10/11/07

Moro raids---in Baao?

Some readers found my commentary on the image of 19th Century Baao surprising, if not hard to believe. What Moro raids? Moro raids on a place so far inland?
Moro raids were indeed a real danger for almost a century in the Bicol Region not excluding the town of Baao. Moros or Muslim raiders would wreak havoc on the coastal and inland towns of Bicol in search of loot and Christian slaves to be carried away to be sold or traded. Many of these towns, after being raided, would not recover and would disapper from the map. In the Rinconada area I can only assume that this raiders either entered the area from the Bicol river upon entering San Miguel Bay or through a land trail through one of the many gaps along the mountain range west of the region beside the China Sea. There are many accounts that the raids reached inland towns.
One of these recorded accounts, about the measures against them, was the one observed by Fr. Gomez-Platero then parish priest of Baao who recorded that sentinels(which were called with the Hispanized-Bicol word"bantayes") would roam the main streets of Baao ready to give the alarm.
A local account in Nabua recorded the intance when the Moros reached one of there outlying Barangays and the people took refuge in the parish church which was protected with "lantakas" or small cannons installed specifically for this purpose.
The failure of the provincial government to provide protection to the people, even after repeated petitions, elicited simply the province-wide instructions to make bladed weapons, bows and arrows and the setting up of an alarm system with sentinels and lookouts. The Battle of Tabgon Bay is almost unknown to our students but it was a Bikolano victory over these raiders. The threat of the Moros only ended in the close of the 19th Century upon the arrival of the steampowered launch which could easily outrun and shoot their "vintas" out of the water.
This happened more than a century ago and I still remember my Grandmother when as a child when misbehaving would silence me, "Paluway, marungog ngani ika kin mga Moro".

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