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History of Iba

Founded by Recollect priests in 1611, the village of Paynawen moved from one place to another until it settled permanently along the banks of Bancal River, where a fort was built as a defense against pirates who constantly molested the region.

In 1860, the administration of the town was turned over to the Dominican priests.

There were no available records as to when Paynawen was renamed Iba, but old folks believed, the town was named after a sour fruit called “Iba.” How the town got this name became a legend, that has been told, retold and handed down from generation to generation.

The story happened during the early days of Spanish colonization. It was told, that while most of the Spaniards were busy establishing the pueblo, one of their men sneaked out from the group and curiously wandered around the village of the natives. Along the way, he saw a group of people, who incidentally were eating a certain kind of soft fruit. This particular Spaniard, being stranger to the place, approached them and asked the name of the place, but because of language differences, the natives thought, he was asking the name of the fruit they were eating, immediately, they replied “Iba…Iba…Iba…” from then on, this small pueblo was named Iba.

The early formation of Iba was attributed to the Zambals, an ethnic group who belonged to the Malay race. They originated from the Celebes. They pushed the dwarfish, kinky haired Negritoes or Aetas eastward to the hinterlands. These Zambals eventually established their settlements on what is now the Municipality of Iba.

Through the course of time, other ethnic groups like the Tagalog and Ilocanos migrated, occupied and formed their settlements on the southern portion of the province. They later on inter-married with the Zambals and became the ancestors of these present generation.

At various points in history, the capital of the province shifted from each of the three towns earlier established by the Spanish colonizers, namely, Masinloc, Sta. Cruz and Iba, but because of Iba’s strategic location, it finally became the permanent seat of the provincial government.

Several history milestones had swept over the Municipality during the early days. One of which was during the declaration of the establishment of the Zambales Province on August 28, 1901, by the Second Philippine Commission, headed by William Howard Taft at St. Augustine Cathedral – a church built in 1700 out of coral and limestone.

Another memorable event was when WWII broke out, the Japanese invading forces conducted a devastating bombing ran on December 8, 1941 at Iba Airfield which resulted to the annihilation of both civilians and US forces stationed in the area. The Japanese Imperial Army later on, established their garrison at Poblacion, Iba.

Originally, the municipality comprises forty-five (45) sitios, eight (8) barrios and one (1) poblacion. These barrios were created by virtue of Republic Act 3590 on June 22, 1963.

By virtue of Presidential Decrees of then President Marcos on October 1974, Presidential Decree 86 and Presidential Decree 86-A, the poblacion were subdivided into six (6) zonal districts, and all sitios were integrated to their mother barangay.


The faith first came to the territory of the diocese in 1607 through theefforts ofthemissionaries of the Order of the Recollects of St. Augustine.

They settled in Subic, Masinloc, Sta. Cruz, Iba, and Cabangan where they established the first centers of the faith.

The faith flourished in the region until the troubled days of the Revolution of 1896. Leaving ruined churches and convents in its wake the revolution rendered the region practically unattended; only some time later did secular prieststake over some of the vacated parishes. In this state of things the territory became a fertile ground for the Aglipayan schism to gain a foothold and prosper, so much so that almost the whole length and breadth of the province come under Aglipayan influence.

Upon invitation of the Archbishop of Manila, Michael J. O’Doherty, the Divine Word Fathers took over the spiritual care of Zambales some time in 1928.

Starting their missionary activities in Iba and San Narciso, they gradually took over other towns and localities, concentrating their work in rebuilding ruined churches, building new ones, establishing more parishes, erecting schools and conducting catechism centers whereby they hoped to regain much lost group through the young.

The administration of the faith in the province changed hand when the territory was transferred to the care of the Columban Fathers in 1951.

The prelature of Iba was erected on October 18, 1955 as suffragan of the archdiocese of Manila. The Most Rev. Henry Byrne, SSC was appointed the first prelate ordinary and he took economical possession of concentrating on their work.

