Tacloban (/tækˈlbən/ tak-LOH-ban; Tagalog pronunciation: [tɐkˈloban]), officially the City of Tacloban (Waray: Syudad han Tacloban; Tagalog: Lungsod ng Tacloban), is a 1st class highly urbanized city in the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines. The city is autonomous from the province of Leyte, although it serves as its provincial capital. According to the 2020 census, Tacloban has a population of 251,881, making it the most populous city in the Eastern Visayas. [7] The city is located 360 miles (580 km) southeast from Manila.

City of Tacloban
Aerial view of Downtown Tacloban, Anibong, Naga-naga and Abucay districts
Aerial view of Downtown Tacloban, Anibong, Naga-naga and Abucay districts
Official seal of Tacloban
  • Gateway to Eastern Visayas[1]
  • Home of the Happiest People in the World[2]
City of Love, Beauty and Progress
Map of Eastern Visayas with Tacloban highlighted
Map of Eastern Visayas with Tacloban highlighted
Tacloban is located in Philippines
Location within the Philippines
Coordinates: 11°14′N 125°00′E / 11.24°N 125°E / 11.24; 125Coordinates: 11°14′N 125°00′E / 11.24°N 125°E / 11.24; 125
RegionEastern Visayas
ProvinceLeyte (geographically only)
District 1st district
Provincial capital
Chartered city[3]

Highly urbanized city[4]
26 February 1830
12 June 1953
18 December 2008
Barangay138 (see Barangays)
 • TypeSangguniang Panlungsod
 • MayorAlfred S. Romualdez
 • Vice MayorJerry "Sambo" T. Yaokasin
 • RepresentativeFerdinand Martin G. Romualdez
 • City Council
 • Electorate139,423 voters (2019)
 • Total201.72 km2 (77.88 sq mi)
40 m (130 ft)
Highest elevation
574 m (1,883 ft)
Lowest elevation
0 m (0 ft)
 (2020 census) [7]
 • Total251,881
 • Density1,200/km2 (3,200/sq mi)
 • Households
 • Income class1st city income class
 • Poverty incidence21.45% (2015)[8]
 • Revenue₱1,155,729,018.56 (2018)
 • Assets₱3,704,542,207.78 (2020)
 • Expenditure₱1,323,351,666.51 (2020)
Service provider
 • ElectricityLeyte 2 Electric Cooperative (LEYECO 2)
Time zoneUTC+08:00 (PST)
ZIP code
IDD:area code+63 (0)53
Native languagesWaray

Tacloban City was briefly the capital of the Philippines under the Commonwealth Government, from 20 October 1944 to 27 February 1945. In an extensive survey conducted by the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center and released in July 2010, Tacloban City ranks as the fifth most competitive city in the Philippines, and second in the emerging cities category.[9] On 8 November 2013, the city was largely destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan, having previously suffered similar destruction and loss of life in 1897 and 1912.[10] On 17 January 2015, Pope Francis visited Tacloban during his Papal Visit to the Philippines and held a mass at Barangay San Jose, and later he led mass of 30,000 people in front of the airport.


Street performers carrying taklub on their backs (Tacloban takes its name from the taklub, a bamboo fish-catching contraption).

Tacloban was first known as Kankabatok, an allusion to the first inhabitants – Kabatok. They established their dwellings in the vicinity of the present day Santo Niño Church. Others who came later were Gumoda, Haraging and Huraw who erected their own settlements in nearby sites. Huraw's domain is the hill where the city hall now sits. The combined settlements acquired the name Kankabatok, meaning Kabatok's property.

The constant threat of pirates due to its lack of a natural barrier hindered the development and progress of the settlement. And so the place never figured out in the early centuries of the Spanish colonization of Leyte. When the Jesuits (the first evangelizers of Leyte) left in 1768, the Augustinians took over and in 1770 they established the barrio with a chapel (visita) of Tacloban under the jurisdiction of Palo. The Augustinians who came from the Province of the Holy Name of Jesus based in Cebu were also responsible in introducing the devotion to the Santo Niño becoming therefore the heavenly patron of the settlement. With the Moro raids in check, the place became a hub for commercial activity and soon after the place was renamed Tacloban becoming an independent municipality and then capital of the province of Leyte. In 1843, the Augustinians ceded the administration of the parish to the Franciscans.

