BALANGA “The Capital City”
The CITY OF BALANGA is the capital of Bataan. Formerly a visita (barrio) of Abucay town, it was established as a regular mission (town) of the Dominican Order in its Provincial Chapter on April 21, 1714. It was declared as a vicariate on April 18, 1739 under the patronage of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary.
Upon the establishment of Bataanas a separate province from Pampanga in 1754, Spanish Governor General Manuel Arandia made Balanga as the provincial capital due to its favorable location, being at the center of the new territorial jurisdiction. From 1906 to 1911, however, Balanga lost its “capital” title after Governor Lorenzo Zialcita (1906-1907) made Orani as the new center of Bataan. Even the succeeding governor, Pedro Rich of Samal, retained Orani as the provincial capital. The said title was only returned to Balanga in 1911 during the administration of Governor MARIANO ROSAURO (1911-1913), a resident of Barangay Ibayo.
The municipality became a component city on December 30, 2000 through the initiative of then Congressman ENRIQUE T. GARCIA JR. and former City Mayor ALBERT S. GARCIA.
Balanga is situated approximately at 14 degrees 15’ and 15 degrees 60’ N latitude and 120 degrees 45’ and 120 degrees 10’ E longitude, in the mid-eastern part of Bataan. It is bounded to the north by Abucay, to the south by Pilar, to the east by Manila Bay and to the west by the mountains of Bagac and Morong. It is located some 124 kilometers away from Manila and can be reached via two major roads -- the Bataan National Road and the Roman Expressway. It is about 31.2 nautical miles across the bay from Manila and can be reached through the Orion Port, a 10-minute drive from Balanga.
The city covers an area of 11,163 hectares, making it the third largest community in the province. It has a recorded population of 83,643 in 2005 as per SWD record, about 12 percent of the total population of the province. . The capital city has 25 barangays.
The city’s central business district is located in the Poblacion area which has been experiencing a tremendous increase in business activities for the past two decades. As a result, the demand for corporate and retail developments continues to grow.
Balanga is one of the richest naturally-endowed areas in the province. Its rich alluvial plains have contributed to its growth and agricultural economy. Agriculture has always been its chief industry. Its resources come mostly from palay production, sugarcane, corn, coconut, fruits and vegetables. Fishing also provides a steady source of income for the inhabitants. Fish products like milkfish, tilapia, shrimps, prawns, crabs, oysters and other shelled seafood are abundant in Balanga.
Balanga had its humble beginnings. When Fr. Christopher Salvatierra, the first Dominican friar to set foot in Bataan in 1587, surveyed the vast area from Orani to Orion, he found several established communities in Balanga. In all, he discovered 30 communities thriving in the area already known as Partido de Batan. He and his other brethrens began spreading the Gospel among the natives. The friars built the first church in Abucay in 1588. Other visitas, to include Balanga, were also established within the first 100 years of the Spanish colonization.
After the creation of Morong, Samal and Orion as regular towns, Balanga and Orani were also established as formal municipalities on April 21, 1714. A church was established in Balanga a couple of years before it was declared as a vicariate under the patronage of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary. One of the oldest provincial government buildings in the country was erected in Balanga in 1729.
In 1801, Pilar, a distant barangay of Balanga, became a regular town through the initiative of the Secular Clergy.
Balanga had its glory days. It became a progressive and one of the most exciting towns in the entire Luzon Island from the Spanish time up to the last years of the American period. Those glorious days came to an end in 1941 when Japanese bombers and infantrymen battered the town to bits and pieces. The Bataan Capitol, municipal hall, schools, and beautiful houses around the town plaza were razed to the ground during the fierce battles in Bataan. Even the Roman Catholic Church was severely damaged.
Reconstruction of the province, specifically Balanga, became a monumental task immediately after the war. Little by little, Balanga has risen from the rubbles. Today, it serves as a catch basin for industrial growth areas in the province due to its vast resources and services. Cityhood came to Balanga on December 30, 2000.
Balanga has two major water tributaries, the Talisay and Cataning Rivers. Talisay River is considered the biggest and longest, snaking for more than 20 kilometers between Balanga and Pilar, and finally flowing into the Manila Bay. During rainy season, however, the town center and the coastal barangays submerged in knee deep water.
Balanga City was adjudged the 2008 “Most Business-Friendly” local government unit, a project of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce, Inc.
