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DEOGRACIAS VICTOR “DV� B. SAVELLANO Cabugao, Ilocos Sur E-mail: dvbs25@yahoo.com Copyright 2009 by Deogracias Victor B. Savellano All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, and/or otherwise, without the written permission of the author and the publisher. Cover and book design: Benjo Laygo and Nanie Gonzales Printed in the Philippines ISBN: 978-971-94467-0-5 Illustrations: Rene A. Aranda and Armand B. Bacaltos Published by: Sanicua Publication


Preface

T

HE serendipitous thing about coming out with a book is that it will outlive everything else involved in its production, including its author. Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History is no exception.

One of the objectives of the book’s author was to produce a story of a province that has carved for itself a prominent niche in the country’s colorful history. It was in what is now known as the province of Ilocos Sur where the Spanish conquistador, Juan de Salcedo, founded Ciudad Fernandina, one of the oldest cities of colonial Philippines. Enthralled with the province’s new-found prosperity, as well as its excellent location, authorities chose Ilocos Sur as the site of the seat of the bishopric of Nueva Segovia during the Spanish period. The establishment of a separate province in 1818, through a Royal Decree, was an acknowledgement that the newly-created province of Ilocos Sur had the capability and resources to stand on its own. By the 19th century, the province was already an important political, economic and religious center. Since then, It has never looked back, and continues to move forward. It is hoped that this book will stir up among readers sufficient interest and pride in Ilocos Sur’s limitless bounty, whether these are heirloom legacies, natural attractions, homegrown industries and crafts, or its courageous sons and daughters who have won valiantly-fought battles for justice and freedom. There is a saying that there as many histories as there are people who interpret the past. As more facts are unearthed about its vibrant past, more histories shall be written. This book is just the beginning. iii


Deogracias Victor “DV” B. Savellano


Table of Contents Preface

iii

Message

vii

Chapter I

The Big Bang

Chapter II

Original Inhabitants

16

Chapter III

Ilocos at Point of Contact with Spain

22

Chapter IV

The Heart of Northern Luzon

30

Chapter V

Ciudad Fernandina

40

Chapter VI

A History of Resistance

52

Chapter VII

Ilocos Sur in the Wars Against Spain and the United States

70

Chapter VIII Under the Stars and Stripes

1

90

Chapter IX

Dark Clouds over Ilocos Sur

110

Chapter X

Raising the Banner for Progress and Prosperity

138

Chapter XI

Living Treasures

166

Chapter XII

Culinary Heritage

174

Chapter XIII Significant Sites and Landmarks

178

Chapter XIV Famous Sons and Daughters

210

Chapter XV Prominent Ilocos Surians

220

Acknowledgements

231

Bibliography

232

Other Sources

233 v


NO LONGER AN IMPOSSIBLE DREAM

The author drew much of his inspiration from a childhood fancy, a vision shared with his father, former Commission on Elections Chairman Victorino A. Savellano, and the youth of Ilocos Sur, represented by his son, Deogracias Jose Victorino ‘DJ’ H. Savellano, now a Sangguniang Kabataan Federated president of Ilocos Sur.

8

Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History


Message

T

HIS book is considered a “first” in two respects. For one, it is the first documented narrative of Ilocos Sur. There have been many accounts written about Vigan City or other aspects of Ilocos Sur, but not the history of the province as a whole. Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History addresses this particular lack. It does not pretend to offer a definitive history of Ilocos Sur, but to provide the youth of the province a healthy curiosity about the past. And what better way to fire the imagination of the young reader but with an “attractive” interpretation, as it were, of the province’s colorful history. The historical narrative is rendered artistically through the wealth of graphic illustrations that abound in the book, making it another “first.” Our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, once said the youth is the hope of the motherland. I cannot agree more. But how can the youth be the hope of the motherland if they have no memory or knowledge of the past on which to anchor their identity? For the youth, the past is as important as the present if they are to chart the future. The book, therefore, is dedicated to the youth of Ilocos Sur. In their hands lies the future of the province. With the future bearers of the torch in mind, the book has identified distinguished sons and daughters of Ilocos Sur as models worth emulating not only by the present but the next generations as well. The book highlights a rich heritage which the present and future generations of Ilocos Sur ought to be proud of and should never forget. Events of the past as well as the present, people – as well as places – are part of this heritage showcase. There are many ways of handing down a legacy. I have chosen to leave behind a book about a province I have much pride and affection for, and for which I had the distinct honor and privilege to serve as governor. For Ilocos Sur’s stakeholders, this book is yours.

Deogracias Victor “DV” B. Savellano vii 9


Scientists believe the universe was created by means of a massive explosion of matter and energy. 10 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History


The Big Bang F IFTEEN billion years ago, a massive explosion of energy and matter led to the creation of the universe. Scientists would later call this the “Big Bang� theory, by way of explaining the origin of the universe. The explosion scattered solid materials and gaseous residues throughout the darkness. The residual parts came to be known as the stars, planets, comets and asteroids.

The Big Bang 11 1


2 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History 12


A result of the Big Bang was the creation of a solar system composed of the sun and a family of planets formed five billion years ago representing the last chapter of the Big Bang serial story. The planet Earth appeared to be the only one that could sustain varieties of living things – from microorganisms to elephants, from bees to blooming plants, from seashells to whales and from worms to human beings. Planet Earth went through many changes as shown by its geological periods. “During the Paleozoic era (approximately 570 million to 225 million years ago), most plants and animals began to evolve. During the Mesozoic era (approxi-

mately 225 million years to 65 million years ago), the seven continents began to form after a single super continent called Pangaea broke apart. It was also during this era that reptiles, including the great Jurassic dinosaurs, dominated the earth. The Cenozoic era (from 65 million years ago to recent times) was the vernal season of the evolution and flourishing of mammals, including the hominoid (earliest ancestors of humans). During most of the Quaternary period of the Cenozoic era, mainly the Pleistocene epoch (two million years ago to 8,000 B.C.), more than half of the world was covered with ice.�

Third rock from the sun: Orbiting 93 million miles, Earth and its moon occupy third spot in the planetary order of the solar system. The blue planet is the only one believed to harbor life in the recently reduced eight-planet family after the ninth planet, Pluto was delisted and later downgraded to an asteroid or a dwarf planet. The Big Bang 13 3


The Earth’s formative years were characterized by the constant movements of continental plates. In one such process, the dense pacific plate collided with the Eurasian plate – creating rumples on the latter, eventually becoming the mountain ranges of Northern Luzon.

late P n a i Euras

The Making of Land Forms “The Philippines has not always been where it is and not all of its islands belong to a distinctly linked system. The archipelago has varied geologic origins and possesses unique biological attributes.” This statement summarizes the complex process of 14 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History 4


Beginnings of Cordilleras and Northern Luzon

LATE P C I F PACI

land formation in the Philippines. Many of the islands were situated elsewhere or came from diverse tectonic origins. This would explain the differences in the islands’ physical features and the endemic flora and fauna. The geologic and tectonic evolution of the Philippines comes from the convergence and interaction among The Big Bang 15 5


6 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History 16


In one of the Earth’s many ice ages, Asia was one continuous land mass known as Sundaland. Land bridges connected the Philippines to this huge geologic feature.

The Big Bang 17 7


Continuous crust movements created volcanoes, mountain ranges, valleys and plains in Northern Luzon.

18 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History 8


The Big Bang 19 9


four major tectonic plates: the continental Eurasian and India-Australian plates and the Oceanic Pacific and the Philippine Sea Plates. Such tectonic plates several kilometers thick and composed of granite and other hard rocks collided and pressed against each other. High energy from the underground friction melted the massive boulders that caused earthquakes and volcanic formations

because of the hot lava rising above the landscape and the seascape. The land mass that would eventually become the terrain of Ilocos, Cagayan and Pangasinan was yet an island closer to the equator, according to geologist Rodolfo Tamayo. He added: “As the island moved northward and away from the equator, it continued to grow in size and height – on account of ‘faulting’

Water wears out and erodes solid rock creating cracks and fissures

Some fissures grow bigger than the others and through the years create cavities in the solid rock place. 20 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History 10


The fissures created caves which served as dwelling places of the earliest human settlers.

wherein large blocks of land were raised or displaced leading to the formation of new rocks through magnetism.� Tamayo further explained that the raising of the northern portion of the Central Cordillera Mountains was due to the movement along the Abra River Fault around 10-15 million years ago, and the thrust up the Central Cordillera Mountains above the plains of Ilocos along the Vigan-Aggao Fault five million years ago are examples of fault formation, resulting

in large cracks or fissures. “The plants and animals in the northern region have been dispersed by air through migratory visits of birds, water by the water currents and by land through the connection of the Ilocos to Taiwan and Asian mainland, to Korea and Japan and all the way to Indonesia, Australia and the Himalayas. At other times, the distribution of flora and fauna is undertaken by human beings, especially by those who followed a nomadic way of life.� The Big Bang 21 11


Origin of Early Plants and Animals During the series of Ice Ages throughout the last two million years, the sea level dropped as the world’s volume of water was frozen or trapped in huge glaciers in valleys and mountain slopes. Land bridges emerged, allowing the migration of flora and fauna to other locales. One such land bridge connected northern Luzon, particularly the Ilocos region, Cagayan and Cordillera, to what are now Taiwan, South China, Korea and Southern Japan. There are species of trees in Ilocos similar to those found in North Asia. Particular examples are the dipterocarps found along the Ilocos coast and the varieties of pine trees located in the uplands of Abra. Similarly, varieties of plant and animal life in the northern coast of Luzon were also discovered in the Himalayan region, Indonesia, Australia, Borneo and Malaysia. Biologist E.H. Taylor made a list of lizards, snakes and amphibians like frogs found in northern Luzon that are close relatives of species thriving around north and south Asia, including Australia. Initially an enigma to scientists and researchers was the similarity of orchid varieties found in Luzon and in Australia, a continent below the equator that can be reached by plane in a little over seven hours. How were similar varieties of these exotic aerial flowers able to bloom in two different places miles apart? The answer is provided by the notion of a “raft.” A raft may be man-made or natural. A natural raft may come in the form of logs felled during storms, floating along the sea current called Kuroshiwa. The Kuroshiwa floats from the Australia-Indonesia region to the Pacific coast of the Philippine Archipelago. Another form of raft could be large chunks of land held together by roots of trees or vines that could be washed down a mountain slope, or drifting down a river and out into the sea via the same Kuroshiwa current. It is assumed that rats, gekkos, cevits, tarsiers and monkeys boarded this kind of raft and thus were able to reach the northern Luzon coast. Man eventually brought to the Philippine archipelago bigger mammals such as horses, cattle, carabaos, sheep and goats. Data used for this chapter provided by anthropologist Arnold Azurin

22 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History 12

Northern Luzon’s pine trees are similar to those found in North Asia.


The Big Bang 23 13


Bushy-tailed Cloud Rat

Northern Luzon wildlife is similar to that found in North Asian countries.

Philippine Warty Pig

Large Luzon Forest Rat Cordillera Striped Earth Rat

24 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History 14


Macaque Monkey

Philippine Brown Deer

Palm Civet Cat

The Big Bang 25 15


16 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History 26


Paleontologists surmise that Austronesians from Southeast Asia sailed the seas using outrigger canoes and became the earliest settlers of Northern Philippines. Original Inhabitants 27 17


T

HE TERM “austronesian” comes from the Latin word “austro” or “southern” and the Greek word “nesis” or “island.” It refers to the original inhabitants of Southeast Asia who migrated to areas like Madagascar in the west to Eastern Island in the east, and from Taiwan in the north to New Zealand in the south. “The Austronesians carried out one of humankind’s greatest population movements from their reputed homeland in Southeast Asia to the Pacific Islands, a distance that covers about one-third of the globe.”1 “The Austronesian-speaking peoples include the indigenous populations of Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Madagascar, and inhabitants of the Pacific Islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. The languages are also spoken among the aboriginal populations of Taiwan, in some areas of South Vietnam and Cambodia, along the north coast of New Guinea, in the Mergui Archipelago off the coast of Burma, and on Hainan Island in southern China.”2 There are two opposing theories regarding the evolution of the Austronesians. One is the Mainland Origin Hypothesis which states that the Austronesians originated from South China and Taiwan and from there spread southward and westward. The proponents

1 “The Earliest Filipinos” Kasaysayan; The History of the Filipino People (Asia Publishing Company Limited, 1998) p. 261 2 Ibid

28 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History 18

The Austronesians were hunters or gatherers and, most likely, cave dwellers.


