THE ARMORIAL DESIGN OF THE SEAL OF THE CITY OR IRIGA
The history of Iriga – from its small beginning as a barrio or “visita” of its mother town of Nabua to the present – is depicted in the lower portion of the seal. Nabua is symbolized by the “BUA” (meaning coconut bud, from which the town derives its name) which is shown exposed in the half-open coconut at the right hand side of the bottom of the seal. Bua (Na-bua) was a flourishing native settlement when the Spaniards arrived there. This is depicted by the full-grown coconut tree. The two other smaller trees stand for Bato and Iriga, then small dependencies of Nabua. The coconut has been chosen to symbolize the three towns because it is basic agricultural product of the locality.
The town of Bua was located in low, marshy terrain and was easily flooded during the rainy season. The Bua townfolks, therefore referred to the highland settlement close to Sumagang mountain (now simply known as Mt. Iriga) as “I”-RAGA from the Bua dialect meaning “where there is land” – the prefix “I” meaning possession and is roughly equivalent to the English phrase “there is” or “it has”). “Raga” in the dialect means “land” or “soil” hence, “I-RAGA” has been explained by historians as “where soil is obtainable for filling Bua”s marshland”. Some historians interpret the phrase as “where the land is plentiful and the settlers are big land-owners”
As evangelization by the Franciscan friars progressed, population spread out and the barrio established by the settlers at the foot of the Sumagang mountain developed in size and wealth. This barrio was called “Iriga” by the Spaniards. The term is a corruption of the native “I-raga”.
The progress of the present City of Iriga is symbolized by the towering granite obelisk in the center of the inscription. The obelisk, a monument to the hard working settlers of I-raga, stands on the man-made stone foundation bearing the year 1578, the year when the settlement was established as a barrio of Nabua. Over this stone foundation, the people built a town which the Spanish authorities recognized as such in 1683. This year in effect, marks the second milestone in the history of the city. For nearly three centuries thereafter, the town grew in area as well as in wealth and density of population. 1968, marks the third significant milestone in its history: The President of the Philippines, on July 8, 1968, signed into law the City Charter (RA No. 5261) which granted Iriga its independence from the province of Camarines Sur. The historic event marks the culmination of the town people’s long struggle for recognition. This is symbolized by the towering obelisk which rises from the bottom to the top of the center of the seal with the year 1968 crowning its top. On the right hand side of the obelisk, at the upper portion of the seal, are thirty-five barrios which compose the town of Iriga at the time of its erection into a city. At the left hand side four crosses which stand for the four parishes into which the barrios are grouped together in the church’s ecclesiastical administration of the town.
The background of the basic design of the seal is the Sumagang mountain (or Mt. Iriga) at the foot of which the city is located. Mt. Irga has always been and will always be the most dominant geographical landmark of the city.
The characteristic feature of the mountain and hills which dot the city is depicted on the right hand side of the bottom of the seal. The hills appear eroded or eaten away to show that it was from these highlands that Nabua, at first, and the whole region later, obtained soil for filling the lowlands. In fact, much of the soil used by the railroad company for building its tracks when it extended its line to Albay came from these hills. The lowlands on which the mother town of Nabua is located is also shown on the left hand side of the seal.
Finally, a scroll which incircles the seal, dividing it into upper and lower halves, bears the inscription: “I-RAGA SA SUMAGANG”. This was how the settlers of Nabua referred to the present site of the city and means “there is land in Sumagang”. The inscription in intended to perpetuate for generations to come the vocables “I-RAGA”, the original name of Iriga, and “Sumagang”, (meaning “sunrise”) the native name of its mountains.
The blue field on which the stars are shown stands for hope – hope for a greater and more prosperous city which the people of Iriga have. The red field where the four crosses are shown stands for the blood and the sacrifices of Iriga’s forbears who sacrificed their lives under the yoke of the foreign colonization and oppression. Finally, the gold of the scroll stand for the spiritual and material wealth of the people of Iriga.
- SEALED OF THE ESCUTCHEON
The shield of the escutcheon is Malayan in contour. It is a departure from the Western shields usually adopted by other Philippine cities. This is how to show and to remind the people of Iriga of our autochthonous Malayan racial stock and cultural background.