Two old books made mention how Balanga got its name. In the book, “Economic and Historical Sketch of Bataan,” author Eulogio Balan Rodriguez, one-time National Librarian of the Philippines, stated that:
“…The origin of the word ‘Balanga’ is traced to the Tagalog word ‘balanga,’ a kind of pot made of clay used to cook fish in. The place was named after it in view of the fact that pottery is the best product of the people and it was the best of its kind that could be found.”
Victor de Leon, former acting schools superintendent ng Bataan in 1953, mentioned in his book “History of the Bataan Province the following:
“…This town had since been known by the name “Balanga.’ This name was derived from ‘balanga,’ a name given to a native wide-mouthed earthen pot.”
Eulogio Balanga and Victor de Leon wrote the same thing and they did not mention the word “banga” as the origin of the capital city.
Additional information suggested that “banga” is how Bulakeños called their clay pots. The old movie “Banga ni Zimadar,” released by the Premiere Productions in 1953, clearly identified “banga” as a kitchen utensil used in fetching water.
But “balanga,” “palayok” and “banga” mean the same thing. They are all clay pots or kitchen utensils used in cooking or fetching water. They are seldom used nowadays due to the advent of aluminum and/or stainless pots, as well as the dependable “automatic rice cooker.”
Despite the statements of E.B. Rodriguez and V. De Leon, the “Lupong Pangkasaysayan” or Balanga Historical Committee stated in their book “Balanga, Noon at Ngayon” (published in 2003) that:
“…Ang pangalang ‘Balanga,’ ayon sa karaniwang paniniwala, ay hango sa salitang Tagalog na ‘banga,’ isang uri ng lutuan na yari sa putik. Gamit din ito noon sa pagsalok at pag-iimbak ng tubig. Sa pagdaan ng panahon ay naging ‘balanga’ din ito.”
It was clear that the members of the “Lupong Pangkasaysayan ng Balanga” were not aware of the books published by National Librarian Eulogio B. Rodriguez and Victor de Leon of the Department of Education. They changed the legend of Balanga and have the guts to say that the story was already authenticated. They were really adamant to admit their fault.
E. Rodriguez made mention that “balanga” was of Sanskrit origin but no longer being used even in its own country of origin, Indonesia. “Balanga,” he insisted was the original name of clay pots used to cook fish in. He did not mention that it was also used for fetching water.
“Tapayan” on the other hand, is a bigger balanga and was and is still being used in rural areas for storing food staples or water.
These utensils were brought to the country by the early Malayan settlers. They were used by the natives even before the Spaniards discovered the Philippines.
It is believed that even though pottery initially prospered in Manila, pots made in Balanga became well-known and were very saleable because they were a lot different from those manufactured in Manila, Bulacan and Pampanga.
For one, pots made in the neighboring provinces came from pure wet clay.
Pots manufactured in Balanga, however, were a mix of wet clay, powdered lime and other minerals. The lime, a component used in cement-making, made the Balanga pots sturdier and harder to break.
The Chinese and Japanese traders were believed to have taught the natives of Balanga the right process of pottery-making. It was the reason why Balanga potmakers came to be known as the best makers of clay pots in this part of the country.
The industry of potmaking in Balanga prospered up until the American Occupation. The introduction of potter’s wheel, turntable shaping, rolling, cutting, piercing and finishing tools made potmaking a lot easier.
Another legend suggested that Balanga was named after Fr. Pedro de Balanga, the Dominican friar who allegedly initiated the establishment of Balanga as a visita of Abucay. Fr. Balanga arrived in Bataan in 1587 together with three other Dominican priests named Fr. Juan Ormaza de Santo Tomas, Fr. Santa Rita and Fr. Eduarte. Fr. Pedro was reportedly the first priest assigned in Balanga. After establishing contact with the natives settled on the banks of Talisay River, he also built the first chapel in an area known today as Puerto Rivas. It became known as Mission del Padre Pedro de Balanga.
A check however with the Instituto de Cervantes (Spanish Embassy in Manila) revealed that Balanga is an unheard family name in Spain. It is also an unheard Spanish word.