The prelature of November 4, 1956. On November 15, 1982 Iba was elevated to diocese. Upon the death of Bishop Byrne the Most Rev. Paciano B. Aniceto, then auxiliary bishop of Tuguegarao, was appointed second bishop of Iba. On January 31, 1989, he was appointed archbishop of San Fernando, Pampanga. The Most Rev. Deogracias S. Yñiguez, Jr. succeeded him on December 27, 1989.


On August 28, 1901, American Civil Governor WilliamHoward Taft held the historic session of the Second PhilippineCommission that would establish the province ofZambales under the American rule held at Iba Roman Catholic Church.

December 8, 1941, the Feast of Immaculate Conception. In Iba, at the Airstrip between Panibuatan and Dingin, the present Camp Conrado Yap was the U.S. Fighter Base of the 3rd Pursuit Squadron, a number of U.S. fighter planes had just landed. While the pilots were eating, they heard a sound akin to the drone of a thousand bees in fight. Then the sounds became rears of diving planes. Explosions and burst of gunfire rocked Iba as fifty-four Japanese twin-motor bombers escorted by fifty fighter planes destroyed the U.S. aircrafts at the Iba airstrip. Barracks and warehouse of the American went up in flames. All except two of the aircrafts were destroyed. The camp personnel suffered heavy casualties. This was repeated on December 12, 1941 between 10:30 a.m. and 12:00 noon.

Listing of National Figures in the Municipality

  1. Ramon V. de Jesus – (1941 – 1989) (lawyer and writer) – Did intelligence and propaganda work for the guerilla movement in the World War II. He was technical assistant to President Ramon Magsaysay and later Assistant Director in the Central Bank.

  2. Dr. Enrique M. Garcia – became an internationally acclaimed thoracic surgeon later become Secretary of Health during the Marcos administration.

  3. Dr. Augusto Camara – graduated summa cum laude from the University of the Philippines with scholastic ratings that remain unsurpassed. He was a board topnotcher for Doctors in 1944.

  4. Veneranda Acayan – was considered the successor the Filipino prodigy Ernesto Valejo and draw raves from music lovers.

  5. Severo Amagna – a young man from Iba topped the Civil Engineers Exam and duplicated this again by topping the Chemical Board Examination.

  6. Atty. Eustaquio C. Balagtas – Director of Prisons after World War II.

  7. Raymundo de Castro – Division Supervisor.

  8. Mariano Abagon – a scientist and educator, earned international recognition of his work in Botany, especially plant anatomy and a member of the American Fisheries Society.

  9. Marcelo Acayan – Division Industrial Arts Supervisor was cited by the National government for being the first farmer in Zambales to produce a record harvest of 92 cavans from less than a hectare rain fed farm in 1953.

  10. Captain Evaristo Escusa – was awarded the military commendation ribbon for his role in anti-banditry operations in Sulu.

  11. Capt. Conrado Yap – went with the Philippine Expeditionary Forces Pamplona – Schools Division Superintendent who hails from Iba, Zambales.


The Zambal language shares a common term with the Indo-Malayan sub-family of Austronesian language, which is the parent language of the Mongoloid race. Specifically, the Zambale dialect is a part of the Tagal group of the Indo-Malayan sub-family. The assertion was made by Judge Gerardo Elicaño, a local scholar who made studies of the Zambal language, particularly that spoken in the northern and central towns of the province of Zambales.

Among terms he found in common with the Indo-Malayan sub-family are bali (house), ikan (fish), kuting (kitten), salamat (expression of thanks), bulan (moon) and mati (death or to die).

Religious beliefs and practice of the ancient Zambals were focused on the anito (spirits) and these can be traced to their Indo-Malayan ancestors. In the Malay Peninsula and in other areas where waves of Malay settled, the anitos or onitos also appeared to be the center of religious rites, cults and taboos. They placed significance on the afterlife and on omens and signs as well as divination.