Chapter Regional Spatial Strategy



The regional spatial strategy is anchored on the National Spatial Strategy (NSS) which provides the basis for policies on urban development, infrastructure development, disaster risk reduction, and environmental resource protection and conservation. It directs the growth of the region based on economic (see Chapter 5) and population trends. Both economic development and population growth put pressure on the physical resource of the region, hence, it is essential to discuss both variables in this RDP. This section discusses the role of cities and growth centers as engines of economic growth and poverty reduction, supported by efficient infrastructure and utilities and connected networks of sustainable communities.

Trends in Population Growth The total population of the region as of August 1,2015 was 4,440,150. This number accounted for 4.4 percent of the country’s total population. This population was higher by 339,000 compared with the 4.1 million registered in 2010. It was also more than double than the region’s population of 2.0 million in 1960. The increase in population from 2010 to 2015 translated to an average annual population growth rate (PGR) of 1.52 percent. This means that, on the average, there were about 15 persons added per year for every 1,000 persons in the region. This rate is still lower by 0.2 percentage points than the national average of 1.72. Leyte (excluding Tacloban City) was the fastest growing province in the region, with an average annual PGR of 1.83 percent during the period 2010-2015. It was followed by Eastern Samar (1.64%), Northern Samar (1.36%), Samar (1.19%), and Biliran (1.13%). Southern Leyte posted the lowest provincial PGR of 1.05 percent (Table 1). Table 1. Total Population and Average Annual Growth Rates by Province/City, Eastern Visayas, 2000-2015 Population Density (population/square kilometer) 

Total Population   Province/City

























































Baybay City









Maasin City
























Borongan City 55,141 64,457 69,297 Source of basic data: Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)





1.85 1.39









Region VIII














Southern Leyte Biliran










Eastern Samar



Northern Samar


Tacloban City


Ormoc City

Calbayog City Catbalogan City


Average Annual Population Growth Rate

10 | Eastern Visayas Regional Development Plan 2017-2022



Among the cities (excluding Tacloban City), the largest in terms of population size is Ormoc City with 215,031. It was also the fastest growing city in the region with a PGR of 2.26 percent. Tacloban City, the lone Highly Urbanized City (HUC) of the region, had a total population of 242,089 in 2015, which translates to a PGR of 1.73 percent, which is higher than the national average. In terms of population density, the region was placed at 191 persons per square kilometers (sq km) in 2015. Hence, the region is less densely populated than the average of the country at 337 persons per sq km. Being the lone HUC and regional capital, Tacloban City is the most densely populated area within the region at 1,200 persons per sq km, surpassing the regional and national figures. Also, Tacloban City posted a 9.5 percent change in terms of population density from 2010 to 2015, higher than the regional and national figures at 1.2 and 0.2 percentage points, respectively. Leyte (excluding Tacloban City) posted the highest increase among provinces with 10 percent increase in persons living per sq km within the period 2010-2015 . This was followed by Eastern Samar (8.9%), Northern Samar (7.4%), Samar (6.4%), Southern Leyte (5.7%) , and Biliran (6.1%). Among cities, Ormoc City recorded the highest increase at 12.5 percent in population density from 2010 to 2015. This was followed closely by Catbalogan City at 10.1 percent. Maasin City, on the other hand, showed the smallest increase in population density at 5.3 percent. This trend in the increase of population and population density (figure 1) places a stress on the physical environment by exhausting the environmental services (e.g. fewer produce in the resource-based sectors) and also putting in unwanted materials in the form of pollution. As an effect, resource imbalance and environmental degradation takes place in pockets of areas. To arrest this trend, spatial consideration in economic and demographic progress must be taken into consideration to decrease inequality (see Chapter 11) of economic benefits by distributing activities across the region.


