 20-min. motorized boat ride to Barangay Malaguicay along the Higasaan River and then a 20-min. hike to the waterfalls. Caves are found in Brgys. Balocawehay (along the highway) and Nebga (Higasaan). Tib-o Islet and Undersea Water Cave, in Barangay Tib-o, Abuyog, Leyte, is a unique destination for divers and swimmers to experience and explore the beauty of the cave located within the Leyte Gulf area. Using the islet as a diving board or as a stop-over to view the beauty of Leyte Gulf. There is a coarsely formed rock formation at the side of the cave. Waterfalls are located in Brgys. Malaguicay, Balinsasayao, Katipunan, and Nebga. The 0.5-hectare Cagbolo Hot Spring (Barangay Cagbolo), Danghol Hill (Barangay San Isidro), and Layog River (BarangayBalinsasayao) is a stream and the estimated terrain elevation above sea level is 4 meters. Lake Bito, the main source of Leyte Metropolitan Water Service, covers almost all municipalities in Leyte. Cold Spring (Castanas Spring Resort) along the Maharlika Highway, Barangay Balinsasayao, and Abuyog Lighthouse are also popular attractions.
With its rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and mouthwatering local cuisine, Abuyog, Leyte is a destination that should not be missed. Explore this hidden gem and discover why Abuyog should be on every traveler’s bucket list.