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|City of Iriga|
Nickname(s): "City of Crystal- Clear Springs" "City of Superstars""Character City"
Map of Camarines Sur showing the location of Iriga City
|Region||Bicol Region (Region V)|
|Founded||1578 (as a visita)|
|Founded||1683 (as a pueblo)|
|Cityhood||September 3, 1968|
|• Mayor||Madelaine Yorobe Alfelor(LP)|
|• Total||137.35 km2 (53.03 sq mi)|
|Population (2015 census)|
|• Density||810/km2 (2,100/sq mi)|
|Time zone||PHT (UTC+8)|
|IDD : area code||+63 (0)54|
|Income class||3rd class, partially urban|
Iriga, officially the City of Iriga (Rinconada Bikol: Syudad ka Iriga; Central Bikol: Syudad nin Iriga; Filipino: Lungsod ng Iriga), is a third class city in the province of Camarines Sur, Philippines. It is located about 400 kilometres (250 mi) south-east of Manila, and about 33 kilometres (21 mi) south of the regional center Naga City. Iriga City is the center of trade, commerce, and education of the Rinconada district.
According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 111,757 people.
Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines on March 16, 1521, Iriga, now a city, was only a visita of Nabua, Provincia de Ambos Camarines. Because of the disastrous floods that occur during rainy seasons in suburban Poblacion of Nabua, Father Felix de Huertas, the then parish priest, advised the farmers to move to I-raga (donde hay tierra or where there is land) where they can plant their crops without fear of being flooded. The flood victims of Nabua who moved earlier and followed the suggestions of their parish priest were the fortunate beneficiaries of the harvest of their agricultural plantation coming from the rich and fertile soils of I-raga, more so, those who planted at the foot of Sumagang Mountain (Mountain of the Rising Sun, now Mt. Iriga) said to be nature’s given symbol of the Irigueños lofty ideals and noble visions.
As population spread out and evangelization progressed, the settlement at the foot of Sumagang Mountain developed in size and wealth, slowly pushing the aborigines (Agta) up to the thickness of the forest. And in 1578 the I-raga settlement was established as “visita” of Nabua under Fray Pablo de Jesus and Fray Bartolome Ruiz, both Franciscans. Three decades later or on January 4, 1641, Mount Asog (named after a negrito chieftain who ruled the aborigines) or Mt. Iriga, erupted. That eruption brought much fear to the settlers but with their strong faith and belief a miracle happened and as witnessed by local folks, the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mother and her son Lord Jesus or “Nuestra Señora de Angustia” at sitio Inorogan saved the people from terrible earthquake and flood. The eruption formed the cavernous gully on the side of Buhi leading to the steep gorge which was the crater of the “volcano”.
Iriga, according to Fray Felix Huertas in his lengthily-titled Estado Geografico, Topografico, Estadisticdo, Historico-Reliogoso de la Santa Apostolica Provincia de S. Gregorio Magno published in 1865, came from the native word iraga, which means “poseedores de mucho terreno,” or “possessors of much land.” From a mere “doctrina,” a religious administrative word which roughly means a “mission post” in 1583.
In 1683, this progressive visita of I-raga was converted into Pueblo de la Provincia de Ambos Camarines with a population of 8,908 which several decades later the name I-raga was changed to Iriga by the dipthongal Spanish authorities and advocated St. Anthony of Padua as Patron Saint and June 13 as the annual fiesta.
From the middle of the 19th century until the first two decades of the 20th century, Iriga was a major abaca-producing town in the Bicol region, largely because of the rich volcanic soil surrounding Mt. Iriga which it spewed in its last eruption about six hundred years before the coming of the Spaniards in Bikol.
According to William Freer, the American Superintendent of Schools in Camarines Sur, “The sides of the mountain nourish rich plantations of abaca owned by several Spaniards, and shelter several hundreds of the Philippine aborigines, the Negritos, who are now employed on the plantations. Because of the production of abaca the town of Iriga ranks third in importance in Camarines, being outclassed only by Nueva Caceres and Daet.”