Chapter 3: Overlay of economic growth, demographic trends and physical characteristics | 11

Figure 1. Population and Population Density, Eastern Visayas, 1995-2015




Overall Spatial Strategy The NSS thrusts on concentration, connectivity, and vulnerability reduction, looks at the spatial commonality or similarity of resources, potentials and concerns in order to direct interventions at the right areas. It promotes national dispersion through regional agglomeration that aims to strengthen regional development by directing growth to key centers throughout the country. These key centers serve as drivers of economic growth where the benefits of agglomeration can provide greater potentials. Concentration The strategy on concentration will tap the potential of urban areas to foster growth, generate jobs, and increase incomes. There is less encroachment into agricultural and other environmentally sensitive or protected areas. It seeks to absorb growth of population to achieve economies of scale and efficiency. Part of concentration is identifying locations for industrial, agricultural, business, tourism, and service-related activities. These areas, once developed will generate new jobs, attract foreign direct investments, as well as create forward and backward linkages in the economy. Under the concept of concentration, the network of settlements is determined using the following criteria: 1) population size (based on 2010 population sizes); 2) scale and type of activities; 3) economic activities; 4) location; 5) follows the principle of concentration (the larger the settlements in terms of population, the greater the concentration and therefore the higher the level in hierarchy and a greater connectivity priority); and; 6) strategic role The proposed network of settlements in Eastern Visayas (Figure 1, Table 2) is composed of four tiers: 1) Regional Center, 2) Sub-regional Centers, 3) Provincial Centers, and 4) Local Centers. The Regional Center automatically connects to the higher level Metropolitan Region as identified in the Visayas Spatial Development Framework (VSDF) 2015-2045. Eastern Visayas has two Regional Centers, namely: Metro Tacloban, which is composed of Tacloban City, Babatngon, Palo, and Tanauan growth corridor, and Metro Ormoc. These areas have an existing (2010) population size of less than 100,000 to 2.3 million. These centers shall serve as regional markets and service centers to several provinces and not only to the areas within the province of their location. Said regional centers have direct air and sea links to and from Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and other key destinations in the country. There are also two identified Sub-regional Centers of Eastern Visayas, namely: Calbayog City and Catbalogan City, both located in Samar Island. These are considered as more progressive and fast-growing areas. These areas have large settlements (with a minimum 2010 population size of 120,000) that form the market catchments of regional centers. They connect and serve as service centers of smaller provincial and local centers. Provincial Centers are typically the large or major cities or municipalities in the provinces. Like the Sub-regional Centers, the Provincial Centers shall serve as market

12 | Eastern Visayas Regional Development Plan 2017-2022  


and service centers of the provinces but on a limited scale compared to the former. They have a minimum 2010 population size of 50,000. Generally, the service coverage of these centers extends to cities or municipalities within the confines of the respective province only. Some centers though, which are host to seaports, have developed linkages with LGUs located in other provinces through these sea routes. These LGUs can benefit from increased growth by improving linkages. They also provide alternative access points to other provinces. Eastern Visayas has 19 Provincial Centers. The lowest level of the hierarchy are the Local Centers. These areas have a population size less than 50,000. All other cities and municipalities not included in the upper tiers are considered as Local Centers. The region has identified 114 of those. The complete listing of the region’s proposed network of settlements of the Regional Centers, Sub-regional Centers, Provincial Centers, and Local Centers are found in Table 2. The connectivity of said settlements is presented in Figure 8. Connectivity The strategy on connectivity seeks to build infrastructure that connect people, move goods, and provide services, thereby, increasing and improving linkages among settlements and key production and tourism areas whether by land, air, and/or sea. It will increase access to and improve efficiency of markets, and encourage growth and concentration through transportation alignments supporting development objectives. Vulnerability during emergency situations are addressed by increasing redundancy of transport links. The needed infrastructure facilities and their respective locations are identified. These infrastructure facilities when implemented operational shall will support, expand, and stimulate the expanded economic and productive activities to be pursued by connecting urban systems and settlements with these areas as well as improving mobility of cargo and people between within and between the communities, islands, regions, and between them and the rest of the country and beyond its borders. Eastern Visayas is traversed by the Asian Highway route number 26 (AH26) or the Pan -Philippine Highway, popularly known as the Maharlika Highway (Figure 2). Hence, the region will harness this potential as a major strategy to connect not only to other regions in the country but to other countries as well. This route covers a 3,517kilometer network of roads, bridges, and ferry services connecting the major islands of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, and serves as the country’s principal transport backbone. Vulnerability Reduction This particular strategy explicitly considers the fact that the region is prone to natural calamities and disasters due to its archipelagic make-up and geographic location. Reduction of vulnerability involves instituting prevention and mitigation measures (see Chapter 13) to reduce the impact of natural and man-made disasters in the region. This strategy can be realized by: 1) keeping economic development in harmony with nature; 2) addressing threats from natural and man-made hazards; 3) reducing the vulnerability of natural resource systems/assets; 4) protecting highly productive agricultural lands and fishery areas; and 5) institutionalizing inter-regional/inter-local disaster response mechanisms.