The change of the name came about in this manner: Kankabatok was a favorite haunt of fishermen. They would use a bamboo contraption called a "taklub" to catch crabs, shrimps or fish. When asked where they were going, the fishermen would answer, "(to) tarakluban", which meant the place where they used the device to catch these marine resources. Eventually, the name Tarakluban or Tacloban took prominence.

It is not known when Tacloban became a municipality because records supporting this fact were destroyed during a typhoon. It is commonly believed that Tacloban was officially proclaimed a municipality in 1770s. In 1768, Leyte and Samar were separated into two provinces, each constituting a politico-military province. Due to its strategic location, Tacloban became a vital trading point between the two provinces.

The capital of Leyte was transferred from one town to another with Tacloban as the last on 26 February 1830. The decision to make Tacloban the capital was based on the following reasons: 1) ideal location of the port and 2) well-sheltered and adequate facilities. On 20 June 1952, Tacloban was proclaimed a chartered city by virtue of Republic Act No. 760.[3]

Statue of Gen. Douglas MacArthur and President Sergio Osmeña

The arrival of Colonel Arthur Murray in 1901 made him the first military governor of Leyte. His first official act was the opening of Tacloban port to world commerce. Before World War II, Tacloban was the commercial, education, social and cultural center of the Province of Leyte. Copra and abaca were exported in large quantities. The leading institutions were: Leyte Normal School, Leyte High School, Leyte Trade School, Holy Infant Academy and Tacloban Catholic Institute.

In November 1912, a typhoon swept through the central Philippines and "practically destroyed" Tacloban. In Tacloban and Capiz on the island of Panay, the death toll was 15,000, half the population of those cities at the time.[11]

On 25 May 1942, Japanese forces landed in Tacloban, signalling the beginning of their two-year occupation of Leyte. They fortified the city and improved its airfield. Since San Pedro Bay was ideal for larger vessels, the Japanese Imperial Naval Forces made Tacloban a port of call and entry. This time was considered the darkest in the history of Tacloban and the country due to the incidences of torture among civilians, including the elderly. In response, guerrilla groups operated in Leyte – the most notable of which was the group of Ruperto Kangleon.

Leyte was the first to be liberated by the combined Filipino and American troops. General Douglas MacArthur's assault troops landed in the Tacloban and Palo beaches (White Beach and Red Beach, respectively) and in the neighboring town of Dulag (Blue Beach) on 20 October 1944. These landings signaled the eventual victory of the Filipino and American forces and the fulfillment of MacArthur's famous promise: "I Shall Return."

Three days later, on 23 October, at a ceremony at the Capitol Building in Tacloban, MacArthur, accompanied by President Sergio Osmeña, made Tacloban the temporary seat of the Commonwealth Government and temporary capital of the Philippines until the complete liberation of the country.[12] The provincial government of Leyte and the municipal government of Tacloban were re-established.

Paulo Jaro was the Liberation mayor of Tacloban. The first mayor of this capital upon inauguration of the Philippine Republic was Epifanio Aguirre.

On 8 January 1960 MacArthur made his "sentimental" journey to Leyte. He was greeted with cheers by locals when he visited Tacloban.

The city was proclaimed as a highly urbanized city by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on 4 October 2008[13] and ratified by the people on 18 December 2008.[14] Tacloban was officially declared an HUC at 10:40PM of that day.

2013 Typhoon HaiyanEdit

Debris lines the streets of Tacloban after Typhoon Haiyan hit the city.

On 8 November 2013 (PST), Tacloban was hit by the full force of Typhoon Haiyan, causing massive destruction across the city. Dead bodies were scattered on the streets, trees were uprooted, and a 13 ft (4 m) storm surge largely destroyed the airport, though it functioned soon after as a makeshift command and evacuation center.[15] After taking a helicopter flight over the city, US Marine Brigadier General Paul Kennedy was quoted as saying, "I don't believe there is a single structure that is not destroyed or severely damaged in some way – every single building, every single house."[16] Widespread looting and violence is reported to have taken place[17] and local government virtually collapsed, as many city officials were victims.[18] President Aquino declared a state of emergency in Tacloban. The official final death toll stood at 6,201.[19]

2015 Papal visitEdit

On 17 January 2015, Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, arrived in Tacloban to celebrate Mass with the survivors of Haiyan (Yolanda).[20] The pope arrived at Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport on a flight operated by Philippine Airlines.


Tacloban is located on the northeastern tip of Leyte island, with its easternmost part facing Cancabato Bay. The bay is at the east mouth of San Juanico Strait. The Tacloban territory follows the length of the strait, along with Babatngon municipality north of the city. The strait divides the islands of Leyte and Samar.