29


20 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History 30


of this theory are Peter Bellwood of Australian National University in Canberra, Australia and K.C. Chang of Harvard University in the United States. According to Bellwood, the early Austronesians, who sustained an economy based on cereals such as rice and millet, expanded from the coastal area of the Yangtze River in mainland China and into Taiwan and northern Philippines by about 5,000 B.C. to 4,000 B.C. The Island Origin Hypothesis, on the other hand, states that the Autronesians originated from an island in Southeast Asia. The main proponent of this hypothesis is Wilhelm G. Solheim II of the University of Hawaii. Solheim believes the ProtoAustronesians grew in numbers in northeastern Indonesia and Mindanao “expanding northwards with a developing maritime population through the Philippine Archipelago and into Taiwan.” From there they reached South China. Solheim refers to these Austronesians who used stone and shell flake tools in their homeland as “Nusantao”. The expansion of the ProtoAustronesian speakers is archeologically linked to the Neolithic Period or New Stone Age of Southeast Asia. This period is characterized by the use of polished stone and shell tools for forest-clearing and boat-making. It is also associated with the manufacture of pottery and farming.

Barter trade era (pre-Spanish period) Chinese, Japanese, and Moro traders exchange goods with people along the bays or coves and river banks of Ilocos. Original Inhabitants 31 21


32 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History


Ilocos at Point of Contact with Spain How Ilocos Got its Name In the Ilocano language, the root word “loco” found in the the word “Locong” or “Lusong” means “a land depression or the lowlands.” Adding the prefix “I” – which means “inhabitants of” – to the word “loco” would result in the description “inhabitants of the lowland,” referring to the Ilocos. Ilocos would then come to mean “inhabitants of the lowlands or the plains” to distinguish them from those who settled in the mountains. Hemmed in between the China Sea and the Cordilleras, the Ilocanos, or natives of Ilocos, set up their communities in the narrow coastal plains.

1572 (June)

Capt. Juan de Salcedo, grandson of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, the first Spanish conquistador in the country, arrives in Ilocos and establishes his fort on a hill called Tamag near the pre-Spanish settlement of Vigan. Ilocos at Point of Contact with Spain 33 23


Salcedo’s ship chases Sangley boats encountered by his men on Lingayen Gulf.

34 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History 24


Ilocos at Point of Contact with Spain 35 25


Landscape The Provincia de Ilocos, as referred to by the Spanish colonizers, was described as a province extending from the summit of the Caraballo Mountains bordering Cagayan province along the coast of the China Sea down to the town of Namacpacan at the boundary of Pangasinan province. The entire length of the province was 30 leagues (one league is equivalent to three miles) or 90 miles. Its narrowest part was three leagues or 9 miles wide. At its widest, it was six leagues or 18 miles wide. The Provincia de Ilocos at that time covered the present towns in the provinces of Abra, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur and La Union. In these coastal plains, towns as well as farms and fields worked by the Ilocanos would emerge. The land was described as thick and fertile and suitable for the cultivation of rice, wheat, indigo, cotton, coffee, black pepper and vegetables. There was an abundant water supply to irrigate the rice fields. Accord- The tobacco monopoly controlled the production and distribution of tobacco to the Ilocanos. ing to the Augustinian friar Tingguians and the Igorots, extracted the Martinez de Zuñiga, water from the mounvaluable metal and sold it to the Ilocanos. tains, once properly dammed, could also be In the mountain slopes were found tapped to water the fields. cattle ranches. “There are portions of land In the lower part of the province was which are not owned by anybody and the Caraballo mountains “dense and full which are granted to deserving natives of trees, reed bushes and palms where tar so that they might raise cattle in them,” and wax could be obtained.” Gold mines Fr. Zuñiga continued. were also found in the area. The mountain In the middle of the province was peoples of the province, like the 36 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History 26


The temperature of the province was described as hot, especially in the northern part of the province, when “thick clouds cover the atmosphere which causes much discomfort to the town of Batac and others in the Dingras valley.” Some relief, however, was provided to residents with the coming of the “hanging amihan” or north winds.

Provincia de Ilocos products

Vigan where Juan de Salcedo founded Villa Fernandina in 1574 upon orders of Governor-General Guido de Lavezares. Zuñiga mentioned that Vigan boasted of “a palace made of wood and cathedral of stone and bricks which was erected by the most illustrious Fray Juan de San Ignacio, a shod Augustinian.”

Sugar cane was planted for the manufacture of vinegar and local wine called basi. When the colonial authorities insisted on stopping the manufacture of basi by the Ilocanos, the natives staged an uprising that would be later called the Basi Revolt. The cultivation of cotton was encouraged, with cotton-weaving emerging as a principal industry of the province. The Ilocanos produced plain and embroidered clothes out of cotton. They also wove blankets and canvas for ship sails. The Ilocos region later enjoyed renown as the home of a vibrant cotton-weaving industry. Compared with cotton fabrics produced in the Visayas and even overseas, products from the Ilocos had a certain roughness attributed to the mode of spinning and described thus: “The spinners hold the cotton in one hand and a spindle in the other. The spindle is spun and rubbed around the thigh and the resultant thread is much twister and too rough.”1 Fr. Zuñiga suggested that Ilocos’ cotton weaving industry could even be developed further, and thus, be more profitable if the natives were obliged to pay taxes on fabrics they would weave. He recommended the installation of looms in the houses of the cabezas de barangay where the taxpayer could go to and “weave the equivalent measurement

1 Fr. Joaquin Martinez de Zuñiga, Status of the Philippines in 1800 (Manila: Filipiniana Book Guild, 1973)

Ilocos at Point of Contact with Spain 37 27


The Tingguians traded extensively with Ilocanos from the lowlands.

of woven fabrics in lieu of the taxes they are supposed to pay.”2 The prevailing price of a three feet long and two and a half feet wide plain cotton cloth was half a real. The friar further added that if the practice of paying taxes in kind and in particular, in cotton fabrics, was enforced then the Philippines would not be dependent on cotton goods from England. Tobacco grew well in the Ilocos. However, when the colonial government established the tobacco monopoly, Ilocanos were constrained to buy from government kiosks to satisfy their needs. Later, they resorted to buying tobacco from Igorots 2 Ibid. 3 Ibid.

38 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History 28

who were secretly planting tobacco. It was the view of Fr. Zuñiga that if the Ilocanos were also allowed to cultivate tobacco by the colonial government, more revenue was to be expected. He explained:3 “If the Ilocanos are allowed to produce tobacco instead of resorting to monopoly stores and if they are paid for every bundle of the product they turn in, they cannot be molested and the government treasurer will receive more than what it gets nowadays.” Like what they did with woven cotton cloth, Fr. Zuñiga suggested that the Ilocanos could pay their tribute through tobacco leaves.


Lifestyle of the Ilocanos Attention was given by the Spaniards to the physical attributes of the Ilocanos. Described as physically similar to the Tagalogs, the Ilocanos were depicted as having “flaccid hair, flat noses, olivecolored complexion, big eyes and little or no beard at all.” Like the Tagalogs, the Ilocanos were said to be fond of stage shows called comedias, entertainment, fiestas and drinking sprees where nipa wine from Pangasinan or local sugar cane wine was served. The penchant of the Ilocanos for bagoong did not go unnoticed by the Spaniards. Bagoong consisted of either pickled shrimps or fish eaten raw. The concoction was sprayed with a dash of nipa wine to give it a reddish hue. Never eaten in big amounts, bagoong served as an appetizer for the main dish. The Spaniards also noted that the Ilocanos were a clannish lot who preferred to live beside each other. Houses were built side by side, with little or no space devoted for a garden where one could plant fruits, cocoa, black pepper and coffee. The Ilocanos, it was also observed, did not live far from their fields. It was not unusual to find fields dotted with small houses raised from the ground by four wooden posts, serving as rice granaries. The Ilocanos lived peacefully with two mountain tribes, the Tingguians and the Igorots. A Real Cedula dated February 2, 1818 showed that Ilocos was divided into two jurisdictions with two alcaldes – one for Ilocos Norte and another for Ilocos Sur.

Filway’s Philippine Almanac, second edition contained this illustrated map of Ilocos Sur. Ilocos at Point of Contact with Spain 39 29


The Heart of Northern Luzon A

CCOUNTS in the early 19th century revealed a growing restiveness among inhabitants of Provincia de Ilocos. Signs of unrest, the migration of people to other parts of the province and the appearance of armed gangs and thieves had been reported by the governor of the province to the governorgeneral. The matter of dividing the province into two – north and south – was submitted to the Real Audiencia for consideration. Manuel Bernaldez Pizarro, fiscal of the Real Audiencia, reported that successive revolts in the province during the years 1810, 1812 and 1816 made it imperative to divide the province. According to Pizarro, having a divided Ilocos – an Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur – would enable authorities to closely supervise the natives, whose numbers had increased, and thereby effectively quell any uprising.

40 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History 30

A reproduction of a map of old Ilocos Sur


The Heart of Northern Luzon 41 31


Geography The new province of Ilocos Sur was bounded in the north by the province of Ilocos Norte, in the east by the Cordillera, in the south by La Union and in the west by the China Sea. The Cordillera separated Ilocos Sur from the military districts of Tiagan and Lepanto. Ilocos Sur was comprised of 20 towns. A report on the province dated 1870 listed the following towns together with their year of founding and their corresponding population.1

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20.

Town Year of Foundation Souls Tagudin 1586 9,453 Santa Cruz 1603 7,069 Santa Lucia 1586 10,178 Candon 1591 19,635 Santiago 1626 5,108 San Esteban 1625 2,615 Santa Maria 1760 12,353 Narvacan 1587 19,425 Caoayan 1825 6,659 Santa Catalina 1795 6,172 Vigan 1572 18,126 Bantay 1593 6,626 Santa 1713 10,827 San Vicente 1795 5,908 San Ildefonso 1769 2,787 Santo Domingo 1742 9,063 Magsingal 1676 8,267 Lapog 1772 5,365 Cabugao 1722 7,008 Sinait 1591 6,066

Seven towns were founded in the 16th century according to the list. These were Vigan, Tagudin, Santa Lucia, Candon, Narvacan, Bantay and Sinait. Vigan was the oldest town of Ilocos Sur. Four of the towns founded in the 17th century were

Santa Cruz, Santiago, San Esteban and Magsingal. Eight towns founded in the 18th century were Santa Maria, Santa Catalina, Santa, San Vicente, San Ildefonso, Santo Domingo, Lapog and Cabugao. Only one town – Caoayan – was established in the 19th century. The two main rivers of Ilocos Sur are the Amburayan and Abra Rivers. These two bodies of water have wide river beds. The rivers were then navigable by balsas (rafts). But during the rainy season, the rivers overflowed, flooding the neighboring fields. The Abra River comes from the mountains and flows towards the town of Santa while the mouth of the Amburayan River, known for its strong currents, is between the towns of Tagudin and Bangar.

Population In 1870, the most populated towns of the province were Candon (19,635 inhabitants), Narvacan (19,425 inhabitants) and Vigan (18,126 inhabitants). The least populated was San Esteban, with 2,615 inhabitants. Ilocos Sur’s population profile in 1870:2 Spaniards (Peninsulares) 60 Filipino-born Spaniards 334 Chinese Mestizos 4,352 Natives 174,351 Pure Chinese 207 As gleaned from the figures, Ilocos Sur had a sizable population of Chinese mestizos, a sizable number of Filipinoborn Spaniards and pure Chinese and a handful of Spaniards.

1 “Ilocos Sur in 1870” (A Spanish Government Report) in the Ilocos Review, Vol. 18 (1986), 37. 2 Ibid.

42 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History 32


An original map of Ilocos Sur from Atlas De Filipinas, dated 1918

The Heart of Northern Luzon 43 33


Agriculture The main crop of the province was rice, also the staple food of the people, with two thousand hectares planted to the crop. Irrigation canals in Santa Lucia and Santa Maria assured the two towns of a continuous harvest of rice. The parish priests of Candon and Tagudin were responsible for the construction of ditches that helped irrigate more rice fields. The Augustinian friars were credited for the construction of irrigation canals in the Ilocos. After rice, anil (indigo) was the next crop extensively cultivated. About 1,103 hectares were devoted to the cultivation of the plant “Fayum” from which is extracted anil or indigo. Anil was grown with great devotion because of the promise of big income. In 1870, 759 hectares were devoted to the cultivation of cotton that was grown in all the towns. The production of sugar cane had gone down according to an 1842 report on Ilocos Sur, with only 50 hectares devoted to its cultivation. The report added that the decrease had much to do with the “great persecution against the wine called basi.” The Tingguians also considered basi as an effective medicine. The vinegar, said to be of good quality, found a market in Manila.