During the incumbency of Don Martin Mendoza as Capitan Municipal, in the memorias de la Provincia de Ambos Camarines, showed that the “Pueblo de Iriga” was composed of “barrios y visitas distinguida la poblacion centro del casco en 5 barrios que son San Roque, San Francisco de Asis, San Juan Bautista, Sto. Domingo de Guzman y San Miguel Arcangel con 6 visitas fuera del casco denominados San Nicolas de Tolentino, San Agustin, San Antonio Abad, Sto. Niño, Santiago de Galicia y la visita de los monteses” with a population of 13,813. There were only four roads mentioned, they were coming from Nabua going to Baao, to Buhi and to Polangui, Albay, now the diversion road passing Salvacion, Masoli, Bato, then to the south road going to Polangui, Albay and there was only one way going to Nueva Caceres (Naga) via Bicol River by boat.
In 1913, the Manila Railroad (MRR) Company Station and the public market were established in their respective present site which readily contributed to the rapid growth of Iriga making it the center of trade and commerce in Rinconada area. It was also at this time that Mondays and Thursdays were declared as market days in Iriga.
The Municipality of Iriga continued to prosper through the years. The original “barrios y visitas” have developed sitios which later on, these sitios have metamorphosed into distinct and separate barrios. After the Second World War, San Ramon, San Rafael, Cristo Rey, Sta. Isabel, San Vicente Norte, San Andres, Sta. Teresita, Perpetual Help, Sagrada, Niño Jesus, San Pedro and Antipolo, former sitios of barrio San Agustin, San Isidro and San Nicolas were created as barrios. And, the barrios of La Anunciacion and Sta. Elena were sitios of Sto. Domingo and Santiago, Del Rosario (Banao) of Santiago and Sto. Niño and La Purisima of San Francisco & part of Sto. Domingo, Sta. Cruz Sur of San Francisco. Francia and San Jose from San Miguel and San Vicente Sur, Salvacion, La Trinidad and La Medalla from the large barrio of San Antonio.
Some of these barrios were already created during the incumbency of Mayor Jose C. Villanueva in 1960. And the latest and the 36th barrio ever created was Sta. Maria which comprises the sitios of Tubigan, Katungdulan, Bagacay, Sampaga, Rao and Cawayan of barrio Sta. Teresita by virtue of Republic Act 6228.
AS A CITY Through the unflinching support and willful cooperation of the town’s people, Mayor Jose C. Villanueva at the helm of stewardship successfully gained the conversion of Iriga into the signing of R.A 5261 otherwise known as the Charter of Iriga City on July 8, 1968 by then President Ferdinand E. Marcos, considered to be the turning point of Iriga. The City, however, was formally organized and inaugurated as the third city of Bicol on September 3, 1968 by Presidential Proclamation and officiated by the President of the Philippines.
Since then, Iriga City has developed tremendously making it not only as the center of trade and commerce in Rinconada area but the whole Bicol Region as well, as it is strategically located in between the cities of Naga and Legaspi.
In 2004, Madelaine Alfelor-Gazmen, the daughter of the late Camarines Sur congressman, Ciriaco R. Alfelor and granddaughter of Camarines Sur Governor Felix O. Alfelor, became Iriga’s first woman city mayor, and only the third city mayor after his uncle, Emmanuel R. Alfelor was similarly elected in 1994 and served the city for 3 consecutive terms (1994-2004).
In her last term in 2013, Mayor Gazmen, has already made her mark as a no-nonsense city executive when she transferred the operations of the city government to its new home in barangay Sta. Cruz Sur. The new city hall as well the beautiful New Iriga City Public Market, the slaughterhouse and City Library, will no doubt be Mayor Gazmen’s lasting legacy and monuments to the city of her own birth, the city she wants to call “city of crystal-clear springs,” and where they spring eternal, like hope.