Chapter 3: Overlay of economic growth, demographic trends and physical characteristics | 13

 14 | Eastern Visayas Regional Development Plan 2017-2022 37. Lope de Vega 58. Pinabacdao 38. Bobon 39. San Jose 40. Rosario 41. Lavesarez 42. Biri 43. Allen 44. Victoria 45. San Isidro

19. San Julian 20. Sulat 21. Taft 22. Can-avid 23. Oras 24. San Policarpo 25. Arteche 26. Jipapad

55. Paranas

54. Motiong

61. Marabut

60. Santa Rita

59. Villareal

57. San Sebastian

35. Silvino Lobos 56. Hinabangan

34. San Roque

33. Pambujan

53. Jiabong

18. Maydolong

14. General Macarthur

32. Las Navas

52. Tarangnan

36. Mondragon

7. Biliran

8. Dolores, Eastern Samar

13. Mercedes

31. Catubig

51. San Jorge

17. Balangkayan

6. Cabucgayan

7. Abuyog, Leyte

12. Salcedo

30. Palapag

50. Matuguinao

11. Calbiga, Samar

5. Caibiran

6. Guiuan, Eastern Samar

11. Quinapondan

29. Mapanas

49. Gandara

16. Llorente

4. Culaba

5.Borongan City,

10. Giporlos

28. Gamay

48. Santa Margarita


10. Basey, Samar

3. Almeria

4. Catarman, Northern Samar

9. Balangiga

27. Lapinig

Northern Samar

15. Hernani

2. Kawayan

3. Naval, Biliran

8. Lawaan

Eastern Samar

Local Centers by Province

9. Laoang, Northern Samar

1. Maripipi


2. Baybay City, Leyte

2. Catbalogan City, Samar

2. Ormoc City, Leyte

Provincial Centers

1. Calbayog City, Samar 1. Maasin City, Southern Leyte


1. Metro Tacloban

Regional Center

Table 2. Growth Centers, Eastern Visayas (Chapter 3)

80. Matalom


83. Hindang

82. Hilongos

91. Villaba

90. Matag-ob

89. Palompon

88. Isabel

87. Merida

86. Albuera

85. Mahaplag

79. Silago

78. Hinunangan

77. Hinundayan

76. Anahawan

75. San Juan

98. Barugo

97. Carigara

96. Capoocan

95. Leyte

94. Calubian

93. San Isidro

74. Saint Bernard 92. Tabango

73. San Ricardo

72. Pintuyan

71. San Francisco

70. Liloan

69. Libagon

68. Sogod

67. Bontoc

66. Tomas Oppus 84. Inopacan

65. Malitbog

64. Limasawa

63. Padre Burgos 81. Bato

62. Macrohon

Southern Leyte



Regional Center


Provincial Centers

Table 2. Growth Centers, Eastern Visayas (Chapter 3)