Industries The principal industries of Ilocos Sur were cotton or silk-weaving or a combination of both, the production of anil, pottery-making, jewelry-making, and the manufacture of boats and bolos. Weaving cotton as well as silk was a major occupation of Vigan’s women folk who produced fine as well as ordinary clothes like “cotonias”, rayadillos, grungonez, cordonillos, terlingaz, 3 “Ilocos Sur in 1842” in Ilocos Review, Vol.22 (1990), 78.

44 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History 34

Indigo plant

Natural dye

Indigo plants are first soaked in huge vats before dye is extracted and used to color locally-produced native fabrics.

sinagredan, colchas, manerias, lona and others.”3 The women of Santo Domingo, on the other hand, wove blankets. By 1870, Tagudin, with 500 looms at its disposal, led the other towns in cotton-weaving. The two towns of Santa Lucia and Santa Cruz had 40 and 15 anil factories respectively. The building of boats like pontines y pancos for coastal service as well as


sailboats (goletas) was centered in Caoayan and Vigan harbor. Santa town boasted of kampilans and bolos it manufactured.

Administration Ilocos Sur was headed by an Alcalde, the executive, judicial and military administrator of the province. The Alcalde was also consulting judge (Asesoria) for the

politico-military provinces of La Union and Abra. Augustinian friars took over as parish priests for the towns of Santa, Narvacan, Santa Maria, Santiago, Candon, Santa Lucia, Tagudin, Bantay, Magsingal, Cabugao, San Esteban, Santa Cruz and San Ildefonso. The parishes of Vigan, Caoayan, Santa Catalina, San Vicente, Santo Domingo, Lapog and Sinait, however, were administered by native clergy. The Heart of Northern Luzon 45 35


Reading the Pasyon, a recounting of Christ’s life, death and resurrection through song and verse, was an annual ritual during the Lenten season. The practice continues to this day in Christian communities. 36 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History 46


The Fiesta in a Religious and Cultural Setting The tedium of daily living during the Spanish colonial years was relieved by the many religious feasts that were providentially distributed throughout the year. The most celebrated of these were the town fiesta and the Lenten season. Vigan’s fiesta, the most lavish of the festivities, was celebrated every January 25 to mark the conversion of St. Paul to the Faith. An hermano mayor (major fiesta sponsor) was selected from one of the elite families in town to oversee and spend for the event that usually lasted three days. On the eve of the fiesta, according to folklorist Isabelo de los Reyes, church bells were rang at 12 noon to signal the start of the festivities. In the afternoon, games were played in front of the hermano mayor’s house. During the novena Mass celebrated nine days earlier, people recited verses in an ”undulated and singsong style.” Gunshots and fireworks reverberated in the air with the reading of the Gospel, after the Homily and the Consecration of the Host. The Gospel and the sermon that were read in Spanish were later translated in Ilocano by a preacher who was paid six pesos for the task. A comedia, a play that revolved around the battle between Christians and Muslims during the medieval period in Europe, was mounted for this occasion, and ended with the defeat of the Muslims and their eventual conversion to Christianity. The comedia’s lines were recited in verse. Its moves were choreographed and costumes were designed in accordance with the fashion during the medieval The Heart of Northern Luzon 47 37


Sarzuela

times. It was staged for three nights, and sometimes winded up at early dawn. An image of St. Paul was paraded around town at the tailend of an evening procession, together with images of other saints. As the procession returned to the church, it passes in front of the hermano mayor’s house where an arch designed in the shape of a heart has been erected. As St. Paul passes underneath the arch, the heart opens and a young boy dressed as an angel deposits a bouquet of flowers at the foot of the image. The fiesta attracted people who eagerly awaited the festivities, especially those who came from nearby towns. Ash Wednesday marked the beginning 38 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History 48

of the Lenten season, highlighted by the reading, through the singing of verses of the Pasyon, a recounting of the birth of Christ, His crucifixion and resurrection. According to De los Reyes, the Ilocanos organized several choral groups to read the Pasyon every night in houses or chapels. He described the ritual thus: “One woman in a singsong voice begins to recite the stanzas from the book Passion, the second woman answers with the following stanza, then the third sings other verses and again the first singer answers continuing the sequence, shifting from high to low pitch.” Palm Sunday and Holy Thursday were the two occasions during the Lenten


season when processions were held. Every big house in Vigan owned an heirloom religious statue mounted on a carriage or silver carroza that was paraded during these two days of the Holy Week. The image was usually kept in a room or a special corner of the house. Its upkeep came from income collected from the earnings of a parcel of land set aside for this purpose by the family who owned the heirloom. The money was used to buy a new attire for the image and its own set of jewelry.

During the Holy Week, wooden rattles instead of bells were used to announce the religious events. Town residents spent Good Friday hearing sermons on the Seven Last Words. De los Reyes noted that it was also a good day for hunting deer and wild pigs found in the neighboring forests. An old resident of Vigan reminisced that the Lenten season was always memorable for there was “always food and plenty of it, and a lot of activities during Holy Week.�

Sources: De los Reyes, Isabelo. El Folklore Filipino. With English translation by Salud Dizon and Maria Elinora P. Imson. Diliman, Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1994. Gatbonton, B. Esperanza. Vigan Album. Manila: National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 2002.

The battle between Christians and Muslims was dramatized in a play called comedia shown during the town fiesta.

The Heart of Northern Luzon 49 39


Ciudad Fernandina T HE name Vigan comes from a description of a taro-like plant that grew in abundance along the Abra River. Vigan also referred to the river that surrounded the present location of the town. From historical maps, Vigan was seen as an island surrounded by the Abra River and its tributaries. This geographical feature apparently made it accessible to Chinese and Japanese traders and to Spanish conquistadores, among them, Don Juan de Salcedo. Juan de Salcedo, a grandson of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, explored the northern part of Luzon covering the present provinces of Zambales, Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos and the coast of Cagayan. While exploring the north in 1572, Salcedo stumbled upon an old kingdom called Bigan. Chinese and Japanese traders could have frequented the place since the natives’ graves, according to Fr. Francisco Colin,1 yielded “arms and jewels of Chinese or Japanese origin.� Fr. Colin added that the Chinese or Japanese could have been attracted to the site by the presence of gold, said to be found in abundance in the area. Salcedo returned to Manila but later surveyed the southern parts of Camarines, Albay and Sorsogon provinces. For his achievements as a conquistador, Salcedo 1 Emma H. Blair and James A. Robertson, The Philippine Islands (Manila: Cacho Hermanos, 1987), Vol. 40, p. 48.

50 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History 40


Vigan, then known as Ciudad Fernandina, undergoes a building boom during the Spanish period.

Ciudad Fernandina 51 41


Vigan was already a booming trading center in its early years. Ifugao natives and other highlanders sold gold, while Muslim merchants brought in 52 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History 42


was granted an encomienda in the Ilocos in 1574. An encomienda was a trust given to an encomendero for the custody of a community of conquered people. It included the right to collect tribute and exploit labor. The encomienda was found on the shores of the river called Bigan that Governor General Guido de Lavezares had renamed Fernandina in honor of Prince Fernando, a son of Philip II. Although he had settled in Ilocos, Salcedo went back to Manila to warn the Spaniards of an impending attack by the Chinese pirate Limahong. Unsuccessful in occupying Manila, Limahong had retreated to the mouth of the Agno River in Pangasinan. In 1575, Salcedo succeeded in crushing Limahong’s fleet in Lingayen. On his return to Bigan, Salcedo contracted fever and died on March 11, 1576. Before his death, Salcedo had stipulated in his will that the reminder of his property should be given to natives living on his encomienda after debts had been settled. In 1582, the Spanish conquistador Loarca2 had reported that the town of Bigan had 800 inhabitants. Not far from it, he noted, was the town of Fernandina. This tended to show two different places that were geographically close to each other. A report on encomiendas in 1591,3 however, mentioned that the town of Bigan was also called Villa Fernandina. It added that Villa Fernandina had five or six Spanish citizens, one parish priest, one alcalde mayor and one deputy. From this time on, Bigan and Villa Fernandina came to be known as one and the same place. Vigan gained importance when it was chosen as the new seat of the diocese of Nueva Segovia in 1758. The bishopric of

brassware and Chinese traders offered porcelain and silk from mainland Asia.

2 The Philippine Islands, Vol. 5, p.107. 3 The Philippine Islands, Vol. 8, pp.105-108.

Ciudad Fernandina 53 43


Nueva Segovia supervised the parishes in the provinces of Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Cagayan as well as the missions of Ituy, Pangui, Abra and Batanes. The former seat of Nueva Segovia was Lallo in Cagayan. The transfer was attributed to the changing course of the Cagayan River, affecting the location of the diocese. Vigan was traversed by a river that did not change its course unlike the Cagayan River. Furthermore, Vigan was economically prosperous and therefore could support a bishopric. With the transfer, the status of Vigan, by then referred to as Villa Fernandina, was raised to a city and called Ciudad Fernandina in 1778. Bishop Alfonso Garcia of Nueva Segovia, however, saw that the parish church was in a state of disrepair and that there were no decent quarters for himself and his staff. Thus began the transformation of the church of Vigan into a cathedral that was to be later named after St. Paul. Work on the new cathedral was finished after 10 years (1790-1800). An Episcopal Palace, to be later called Arzobispado, was also built for the Nueva Segovia bishop in 1783. A report on Ilocos Sur in 18424 mentioned that Vigan had a big population consisting of 5,423 men, 5,575 women and 4,310 children. With little land for cultivation, Vigan residents had to engage in trade and industries apt for the region’s harsh and hot climate. Women were thus involved in cotton-weaving and produced articles made of silk. The men, on the other hand, were into the production of anil or indigo and the manufacture of tiles and bricks. Others were engaged in the selling of agricultural produce and manufactured products for

the nearby provinces of Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, Zambales, Cagayan and even as far away as Manila. By 1870,5 Vigan offered proof that it was indeed the capital of the province. It boasted of wide streets, a big number of public buildings and three public promenades. Among the public buildings were the following: the St. Paul Cathedral that had three naves and was 76 meters long and 29 meters wide; the Bishop’s palace; the Alcalde’s Casa Real; the Hacienda Publica; the Seminary; the Parochial House; two barracks, two tribunals (one for the natives and another for Chinese mestizos), two schools (one for girls and one for boys); one camarin for a music school and a prison facility. The first plaza (town square) was enclosed by a wooden fence with four gates. At the center was a monument of Don Juan Salcedo. A second plaza was under construction between the Casa Real and the river bank behind the new prison. The last of the promenades was called “Little Round” or “Vuelta Chica,” described as a most beautiful sight to behold and also accessible or could be viewed from a boat cruising on the river Bili that ended in the open sea. Vigan, by then, had acquired a cosmopolitan veneer, judging from its population consisting of Spaniards, who served as functionaries of the colonial government and Chinese traders engaged in the import-export business, owners of boats called sampans. A growing number of Chinese mestizos had settled in a Chinese quarter (Parian) or Kamestisuhan, as referred to by the Ilocanos. This was located close to the Abra River that provided a harbor for

4 “Ilocos Sur in 1842” in Ilocos Review (Vol. 22, 1990), p.80. 5 “Ilocos Sur in 1870” in Ilocos Review (Vol. 18, 1986), p.38 and p.43.

54 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History 44


A map shows the route taken by the Sangley pirate Limahong who tried to conquer the natives of what was later to be called the Philippines.

varied water craft such as bergatine Goleta, pontines, pancos, parao and other types of vessels. All ethnic groups mingled freely and interacted with the native population. A number of Chinese or Sangley had embraced the Catholic religion as shown in entries recorded in the Book of Funerals.6 Rich Chinese families appeared to have spent lavishly for the last rites of their kin. As examples: The amount of 23

pesos and four reales was paid for the funeral of Josef Diante, a Sangley, in 1694. The family of Francisco Jinio, identified as a Sangley and a champanero or sampan owner, paid funeral expenses amounting to 16 pesos in 1698 for his interment. Juan Quingco and Tomas Quinco, both Sangleys, incurred burial expenses totaling 20 pesos and 10 pesos respectively. The highest recorded funeral

6 Fr. Frederick Sharpf, SVD, “Memorable Days for Vigan� in Ilocos Review (Vol. 17, 1985), p.120.

Ciudad Fernandina 55 45


1574 (November 24):

Limahong lands in Sinay (now Sinait) where he wins a minor naval engagement against a Spanish vessel. He arrives with about 3,000 men, women and children and 62 Chinese junk boats. The group, including Japanese warriors, soon leaves on a plunder mission to Villa Fernandina, and later proceeds to launch an attack in Manila.

