12/31/08

Christmas in Baao 2008



This video features various Christmas trees with nativity scenes at the Barlin Park in Baao, Camarines Sur. The video clips were taken in 29 December 2008.


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10/21/08

Para sa Mga Burak sa Heidelberg
(To the Flowers of Heidelberg)
Ni Jose Rizal
Itinaga Baao ni P.B. Robosa

Pasadto kamo banwaan ko, dayuhan na burak
tagak sa raran kin mga nagbabaklay, iwinarak,
sa lomlom ka sirong kin azul na kalangitan,
sadto na an mga payaba ko pinag-iiningatan
iluyap ninyo, pagarang-arang kanakong rogan,
kining arayo pero di nalilingaw sa mga binayaan

Pasadto kamo, ag mabareta bago magliwanag,
kung kamo ka sirang ka aldow ibinubuklad,
sa pangpang ag agnow ka Neckar na ararom
sadto siya nakatindog, nang-guiguiromrom
pamumula sa tagsibol, darang kolor na magayon

ipa-ngusip ninyo kun pag-abot ka saking ramrag,
ayaton kaninyo an hamot na kaninyong ambag,
habang luway na pina-iirongog “o ika, payaba ko”
siya man nagririmo-rimo, sa itaas ninyo tinotono,
kantang pagkaboot, sa sadiring bisara nya guinibo

kun su silaw ka ramrag aboton na su kaitaasan,
tuktok Koenigsthul kalayuwan kin kaliwanagan,
namumulaag na silaw ka aldow mang-guisong na,
sa patag, kadlagan ag kakahoyan nanbubuway na,
ining lagalag, sabat man tulos an silaw na dara,
na sadto banwaan man nya, minabulos biyaya.

isabi ninyo ku kamo luway na pinili ag pinutlan,
ku sya nag-agi-agi sa sadit ag matulid na a-agian,
sa rugbang torreng tuda ko panahon na nakaagi,
sa Neckar na may kadlagan, malimpoy na sabi.
Sabiyon su kanyang mga panambitan ag sinabi
pauno kamo luway-luway, tinulid, ingat na inani,
sadto kanyang libro isinuksuk ag pinagkahigo,
sa mga lumang pahina, kamo niyang itinatago.

Hatudan, hatudan, magayon na burak kin Rhine,
an biyong pagka-boot ko sa ngamin na nabootan,
katoninongan sa banwaan kong kinamondagan,
sa kababaihan-katangihan, kusog sa kalalakihan.
Ipagtaratara diaday, sa mga payaba kong marhay
sa ngamin, kabilugang banal, pauulian ka buway

Pag-abot sa baybayon kan pinayabang banwaan

matam-is na arok na pinamate di paglingawan,
ipatiprak sa pakpak kin angin na nakapalibot
tanganing su ngamin na inonra, ginalang, binoot,
mamate sa mga pisngi ninda--arok kong pina-abot.

Tibaad makaabot kamo sa banwaan kong tinubuan
dara pa gayon ag tinkad ninyong kolor na namasdan,
ta arayo kamo sa ragang kinabuklatan, nang-alisngaw,
namarong na amot, tibaad dagos nang naoda, nanlasaw.
An hamio ninyo, kalag ninyong tunay, di maisusuway,
di malilingangawan kan langit kun sari kamo nabuway.

10/12/08

A Simple Life, Two Friends

Excerpts from the speech delivered by Vic Ramirez Jr. at the Silver Jubilee Night of the Kausaran sa Ikararay ka Baao (Kaiba) held at the AFP Auditorium, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, on February 5, 2005. Vic served as first President of Kaiba, after its predecessor—the Metro-Manila Baao Association—was reorganized.

Please click on these links:
For the entire speech click on this link:

10/9/08

Buhay Masiramon



"Buhay Masiramon (Sa Poultry ni Isko)" -- sung by the Trio Los Mamboleros (Betty Gonzaga, Manny Gaite, and Gil Llorens); music and lyrics by Betty Gonzaga and J. Barrameda; recorded in 1989.

This music video is dedicated to the fond memory of BETTY IMPERIAL GONZAGA, who appears in this clip as a one year-old child being entertained with a bird in a cage by his father Angel Gonzaga (husband of Paz Buena Imperial). The pictures (of late-1930s vintage) were taken at the residence of Pilar Imperial Arroyo (now the Ramirez's ancestral home) in Del Rosario, Baao, Camarines Sur.

