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At the dawn of history, Bolinao was a busy trading port because of its natural deep-water harbor. As early as the 10th century, Chinese merchants made frequent voyages to Bolinao. The port of Bolinao, being the only secure typhoon anchorage on that part of the coast, was a natural gathering point for Chinese junks awaiting the northern monsoon that could carry them back to China. According to the travel account of Arabian scholar traveler Ibn Batuta who reached Talamasin, later identified as Pangasinan in 1344, Bolinao was part of the Muslim kingdoms ruled by the beautiful amazon warlord, Princess Urduja. As early as 1324, after the landing and taking refuge in Bolinao during a stormy weather, Father Odoric, an Italian priest of the Franciscan Order, celebrated a Thanksgiving Mass—antedating the Mass at Limasawa by more than two hundred years. In the said mass in Bolinao, he baptized many of these Malayan immigrants. It is claimed that Islamization took place after 1324, as Bolinao’s inhabitants were then Muslims for two centuries, from 1344 to 1574.

There were three historical accounts of the arrival of the Spaniards in the island. One historical account indicates that the first contact of the people of Bolinao with the Spaniards was on May 20, 1572 when Juan Salcedo sailed from Manila up to the coast of Zambales around Cape Bolinao. Another account claims that in 1575, Lima Hong, a Chinese buccaneer, attacked Luzon but was repelled by Juan Salcedo, the last of the Spanish conquistadors. Salcedo succeeded in driving the Chinese away. The third historical account states that Bolinao was originally a settlement composed of a little over one hundred families under Captain Pedro Lombi. It was established in 1575 at a point called Binabalian on the northern coast of Santiago Island. The year 1901 marked a new era in Bolinao. The town, during the term of Vicente Celi, was reorganized and divided into barrios, each barrio under a barrio lieutenant. Barrio roads were constructed and improved; farming was further encouraged while education was made compulsory.

In 1903, during the administration of Vicente Alegre, Bolinao was made part of the province of Pangasinan. This measure was formulated to facilitate the paying of taxes because of the proximity of Lingayen, the capital of Pangasinan, to Bolinao than Iba, Zambales. Anda and Bani succeeded to become independent municipalities from Bolinao. Since the time of Municipal President Andres Celeste (1904-1905), Bolinao’s territorial area remained intact.


There are three versions where the name Bolinao came from. One story claims that the name of the municipality came from the fish species “monamon” but commonly called “Bolinao” by the Tagalogs, Bicolanos and Visayans. A theory also points out that once upon a time “pamulinawen” trees grew luxuriantly along its shore, causing the Ilocano migrants who crossed the Lingayen Gulf to name it phonetically similar to the name of the tree.

Legend also relates that during the first days of the Spanish era, a lovely lass nicknamed “Anao” lived at the present site of the town proper. She used to bathe leisurely for hours under the Boli-Bolinao tree where a chieftain’s son who lived across the channel first saw her and wooed her. An early marriage ensued but with the condition that the seat of the chieftain’s government be moved to the place where Anao lived. There they were to stay rulers, where the name Bolinao, Boli-Bolinao and Anao came about. Some claimed that the chieftain’s son was named “Bolido” which means round and robust while the lady was “Malinao” or as clear as the Libsong Spring. The combination of their names created the name Bolinao, which is the name of the town.


Historians have no exact record on the date Bolinao was created. It is believed that the town was created by virtue of the Royal Decree of Spain. Available records showed that it was on the year 1575 when Spanish Captain Pedro Lombi founded the first settlement with more or less 100 settlers. However, the Municipal Council passed Resolution No. 104 dated September 19, 1988 adopting July 25, 1575 as the Foundation Day of the town in honor of the Patron Saint, St. James the Great.