56 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History


Ciudad Fernandina 57 47


1758 (September 7)

A royal decree transferred the Diocese of Nueva Segovia from Lallo in Cagayan to Vigan. The decree also stated that henceforth, Vigan would be known as Ciudad Fernandina. Completed in 1783, the arzobizpado is the official residence of the Archbishop of Nueva Segovia. The only surviving 18th century arzobizpado in the country, the building served as the headquarters of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo in 1898 and the invading American forces under Col. James Parker in 1899.

58 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History 48


Surrounded by rivers to the north, south and east, Vigan was seen by Spanish authorities as a natural fortress against perceived inland attacks. This prompted the transfer of the Archbishop’s Palace from Lallo in Cagayan province to its present site in the Ilocos Sur capital.

expense was 35 pesos – for a Spanish priest – showing that Chinese Catholic converts were not far behind as far as paying for this type of service was concerned. With the increasing number of Chinese and Chinese mestizos, there was a need to build a tribunal (meeting hall) solely for their use, separate from that of the principalia or native elite. The Chinese mestizos also had their own gremio or guild that, at one point, was headed by a certain Don Miguel Pinzon who was later killed by followers of the legendary Ilocano fighter Diego Silang in 1762. Evidences of Vigan’s new-found economic prosperity were seen in the stone houses owned by the city’s Chinese mestizos as well as the presence of many vessels that frequently visited its harbor. The 1870 report on Vigan showed the movement of vessels thus:7 7 Ilocos Review, (Vol. 18, 1986), p.52.

Ciudad Fernandina 59 49


1892 Don Mena Crisologo and Isabelo Abaya win silver medals for their respective products at the Candon Exposition. Ships Arrivals Vapores 4 Bergantines 2 Bergantine Goleta 4 Goletas 6 Pailebotes 23 Pontines 62 Pancos 440 Paraos 517 Diversos 68 50 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History 60

Departures 4 2 3 7 15 55 663 179 15

The principal items unloaded by these ships were English textiles, palay and nipa rum. Among the major exports of Ilocos Sur loaded in Vigan’s harbor were anil or indigo and copper from the mines of Mancayan, with maguey and sugar both occupying third place in importance. In 1870, 350,000 pesos worth of English textiles entered the market of Ilocos Sur and 193,038 pesos worth of indigo


were exported.8 During the Candon exposition in 1892,9 a silver medal was given to Mena Crisologo of Vigan for an entry of 113 hundred weight of top-quality indigo produced in his farm. Roberto Guirnalda also received a silver medal for a machine made of bamboo that he invented to produce maguey. Isabelo Abaya was similarly honored for his

display of textiles, blankets and table linen woven of Ilocano cotton. Within this rich and cosmopolitan milieu, Vigan produced illustrious sons and daughters such as Fr. Jose Burgos, one of three priests martyred in 1872; Leona Florentina, mother of Isabelo de los Reyes, whose poems were included in the Bibliotheque Internationale des Oeuvres des Femmes in Paris in 1889; Isabelo de los Reyes, folklorist, labor leader and journalist; Gregorio Romero Syquia, a wealthy man with roots in Vigan, who became an alcalde of the city’s Ayuntamiento and was arrested and tortured for his monetary contributions to the Philippine Revolution in 1896; and Elpidio Quirino, a former president of the Philippine Republic. Vigan slowly emerged as the premier city in the north, becoming an important political, economic, religious and educational center. The “must-sees” of present-day Vigan are its fine examples of heritage architecture: quaint colonial houses lining cobbled streets, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Palacio de Arzobispado and the ancestral house of Fr. Jose Burgos that was converted into a museum. Because of Vigan’s historic past echoed in its wonderfully preserved stone houses and ancient buildings, it has been included in the 1999 World Heritage list. There were two criteria used as bases for Vigan’s inclusion in the prestigious roster: 1) Vigan represents a unique fusion of Asian building design and construction with European colonial architecture and planning; 2) Vigan is an exceptionally intact and well-preserved example of a European trading town in East and Southeast Asia. Indeed, Vigan has found its niche in the country’s colorful history.

8 Ibid. pp.51-52. 9 William Henry Scott, Ilocano Responses to American Aggression (1900-1901). (Quezon City, Philippines: New Day Publishers, 1986), p.8.

Ciudad Fernandina 61 51


52 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History


A History of Resistance H OW important Ilocos was to the Spanish authorities became apparent when leaders of early revolts like Francisco Maniago of Lubao, Pampanga province and Andres Malong of Binalatongan, Pangasinan province sent letters and envoys to natives of the province to encourage them to liberate themselves from Spanish rule. In 1660, Maniago barricaded the mouths of rivers with stakes to block the commerce between Manila and Pampanga and sent letters to Ilocos and Pangasinan inciting the natives to rebel against the Spaniards and kill them if necessary. The people of Pangasinan under the leadership of Andres Malong responded to Maniago’s call by organizing the Malong Rebellion (1660-1661). From Lingayen, the rebellion spread throughout the entire province of Pangasinan. Wishing to spread the rebellion to nearby provinces, Malong sent his general, Melchor de Vera, with 6,000 men to Pampanga and Pedro Gumapos,

In one of his forays to Manila as a messenger for Ilocos Sur bishops, legendary Ilocano fighter Diego Silang witnesses the British attack on Spanish-held Manila and its eventual capitulation to the English. A History of Resistance 53


54 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History


1762 (December 24) Silang wins his first battle against the Spaniards in Balaywak, Cabugao.

55


Silang win another battle against Spanish forces in Cabugao. His followers declare him Ilocos governor.

with 3,000 men to Ilocos. Malong, who had proclaimed himself King of Pangasinan, remained in the province with 2,000 men, but was pursued by Spanish-Filipino forces as he fled to the mountains. He was later captured and 56 Ilocos IlocosSur: Sur:An AnIllustrated IllustratedHistory History

executed together with De Vera. Gumapos was likewise captured and executed in Vigan. Inspired by the courage shown by Maniago and Malong, the Ilocanos rose in revolt in January 1661.


Ilocos Revolt of 1661 The Ilocanos were led by Pedro Almazan, Juan Magsanop and Gaspar Cristobal. Almazan was proclaimed king of the Ilocanos and his eldest son, the crown prince. The rebellion took off in

the towns of San Nicolas, Bacarra and Ilauag where they killed the friars and burned the churches. The Spaniards, however, were able to suppress the revolt, captured Almazan and then executed him. A History of Resistance 57


1762 (December 26): After he is set free, Silang launches an attack on Vigan, capturing it from Spanish forces.

The Revolt of Diego Silang (1762-1763) Diego Silang was born to Ilocano parents in Pangasinan on December 16, 1730. He was employed as a government courier travelling between Manila and Vigan. Upon hearing the capture of Manila by the British on October 5, 1762, Silang requested the authorities in Vigan to abolish the tribute system and to organize the 58 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History


Ilocanos to fight the British. The alcalde mayor of Ilocos, Don Antonio Zabala, responded by throwing Silang in jail. Friends of Silang interceded in his behalf and he was released from prison. Once he was free, Silang made the following demands: 1) the removal of Zabala as alcalde mayor, 2) the appointment of Tomas Millan, acting parish priest of Vigan, as Zabala’s replacement, 3) the

expulsion of all Spaniards and Spanish mestizos from Ilocos, and 4) his appointment as head of the Ilocano army to fight the British. Silang unfurled his flag of rebellion on December 14, 1762. The uprising had its first taste of success when Bishop Bernardo Ustariz, O.P. of Nueva Segovia acceded to Silang’s demands: Zabala’s resignation as alcalde mayor and Millan’s appointment A History of Resistance 59


Friars gather at a convent in Bantay town where they plot Silang’s assassination with the mestizo Miguel Vicos, Silang’s best friend.

as his replacement. Ustariz, likewise, abolished the payment of tribute and the rendering of forced labor. Encouraged by these concessions, Silang demanded weapons and ammunition stored in the arsenal of Vigan under the pretext of using these against the British. 60 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History

The disturbances in Vigan reached the authorities in Ilocos Norte or “Amianan,” including Sinait. The Augustinian friars in the north decided to organize an expedition against Vigan, unsure about how far the seeds of rebellion had spread in the “Medio” i.e. central Ilocos (Cabugao to


Silang meets with British officer to seek financial and material assistance. By that time, the British had already occupied Manila.

Santa) and in “Abagatan� i.e. Narvacan to Namacpacan. On December 26, 1762, Silang and his followers succeeded in capturing the arsenal. Seven persons, three Spaniards, one Chinese mestizo and three Filipinos

were killed in this incident. Learning of his success in the Ilocos, the British sought out Silang and offered him friendship and protection. A letter was sent to Silang dated May 6, 1763 from the British authorities. It read:1

1 Gregorio Zaide, Philippine Political and Cultural History (Manila: Philippine Education Company, 1949), 358.

A History of Resistance 61


“In a short time, your Grace (Silang) will have troops and war supplies. This dispatch is to assure your Grace of our friendship and my satisfaction of receiving your letter, and because of your loyalty. In order that your Grace may communicate it to all the people, espe-

cially to those under your command, I am sending your Grace, a small bronze cannon in token of affection... I shall not to great length to repeat, with my accustomed sincerity, that I shall employ all my strength in your defense in order that your Grace may free yourself from

1763 (May 28) Silang is assassinated by his friend Miguel Vicos, a Spanish mestizo of Tingguian descent, with the connivance of Pedro Becbec.

62 Ilocos IlocosSur: Sur:An AnIllustrated IllustratedHistory History


the Spanish yoke.“ Silang saw the British offer as a counterfoil to Simon de Anda’s forces. Desperate, the Spaniards sought to end Silang’s growing power. The Spaniards decided to give a generous reward to anyone willing to kill the Ilocano leader.

Miguel Vicos, a Spanish mestizo and a friend of Silang, volunteered to do the dastardly act with the connivance of Pedro Becbec. On May 28, 1763, Silang was shot in the back by Vicos. Gone was the “guiding genius of the Iloko war of independence.”

Silang was shot in the back.

A History of Resistance 63


Gabriela Silang The wife of Diego Silang, Gabriela, vowed to continue the fight. Maria Josefa Gabriela Cariño was born in Santa, Ilocos Sur on March 19, 1731. At the age of 20, Gabriela was forced by her parents to marry a rich, old man who died shortly, leaving her a young and wealthy widow. In 1757, Gabriela fell in love with Diego and later married him. When the Silang Revolt broke out in 1762, Gabriela joined her husband in the battlefield. Determined to avenge the death of her husband, Gabriela, with the help of her uncle, Nicolas Cariño, defeated the Spanish forces in Santa. Gabriela and Cariño went to Abra and mobilized the Tingguians to face the Spaniards in Cabugao. Defeated but undaunted, Gabriela organized another army of Ilocanos and Tingguians and marched towards Vigan. She was repulsed in Vigan by the archers of Piddig. Retreating to the mountains of Abra, Gabriela and her army were pursued by Don Manuel de Arza and his soldiers composed of 100 men from Cagayan. With the help of the pagan Tagabuen, Gabriela was captured and hanged. The early part of the 19th century was marked by three Ilocano revolts: the Basi Revolt of 1807, the Ilocos Norte Uprising of 1811 and the Sarrat Rebellion of 1815. These revolts became the principal justification for the division of Ilocos province into two. In 1818, by virtue of a Real Cedula, dated February 2, Ilocos Sur was carved out of the vast Ilocos province.

1763 (June-July)

Gabriela Silang takes over the reins of the “Free Ilocos Revolt,” from her husband Diego, following his assassination. 64 Ilocos IlocosSur: Sur:An AnIllustrated IllustratedHistory History


A History of Resistance 65


1763 (September 20)

Gabriela Silang and her followers were executed in a plaza in Vigan. She is the first woman general and first known female martyr in Philippine history. 66 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History


Gabriela Silang’s officers were executed in the most inhuman way. They were quartered or mutilated and their decapitated heads were displayed in public squares and along coastal roads.