The humorous lyrics of the song tell the story of Isko (guess who?) who used to spirit out the sickly chicken from his father's poultry in Del Rosario to be cooked and served as "sumsuman" (ginataan na adobo) for his barkada's drinking session in Kalangkawan (San Nicolas). The song celebrates the carefree and jovial life of young people in Baao.

10/7/08

The First of the Monicans

On April 2, 1950 SMA graduated its first batch of High school students, arrayed here in regal Elizabethan gowns and sat for this nearly 60 year-old photo. From the original 24, less than five survives today.

Left to right front row:

Liliosa Bigay-Aquino
Lourdes Bucela-Robosa
Monina Arroyo
Lilia Barreta
Helen Barrameda-Buena
Ofelia Magadia-Pilar
Ester Borja-Bibonia
Victoria Badiola-Briones
Remedios Imperial-Bernales
Rosa Baliuag
Liliosa Fajardo-Obrero
Isabel Gonzaga-Fajardo
Antonia Bigay-Lopez Dee

Left to right back row

Generosa Badiola
Concepcion Quintan-Badiola
Carmen Bañaga-Dimayakyak
Jovita Imperial-Garsiso
Romana Sanchez-General
Solidad Muños
Rufina Bibares-Balindan
Florentina Revilla-Bigay
Socorro Tirao-Badiola
Aurora Benosa-Zamudio
Concepcion Baesa-Razon

9/28/08



Padre Ochoa, Padre Inciong and The Grotto of our Lady of Lourdes in Baao


Fr. Aquilino De la Torre Ochoa was assigned as Coadjutor to Padre Inciong in Baao for four and a half years and was responsible for giving the town our own Lady of Lourdes Grotto. How it came to be he recounts in his “Talambuhay”, an autobiography written in Tagalog verse. He was born in Indan, now Vinzons, Camarines Norte this is why his tagalog is sprinkled with Bikol words. When he was ordained priest his first assignment was in Baao and was here during the waning years of the 1930's. Baao's Lourdes Grotto became the first of many of his accomplishments.


“ COADJUTOR SA BAAO SI PADRE OCHOA”

Ang kura sa Baao si Padre Florencio Gonzales
Balitang-balita mga coadjutor hindi makatiis
Mahaba na ang isang taon, coadjutor agad na aalis
Hindi magkaunawaan, pagsasama hindi matiis

Sa aking pagdating matapos sa kura ay mag-pugay,
ang kanyang ugali at hilig aking pinag-aralan,
nang mamasdan kong sa ahedres mahilig makilaban,
magkakasundo kami larong ahedres muli at muling naglalaban

Kaya sa tuwi-tuwina matapos ang hapunan
Ang tablero ng Ahedres dinadala sa aming harapan
Tinatalo ko siya, tinatalo din niya ako.
Pagdating sa hatinggabi saka kami naghihiwalay

Isang ping-pong table ang aking ipinagawa
Upang mapaglibangan ng mga kabataan
Nang Makita ni Padre Gonzales, siya ay natuwa
Kaya’t nagpaturo sa akin sa bola ng ping-pong pagpatama

Hindi naman mahirap si Padre Inciong Gonzales turuan
Hindi nagtagal ibig niyang palaging may kalaro
Kahit sa mga kabataan at sa mga kapaparian
Kaya’t liban sa Ahedres, ping-pong kanyang nauyunan

Nabalitaan ko araw ng kanyang kapanganakan
Hinding-hindi pa siya nagdiwang ng kanyang kapanganakan
Sa aming inasalto, kaarawan ng kanyang pag silang
Isang banda ng orkestra kasama ng taong bayan

May mga dalang pagkain, alak, litson at pulutan,
Maikling palatuntunan, talumpati, tula, awit at sayaw
Si Padre Florencio Gonzales, katuwaan nag-uumapaw,
Napilitan siyang mag-tapat na si Padre Ochoa ang may kagagawan

Nang makuha ko ang tiwala ng Paring Kura
Ano man sabihin ko sinusunod niya pag-daka
Sa tabi ng patio, may nakatambak na bato lumang asoteya
Kung ibig mong malinisan, papatayuan natin ng Groto

Sabi niya kung kaya mo ikaw ang bahala, gawin mo na
Kaya ako nagpasimulang usapin ang maga Hijas de Maria
nang aking balak, magpatayo ng Groto
Wala naming sumasalungat, lahat ay sang-ayon

Kailangan ng isang arketekto, gagawa ng plano
Bantog noon si Barcenas at eskultor Neglerio
Subalit ang mga ito, mga propesyonal eskultor-arketekto
Mahal ang kanilang bayad, sa dyaryo at honorario