Her administration promoted good governance and started it off by launching Iriga as a Character City on September 4, 2004 to lead and encourage others to become better persons. Strengthening the system and structure of governance became her priority. Enhancement programs like the Public Service Excellence, Ethics and Accountability Program (PSEEAP) granted by The Asia Foundation and the British Embassy, the City Development Strategy (CDS), Transparent Accountable Governance (TAG) and the Public Governance System (PGS) were adopted and institutionalized. Her overall development program for Iriga has been largely centered on the bigger context of achieving its vision of becoming an Agro-Ecotourism Center in the Philippines by 2015. Part of her approach is communicating her programs to her constituents which is meant to raise awareness and educate the people about the city’s development perspective, and mobilize community participation and involvement in the various government programs. Her advocacy on good governance and responsible citizenship provided the much needed impetus guiding the city in its present status as a primary growth center in the Bicol Region. These were the same reasons that gained her and the city numerous prestigious awards and citations given by national and international entities. Grant funds for development projects and capability building totaling Php 300M. were also awarded to the city during her term. In 2013, Ronald Felix Y. Alfelor, an Electrical Engineer by profession, became the next mayor of the city. He is the younger brother of former Mayor Madelaine Alfelor Gazmen. Considered one of the youngest member-mayor of the Leagues of Cities of the Philippines at 33 years old, he advocated and made a covenant to build a city with a strong and responsive good local governance that promotes responsible citizenship by: ensuring the people’s security in their life, liberty and property; enhancing the participation of the citizens in local governance; providing public services to citizens to ensure a healthy, safe, and desirable environment, as well as a literate, skilled and entrepreneurial citizenry to achieve a sustainable and conducive economic and social growth so that all Irigueños will realize their dreams and aspirations.
He proclaimed his mission to strive to deliver excellent public service at least cost, by adopting the principles of “doing things right the first time and walking the extra mile” to ensure increased performance efficiency and development outcomes.
Iriga is bounded by the town of Buhi in the east, by the municipalities of Baao, Nabua and Bato in the west, by the province of Albay in the south, and by the municipalities of Ocampo and Sangay in the north.
Low hills and gently waving plains but with mountain ranges.
- Cristo Rey
- Del Rosario (Banao)
- La Anunciacion
- La Medalla
- La Purisima
- La Trinidad
- Niño Jesus
- Perpetual Help
- San Agustin
- San Andres
- San Antonio
- San Francisco
- San Isidro
- San Jose
- San Juan
- San Miguel
- San Nicolas
- San Pedro
- San Rafael
- San Ramon
- San Roque
- San Vicente Norte
- San Vicente Sur
- Sta. Cruz Norte
- Sta. Cruz Sur
- Sta. Elena
- Sta. Isabel
- Sta. Maria
- Sta. Teresita
- Sto. Domingo
- Sto. Niño
|Population census of Iriga|
|Source: Philippine Statistics Authority|
In the 2015 census, the population of Iriga, was 111,757 people, with a density of 810 inhabitants per square kilometre or 2,100 inhabitants per square mile.
Irigueños or people of Iriga speak Rinconada Bikol language. Irigueños of Austronesian lineage are using Iriga variant while the indigenous and oboriginal groups of Agta or Negritos are using Agta variant of the language. Tagalog/Filipino and English languages are also understood and spoken. Bikol Central is also commonly understood and spoken in the Rinconada area.
The majority of the city residents are Roman Catholic. The Archdiocese of Nueva Caceres has several parishes and churches in the city. The biggest church can be found at the center of the city (Saint Anthony of Padua) and the Lourdes grotto symbolizes the long history of Catholicism in Iriga. Tinagba, a harvest festival can be seen a fusion of folk tradition and Catholic saint celebration.
Iglesia ni Cristo is the largest minority religion in the city. The INC's district office of ecclesiastical district of Camarines Southeast (CSE) is located in Barangay San Nicolas. The office oversees the church members in Rinconada and Partido areas in Camarines Sur, and Burias island in Masbate. Thus, a large number of INC members can be found in the city. At present, Iglesia Ni Cristo has four local congregations and two extensions in Iriga.
Islam is a new religion in the city and most of its members are immigrants from Mindanao island. LDS Church members are also numerous, as well as Jehovah's Witnesses. Baptist adherents are also active in the city.
Iriga City Public Market is one of the busiest in the region which makes the city as the center of commerce in Rinconada district. The old Public Market was redesigned and reconstructed in 2010 and now hosts LCC supermarket, many local shops and several national chain restaurants. Sold at the new public market are locally grown and harvested organic produce such as tilapia harvested from nearby Lake Buhi and Lake Bato. Salt water fresh and dried fish from neighboring Balatan coast are sold in abundance in the market. Gift shops offering locally manufactured products made from local hemp, pili nut, bamboo and coconut are offered to local and foreign tourists.