The City of Tacloban is subdivided into 138 barangays, each having its own council.


Tacloban has a tropical rainforest climate (Köppen: Af) but due to the numerous cyclones present in the area, the climate is not equatorial. Tropical rainforest climates are tropical climates in which there is no dry season – all months have mean precipitation values of at least 60 millimetres (2.4 in). Tropical rainforest climates have no pronounced summer or winter; it is typically wet throughout the year and rainfall is both heavy and frequent. One day in an equatorial climate can be very similar to the next, while the change in temperature between day and night may be larger than the average change in temperature between "summer" and "winter".

The average high (daytime) temperature for the year in Tacloban is 31.1 °C (88.0 °F). The warmest month on average is May with an average daytime temperature of 32.3 °C (90.1 °F).[21] The coolest month on average is January and February, with an average (nighttime) temperature of 23.4 °C (74.1 °F).[21]

The highest recorded temperature was 38.0 °C (100.4 °F), recorded on April 6, 1924, and in August.[22] The lowest recorded temperature in Tacloban is 17.5 °C (63.5 °F) which was recorded in December.[22]

The average rainfall for the year is 2,659.3 millimetres (104.7 in), with the most rainfall on average in December with 386.0 millimetres (15.2 in) and the least on average in April with 115.2 millimetres (4.5 in).[21]

Climate data for Tacloban City (1981–2010, extremes 1903–2012)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 34.7
Average high °C (°F) 29.2
Daily mean °C (°F) 26.3
Average low °C (°F) 23.4
Record low °C (°F) 18.8
Average rainfall mm (inches) 323.9
Average rainy days (≥ 0.1 mm) 22 17 17 14 14 17 17 15 16 20 22 23 214
Average relative humidity (%) 87 85 83 82 83 84 84 83 84 86 86 88 85
Source: PAGASA[21][22]


Population census of Tacloban
YearPop.±% p.a.
1903 11,948—    
1918 15,787+1.87%
1939 31,233+3.30%
1948 45,421+4.25%
1960 53,551+1.38%
1970 76,531+3.63%
1980 102,523+2.97%
1990 136,891+2.93%
1995 167,310+3.83%
2000 178,639+1.41%
2007 218,144+2.79%
2010 221,174+0.50%
2015 242,089+1.74%
2020 251,881+0.78%
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority[23][24][25][26]

According to the 2015 census, Tacloban has a population of 242,089 inhabitants.

Tacloban is predominantly a Waray-speaking city. The language is also officially called Lineyte-Samarnon ("Leyte-Samarnon") and spoken by more than 90% of the total city population. Waray-Waray, aside from being the native language of the city, is also the lingua franca used in the city among Filipinos of various ethnic groups.

Tacloban is culturally and linguistically diverse. A decade before the end of Spanish sovereignty, it was largely a typical colonial community: most of its residents were either pure Iberian families or the new generations of Spanish-Filipino blood. Today's population consists of a mix of Spanish and Chinese mestizos, foreign expatriates and native Leyteños.[citation needed]

Other Filipino ethnic groups who migrated in the city are Cebuano/Kana/Visayan speaking populace accounts 6.08% of the total population, 0.80% are Tagalog, 0.10% are Ilocano, 0.07% are Kapampangan while 2.95% come from other ethnic origins.

88.52% of the residents of Tacloban City are Roman Catholic; 6.12% are Muslims (most are Maranao migrants from Mindanao); 0.83% are of the indigenous Christian denomination, Iglesia ni Cristo; 0.94% are Evangelicals (born-again Christians); Baptists 0.80%; 0.49% Seventh Day Adventists. Others comprise 3.10%.


Downtown district of Tacloban

Tacloban is the economic center of the entire Eastern Visayas, with an economy largely focused on agriculture, commerce, and tourism. Proximal to the city proper is the 237-hectare Eastern Visayas Agri-Industrial Growth Center (EVRGC), which was approved and accredited by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 1210 on 23 April 1998. EVRGC serves as an eco-industrial hub with the Tacloban city government as its developer and operator. Several regional broadcasters are also based in the city including ABS-CBN TV-2 Tacloban and PRTV-12 Tacloban. The Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport also makes the city a key regional transportation hub.

