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All About Baao
Baao, land of rice and coconut palm, art and pretty women, early cradle of Catholicism in Camarines Sur, has had a colorful history whose early period and pre-Spanish beginnings are lost in the mists of fable, legend and mystery. Its written history which antedated the Spanish conquest were preserved in native scripts of the ancient Malay characters and alphabet but were subsequently destroyed during the Spanish regime in the town.
- Tradition says that Baao earned its name from the turtle-shaped ancient site of Binabaloy, Binanuaanan and Layoan where the Spaniards found the early Baao folk which then formed part of the adjacent town of Bula.
- Baao attributed its name only from speculative origins. One such theory is that its name evolved from the word BA-OO which means “turtle” in the local dialect. These animals were said to be abundant in the early settlement site and that for the purpose of geographic referencing, the Spaniards designated the place as Baao, a close resemblance to the word BA-OO.
- Another theory relates its significance to the topography of the early sites of the poblacion then called as “Binanuaanan”. This southern bank of the lake Baao, when viewed at the vantage point in the mountain ranges reveals a concave shape. With its arable fields, dikes and ditches, it closely resembles the back of the turtle, hence the reference to Ba-oo that meted off the present name Baao.
- Baao started its independent political structure upon the establishment of the independent parish in honor of St. Bartholomew the apostle in the year 1590.
- Baao’s political affairs were first separated from those of Bula at the turn of the 17th Later, it was followed by a separation in ecclesiastical affairs in the early 18th century as a new independent pueblo.
- The town consisted of only a few hundred inhabitants as may be gleaned from the fact that in the earliest baptismal records, there were only two or three baptisms every week. From 1787 to 1800, only 1,439 births were recorded for the period of 13 years, or an average of 110 yearly. The years 1796 to 1800 showed only 221 deaths, or an average death rate of 55 persons per year. Marriages averaged 8 or lower for the same period.
- The chronology of events that followed lead its destiny to the present day seat. From the banks of the Bicol River called Sitio Layuan, it moved southward to Sitio Langday and Sitio Binabaloy looking for a stable land, and it later moved to the present day poblacion when the former place proved unsuitable for habitation.
- Baao is one of the rare places in the Philippines that consistently maintained its deep devotion to its catholic roots which made it home for famous religious patriarch such as the 1st Filipino Bishop Msgr. Jorge I. Barlin and numerous priests.
LOCATION AND TOTAL LAND AREA
- Baao is geographically located on the Philippine map at quadrant with coordinates of 123º 17’ to 123º 26’ east longitude and 13º 25’ to 13º 30’ north latitude.
- It is bounded on the north by the Municipality of Pili and Ocampo; on the east by Iriga City and the Municipality of Sagnay; and on the northwest by the Municipality Bula.
- Baao is approximately 480 south of Metro Manila; 30 kms. South of Naga City; 7.5 kms. of Iriga City and 70 kms. north of Legaspi City.
- For planning purposes, Baao has a total land area of 14,304 hectares, 2,748.45 hectares of which are under contest with the municipality of Bula and the City of Iriga. 50% of which or a sub-total of 7,152 hectares is located along mountainous terrain and rolling hills with an average slope of 3.18%.
- Of the total 7,152 hectares of upland terrain or about 4,014 hectares have a slope of more than 18%.
- A subtotal of 4,291 hectares or 30% of the total land area is practically plain, approximately 1,430 hectares or 10% are built-up areas and the remaining 105 are bodies of water including lakes and marshy terrain.
- Baao consists of mixed topographic relief. The northern portion which is approximately 35.70 % of the town’s total land area, or 4,128.75 hectares is hilly and mountainous.
- The central and western areas have gently sloping reliefs covering 26.40% of the municipality’s land area or 3,049.25 hectares. The remaining 37.90% or about 4,377.05 hectares, have nearly level to level terrain where most of the residential, commercial and institutional establishments can be found, as well where the majority of lowland rice fields, fishponds and lake are located.
- Large parts of lowland rice fields, fishponds and residential urban centers are within the flood prone area of the municipality.
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