The 375-mile-diameter Bopha, locally named Pablo and categorized earlier as a super typhoon by U.S. meteorologists, came ashore just before 5 a.m. local time with sustained wind speeds of 110 miles per hour as authorities prepared for what they feared could be one of the most destructive storms to hit the country.
CNN quoted officials as saying the tightly packed Bopha could be even worse than the Sendong storm last year that killed more than 1,200 people.
Several cities and towns in the region, among the most densely populated in the Philippines, were placed under public storm warning signals by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.
ABC-CBN, quoting the PAGASA, said Bopha was moving west at 17 miles per hour and could pick up wind speeds at it approached Roxas city, bringing with it rains of more than 1 inch per hour.
The agency said residents in coastal areas in other provinces including Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Dinagat should also be on alert as the storm could bring in up to 20-foot waves.
Authorities have ordered pre-emptive evacuations of people in the coastal areas, especially those facing the Pacific Ocean as the storm threatened to knock out power over wide areas and cause much damage. Residents also were warned about devastating flash flooding and landslides.
CNN, quoting authorities and aid groups, reported millions of people, many living in remote areas, remained in the storm's path.
"The weather is good right now but we keep advising local governments not to be complacent because this is going to get worse," ABS-CBN quoted regional civil defense director Olive Luces as saying earlier.
CNN said government agencies have readied millions of dollars worth of relief supplies for any emergency and placed rescue crews, the military and hospitals on standby.
Bopha was forecast to blanket the waters off Surigao del Sur until Tuesday morning before moving toward Iloilo City on the Visayas Island Wednesday morning and over toward Puerto Princesa City in Palawan Thursday.
Other recent deadly storms to hit the Philippines included last July's Typhoon Saola, which killed more than 50 people in Manila and other parts of the northern Philippines, flooded thousands of homes and caused heavy property and crop damage.