The city is home to three major commercial complexes namely the LCC Mall Iriga, which was the second LCC Mall in the district, the UNP Town Mall near the University of Northeastern Philippines, and the largest and newest Regent Central Commercial Complex. National chain restaurants like Mang Inasal, Chow King, Jollibee, Biggs and Shakey's opened branches in the city. Many other fastfood and specialty restaurants are planning to open branches in the future. City Mall also explores potential sites for their new branch in the city. A new convention center was built in front of the Catholic Grotto hosts important events in the city. A new Puregold branch just opened in the city. It is the third branch of Puregold in the province of Camarines Sur to opened.
Gaisano Capital Iriga is now under construction located just infront of the Lourdes Hospital, San Roque, Iriga City.
Found at the downtown Iriga is the City Park which is located near the cathedral and across the old City Hall. It is a well landscaped, Japanese-themed park with a huge spurting fountain at the center but was later replaced with a skating rink. Acacia trees are lit with colored lights during Christmas season. Surrounding the park are business establishments and landmarks such as the Lourdes Grotto which offers a great view of the downtown.
There is a number of waterfalls and springs found in the city. Several resorts and hotels were built to accommodate growing tourist arrivals. The old Ibalon Hotel was renovated and renamed as Iriga City Plaza Hotel. Local cuisine offering meat and vegetarian dishes with coconut milk and red chili peppers.
A small central bus terminal was constructed in the city center to accommodate buses, shuttles and jeepneys going to Manila and neighboring cities. Philippine National Railways and Philippine Transportation Company (PHILTRANCO) maintain stations in Iriga City. Several hospitals operate in the city. A catholic-convent run Sta. Maria Josefa Hospital is well- equipped and among the best in the region.
The City connects and is energized by the Tiwi Geo-Steam Electric Turbine Generation of Energy. It has its own electric company or cooperative for local distribution.
Electrification of far villages in the mountain and river districts was completed and now, the city is 100% electrified.
The City of Iriga has long been distinct in terms of sanitation and hygiene, it has a long history about its water source the Lake Buhi or Lawa ng Buhi, the government or the locals founded a Water Service in this vicinity providing Iriga a clean and potable water. As the water distributor proper and Iriga become a city it extend its service to Ligao City then Legazpi City calling it a Metro Iriga Water Services as it connects to Tabaco City. Lake Buhi (Buhi means Alive in local Tintadus term) serves four cities and calling the service a Metro Iriga.
Iriga City is served with several nationally-operating telecom companies namely Digitel, Bayantel, PLDT, Smart, Globe and Sun cellular which offer telephone and internet services. These companies maintain major operations in the city. Iriga City is also the regional base of operations of TV and radio network RPN (Radio Philippines Network) Channel 9. Since 1968, its radio station RPN DZKI-AM (Radyo Ronda Iriga) and television station RPN DWKI-TV 10 (currently airing CNN Philippines) which has been operating from the city has dominated the airwaves . There is a few local cable TV operators dominate the cable TV market including GMA TV 13 Iriga (affiliated to DZAL of Rinconada Broadcasting Corp.) ABS-CBN Corporation has proposed to construct a relay station in the city probably on a UHF Channel while TV5 planned to set up a 10 KW UHF relay station here. DZIJ-RJTV Channel 21 is set to open in the city.
The city is home to two universities, several colleges and trade schools. The University of Saint Anthony, University of Northeastern Philippines, La Consolacion College, STI College, AMA Computer Learning Center and many others are located right within the city proper. These schools have students from the city and nearby towns. The city is host to a big number of student migrants from the region.
- "Cities". Quezon City, Philippines: Department of the Interior and Local Government. Archived from the original on 9 March 2013. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
- "Province: CAMARINES SUR". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
- Census of Population (2015). "Region V (Bicol Region)". Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. PSA. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
- Census of Population and Housing (2010). "Region V (Bicol Region)". Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. NSO. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
- Census of Population (1995, 2000 and 2007). "Region V (Bicol Region)". Total Population by Province, City and Municipality. NSO. Archived from the original on 24 June 2011.
- "Province of Camarines Sur". Municipality Population Data. Local Water Utilities Administration Research Division. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Iriga.|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Iriga.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Iriga.|
- Official Website of the City of Iriga
- FPJ's Blog "Skulakog" by H. Frank V. Peñones, Jr.
- Iriga Historical Timeline
- 2007 NSCB information
- Philippine Standard Geographic Code
- Philippine Census Information
- Iriga City, World
- Iriga City, Philippines : Great People, Great Destination
- NCC Website for Iriga City
- News from Iriga
- University of Saint Anthony