The News Today Online Edition - Iloilo News and Panay News

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Bridging the Gap

Early postal services in Iloilo

The postal services in the Philippines started as early as the 17 th century when the Spanish colonizers established the lines of communication between Manila and Europe via the Manila-Acapulco galleon. Exchange of letters and communication at that time was limited only to government officials and other high-ranking individuals. Mail matters were carried by badageros (forerunner of the present-day postmen) free of charge. Each day, two badageros were assigned to carry mails to various towns. No known envelopes were used yet in those early times. Letters, communications and documents were just folded up.

By royal decree of January 12, 1853 which was promulgated by the Captain General on December 7, 1853, the first postal rates prepaid postage of mail matters within the Philippines was established and led to the issuance of the very first postage stamps.

The existence of the Philippine Postal Services Office (PSO) as a government agency can be traced back to the first years of the American colonial administration when the first regular post office was opened in Cavite on July 30, 1898.

The PSO, the then Bureau of Posts, was established on November 15, 1902 under American regime by Act No. 462 of the U.S. Philippine Commission in which the agency head was called the Director of Posts but was later on changed to Post Master General on July 1,1958. When the latest Reorganization Scheme of 1987 transferred the Bureau of Post under the Department of Transportation and Communication, the Post Master General was then called a new name, the Assistant Secretary for Postal Services Office.

In Iloilo, at the start of the operation of the Post Office it was housed in an old camarin but was later on transferred to the Custom House Building. Mail matters were regularly received at the port near the Custom House. The frequency of mail delivery in Iloilo by this time was greatly dependent on the number of vessels coming in and going out of the port.

Aside from facilitating the circulation of personal, business and other correspondences, the Iloilo Post Office had also been delivering money orders to and from other places in the country at such an early time as 1919. At that time, the claiming fee for a P 100.00 money order was P 0.40, while for a P 200.00 it was P 0.64.

As facilities for communication between the different islands of the archipelago had improved greatly in the years that followed, the number of post offices in Iloilo Province had also increased. In the 1930's, all municipalities of the province had also post offices with free delivery mail service.

The sending off of mail matters had standard postage rates on the basis of destination, class specifications on weight, and size limit. As of 1937, the postage rate for first class regular mail consisting of letters, typewritten copies, and manuscripts not accompanied by printed proof sheets, was two centavos for each 20 grams. Postcards and private mailing cards were sent at two centavos each. A regular publication was charged five centavos for each kilo with a prescribed size of one meter and 80 centimeters, length and girth combined. Third class regular mails not included in the above classes were charged two centavos for each 60 grams, not exceeding 600 grams in weight.

One significant development in air transportation greatly enhanced Iloilo's postal services in terms of speed in mail circulation. This was the birth of the Iloilo-Negros Air Express Co. or INAEC in 1932 and the inauguration of its Iloilo-Manila service the following year. Subsequently, the Iloilo Post Office introduced an airmail service to hasten the regular system of mail delivery.