November 15, 1982 was elevated to a diocese. Before its creation into a prelature Iba, in the province of Zambales, was part of the Diocese of San Fernando, Pampanga and
that of Lingayen-Dagupan in Pangasinan. Diocesan priests from the Diocese of San Fernando served in Olongapo, Subic, Castillejos, San Marcelino and San Antonio in Zambales, while diocesan priests from
Lingayen-Dagupan served in Masinloc, Candelaria and Sta. Cruz.
Zambales is a long strip of land extending from Pangasinan on the north to the Bataan Peninsula on the south. It has a long coastline of
100 kilometers facing the China Sea. On its eastern side are the provinces of Tarlac and Pampanga.
The Province of Zambales has an area of 3,714 square kilometers. It is a rugged area with four important
mountains, among them Mount Pinatubo near the boundary of Pampanga which erupted only a few years ago, causing untold destruction with its lahar flows up to the present.
Zambales, along with Bataan, was
among the first provinces to be placed under Spanish control. Juan de Salcedo visited the western coastal areas of Luzon and made Zambales a province, extending from the shores of Lingayen Gulf on the north to
Subic Bay on the south, including what are now the provinces of Pangasinan and Bataan. Zambales retained this large tract of land until 1903 when the necessities of administration attached the northern towns to
Pangasinan. The capital of Zambales was then Masinloc, which was later moved to Iba since this was more centrally located.
The Zambals were the aborigines of Zambales. Today the Ilocanos predominate, but
the ethnic groupings tend to polarize, thus Tagalogs are found in the south, the Ilocanos in the north, and the Zambals in the interior.
The Diocese of Iba today comprises the entire civil province of Zambales and
Olongapo City. It remains a suffragan of San Fernando, Pampanga, and has for its titutar patron St. Augustine whose feast is celebrated August 28. The population totals 561,556 of which 81 per cent are
The diocese today is going through the slow process of evolving a pastoral plan. So far what has been achieved is a consensus-vision of the clergy arrived at in an assembly held March 7-14 in 1994.
Envisioned as a Church in the Diocese of Iba is one that proclaims and lives the Word with renewed zeal and vigor, born out of a radical conversion on the personal as well as communal levels, with a full awareness of
being commissioned to spread the Word of God throughout the world.
It also proclaims a Church that lives in accordance with the challenge of Word-Made-Flesh, rooting the faith in lives and in culture, one
that works toward integral liberation, and relates to society in a dynamic and apostolic solicitude for the poor, the youth, the unchurched, other Christians and nature.
This initiative from the clergy was
followed by vicarial assemblies to involve the lay leaders. At present the diocese is involved in continuing prayer, and in a study of Vatican II documents.
There are 3 vicariates in Zambales made up
of 24 parishes served by 24 priests. Catholic institutions include 2 colleges, 21 high schools, 1 seminary, 7 elementary schools and 6 kindergarten schools. There are also 31 pastoral centers which include a