Basi Revolt (1807) The imposition of the wine monopoly by the Spaniards in 1786 was met with disdain by Ilocanos used to manufacturing their own sugar cane wine. The Ilocanos of Piddig rose in arms on September 16, 1807 to protest the wine monopoly, and the revolt spread to the neighboring towns of Badoc and Santo Domingo. Thirty soldiers and civilian guards and a cannon were

sent by the alcalde mayor to attack Badoc where the rebels were entrenched. The rebels defeated the government forces and captured the cannon. On September 28, 1807, the alcalde mayor dispatched a stronger force to San Ildefonso and routed the rebels. This event has been immortalized in 14 tableaux painted by Esteban Villanueva and displayed at the Vigan Museum. A History of Resistance 67


1807 (September 28)

The “Basi Revolt� breaks out as a protest against the wine monopoly. Led by Pedro Mateo, a wealthy man from Piddig, the rebels win battles in Piddig, Sarrat, Batac, and Badoc. In the battle along the banks of Bantaoay River within present-day San Ildefonso, however, they are defeated by Spanish forces that included residents of Santiago, Candon and Santa Lucia. 68 Ilocos IlocosSur: Sur:An AnIllustrated IllustratedHistory History

The Ilocos Uprising (1811) In the summer of 1811, rebels sought to drive away the friars and establish a new religion centered on a god they called Lungao. The rebels


The Sarrat Rebellion (1815)

attempted to start a revolt among the mountaineers of Cagayan but failed, resulting in the execution of the brains of the revolt and the suppression of the movement.

Sarrat town was the center of restiveness in 1815. This was brought about by the revocation by King Ferdinand VII, through a royal decree dated May 4,1814, of the liberal Cadiz Constitution of 1812. The Cadiz Constitution underscored the principle of equality and the abolition of tribute and forced labor. Thinking this was a ploy masterminded by wealthy residents of Ilocos (the principales) and Spaniards in the colony, the common folk of Sarrat rose in arms on March 3, 1815. Between three and four o’clock in the afternoon, cries were heard from a group armed with sabers, spears and bows and arrows in the plaza of Sarrat. The curate tried to convince the crowd to end the uprising, and the group responded by kissing the hand of the friar, but with a promise to kill the principales and their families. Headed by Simon Tomas, Mariano Espiritu, and Vicente Santiago of Sarrat and Andres Bulgarin of Piddig, the group, numbering 1,500, began to ransack the homes of principales near the plaza, killing and seriously wounding its occupants. The convent was not spared and was likewise looted. The following day, the rebels announced that death would be meted out to anyone who would give refuge to the principales and their families. On the same day, 600 men from Vintar, Batac, Paoay, San Nicolas and Laoag surrounded Sarrat ready to face the rebels. That night, the curate told the rebels that it would be better to lay down their arms. The rebels then escaped to the forest under the cover of darkness. When the soldiers arrived the following morning, there was no sight of the rebels. But homes had been set on fire until the entire town was razed to the ground. The alcalde mayor, Don Francisco Bringas, together with an infantry, visited Sarrat to console the townspeople and to decide on the new site of the town.2 2 “Ang Paghihimagsik ng Sarrat” An Efemendes Filipinas nina Mariano Ponce at Jaime C. De Veyra. Salin nina Edgardo Tiamson, Teresita Alcantara at Erwin Bautista. (Diliman, Lungsod Quezon: Office of Research Coordination, University of the Philippines, 1998), 359-367.

A History of Resistance 69


Ilocos Sur in the Wars Against Spain and the United States T

HE Katipunan (from the Tagalog word meaning “association), which was founded on July 7, 1892 in Manila, had steadfast Ilocano adherents like Artemio Ricarte, a member of the Magdiwang faction in Cavite province, and Fr. Gregorio Aglipay, founder of the Liwanag branch of the Katipunan in Victoria, Tarlac province. When the Katipunan was found out on August 19, 1896, no uprisings had been reported in Vigan, pleasing the Queen of Spain who conferred the title Muy Noble y Leal (Very Noble and Loyal) to the city in 1897. The move came after Governor-General Primo de Rivera visited Ilocos Sur and the governors of Abra, Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur reported that there was peace and calm in their respective provinces. But the governors had another thing coming.The Centenos of Cabugao, under the guise of attending horse races were, in fact, fast mobilizing their forces, as were Pedro Damaso of Narvacan town and Isabelo 70 Ilocos IlocosSur: Sur:An AnIllustrated IllustratedHistory History

1872 (February 17)

After a mock trial, Vigan-born Fr. Jose Burgos and two other Filipino priests, Mariano Gomez and Jacinto Zamora, are sentenced to die by means of the garrote in Bagumbayan.


Ilocos Sur in the Wars Against Spain and the United States 71


Abaya and Fernando Guirnalda in Candon. Abaya was the son of a well-to-do couple, Proceso and Severa Abaya. A businessman engaged in the cotton textile trade, he joined a cell of the Katipunan called Estrella del Sur whose members included Pio Madarang, Toribio Abaya, Nazario Gray, the Guirnalda brothers Fernando and Francisco, his own brother Manuel and nephews, Manuel Jr., and Leon. On the night of March 24, 1898, Spaniards discovered the existence of the Candon Katipunan, forcing Abaya to lead an attack on the headquarters of the Guardia Civil, taking into custody three friars and a few Spanish residents. The following day, March 25, Guirnalda assumed civil authority and proclaimed martial law. The so-called Republic of Candon existed for three days until the Spaniards sent in cazadores (shock troops) to quell the resistance, forcing the Guirnalda brothers and Abaya to escape. This event has been immortalized in Ilocos Sur annals as the “Cry of Candon” or Ikkis ti Candon. After the Battle of Manila Bay on May 1, 1898 when American Commodore George Dewey defeated the Spanish squadron of Admiral Patricio Montojo, Emilio Aguinaldo returned to the Philippines from his exile in Hong Kong. One of those who accompanied Aguinaldo in exile was a young man in his 20s by the name of Manuel Tinio, a native of Nueva Ecija. Picking up from where he left off, Tinio was recommissioned first as a colonel, and later as a general, by the Aguinaldo revolutionary government, and proceeded to pursue the Spanish forces in Ilocos. As a result, government officials, friars and civilians fled Ilocos 72 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History

and moved to Cagayan where they surrendered to the native army on August 25, 1898. The Filipino forces, led by the 22-yearold Tinio, marched unopposed towards Vigan on August 13, 1898. They were welcomed by the native populace and were handed 69 rifles by Filipino deserters of the colonial army. Life in Ilocos went on as usual. Government functionaries continued the business at hand with little change. Students enrolled at the ColegioSeminario and the Colegio de Niñas of Vigan went back to their classes. It was said that the men even continued to indulge in their favorite pastime: gambling at the gaming tables of Club de Vigan. Dancing and private parties were held every night. Fr. Aglipay’s appointment as military vicar general of the Revolutionary Army was met with joy and pride by the Ilocanos. Aglipay shed his priest’s habit and wore the uniform of a general when he was installed in his new position at Vigan’s Episcopal Palace. Bells rang in Vigan to announce the beginning of the Filipino-American War on the night of February 4, 1899. Fr. Aglipay had asked the parishioners to pray for a country under the threat of war after the signing of the Treaty of Paris that saw the change in colonial administration from Spanish to American rule on December 10, 1898. Abaya and his forces passed through Candon with 225 Bontoc Igorots whom he brought to Caloocan to face the Americans in their first encounter in the field of battle. Abaya’s ethnic roots, traced to the Igorot tribe, made it easy for him to recruit men from the various tribes of the Mt. Province. Trenches were built


1896

Isabelo de los Reyes is arrested by the Guardia Civil for his revolutionary activities.

from La Union to Ilocos and “Filipino veteran officers of the colonial army volunteered their services.�1 The Americans, led by Gen. Samuel B. Young, arrived in Ilocos on November 18, 1899, together with a cavalry detachment. They marched from Pozorrubio, Pangasinan to Rosario in La Union province, driven by a desire to capture Aguinaldo, who had become a fugitive president of the first Philippine Republic.

Guerilla warfare in the country is said to have originated at this particular point of Philippine history. This required soldiers to be dressed like farmers to fool the enemy, support from the civilian populace and immediate execution for traitors. The American forces responded by torturing captured revolutionaries, burning barrios as well as establishing garrisons in towns like Sinait, Cabugao and Candon. A favorite tactic of the new native

1 William Henry Scott, Ilocano Responses to American Aggression, 1900-1901. (Quezon City, Philippines: New Day Publishers, 1986), p.21.

Ilocos Sur in the Wars Against Spain and the United States 73


army was cutting the telegraph lines of the Americans to paralyze communication between the soldiers and their superiors. The Americans retaliated by shooting all natives found on the road between dark and daybreak, or burning houses in the vicinity where the telegraph lines were cut. Tinio faced the Americans in Pozurrubio and San Jacinto in Pangasinan, in Aringay, La Union and Tagudin, Ilocos Sur in his attempt to divert the Americans from their mission of pursuing Aguinaldo. To give Aguinaldo sufficient time to escape, a young general, Gregorio del Pilar, was assigned to defend Tirad Pass, a narrow mountain pass more than 4,000 feet above sea level near Candon. Del Pilar was acccompanied by a 60-man contingent while the Americans, headed by Major Peyton March, had 300 men on their side. At sunrise on December 2, 1899, Del Pilar and his men defended the Pass until a native guide, Juanario Galut, led the Americans to a secret trail on the top. Del Pilar found himself attacked from the rear and the front. An American sharpshooter targeted Del Pilar, riding a white horse, and with a single shot, hit his target. Richard Henry Little, a war correspondent who witnessed the heroic defense of Tirad Pass wrote in the February 4, 1900 issue of the Chicago Tribune the following:2 “It was a great fight that was fought away on the trail of lonely Tilad [sic Tirad – Z] Pass on that Saturday morning of December 2. It brought glory to Major March’s battalion of the Thirty-third Volunteer Infantry, who were the victors. It brought no

2 Gregorio Zaide, The Philippine Revolution, (Manila, Philippines: The Modern Book Company, 1968), p.327.

74 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History

1898 (March 25) The Candon uprising led by Katipunero Isabelo Abaya.


Ilocos Sur in the Wars Against Spain and the United States 75


1898 (August 11)

Gen. Manuel Tinio and around 600 of his men under the Ilocos Expeditionary Forces defeat Spanish forces in Tagudin.

76 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History


Ilocano freedom fighters cut down telegraph wires to disrupt communication lines of the Americans. The latter responded by shooting the perpetrators or anybody in the vicinity of the sabotaged facilities.

Ilocos Sur in the Wars Against Spain and the United States 77


discredit to the little band of sixty Filipinos who fought and died there. Sixty was the number that at Aguinaldo’s orders had come down to the pass that morning to arrest the onward march of the Americans. Eleven [sic eight-Z] were all that went back over the pass that night to tell Aguinaldo that they had tried and failed. Fifty three [sic 52-Z] of them were either killed or wounded. Among them, the last to retreat, we found the body of young General Gregorio del Pilar. We had seen him cheering his men in the fight. One of our companies crouched up close under the side of the cliff where he had built his first intrenchment, heard his voice continually during the fight urging his men to greater effort, scolding them, praising them, cursing them, appealing one moment to their love of their native land and the next instant threatening to kill them himself, if they did not stand firm. Driven from the first intrenchment he fell slowly back to the second in full sight of our sharpshooters and under a heavy fire. Not until every man around him in the second intrenchment was down, did he turn his white horse and ride slowly up the winding trail. When we who were below saw an American squirm his way out to the top of a high flat rock and take deliberate aim at the figure on the white horse, we held our breath, not knowing whether to pray that the sharpshooter would shoot straight or miss. Then the spiteful crack of the Krag rifle and the man on horseback rolled to the ground, and when the troops charging up the mountain side reached him, the boy general of the Filipinos was dead. Eager to keep for themselves souvenir items from the youthful general, American soldiers practically stripped Del Pilar 78 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History


1899 (February 10)

The Ilocano contingent, which figured prominently in the Battle of Caloocan, was led by Isabelo Abaya. It included priestturned-soldier Gen. Gregorio Aglipay.

