MASBATE CITY is a highly urbanized 1st class city in Zambales, Philippines. The city is located at the Southern entry point of Zambales and the Northwestern interior of the Subic Bay area, approximately 127 kilometers North of Manila. Originally, Olongapo was governed by the United States and used to be part of their naval reservation, until the place was hand-over to the Philippine Government and transformed into a municipality on December 7, 1959.
On June 1, 1966, Olongapo became a chartered city. The city administers itself separately from Zambales province.
In the history archives, Olongapo was a small fishing village of Subic. The name of the city is derived from the phrase “Ulo ng Apo”, meaning “head of the chief”. The Aetas were the first settlers.
In 1884, the Spaniards conquered Olongapo and made the place as their navy settlement. King Alfonso II, declared Subic Bay as Spain’s stronghold in the Far East for its deep water harbor and the protection provided by the mountains surrounding the place against strong winds. After 14 years during the Spanish-American War, Admiral George Dewey took Olongapo and Subic Bay making the bay area and the whole Olongapo as U.S. Military reservation. It was noted in the records that in 1945, the Japanese made their last stand at the Zig-Zag Pass.
During the administration of the United States in Olongapo, they have spent million of dollars in converting the base. The estimated cost spent is said to be $170 million. But after 8 years, the Filipino citizens demanded that Olongapo be returned to the governance of the Philippine. Thus, in December 7, 1959 Olongapo was turned over to the Philippine government and changed into a municipality by virtue of Executive Order No. 366 per issuance of President Carlos P. Garcia.
Seven years later, President Ferdinand E. Marcos signed Republic Act No. 4645 on June 1, 1966 making Olongapo as a chartered city. In 1983, Olongapo City became the highly urbanized city in Central Luzon.
On June 15, 1991, Mount Pinatubo erupted causing extensive damage at the U.S. Facility and in Olongapo City. It was also noted that in this year, the Senate of the Philippines rejected the Treaty agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America.
A year later, President Corazon Aquino signed R.A. 7227 creating Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and appointed Mayor Richard J. Gordon as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
On November 24, 1992, the U.S. Naval Facility was turned over to the Philippine Government, and Subic was turned over to the governance of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).
Olongapo city’s land area is mountainous, thus urban development can be quite expensive. The total built up area is about 2,600 hectares or 14.05% only of the total land area which is 18,500 hectares.
As an urbanized city, various languages are spoken in the area ranging from Tagalog, Pampango, Ilocano, and Zambal. Others speak in the dialects of Waray, Visaya, Cebuano, Pangasinan, Bicolano, Ilonggo, among others. The city is represented by various ethnic groups.
In terms of population, there are about 194,260 people living in Olongapo City with 43,107 households. A total of 80,491 comprised the young population. Despite the rural character of some areas in the city, the whole city itself and the population is classified as 100% urban.
COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY There are four leading investment areas in Subic Bay Freeport Zone, these are the Central Business District, Subic Gateway, Subic Bay Industrial Park, and Subic Techno Park. Manufacturing, electronic communications technology businesses are also present in this place. The city also has warehousing, trans-shipment, banking firms and education facilities that yield assets and generate thousands of jobs.
Currently, Subic Bay Freeport Zone is fast becoming a haven of business establishment which offers a competitive advantage in the global market for investors. An estimated 182 locators/investors are now present in SBFZ.
Subic Bay Freeport Zone revenue increased rapidly from P363.90 Million in 1994 to P399.02 Million in 1995, a P26.17 Million or P1.19% increased.
The climate in Olongapo City is tropical. Temperature ranges from 25.6 °C during cold months and 28.3 °C during warm months. Cool and Dry season from November to February, Warm and Dry season from March to May, and Rainy season from June to October.
ARTS & CULTURE
Masbate City is rich in its art and culture, it was believed that the islands of Masbate were formed out of volcanic rocks and various stone tools and human bones as evidence of early human settlers were found here. Early village settlers improved the tools they used in farming, from stone tools it was replaced with an axe made out of stones. Other archeological facts were also unearthed such as various ornaments made out of shells, dead people who were buried in caves and jars, and fragments of porcelain.
Various events are also celebrated in this city which locals and tourists can invariably enjoy, such as the Masbate City Feast Day (June 13) in honor of St. Anthony de Padua. The celebration is called “Pagdayao Festival” which also features the Rodeo Masbateño:
Lapay-Bantigue Fance Festival - “Lapay” means seagulls that can be seen flying regularly in the shores of Barangay Bantigue, Masbate, thus, the festival was formed in honor of the townsfolk simple way of living. The people came up with a local folk dance originating from the graceful movements of the “Lapay”.
Pagdayao Festival - This festivity was established in honor of the city’s patron Saint Anthony of Padua, and it is celebrated on June yearly.
Rodeo MAsbateño - This showcases 10 various competitive events for cowboys with their calves in Masbate. This is celebrated yearly during the month of April. Women also participate in other events like calf wrestling, bull riding, carambola, and many more.
The main economic activities in Masbate City are cattle raising, agriculture, fishing, and recently, gold mining operation has also been conducted. The main products of the city are copra, rice, corn, tobacco, and marine resources such as fish, crabs, prawn, bangus, and scallops which is also traded to other cities in the Philippines and exported to other countries such as Japan, Taiwan, USA, and Europe.
Famous foods originate from seafoods such as dried fish, crabs, prawn and bangus.
