The Franciscan friars, who sat foot on the Bicol peninsula, saw in the new land a good ground for evangelization. They soon called it “Iraga”, which means there is land.
Iraga developed in size and wealth. Soon thereafter, foundation work had been laid down by proclaiming it as visita of Nabua. More and more people from Nabua came to the place for settlement.
In 1682, with a population of 8,909, I-raga was converted into Pueblo de la Provincia de Ambos Camarines. Later on, the Spanish authorities changed the name from I-raga to Iriga and In 1710 Don Bonifacio de los Angeles organized the first four barrios of Iriga – San Agustin, San Isidro, San Nicolas and San Antonio Abad.
In 1901, under the American colonization, the first public school in Iriga was established, the Iriga Central School. In 1913 the Manila Railroad Company Station and the public market was established at its present site . With the establishment of the train station and the public market, Iriga rapidly grew and became the center of trade and commerce in the Rinconada area.
The American colonial period temporarily ended in 1942 when World War II broke out. The Japanese Imperial Army established a garrisoned at Kalbaryo hill overlooking the city proper. Iriga Central School became a concentration camp; those who could not be accommodated were brought to the Ateneo de Naga.
Like in many other places, Bicolano guerilla units spring up in Iriga after the formal American colonialist resistance has ended. Mt. Iriga became the base of the resistance attracting recruits not only from Iriga but even as far as Albay. With the help of the Agtas who were very familiar with the terrain, the Japanese army could penetrate the interiors of the mountain.
With the end of the Japanese occupation in May 15, 1945, the Iriga Central was reopened and rehabilitation began. In 1948, the first college in Iriga City, the Mabini Memorial College was established by Atty. Felix O. Alfelor. A year later, Atty. Ortega also established the Saint Anthony College.
The establishment of these centers for higher learning, including the La Consolacion Academy further spurred the growth and development of the municipality as it attracts students from all over the region.
In 1960s, Iriga saw tremendous economic and social progress. On July 8, 1968, the city was converted into a city through Republic act 5261. However, it was only on September 3 of the same year that the City was formally organized and inaugurated as the third city of the Bicol Region by then President Ferdinand Marcos.
Population/ Language/ Area
Iriga city is located on the southern part of Camarines Sur Province in Bicol Region. The city is 400 kilometers southeast of Manila, 37 kilometers south of Naga, and 61 kilometers north of Legaspi City. It is bounded on the north by the town of Ocampo and Sagnay, on the east by Buhi, on teh south by Libon, Albay Province, and on the west by the towns of Baao and Nabua. Iriga City is accessible by land via the National Highway and by air through Legaspi Airport.
With an area of 137.4 sq. kilometers, the city is politically subdivided into 36 barangays which are mostly rural areas.
Iriga City has a total population of 105,919 (2010 NSO Survey) with a growth rate of 2.6% per annum. The city has an aggregate of 17,061 household and an average household size of 5.21 persons per household.
The city’s population is a conglomerate of Bicolanos, Tagalogs, Visayans, Pampangos, Ilocanos, Muslim and foreigners and the dominant dialect is Rinconada.
Irigueños or people of Iriga speak Riŋkonāda Bikol language. Irigueños of Austronesian lineage are using Iriga variant while the indigenous and oboriginal groups of Agta/Itom (Negrito) are using Agta variant of the language. Tagalog/Filipino and English languages are also understood and spoken.
The following are some businesses that can be promoted in Iriga City:
- commercial poultry and hog raising
- production of dairy products
- cacao and coffee production and processing
- production of high value commercial crops like malungay, mushroom, vegetables
- demonstration farms
- amusement parks
- food processing such as meat packing, curing, and canning
- consumer chemicals such as detergents and personal care products
- essential oil and fragrances
- furniture and fixture
- mass housing projects
- medium-size commercial complexes
- hotels and resorts
- food establishments
- technology-related ventures like business process outsourcing, graphic design, and software development
- financial services
Some of the tourist attractions in Iriga City are:
- Mt. Iriga – also known as Mount Asog, is one of the active volcanoes in the Philippines in the province of Camarines Sur. It is known for its phreatic (water) explosions. It is also a stratovolcano of about a kilometer from Lake Buhi. It rises 1,196 m (3,924 ft) with a base diameter of 10 kilometers.
- Lake Buhi – it has an average area of 18 square kilometers and has an average depth of 8 meters. The lake lies in the valley formed by two ancient volcanoes, Mt. Asog and Mt. malonao. It was created in 1641, when an earthquake caused a side of Mt. Asog to collapse. The resulting landslide created a natural dam that blocked the flow of nearby streams. The lake is famous since it is one of the few bodies of water that contains the sinarapan (Mistichthys luzonensis) which is the world’s smallest commercially harvested fish.
- Tinagba Science and Technology Park – the main feature and centerpiece of the park is a Planetarium Exhibit and Telescopes for Stargazing from the National Museum in Manila. It also exhibits a mini zoo, a foot spa where little fishes tug at your toes, an Activity Center for the kids, and a Wall of Wonder/ Science Exhibit where students from local schools display their science projects.