Ilocos Sur in the Wars Against Spain and the United States 79


of everything found on his body: his pistol, uniform, shoes, personal papers, a gold locket with strands of hair, a handkerchief with the name Dolores Jose embroidered on it, money, a gold watch and diamond rings. Left naked for a few days, Lt. Dennis Quinlan of the 11th Cavalry finally gave del Pilar full military honors and placed a headstone on the grave with the inscription:3

General Gregorio del Pilar Killed at the Battle of Tilad Pass December 2, 1899 Commanding Aguinaldo’s Rear Guard An Officer and a Gentleman Four days after Del Pilar’s death, Luciano San Miguel of Zambales province issued orders to form the Old Katipunan, kneeling before a crucifix and

3 Ibid. p.329.

1899 (December 2)

An American sharpshooter fires at Gen. Gregorio del Pilar after Juanario Galut led them to a secret path behind the Filipinos’ position.

80 Ilocos IlocosSur: Sur:An AnIllustrated IllustratedHistory History


swore in recruits not to be traitors to the country and to defend one’s rights until the last drop of blood was shed. To cap the rites, an oath was signed in their own blood. The Ilocanos assumed their term for Katipunan in their own language – “timpuyog,” hence the Katipunan ng Anak ng Bayan became “Timpuyog ti Anak ti Ili.” The initiation rites of the Katipunan

were recalled to mark the creation of the Ilocano group. As in the past, a neophyte was required to recite three questions with the corresponding answers:4 1. What was the condition of the Philippines in the past? We were enslaved by the Spaniards. (No ania ti kasasaadna idi kua ti Filipinas? Tinagabonatay ti KaKastila.) 2. What is the condition of the Philip-

4 Ilocano Responses to American Aggression, 1900-1900, p.118, p.232-233.

1899 (December 2)

Gen. Gregorio Del Pilar and about 50 of his men die in the battle of Tirad Pass. In 1955, the municipality of Concepcion was renamed in his honor.

Ilocos Sur in the Wars Against Spain and the United States 81


82 Ilocos IlocosSur: Sur:An AnIllustrated IllustratedHistory History


1900 (October 24)

Filipinos ambush 100 American soldiers in the Battle of Cosocos Pass in Nagbukel. Five Americans were killed and several others were injured.

83


Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, who later became president of the first Philippine Republic, tried to escape pursuing American forces using this route, but failed in the attempt.

pines today? The Americans want to enslave us if we let them. (No ania ti kasasaad ti Filipinas ita? Kalikagumandatay manen nga tagabuen dagiti Amerikanos, no ipalubos tayo.) 3. What will be the condition of the Philippines in the future? It will be good, nobody will rule us except ourselves and we will be there to guarantee it. (Anianto ngata ti kasasaad ti Filipinas? Nasayaatton, ta awan ti sabali nga mangituray no saan met la nga datayo ket addatayton nga agay-aywan.) Like the Katipuneros who referred to fellow Katipuneros as “kapatid” (brother), the Ilocanos called partners in the struggle “kabsat.” By June 1900, membership in the Katipunan swelled. Documents seized in San Esteban by the Americans showed that 239 persons had taken the oath, with their code names signed in blood, 170 signed in ink and 464 applicants for membership were recorded. Eleven books containing the oaths were discovered during a cleanup of the convent in Candon. Although a native of Nueva Ecija, Tinio was made an honorary citizen of Vigan. He was married to Laureana Quijano, a 16-year-old lass from Sinait. Tinio’s loyaty to the cause did not only come from the fact that he had married a local belle but because he had earned the admiration and support of Ilocano leaders like Estanislao Reyes and the Villamors of Abra. Reyes, who became Tinio’s aide-de-camp was a carriage maker by trade, bringing with him the family network and resources of the elite 84 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History


Ilocos Sur in the Wars Against Spain and the United States 85


1901 (March)

Major Estanislao Reyes, aide-de-camp of Gen. Manuel Tinio, and the Lahoz brothers surrender to American forces after Tinio’s capture.

Reyes and Florentino clans. His mother was Eleuteria Florentino-Reyes, sister of Leona Florentino, the poetess and mother of Isabelo de los Reyes. Eleuteria was aided in the resistance movement by her daughter Salome Reyes, sister of Estanislao; Lucia del Rosario-Calvo, the wife of Juan Calvo; Conching Calvo, Lucia’s daughter; and Carmen de los Reyes, a sister of Isabelo de los Reyes. The home of Eleuteria, more popularly known as Capitana Teriang, was the nerve center of the resistance movement, where food, medicines, uniforms and blankets were distributed to guerillas. It was also the clearing house of information regarding the movement of American troops. Stories are told of the brave Capitana, unmindful of the presence of the US Cavalry on the boundary of Vigan and Bantay, proceeded to Lemerig near Asilang where Gen. Tinio and her son, Major Estanislao Reyes, were encamped, to inform them that the Americans were in hot pursuit. Tinio and Reyes were able to elude their captors, thanks to the Capitana’s daring. Capitana Teriang and her companions were later arrested on February 18, 1901 and sent to Fort Santiago. The following month, her son Estanislao, surrendered to the Americans. Eleuteria and her sister Leona Florentino married two brothers, Luis and Elias Reyes respectively. Eleuteria and Luis had seven children. The resistance movement did not 86 Ilocos IlocosSur: Sur:An AnIllustrated IllustratedHistory History


Ilocos Sur in the Wars Against Spain and the United States 87


only unite families for a patriotic cause but divided them as well. Eleuteria’s brother-in-law, Mena Crisologo, sided with the Americans as he tried to recruit adherents to the US-installed Federal Party. Crisologo came from humble beginnings but was a bright student. He married into the wealthy Florentino family and prospered in the trading of indigo. He occupied the house of Isabelo de los Reyes in Tondo when the latter was deported to Spain by the Spaniards. To prove his sympathy for the Americans, Crisologo presented to the new rulers copies of Isabelo de los Reyes’ newspaper Filipinas ante Europa which he claimed was given to him by Eleuteria. As a prize for his loyalty, Crisologo was appointed governor of Ilocos Sur by Governor General W.H. Taft. An appeal addressed by Abaya to his fellow Ilocanos as he assumed the leadership of Ilocos Sur Guerilla Unit One in February 1900 apparently was not enough to make his provincemates remain true to the cause. In his appeal Abaya said: 5 “Let us fight then, from those mountains, with neither hesitation or rashness, and without predicting the outcome by considering the imbalance of resources but rather the beauty and sacredness of the ideal which we are pursuing against the oppressive imperialist designs of North America, who, concerned only with her wicked desire to dominate and degrade us unjustly – we with whom we once joined hands to defeat the Spanish army in these islands – would now impose her sovereignty on us by the brute force of her cannons, a sovereignty as evil as it is ridiculous.” On November 30, 1900, the Ameri5 Ibid, p.159.

88 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History

cans in Santa Maria were surprised to find 1,173 bolo men surrender to their forces. The following month, the number swelled to 2,180. The February birthday celebration of the first American president, George Washington, in


The “Tandang Sora” of Ilocos Sur, Eleuteria Reyes, assists wounded revolutionaries.

Ilocos Sur, was marked by more defections. Six hundred ninety seven took their oath of allegiance to the new conquerors in Santa Catalina; 2,200 in the Vigan Cathedral and 12,000 in Candon. 6

Various reasons have been advanced for this new development. One was the reelection of a new president in the United States, William McKinley. Another reason was the arrival of more American troops to the Philippines. Still another was the adoption by the Americans of extensive war measures such as the use of torture and the practice of reconcentration, i.e. no one could leave nor enter a particular place. What tipped the scales towards the final surrender to a new imperial force was hunger stalking the countryside. Farming was at a standstill in the last two years and three-quarters of all livestock in Ilocos Sur had died. Added to this was the final stroke marking the end of a struggle – the capture of Emilio Aguinaldo in Palanan, Isabela on March 23, 1901. The month of April witnessed the surrender of key personalities like Aglipay, Blas and Juan Villamor on April 27 and Gen. Manuel Tinio on April 29. But it can also be told that the sons and daughters of Ilocos Sur did rise to the call of the motherland at a time when they were needed most.

6 Ibid, p.172.

Ilocos Sur in the Wars Against Spain and the United States 89


90 Ilocos IlocosSur: Sur:An AnIllustrated IllustratedHistory History


Under the Stars and Stripes W ITH the capture of Emilio Aguinaldo by the American forces in Palanan, Isabela on March 23, 1901, the forces of the resistance in Ilocos Sur weakened considerably. Not long after, resistance leaders such as Manuel Tinio and his aide-decamp Estanislao Reyes surrendered to the Americans. A few, however, decided to cast their lot with the new conquerors. One of them was Mena Crisologo, who was appointed governor. On the other hand, there was Private George T. Barbers, an American soldier of Italian descent, and a member of Third U.S. Cavalry that was stationed in Cabugao, Ilocos Sur in the early part of American rule. He loved the Philippines so much that he decided to remain in Ilocos Sur where he decided to establish a transportation business.

1902 (October 26)

Gregorio Aglipay celebrates his first Mass as the Supreme Bishop of the Philippine Independent Church in Tondo, Manila with founder Isabelo de los Reyes. Under the Stars and Stripes 91


1904

Pensionados from Ilocos Sur, together with their colleagues from other cities and provinces, on their way to the United States to pursue studies in higher education.

First Official Meeting W.H. Taft, then president of the Philippine Commission as well as the first civil governor general, set foot in Ilocos Sur on August 16, 1901. With Taft were other members of the Philippine Commission: Dean C. Worcester and Henry Ide. Present in the meeting were the presidentes municipales of the following towns together with their councilors. The towns, represented in the meeting with their respective heads were:1 1. San Jose – Pantaleon Biteng

2. San Vicente – Inocente Revilla 3. Salcedo – Simeon Sumaoi 4. Sevilla – Tomas Artone 5. Vigan – Jose Rivero 6. Masingal – Francisco Vera Cruz 7. Cabugao – Maximiano Suero 8. Santa Maria – Gregorio Guibilan 9. Cagayan – Manuel Llanes 10. Candon – Pedro Legaspi 11. Santa Maria – Domingo Lacandola 12. Santiago – Marcelino Liping 13. Santa Cruz – Jose Pimentel 14. Bantay – Daniel Paz

1 United States. Annual Report of the Philippine Island Commission to the President of the United States, 1901 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1900-1946) pp.229-235.

92 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History


1906 (February 22)

The Tingguians were given access to education when a new trade school in Vigan was established and inaugurated on Feb. 22, George Washington Day.

15. San Ildefonso – Romualdo Soriano 16. Santa Lucia – Mariano Fernandez 17. Santo Domingo – Juan Tesoro 18. Lapo – Alejandro Varilla 19. Santa – Saturnino Bello 20. Nuevo Coveta – Fabian Dagyo 21. Sinait – Ciriaco Husca 22. Narvacan – Rufino Banes Marcelo 23. Tagudin – Apolonio Villanueva Acosta 24. San Esteban – Antonio Tuquiao In the first meeting with the Americans, the secretary of the municipality of Vigan, Señor Fernando Ferrer, thanked the members

of the Commission for coming to Ilocos Sur and for establshing a civil government. A Filipino in the audience brought up the matter of establishing schools in the province not only for elementary school pupils but also for arts and trades students, as well as the holding of adult classes for English language learners. He added that there should be “absolute equality of salary between Americans and Filipinos in all cases” as well as a 10-year suspension of the collection of land taxes because of the war. Another spoke on the problem of erosion that Santa was experiencing due to the changing course of the Abra River.2

2 Ibid, pp.235-237.

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93


Taft thanked the crowd for their show of loyalty and explained that about 600 American teachers were on their way to the Philippines to constitute the corps of instructors who would provide free public education to the islanders. As to the matter of equality of pay between Americans and Filipinos, Taft replied that at this early stage, the Americans would naturally have an edge over the Filipinos because of the former’s facility with the English language. He assured his audience, however, that Filipinos and Americans would be equal before the law. As to the suggestion for a suspension in the collection of land taxes, Taft explained that this was not possible as this was a source of revenue for the province. He said all the taxes collected should be divided equally between the province and the different municipalities. The Federal Party was the only party allowed by the United States to exist in the Philippines. It stood on the platform of annexing the Philippines to the United States. Among its members who hailed from Ilocos Sur were the following: Mena Crisologo, who became the first governor; Lino Abaya from Candon; Emeterio and Bonifacio Plana, Nicolas Reynante, Juan Ramiscal, Silvino Gorospe, Crispulo P y Lacandola, Jose Centeno, Doroteo Cortes, Ricardo Racho, Pedro Enriquez, Maximo Gorospe, Santos Bagaza, Teodocio Arce, Eleuterio Rapanut, Sotero Ramiscal, Segundo Estela and Roman Ragaza, all from Santa Maria; Juan Festejo from Santa Lucia; Wenceslao Soliven, Aniceto Abila and Francisco Esposo from Santo Domingo; Victorino Damasco and Ponciano Viloria from Narvacan; Ambrosio Mina, Candido Mausang and Eulogio Jimeno from Tagudin.3 3 Ibid, pp.229-235.