Eastern Samar

114. Javier

113. Macarthur

112. Mayorga

111. La Paz

110. Dulag

109. Julita

108. Burauen

107. Tolosa

106. Tabontabon

105. Dagami

104. Pastrana

103. Santa Fe

102. Alangalang

101. Jaro

100. Tunga


47. Capul

Southern Leyte

99. San Miguel


46. San Antonio

Northern Samar

Local Centers by Province


Chapter 3: Overlay of economic growth, demographic trends and physical characteristics | 15


Figure 2. Connectivity of Settlements, Eastern Visayas

16 | Eastern Visayas Regional Development Plan 2017-2022  


Figure 3. The Eastern Nautical Highway, Eastern Visayas


Chapter 3: Overlay of economic growth, demographic trends and physical characteristics | 17


Integrated Ecosystem Management (IEM) The region adopts the integrated ecosystems management (IEM) as an overarching strategy for spatial development, which prescribes the concept of watershed or ridge-to -reef approach (Figure 3). This ensures the connectedness of every intervention with respect to the environment and ecosystem as the provider of natural resources for the productive sectors. Furthermore, the region is grouped into major islands as the overall planning unit – Leyte Island, Samar Island, and Biliran Island. The region is likewise subdivided into five IEM zones, wherein interventions can be properly planned for every identified zone. The interplay between overlay zones, such as environmentally critical areas and areas prone to natural hazards, must be considered in planning programs, projects and activities in that spatial context. These zones are: 1) Zone A–Conservation, Protection, and Heritage Areas; 2) Zone B–Production Areas; 3) Zone C–Built-up Areas; 4) Zone D–Hazard-prone Areas; and 5) Zone E– Tourism Development Areas. Specifically, Zone A (Figure 4) are areas where protection and conservation of heritage areas are promoted. These belong to the nationally identified integrated protected areas system (NIPAS), key biodiversity areas (KBAs), and areas with a slope greater than 50 percent and an elevation greater than 1,000 meters above mean sea level. Other locally Figure 4. The Ridge-to-Reef or Integrated Ecosystem Management (IEM) Approach

18 | Eastern Visayas Regional Development Plan 2017-2022  


identified protected areas can also be incorporated within said zone such as, but not limited to, mangrove areas identified under Republic Act (RA) 8435 and RA 8550, buffer strips and easements under Presidential Decree (PD) 705 and PD 1067, salvage zone along foreshore lands identified in Presidential Proclamation (PP) 2146, and freshwater swamps and marshes under PP 2146. Zone B areas are devoted for production (Figure 5). These are classified as alienable and disposable (A and D) under RA 8435, such as irrigated and irrigable ricelands, and coconut preservation areas under RA 8048 amended by RA 10593. Zone C are areas classified as built-up areas under the NAMRIA land cover classification (Figure 6). These areas are where the footprint of human dwellings and activities should be confined. Zones D and E are overlay zones to Zones A, B, and C. Zone D are areas prone to natural hazards or danger zones (Figure 7). These areas are identified as prone to hydro-meteorological and geologic hazards or a combination of both. Zone E are (Figure 8) are those identified as Tourism Development Areas (TDAs).


Chapter 3: Overlay of economic growth, demographic trends and physical characteristics | 19


Figure 5. IEM Zone A, Eastern Visayas

20 | Eastern Visayas Regional Development Plan 2017-2022  


Figure 6. IEM Zone B, Eastern Visayas


Chapter 3: Overlay of economic growth, demographic trends and physical characteristics | 21


Figure 7. IEM Zone C, Eastern Visayas

22 | Eastern Visayas Regional Development Plan 2017-2022  


Figure 8. IEM Zone D, Eastern Visayas


Chapter 3: Overlay of economic growth, demographic trends and physical characteristics | 23


Figure 9. IEM Zone E, Eastern Visayas

24 | Eastern Visayas Regional Development Plan 2017-2022  

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