Naghanap ako ng larawan ng Groto sa Lourdes
Sinikap kong puntahan mga simbahan may Groto ng Lourdes
Sa Naga, Iriga, Guinobatan, Quezon City hanggang Baguio City
Inisa-isa kong puntahan at ako ay gumawa ng plano

Sapagkat kailangan ng pera upang makagawa
Isang “Fund Raising” kailangan isimula
Naisipan kong isang Velada makapaghanda
Upang sa fiesta ng bayan ipakita sa madla

Upang maging magaan humanap ako ng kasama
Si Guinoong Jorge Barlin, mahilig sa musika at kanyang “Sabrina”
Isang melo-drama at komedya, kumuha ng mga artista
Sa bahay ni Tomas Guevara inihanda ang numero sa kaarawan

Dumating ang kapistahan ng Patron ng Baao
Maraming dumalo galing sa ibang bayan
Punong-puno ang liwasan na pag-bibeladahan
Kaya’t sa kahilingan ng marami, inulit sa kaarawan

Sa awa ng Diyos, ang “Fund Raising” naging matagumpay
Nabili ko kaagad ang kasangkapan sa Groto’y ilalagay
Mga semento, hollow blocks, kabilya at iba pang kailangan
Punto ng lumang asoteya aking pinalinisan

Nag-hanap ako ng isang panday-kantero
Marunong gumawa sa kahoy at semento
Sa awa ng Diyos nakatagpo din ako
Naging katulong siya nina Barcenas at Neglerio

Ang aking plano sa Groto ay susundin
Ako ang arketekto at artista paman din
Ang kantero na upahan ko ako ang susundin
Hindi ang sino paman dahil sa Mahal na Birhen

Sapagkat ang pera hindi magkakasya
Kailangan ng donasyon ng larawan ni Birhen Maria
Kaya’t si Guinoong Julian Barrameda pinakiusapan ko
Na kay Neglerio magpagawa ng Lourdes at Bernardita

Maganda ang larawan na gawa ni Guinoong Neglerio
Nang Birhen de Lourdes at Bernardita de cemento
Si Neglerio ang nagayos ng larawan, sa Groto itinayo
Gayon din si Bernardita nakaluhod sa malayo

Sa apat na kanto nitong “Asoteyang Groto”
Pinalagyan ko ng parola tigta-tatlong ilaw
May mga donantes din na mga Maestro at mga Maestra
Kaya’t ang Groto sa Baao, ay naku kay ganda

Wala akong panahon sabihin sa inyo lahat
Ang Groto ng Lourdes sa Baao, tunay na nakakagulat
Kung kayo may panahon sa kabikolan maglakad
Tumigil sa Baao, Groto ng Lourdes inyong mamalas

Apat at kalahati din ako sa Baao
Sa tabi ng Kura na mahirap na kasamahin
Sa Naga ako dinala, Coadjutor sa katedral
Kura si Mons. Penilla at Vicario Heneral.

9/27/08

THE CHARGE OF THE HORSEMEN
AT THE BATTLE OF AGDANGAN
P.B.Robosa


Ahead! Down the hill the horses led
to rise again on another hillock
lit by the morning light the sun bled
and revealed to the enemy our attack.

Ahead! The blue shirts advanced
and came the sound of rifles readied
disturbing the silence of the ground
drowning the charge of our steeds.

Charge! And we headed to the center
and fifty muzzles pointed to the riders
and the horsemen rode as if unaware
the guns loaded, fingers at the triggers.

Crack! And a screen of smoke erupts
and our chests heaved with scarlet
we steadied, legs steeled to the stirrup
and then rolled down, giving in, death.

Like leaves we fall on desolate ground
plucked from flowers to be transplanted
no glory, no monuments to be found
amidst faith and longings unrewarded.

I was born into the love of a happy home
and heart gladdened by the wakening land,
rearing to be free to trace its destiny alone,
to draw paradise on earth with my hand.

To ends that God, History point the way,
the way of peace, and pride, and purpose,
ends songs are wrought and heroes made,
ends where lives are gave and joys repose.

I, to boundless hope these ends followed
bearing honor, life, and my soul unafraid
bearing it for all the countless tomorrows,
for my end, my home and sweet tender grave.