94 Ilocos IlocosSur: Sur:An AnIllustrated IllustratedHistory History

School building circa 1930s in Cabugao

Education as a Tool of Pacification Ilocos Sur had its share of students who were sent to the United States under the pensionado system to pursue their education under the auspices of the Americans. In 1904, four students traveled to the United States under the program: Astario Favis, Vicente Fragante, Jose Reyno and Arsenio Formoso Sebastian. There were five pensionados from Ilocos Sur, two of whom were women, who were sent to the United States in 1905. Elizabeth Florendo and Eleanor de Leon pursued a course in teaching at the St. Mary’s Academy in Notre Dame, Indiana. The three others were Pastor Avisado, Leon Ineo and William Pagaduan. The following year four other pensionados followed: Manuel Foronda, Rufino Garcia,


Mauricio Lazo and Mariano Tolentino.4 In 1904, the governor of the province, Mena Crisologo, reported that there were135 public schools throughout Ilocos Sur administered by two American schoolmistresses, 23 schoolmasters and six Filipino teachers paid by the insular treasury and 170 teachers paid by the municipalities. He, likewise, mentioned that there were seven or eight private institutions of learning.5 In 1906, Governor Felix Angco reported that there were 192 primary schools, four intermediate schools and two secondary schools. He also mentioned that a seminary run by the Jesuits offered primary and secondary instruction. The Old Vigan School for Girls ran by the Sisters of the Order of St. Paul of

Chartres had also reopened, he added. An Ilocano university providing secondary education was likewise reported by Governor Angco, although he added that most of the students had already enrolled at the seminary. The university also had a law school, according to the governor. A new trade school in Vigan was established in 1906 and inaugurated on George Washington’s Day, February 22. The Tingguians were given access to education as well. Their women folk were taught to become teachers of their own people, while the males were given a chance to enter the trade school. With the schools in place, what was the economic situation of Ilocos Sur during the first decade of American rule?

4 Celia Olivar, “The First Pensionados: An Appraisal of Their Contributions to the National Welfare.” (Master’s Thesis, University of the Philippines, 1950). 5 United States. Annual Report of the Philippine Island Commission to the President of the United States. 1904 pp.496-497.

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95


Economic Situation An economic depression hit Ilocos Sur during the beginning of American rule. Business was down, the most telling sign of which was the closure of many stores owned by Chinese traders and Vigan natives. There was not much money circulating because of the following reasons: a poor sugar harvest and its low price in the market, the withdrawal of old currency in favor of the new, a poor rice harvest because of locust infestation and the destruction of the crop by typhoons that hit the province in October and November of 1903. Despite these conditions, it was not considered a desperate situation. There was money to buy rice from Pangasinan which the locals mixed with corn. Fortunately, they had a good harvest of the latter crop. What aggravated the situation was the prevalence of diseases that affected the work animals. Cattle and carabaos were stricken with rinderpest and foot and mouth disease, and the horses with glanders and surra. With the work animals sick, agricultural production was drastically reduced. Happily, the cultivation of maguey held promise for the people of Ilocos Sur. This particular crop was resistant to locusts and typhoons. By 1906, the situation was not as bleak. The rice and corn harvests were sufficient to ensure an adequate food supply.

1906 (December 19)

The first Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) from Candon, Ilocos Sur arrive in Honolulu, Hawaii to work in sugarcane plantations. 96 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History


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97


In his annual report, Governor Angco articulated the need for more work animals to replace those that had died. He also mentioned the need for more modern methods of cultivating sugar and indigo and better ways of extracting maguey fibers. The report also mentioned the following industries of the province: the manufacture of cloth using primitive looms; the making of earthen jars, bricks, roofing and flooring tiles in ovens; furnituremaking, carriage-making, boat-building, harness-making, shoe-making, potterymaking; hunting and fishing; the manufacture of cigars and tanning of hides.6 Angco further reported the presence of sugar mills and distilleries in the province but only one distillery, located in Santa, remained. A tobacco factory in Vigan called “La Union Ilocana” had closed down because of its inability to pay internal revenue taxes. By the end of the first decade of American rule, the economy of Ilocos Sur had slowly recovered from the wars of resistance and had adjusted to the new economic order introduced by the Americans. In 1907, Governor Angco wrote:7 “The economic situation of this province has been very fair, it having been able to settle all its obligations without any difficulty whatever, with a balance on hand on June 30, 1907 of P53,277.52. “As to the pueblos of this province, both municipalities and townships are in comfortable circumstances so far as their finances are concerned.”

6 Annual President 7 Annual President

Report of the Report of the

of the United of the United

Philippine Island Commission to the States. 1906. p.276. Philippine Island Commission to the States, 1907. p.316.

98 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History


1910 (June 20)

Belgian sisters led by their Mother Foundress arrive in Tagudin on board a carriage, the only horse-drawn vehicle in the region at that time. Under the Stars and Stripes

99


Movie house in the 1950s

100 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History


Trading center during American period

Religious Situation The departure on August 11, 1898 of the last Spanish bishop, Jose Hevia y Campomanes, and the Augustinian faculty of the Colegio-Seminario of Vigan, left the province ripe for the taking by the Iglesia Filipina Independiente or the Philippine Independent Church. On October 20, 1898, Gregorio Aglipay was appointed by Emilio Aguinaldo as Military Vicar General, making him the religious leader of the revolutionary movement. Previous to this appointment, Aglipay was appointed by the Catholic Church in the Philippines as Ecclesiastical Governor of the Diocese of Nueva Segovia. In effect, Aglipay had one foot in the revolutionary cause, and another in the Catholic hierarchy. One day after his appointment as Military Vicar, Aglipay issued a letter to the

Filipino clergy “urging them to organize themselves into a cohesive body and urged the creation of a cabildo or council which would ask the Pope to appoint Filipinos in all church positions from archbishop to the lowest parish priest.�8 On October 22, 1898, Aglipay issued a manifesto asking the Filipino clergy to occupy the vacant parishes. Invoking his position as Ecclesiastical Governor of Nueva Segovia, Aglipay urged the priests under his jurisdiction to rally to the revolutionary cause. Archbishop Bernardino Nozaleda charged Aglipay with usurpation of power on April 29, 1899, and urged the Ecclesiastical Tribunal to punish the priest with excommunication. The idea of a forming a national church came from Apolinario Mabini. While vaca-

8 Teodoro Agoncillo, History of the Filipino People. Quezon City: Garotech Publishing, 1990, p.234.

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Victorian-style hospital during the American era

Postal office in Vigan during American period 102 Ilocos IlocosSur: Sur:An AnIllustrated IllustratedHistory History


Vigan town hall, circa 1930s

Brick and mortar bridge in Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur leading to the Sta. Maria church

Under the Stars and Stripes 103


tioning in Rosales, Pangasinan, Mabini had urged the Filipino clergy to organize a Filipino National Church on October 22, 1899. Through a manifesto, he wrote:9 “Let the Filipino clergy show their zeal and love for the Church; let them show their capacity to govern not only the parishes but also the diocese; let them show that the regular orders are not needed in the Philippines to maintain alive the faith in the Catholic religion, and the Pope who cannot separate from justice as a Vicar of Christ who is God has to recognize the rights and merits of the Filipino priests.” On August 3, 1902, in a meeting of the Union Obrera Democratica or the Labor Democratic Union, Isabelo de los Reyes proposed the establishment of a Filipino Church independent of Rome with Aglipay as the Supreme Bishop. The proposal was approved with much enthusiasm. Among its early adherents were Trinidad Pardo de Tavera, Fernando Ma. Guerrero, Martin Ocampo and Manuel Artigas. At that time, Aglipay was not yet willing to start a schism with Rome. He was of the opinion that all means should be exhausted to come to an understanding with Rome. Efforts were made later by the Jesuits to convince Aglipay to remain within the Catholic fold, but to no avail. Sensing that the Catholic Church within the Philippines would not appoint Filipino clergy to the post formerly held by Spanish regulars, Aglipay decided to make the separation from Rome a reality. On October 26, 1902, Aglipay celebrated his first Mass as the Supreme Bishop of the Philippine Independent Church. The Philippine Independent Church had its roots in Ilocos Norte, Aglipay’s province. Followers then grew in numbers in Ilocos Sur as well as in other areas under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of 9 Ibid, p.235.

104 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History


1933 Japanese contractors in Baguio spearhead the building of the Banawang (now Quirino) Bridge at the boundary of Santa and Bantay towns. Under the Stars and Stripes 105


Nueva Segovia, like the provinces of Abra, Cagayan, Pangasinan and La Union. When the first American bishop of Nueva Segovia, Dennis Dougherty, arrived in Vigan on October 22, 1903, he had to contend not only with the Philippine Independent Church movement but also with the spread of Protestantism. The real threat, however, was the former. In 1905, Dougherty re-opened the Vigan Colegio Seminario that had closed down earlier because of the PhilippineAmerican War. He requested the Jesuits to teach, and they would remain tutors until 1925. The first and only American Jesuit of the faculty of the Colegio Seminario was Fr. John Thompkins who was assigned to teach English. Through his letters, we have an idea of how an American viewed native sympathy for the home-grown religion. Fr. Thompkins related that the presidente (Mayor) of Vigan was a convert of the Philippine Independent Church and did not hide the fact he was one. In a letter, the priest mentioned that during one July 4th celebration in Vigan, this presidente invited Aglipay and made it appear that the decorations in the plaza were meant for him and even requested Aglipay to celebrate Mass in the town square. But what struck Fr. Thompkins was the deep attachment of the people in the province for the rituals of Catholicism. He wrote about the nine-day dawn Masses before Christmas attended by the Filipinos, their observance of the Lenten season and the ubiquitous fiesta celebrations. One particular heart-tugging incident was how the natives marked Palm Sunday. Fr. Thompkins wrote:10 “Yet to the most zealous Protestant missioner, Holy Week must have been 10 “Fr. John Thompkins Writes”. The Ilocos Review. Vol. 23, 1991. p.85.

106 Ilocos IlocosSur: Sur:An AnIllustrated IllustratedHistory History

Sakada bound for Hawaii’s plantations board American steamships in Port Salomague, Cabugao.


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discouraging. Our Cathedral was crowded at all the services, as the people thronged in the surrounding barrios. On Palm Sunday the Church was crowded at all the Masses, beginning at half-past four. Here for the most part the people bring their own palms. These were to be blessed at the seven o’clock Mass. I was deeply affected at my Mass, which I said at six o’clock. When the bell rang as I repeated the Sanctus, all the people began to wave their palm branches and as this ceremony was repeated all during the time of Consecration, it almost brought tears to my eyes. The reality of Palm Sunday and all that it recalls never came home so fully to me as did it here when these poor people welcome the advent of our Lord among them as did the Jews on the first Palm Sunday nineteen centuries ago.” This attachment to the Catholic faith co-existed with manifestations of support for the Philippine Independent Church. Every now and then, one would hear cries of “Viva Iglesia Filipina”, “Fuera los Jesuitas” and “Viva Las Filipinas Independientes.” Fr. Thompkins wrote that Candon, with its population of 20,000, had become a stronghold of the Aglipayan movement. The Catholics had been effectively reduced to a minority. The first decade of American rule in Ilocos Sur was marked with the introduction of civil government, the establishment of a public system of education, the sending of pensionados to the United States and the spread of the Philippine Independent Church among the residents.

Amburayan In the historical work of Augustinian friars Manuel Buzeta and Felipe Bravo entitled Diccionario. Amburayan was described as a river in Ilocos Sur whose mouth is found in Bangar town. The river is known to overflow its banks.1 In 1891, Amburayan was one of the commandancies established by the Spaniards. With the advent of American rule in the Philippines, the new rulers established a special province in 1908 they called “Mountain Province,” made up of the following sub-provinces: Apayao, Kalinga, Bontoc, Ifugao, Benguet, Lepanto and Amburayan. Tagudin, a densely An illustrated map of the original Amburayan populated settlement from Atlas De Filipinas, found on the southern published in 1918. part of the Amburayan River eventually became the capital of the sub-province of Amburayan. In 1917, the Bureau of Non-Christian Tribes of the American colonial government recommended that the western border of the Mountain Province be pushed eastward so that the entire subprovince of Amburayan and large parts of Lepanto and Benguet would be part of Ilocos Sur and La Union provinces. The adjustment was made in 1920. With the dissolution of the sub-province of Amburayan, its capital, Tagudin and as well as its townships Sigay, Suyo, Alilem and Sugpon became part of Ilocos Sur. Today, these former townships of the sub-province of Amburayan are considered upland towns of the province.