Tacloban is one of the fastest growing cities in the Philippines, and has one of the lowest poverty incidence rates in the country (at roughly 9%, while the national poverty incidence stands at 30%). After its massive devastation on 8 November 2013, Tacloban was declared by its local government as a start-up city, which means everything had to start back from scratch. Currently the city is experiencing a rapid economic recovery.


Kanhuraw – this nickname of the Tacloban City Hall is also the name of the hill where the building stands.

The executive power of the City Government is vested in the mayor. The Sangguniang Panlungsod or the city council has the legislative power to create city ordinances. It is a unicameral body composed of ten elected councilors and certain numbers of ex officio and sectoral representatives. It is presided by the vice mayor, the mayor and the elected city councilors who are elected-at-large every three years. The current city mayor is Alfred Romualdez.

The city government ceased to be under the supervision of the provincial government after it became a Highly Urbanized City in 2008. The city is now under the direct supervision of the national government.

Tacloban City is part of the 1st District of Leyte, alongside seven other municipalities: Alangalang, Babatngon, Palo, San Miguel, Santa Fe, Tanauan, and Tolosa. The district is currently represented by Congressman Martin Romualdez.

Official seal of the city of TaclobanEdit

The official Seal of Tacloban is the symbol of the city's identity when it became a city under Republic Act No. 760 on 20 June 1952.

The city's emblem stands for the following physical attributes and character:[33]

  • Left Portion - Symbolizes the province of Samar (Santa Rita), major supplier of agricultural and marine products to the city, stabilizing its volume of business and trade.
  • Center - Stands for the beautiful and scenic San Juanico Strait
  • The Galleon - Illustrates the ship of Ferdinand Magellan who landed in the island of Homonhon, Eastern Samar, the first Philippine island he sighted during the historic circumnavigation of the world
  • Right Portion - Leyte side, where Tacloban City is located


Dancers during the Pintados Festival in 2008

The week-long celebrations peaks on 30 June,[34] the Grand fiesta of Tacloban celebrated with the traditional turn-over ceremonies of the "Teniente" made by the immediate past Hermano Mayor to the incoming Hermano Mayor. This is accompanied by the ritual of giving the medallion containing the names of all Hermanos Pasados and the Standartes. Fireworks and grand parades mark the occasion. Every house in the city prepares a feast and opens its doors to guests and well wishers.

Subiran Regatta
Subiran Regatta is a race of one-man native sailboats with outriggers locally called "subiran" along scenic and historic Leyte Gulf. The race is done without using a paddle but only skills and techniques to manoeuvre the sail. The Subiran Regatta is now on its 32nd year and counting. This contest is done annually on that weeklong celebration of the Tacloban City Fiesta. The race aims to preserve the art of sailing with the wind alone, and to showcase the mastery of this art by local boatmen.
Organized by the Department of Tourism and the city government, this activity which only started in 1975 is supposedly a re-enactment of a purported exchange of images between Barrio Buscada of Basey and Sitio Kankabatok, now Tacloban City. A local story which only saw print in the 20th century purports that in the old days, Sitio Kankabatok was a small barrio under the jurisdiction of Basey town in Samar. During the Feast of Santo Niño, the residents of Sitio Kankabatok would borrow the bigger image of the saint from the chapel of Barrio Buscada in Basey. Santo Niño is the revered patron saint of both Kankabatok and Barrio Buscada. The image is returned promptly after the festivities. When Kankabatok grew into a barrio of its own, the local Catholic authorities decided that the bigger Santo Niño image be retained in prospering village. However, because of its highly questionable anthropological and historical basis, the story can be best understood as simply etiological. It gives witness to the cultural, ethnographical and historical relationship between the people of south Samar and the eastern seaboard of Leyte. Likewise, stories of the image missing in Buscada and turning up in Kankabatok aided to this decision of honoring this relationship. The Basey Flotilla bearing the church and government leaders goes on a fluvial procession along San Pedro Bay. A budyong (shell) call announces the sight of the flotilla off Kankabatok Bay.
Sangyaw Festival
Sangyaw is an archaic Waray word which means to herald the news. The Sangyaw Festival was created by Imelda Marcos in the 1980s. The festival was revived in 2008 by her nephew, current city mayor Alfred Romualdez. The Sangyaw Festival invites contingents of different performing groups of various festivals in the country to compete in this side of the region. Cash prizes and trophies are at stake as the Sangyaw Festival grooms itself to be a big festival to watch out in the succeeding years.

