Long before any westerners reached the region, the ancient Bicols (the people) already has the culture of their own. They called their land IBALON, possibly after their chieftain-DATU GAT ABAAL, who ruled the inhabited territories from his seat of power at Sawangan on the mouth of Makabalo River which is now the present day Legazpi City.
The sword and the cross of Spain reached Ibalon in 1570 when part of Legazpi Urdaneta expeditionary force headed by two Augustinian friars, Fr. Alonzo Jimenez and Fr. Juan Orca landed at the southwestern coast of the western peninsula. They named the southern part of the peninsula “TIERRA DE IBALON” and the northern part, “TIERRA DE CAMARINES”. Tierra de ibalon is also referred to as the first Christian settlement in the island of Luzon.
After the Christianization and colonization of Ibalon, the peninsula was divided into two encomienda. The eastern portion, the encomienda de Busaingan went to Pedro Arnedo, while the other half was given to Rodrigo Arias Giron. Busaingan which means “breaker” was the name given to the coastal settlement of the southern tip of Luzon, The present town of Santa Magdalena in Sorsogon Province.
Ibalon had a port call for galleon plying the Manila-Acapulco route. Historians believed that this could be what is now known as the port of Legazpi City. It was at this port that Bishop Salazar, the first bishop assigned to the Philippines was stranded for a few weeks during which he was able to learn the abuses of the encomienderos.
It was believed that the report of Bishop Salazar could have been one of the causes for the abolition of the encomienda system in Ibalon, thus, paving the way for the birth of the two original Bicol provinces- AMBOS CAMARINES which included Albay and Sorsogon.
The boundaries of the Region were clearly delineated in a decree issued by Spanish Governor General Narciso de Claveria on October 19,1836, fixing the territorial limits between Ambos Camarines. It underwent a series of divisions and fusions until 1919 when the Philippine Legislature enacted Act. No. 2809, creating the separate province of Camarines Sur.
Partido de Ibalon, which comprises the eastern part of the peninsula, had changed in name very much earlier when a decree was issued in 1663 renaming this political subdivision Albay. Some of the towns of Ambos Camarines and Ibalon were interchanged. The islands of Catanduanes and Masbate were declared separate military districts.
Sorsogon which used to be part of Albay became a province in 1894. By virtue of an executive order issued by the Governor-General in 1908, Masbate was made a sub-province of Albay by the American Civil Government. It became an independent province on October 26, 1945 by virtue of Commonwealth Act No. 687.