1 Fray Manuel Buzeta y Fray Felipe Bravo. Diccionario Geografico, Estadistico, Historico de las Islas Filipinas. Madrid, 1850. Tomo 1, p.290.

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Dark Clouds over Ilocos Sur T

HE bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii by the Japanese Imperial Army on December 8, 1941 led to the declaration of war by the United States Senate against Japan. There was no dissenting vote. The United States House of Representatives made a similar declaration, but with one dissenting vote. Four hours after the sneak attack, the Japanese bombed Clark Field in Pampanga. Air raids were also conducted in Davao, Baguio and Aparri. Japanese forces landed at dawn two days later, on December 10, 1941, in Vigan. Roused from their sleep, the natives of Vigan and Narvacan sought refuge in the interior areas of Ilocos Sur. The Philippine Constabulary Ilocos Sur command under Lt. Juan Basa tried to defend Vigan from the invaders, but the army officer, together with seven of his men, turned out to be the first casualties of the war. The Provincial Commander, Major Sergio Laurente, two junior officers 110 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History

1941 (December 10)

The Japanese military stage a naval landing in Barangay Mindoro, Vigan against a token resistance of American planes that managed to sink one cargo ship. The landing signaled the Japanese invasion of the Philippines.


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and seven enlisted men were taken as prisoners by the Japanese. On January 23, 1942, a Japanese military administration was established in the province. After the initial shock of the Japanese presence in Vigan, the residents resumed their daily activities. This was to be the case in other towns as well. People began returning to their homes. Niponggo was taught in schools that had reopened. Textbook passages with references to the United States were censored and pages containing such information were glued together. The Japanese tried to establish a sense of normalcy by organizing musical revues, dances and other forms of entertainment for the townspeople. After Sunday Mass in the morning, churchgoers repaired to the plaza or town square for calisthenics. Against this background of war and turmoil, romance bloomed. Two Japanese men had fallen in love with local belles: Col. Fujiro Takahashi, who had a relationship with Adela Tolentino, with whom he had two daughters; and Sakae Norioka, whose love affair with Belen Castillo was blessed with a daughter.

1941 (December 14)

Lt. George Williams, of the 13th Infantry of the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE), alongside Ilocano guerillas, stage an ambush against Japanese forces in Tagudin.

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Meliton Gorospe Villoria, a native of Lapog, was tortured by Japanese soldiers who wanted information about guerillas and their supporters.

Town folks say that because of these relationships, Vigan was spared from destruction and havoc wrought by the Japanese in many areas as they retreated to the north. The two Japanese men reportedly entrusted their wives and children to the Procurator of the Seminary, Fr. Joseph Klecamf, S.V.D. In exchange, Fr. Klecamf obtained a promise from the two that Vigan would be saved from destruction.1 Life in the evacuation site provided an opportunity for the natives to share whatever they could with the less fortunate, to be in good terms with everyone and to pray together. Of that particular period Fr. Loreto Viloria recalled:2 “At the evacuation site, they learned more than before to share with one another everything they had including medicines, clothing and comforting arms, especially for the weak and the sickly. Neighbors no longer quarreled; there were no more intrigues. They even found themselves praying together for their safety. Hand in hand, they scampered to safer places to avoid the advancing Japanese forces.” Meanwhile, the guerillas were making their presence felt. On December 14, 1941, a platoon from the 3rd Batallion, 13th Infantry of the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) under Lt. George Williams ambushed Japanese advance forces in Tagudin. 1 Esperanza Garbonton. Vigan Album. Manila: National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 2002. p.24. 2 Rev. Fr. Loreto G. Viloria, “The Japanese Occupation, 1942-1944”. Unpublished account.

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Japanese soldiers leave their wives under the care of Fr. Joseph Klecamf who was promised that Vigan would be spared from destruction.

Two days later, Lt. Eusebio Callao of the “L” Company of the same military outfit engaged the Japanese in a threehour battle in the same place. On New Year’s Day of 1942, Capt. Walter Cushing of the 121st Infantry ambushed a Japanese truck in Narvacan, killing 12 of its 14 Japanese passengers. Later, he would organize guerilla activities in the province. The town of Banayoyo became the seat of the guerilla outfit which Cushing headed. Realizing they had a problem on their hands, the Japanese thought of a way to cut the support given to the guerillas by the civilians. Under the pretext of restoring peace and order in the community, neighborhood associations were organized, with heads of families automatically becoming members who were required to attend weekly meetings to discuss security matters. They were also ordered to join nightly patrols and to report all forms of suspicious activities.3 The guerillas, however, continued to harass the Japanese. They organized a bolo men organization, whose tasks were many: acting as spies, couriers of communications and orders and guides and advance party of the guerillas. The guerilla movement in Ilocos Sur also had a Women’s Auxiliary Service (WAS) which gave first aid to sick and wounded fighters.

3 Ricardo Jose. “Japanese Occupation”. Kasaysayan. Vol. 7. Metro Manila: Asia Publishing, 1998.

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1942 (January 1)

Capt. Walter Cushing of the US Army’s 121st Infantry leads a band of Ilocano guerillas in an ambush in Narvacan town that resulted in the death of Japanese soldiers traveling on board several trucks.

The much-dreaded Japanese Military Police or Kempetai subjected natives of San Juan (formerly known as Lapog) to torture in their desire to get information about the guerillas. A town resident, Meliton Gorospe Villoria, recalled:4 “One of the rooms of South Central [School] was a torture chamber where Japanese Kempetai investigators would torture Lapogueños and suspected guerillas and informers. The purpose: to extract information about guerillas, their identities and supporters. I was brought to the chamber and they wanted to get information from me. I could have been spared by pointing to another person. I didn’t. I decided to bear all and no longer let someone else suffer. They ordered me to kneel with my two hands raised, holding a chair. And they began mauling me with their fists and with other hard objects until I became unconscious. Other means of torture resorted to were being enclosed in iron cages followed by exposure to the sun and the rain. In the infamous water cure, water was poured into the mouth of a suspected guerilla or a guerilla sympathizer until his stomach becomes distended. The stomach is then stepped on by the

4 “War Memoirs; Personal Experiences during World War II”. Unpublished account.

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The Women’s Auxiliary Service (WAS) in Ilocos Sur participated actively in the resistance movement during World War II by providing medical assistance to wounded guerillas.

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interrogator. If found guilty, the individual is either burned alive, stabbed slowly or made to dig his own grave before he or she is beheaded. Much later, when the Japanese learned that the Americans were about to liberate the Philippines, they unleashed their fury on the civilians. The Japanese started torching towns, forcing the townspeople to leave their homes for other places. Some barrios of Banayoyo were burned by Japanese patrol teams on October 16, 1944 and November 14, 1944. Every house had a dugout to hide in and to store their valuables. Guerillas were emboldened to kidnap and kill mayors appointed by the Japanese authorities. One of them was Jose J. Tesoro, mayor of Nagbukel, who was abducted by the guerillas and executed in July of 1944. An unforgettable event for the survivors of the Japanese occupation in San Juan was an incident that took place on September 24, 1944. Recalled Fr. Loreto G. Viloria:5 “On September 24, 1944, the most horrible incident in the history of San Juan happened. Lapogueños were gathered and herded inside the Roman Catholic Church. The Japanese soldiers positioned a machine gun at the main door. They threatened to kill all prisoners if nobody would volunteer to tell where one of their comrades, Tomoyuki San, believed to have been killed by guerillas, was buried. Constante Varilla Castro,

5 Fr. Loreto G. Viloria, “The Japanese Occupation, 1942-1944”.

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1943 (March)

Alfredo Sagao of Bacsil, San Juan was a “bolo man” or unrecognized guerilla. He was among the brave guerillas who ambushed four military officers in a lead car and a truckload of soldiers, killing all in broad daylight. The guerillas burned the vehicles with the Japanese inside.

who was only 18 years old, bravely stood up and accompanied the enemy soldiers to the shallow grave. For telling the truth, he spared hundreds of Lapogueños from the massacre threat poised on them. The irony of it all was that the valiant Castro was executed by a guerilla in Corrooy, Sabangan, according to one living witness.” War has a way of bringing out aberrations and ironies as can be seen in the incident mentioned. One also reads of abusive guerillas and bolo men who harmed their fellowmen. One such story read: “In my opinion, the guerilla organization was organized to give a chance for many to become rich and to destroy girls. These guerillas brought misery, hardships and sorrows to the people which cannot be erased from their memories.” 6 Lapog Bay in San Juan was where 27 Japanese naval ships docked in mid-October 1944. By October 17, four remained moored in the bay and became the target of air strikes of American forces. The bay became a blazing inferno that burned for hours. Anastacia V. Reyes recalled: “As explosions rocked the 6 Historical Data Papers. Ilocos Sur.

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1944 (July)

Guerillas abduct Jose J. Tesoro, mayor of Nagbukel town. He was eventually executed.

burning ships at Lapog Bay, burning oil spilled and floated all over the bay the whole afternoon and overnight. What a sight it was. It was an inferno that illuminated the entire shoreline from Solotsolot to Saoang.” Bodies of dead Japanese littered the bay. Dr. Ernesto Villa remembered a vivid scene: 7 “Cadavers from the sunken ship in Saoang floated in the bay and were dragged by waves to the shore. Corrooy in Sabangan, Katib and the rest of Saoang’s shoreline became burial grounds for the hundreds of dead Japanese. For some time, people of Saoang didn’t eat fish. I was then a teenager. I helped my barrio mates in Saoang bury the dead as per orders of guerilla authorities.” The shores of Ilocos Sur, once a Japanese preserve, welcomed the liberators. On Santiago Cove in San Esteban, US submarines, which were part of the United States Armed Forces in the Philippines, North Luzon (USAFIL, NL), surfaced, unloading arms and supplies on November 23, 1944. The following year, in January 1945, the USAFIL, NL undertook demolition and sabotage work in Abra and northern Ilocos Sur. The arrival of the USAFIP, NL headed by Col. Russel W. Volckmann prompted the Japanese, led by Tomayuki Yamashita, a general of the Japanese Imperial Army, to retreat towards the

7 War Memoirs (Personal Experiences During World War II). Unpublished Account.

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1944 (September 24) Eighteen-year-old Constante Varilla Castro saved the lives of hundreds of Lapogue単os from the massacre threat poised by Japanese soldiers. Ironically, Castro was later executed by a guerilla in Corrooy, Sabangan.

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north. The liberation of Suyo, which held a garrison of 600 Japanese soldiers, took place at dawn of February 5, 1945. Suyo was also vital to the Japanese because it was a depository of copper ore concentrates from the Lepanto Mines. Located west of the town of 128 Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History

Cervantes, Bessang Pass served as the opening to Yamashita’s last stand. On June 14, 1945, the USAFIP defeated the Japanese at Bessang Pass. Yamashita surrendered to American units in Kiangan, Ifugao and was brought to Baguio City to sign the official documents of surrender


A cleared and leveled open field in Burgos town served as an emergency airfield for guerillas during World War II.

for all Japanese forces in the Philippines. The Battle of Bessang Pass put an end to three years of enemy occupation in Ilocos Sur. Yet the horrors of the war remain vivid in the memories of the survivors. One of them wrote:8

“Those who survived and are still alive could now hardly share tales of their ordeal. The remaining few are about to die but the venom and the scars of the war and their agony will never be forgotten.”

8 Viloria, “The Japanese Occupation, 1942-1944”

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1944 (October 16 and November 14)

A Japanese patrol team torches several barrios of Banayoyo town, forcing townspeople to leave their homes.

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1944 (October 17)

US dive bombers attack four Japanese ships anchored on Lapog Bay, sinking and destroying all of them. Several bodies of Japanese soldiers that were washed ashore were buried in the area by the natives.

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1945 (February 5)

Liberators of Suyo, with a garrison holding 600 Japanese soldiers, plan their takeover of the town at dawn.

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1945 (June 14)

Filipino and American troops storm and overrun Yamashita’s soldiers in heavily-fortified Bessang Pass.

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Ilocos Sur: An Illustrated History