Masbate became the most important foundation and seat of diocese with rich history of missionary journeys and various churches that was built during the Spanish occupation. Among these churches are San Pascual and Claveria in Burias, San Jacinto and Monreal in Ticao, Corpus and Esperanza in Aroroy.
On March 23, 1968, the diocese of Masbate was created separating it from the Diocese of Sorsogon. It was transferred under the Archdiocese of Caceres, with its patron Saint Anthony of Padua.
The total population of the city covers more Catholic devotees offering devotional practices such as prayer of the rosary, novenas to saints, and religious processions like misa de gallo during Advent season, and Holy Week traditional activities.
Currently, the city has initiated various Church programs in the leadership of Diocesan Commissions on Religious Formation, Social Action and Liturgy with the mission of guiding its parishioners towards Christian faith maturity in forms of catechesis, retreats, seminars, youth encounters and many more. Masbate has 22 parishes with the ministry of 43 priests and 11 religious sisters. It also has 1 minor seminary, four pastoral centers, neo-catechumenal communities, and other charismatic groups.
LIST OF “BARANGAYS” (or communities)
The city is composed of 20 municipalities, 1 component city, and 550 communities with political and corporate unit of governance. It is also divided into three legislative districts which is represented by one Congress member, and the first district and other municipalities is represented in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan by two board members:
1ST District and 4 municipalities:
Claveria (Burias Island)
Batuan (Ticao Island)
2nd District and 7 municipalities (represented by four Sangguniang Panlalawigan members:
3rd District and 8 municipalities (represented by four Sangguniang Panlalawigan members:
Pio V. Corpus
30 BARANGAYS OR COMMUNITIES:
The city has three main islands: Ticao, Burias and Masbate. Anyone can enjoy its beaches, scenic hilly landscapes and the warm hospitality of its townsfolk.
This beach has been frequented by most tourists and excursionists alike. Be captivated by the unspoiled natural beauty of the beach.
BAT-ONGAN UNDERGROUND RIVER
This underground river is situated 10 kilometers away in Mandaon town. This place is a sure fire for extreme sports, famous for its numerous chambers and beautiful rock formation at about 150 feet. Tourists will definitely have a thrilling experience in steep-rock climbing up to the peak.
BITO-ON BEACH RESORT
The beach is located in Mobo community, just a 30-minute ride from the capital city via boat or jeepney transportation. Ideal for picnic lovers and group meetings with large conference rooms being provided.
The place is situated southwest of Masbate City via 10-minutes boat ride from the city port, famous for its coral reefs, breathtaking white sand, mangroves and marine sanctuary. The beach is ideal for scuba diving and snorkeling.
BUGUI POINT LIGHTHOUSE
The lighthouse was built during the Spanish occupation and is located at Gumahaang community.
The island is situated in Monreal with its panoramic view of Masbate Island and crystal clear waters.
This spectacular falls can be found in Ticao Island, cascading 60 feet from its base where multi-colored fishes can be found. The place can be accessed via motorboat ride from the city.
This beach is situated in Aroroy community with its neat and white sands ideal for picnickers and excursionists.
This is situated in Aroroy town which was believed to be built during the Spanish era, but later on renovated during the American occupation.
CORAL AND SAND BEACH
Some of the main islands and islets of Masbate City are abundant with coral reefs. Live corals can even be seen here.
Located in Jintotolo Island of Balud community with architecture of a 19th century structure.
Kalanay Falls is found in Nabangig, Palanas Masbate. Enjoy frolicking in this beautiful place.
The place is said to be inhabited first by people from Albay, thus the name of the place was established. The Claveria Beach extends east-southeast from the town proper ending in Ki-Albay River.
The hills is said to be first inhabited by Kalanay people practicing jar burials, thus human bones were found here during excavations.
MATABA-TINIGBAN TO NAPAYAUAN
This island is a five-kilometer stretch famous for its glittering white sand; the water is also abundant of marine life. The place is ideal for scuba diving and snorkeling.
The spring is situated in Monreal in which the water comes out from the rock. Trees and lush vegetation gives shade in the area of the spring.
SAN ISIDRO BEACH
This beach is situated in Claveria, barangay San Isidro. It boasts of its fine and silvery white sand, the bottom of the sea is clear and sandy extending some one hundred meters from the shoreline with a depth of 5 to 7 feet during high tide. The beach is lined by coconut trees.
The island is located in San Pascual community, a hat-shaped island with coasts of white sand beaches.
This is found 13 kilometers from San Fernando in Ticao Island. The beach is famous for its rocks which serve as a natural diving board for swimmers.
The island is located in Burias Island ideal for sunbathing and swimming.
Underwater cave is located in Barangay Boca Engaño. During high tide, a diver can only take a few seconds to enter the cave. However, during low tide it is neck-deep. Inside the cave are well-sealed human caskets carved from solid wood which is believed to be 500 years old.
This is a house which was constructed in 1880 during the Spanish occupation. During the Commonwealth period, President Manuel L. Quezon had stayed in this house. Later on, the house has been used by the Japanese as their garrison. The house remained unscathed even after the bombing in 1944. Then in 1946, President Roxas visited Masbate and stayed in this house. “Santo Intierro” is also held here every Friday, in honor of praying for their beloved saints.
Masbate can be accessed via Air Philippines and Asian Spirit carriers.
Major bus companies ply the Manila to Bicol-Visayas-Mindanao routes. Bus terminals are located in Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City, Pedro Gil St., Manila and EDSA, Pasay City.
The city is also accessible via ride of shipping lines such as Sulpicio Lines, WG&A, and Montenegro Shipping Lines among others, with regular trips to the port of Masbate.