Points of interestEdit

The San Juanico Bridge, north of the city
The Santo Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum holds some properties of Ferdinand Marcos
Price Mansion
The Sto. Niño Parish Church of Tacloban

Tacloban is a tourism hub and the primary gateway to Eastern Visayas. The region is world-renowned for its natural ecological beauty and diversity and for its historical significance in the Second World War.

San Juanico Bridge
San Juanico Bridge, which is 2.16 kilometres (1.34 mi) long and connects the islands of Leyte and Samar across the San Juanico Strait, is the longest bridge in the Philippines. It was not significantly damaged due to Typhoon Haiyan and therefore was one of the critical gateways for the transportation of relief goods and the evacuation of refugees.[35]
Santo Niño Shrine
Home of the Marcos Family, it displays the fortune and previous properties of the Philippine dictator.[36] The shrine was severely damaged due to Typhoon Haiyan (2013), and repairs are nearly complete.[37]
Price Mansion
The Price Mansion is an example of American colonial homes built in the Philippines during the 1900s. It was the official residence and headquarters of General Douglas MacArthur during the Liberation of the Philippines period in 1944.[38] The building was the residence of Walter Scott Price and his wife Simeona Kalingag and their children.[39] It is now called as CAP Building located along Justice Romualdez Street.
Santo Niño Church
The Santo Niño Church is considered the most important religious site in the province. It houses the miraculous image of Santo Niño which is the patron saint of Tacloban. The church was severely damaged due to Typhoon Haiyan.[40] The church had to be rebuilt after Typhoon Haiyan. This was undertaken with the financial assistance of the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation.[41]
Leyte Provincial Capitol
The Leyte Provincial Capitol is a neoclassical building built in 1907. Located at the corner of Sen. Enage Street and Magsaysay Boulevard, the "Kapitolyo" is the seat of the provincial government of Leyte. It was also the seat of the Commonwealth Government of the Philippines when President Sergio Osmeña landed here in 1944 with the WWII Liberation Forces. The Capitol was damaged in 2013 by Typhoon Haiyan.
Tacloban Metropolitan Arena
Popularly known as the "Astrodome," the Tacloban City Convention Center is a 5,000-seat indoor arena which is now the perfect location for basketball tourneys and other sporting activities, concerts and other big gatherings like the "Search for Ms. Tacloban". It also houses many bars and businesses. The arena was severely damaged by Typhoon Haiyan but still served as an evacuation center after the typhoon devastation.
People's Center Library
The library houses a collection of books of different cultures from around the globe – USA, Europe and other countries – including French, Spanish and English literature as well as a compilation of law books. The People's Center Library is used by local students as well as researchers. It is like a Greek building that houses the collection of books such as Imelda Marcos's. It is the alleged oldest library in Tacloban and the whole Eastern Visayas (Region VIII).[42]
Balyuan Park
Balyuan Park is located at the grounds of Magsaysay Boulevard. The park a famous spot to watch the sun rise from across the bay behind the Cataisan Peninsula where the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport is located.
Madonna of Japan
The Madonna of Japan serves a symbol of friendship between the Japanese and Filipinos. It is located at the Kanhuraw Hill near City Hall, facing Kankabato Bay. During the Second World War, the place became a campground for Japanese soldiers.


Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport Terminal

Tacloban is served by air, multicabs, taxis, jeepneys, buses, tricycles and pedicabs. Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport has had plans (for many years) to upgrade to an international airport. At present, the airport is served by four airlines that offer domestic flights to and from Manila, Cebu, Davao, and Clark. The New Transport Terminal of Tacloban City or New Bus Terminal located in Abucay district serves as the land transportation hub to and from various points in the region.


The Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center(EVRMC) located at the northern district of Tacloban.

As the regional center of Eastern Visayas, Tacloban offers a range of healthcare services. There are a number of hospitals and other medical institutions serving the city's population.

  • Public hospitals
  • Private hospitals
    • Divine Word Hospital (owned by the Benedictine Sisters)
    • Our Mother of Mercy Hospital (owned by the Religious Sisters of Mercy)
    • Remedios Trinidad Romualdez Hospital (owned by the RTR Medical Foundation)
    • Tacloban Doctors Medical Center (owned by a group of locally prominent doctors)
    • ACE Medical Center Tacloban (just past the nearby shopping mall on the way to Palo)


Tacloban has a variety of educational institutions both public and private.

Notable institutions include:

Sister citiesEdit


  Fukuyama, Hiroshima, Japan[44]

Notable peopleEdit


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