Municipal Mayors from 1901-2007
No. Mayor Vice Mayor Secretary Year
1 Tomas B. Gallardo* -- -- 1901-1903
Angel Mendoza* -- 1903-1905
2 Angel Mendoza -- -- 1905-1907
3 Antonio Tuason Sr. -- -- 1907-1909
4 Amando de Leon -- Manuel Banzon Sr. 1910-1912
5 Andres de Leon -- Domingo Valero 1912-1916
6 Jose P. Banzon -- -- 1916-1919
7 Venancio Banzon -- Jose Banzon 1919-1922
Venancio Banzon -- Jose Banzon 1922-1925
Venancio Banzon -- Jose Banzon 1925-1928
8 Antonio Tuason Sr. Jose N. Gonzales Domingo Valero 1928-1931
9 Venancio Banzon Jose N. Gonzales Jose Banzon 1931-1934
10 Mariano Batungbacal Jose N. Gonzales Pedro Gonzales 1934-1937
11 Mariano Herrera Jose Gonzales Pedro Gonzales 1938-1941
Mariano Herrera Geronimo Roman Pedro Gonzales 1941-1942
12 Mariano Batungbacal* -none- Emilio Austria 1942-1943
13 Numeriano Quindoy* -none- Emilio Austria 1943-1944
14 Carlos Y. Gonzales*+ -none- Graciano Pastorfide 1944-1945
15 Mariano Herrera* Jose B. Banzon Pedro Gonzales 1945-1946
16 Jose N. Gonzales* Jose B. Banzon Pedro Gonzales 1946-1947
17 Graciano Pastorfide* Jose B. Banzon Pedro Gonzales 1947-1947
18 Pedro R. Dizon Silvino dela Fuente** Exequiel Guno 1948-1951
19 Crispulo Torrico -- Exequiel Guno 1951-1951
20 Faustino Vigo Jose N. Gonzales -- 1952-1955
21 Pedro Dizon Domingo Javier -- 1956-1959
22 Emilio Bernabe Miguel Recano -- 1960-1963
23 Vicente Malibiran Angel T. Banzon -- 1964-1967
24 Teodoro Camacho III* Victor Y. Baluyot -- 1968-1971
25 Celso Valdecanas Alfredo Jaraba Jacinto Perez 1972-1976
Celso Valdecanas*** Alfredo Jaraba*** Jacinto Perez 1977-1979
26 Teodoro R. Alonzo* Herminio Dizon Honorio Villanueva 1979-1980
Teodoro R. Alonzo Herminio Dizon Honorio Villanueva 1980-1986
27 Teodoro Camacho III* Gabriel Nisay Sr. Honorio Villanueva 1986-1988
28 Melanio Banzon Jr. Domingo Dizon Honorio Villanueva 1988-1992
Melanio Banzon Jr. Domingo Dizon Honorio Villanueva 1992-1995
Melanio Banzon Jr. Francisco dela Cruz Honorio Villanueva 1995-1998
29 Albert S. Garcia Noli Venzon Honorio Villanueva 1998-2001
Albert S. Garcia Noli Venzon Honorio Villanueva 2001-2004
30 Melanio S. Banzon Jr. Noli Venzon Jeffrey Calma 2004-2007
31 Jose Enrique Garcia Noel Valdecanas Jeffrey Calma 2007-2010
Jose Enrique Garcia Noel Valdecanas Jeffrey Calma 2010-2013
* appointed mayor ** resigned *** extended *+ appointed/assassinated
Barangay Barangayhood Area Population Households
(date of creation) (hectares) (as per 2007 NSO Census)
Bagong Silang 1988 525.00 3,766 859
Bagumbayan April 17, 1961 9.58 2,617 545
Cabog-cabog January 1950 284.90 1,757 409
Camacho May 16, 1969 111.27 3,129 740
Cataning 1915 950.20 5,785 1,259
Central Jan. 15, 1968 433.86 4,171 829
Cupang North April 12, 1982 32.80 2,592 515
Cupang Proper 1915 1,422.15 8,930 1,786
Cupang West Dec. 12, 1971 25.87 2,227 455
Dangcol Dec. 29, 1976 2,445.37 1,301 261
Dona Francisca Feb. 1, 1982 71.60 2,324 461
Ibayo 1915 62.77 2,219 443
Malabia 1915 4.65 974 194
Munting Batangas April 13, 1973 653.47 2,139 509
Poblacion 1915 21.84 984 199
Pto. Rivas Ibaba 1915 18.29 4,639 933
Pto. Rivas Itaas 1915 164.65 2,312 472
Pto. Rivas Lote Feb. 1, 1982 27.68 1,996 399
San Jose Feb. 29, 1960 92.34 7,012 1,402
Sibacan xxx 97.78 1,972 442
Talisay 1915 34.77 1,542 470
Tanato Oct. 10, 1949 1,403.93 631 129
Tenejero July 6, 1948 426.05 9,379 1,871
Tortugas 1915 32.09 3,229 645
Tuyo xxx 1,778.65 6,016 1,203
Total 11,163.00 84,105 17,430