9/26/08

Our SMA Days
P.B. Robosa

We were young and we were free
we'd walk the gate and into the end
it looked old and bare but it was cheery
crawl through a hole, smelled the floor
cracked the old desk covered with scrawls

We're proud but we knew how to have fun
brave the horrors of the grotto under the moon
plant crops in the morn or haul sand in the sun
we'd jump the high window and bang the bell
stole fried bananas on sticks and cursed like hell

We pretend joy and we pretend sorrow
liked a storm on occasion but during summer
hated math and physics but the ballyhoo
said “Good Morning Miss”to a sour face
eyes strained reading but quick for a little lace

We were all yours as we were all there
said goodbye in the end but never lost touch
We return and sing “Hail, Dear Alma Mater”
Passed the make shift gate and the gray halls
We've had laughter, light and loved in these walls

9/25/08

Baao Church and "Convento" Before the Fire of 1971


Some readers were wondering if I have a good photo
of the Church and "Convento" before it was permanently
altered by fire and the subsequent rehabilitation.
This I think was how "Padre Inciong" envisioned
the church and the patio when it was being
rebuilt during his time.

9/24/08

The Baaoeño talents behind the SMA Alma Mater Song

During my college years and I was away from Baao for years, one song that stirs up nostalgia in me is the SMA Alma Mater which I sang for years in school with my classmates. Later, I would hear it either being played briskly or sonorously by the school band or sung during alumni homecomings. The lyrics are so simple but elegant and the melody so catchy that I had no problem memorizing it in Grade two. A fellow alumni revealed in later years that he was using it in other schools which did not have a graduation song as a kind generic alma mater song, all he had to do was replace SMA's with the name of the school.

The lyrics of the song was written by Baao's poet laureate Luis G. Dato on the occasion of the graduation of SMA's first graduates, among whom, my mother, Lourdes Esplana Bucela-Robosa was a member. The words were set to music by one of Bicol's foremost musician's of the time, the famous Marcial L. Briones of the King's Orchestra fame.



Luis G. Dato and Marcial L. Briones

SMA Alma Mater Song
Hail dear Alma Mater, thee we honor
Proudly in the dawn we raise thy banner
Santa Monica, Sweet Alma Mater
With thy praise thy loyal sons and daughters
Fills the land wherever they may roam
Alma Mater, Alma Mater never
Shall thy glory wane but shine forever,
Joyous to thy call we come and rally,
Far or near, from mountain, shore or valley,
For in thee our spirits finds its home
Chorus:
Santa Monica, O Santa Monica
In thy fold a true and valiant band
Through the years whatever time may bring us,
Alma Mater, we shall ever stand.
L.D.

SMA's 70th Birthday

In 2010, the SMA community plans to celebrate the school's Diamond Jubilee, five years shy of the costumary 75 years. The reasoning behind is that it is common practice now and perhaps there is truth in in the maxim that "a good idea now is better than a great idea tomorrow" and everyone seems to be enthusiastically behind it. I myself could have waited for the beatification of Mo. Consuelo Barcelo, who in 1939 along with a sister companion went to the Bicol Region looking for a place to put up a school. SMA would have been blessed with a co-founder with title of "Blessed" before her name. The other hero of the founding of SMA is Rev. Fr. Florencio Gonzalez or fondly, "Padre Inciong" who did not let the chance to slip of having the Augustinian Sister's first school in the Bicol Region put up in Baao. He started the school on his own expense at the then huge sum of P18,000.00 so it could open immediately the next school year of 1940.


Padre Inciong at the time of SMA's opening and as a young priest.
The school's main building being built by Vicente Fernandez
and workers. The name of the school was "Colegio of Baao"
Padre Inciong (far left in eyeglasses), his Coadjutor
Padre Ochoa and the pioneer Sisters pose with
SMA pupils. The school's name, "Escuala Parroqial
de Baao"(the school building still lacked its window panes)


Rare Photo of the Pioneer Sisters

The SMA building during its glory days

This photo of SMA students and pupils was taken
November 30, 1941, 15 days before the Japanese entered
Baao.

9/23/08

25th Anniversary Picture of Feliz & Rosario Guevara

Row 1: Rosario Barlin Guevara, Rosario Serrano Guevara, Felix Guevara, Gregoria Guevara
Row 2: ______, Angelina Serrano
Row 3: Conching Luzentales, Amparo Guevara Bernas, Cleotilde Guevara Martires, Rosario Obias Serrano, Nena Baesa?
Row 4: Maricoy Bernas?, Agustina Barlin Gumabao, Jose Serrano.

This picture was posted originally on the Barlin Yahoo group webpage by Angel G. Martires.

9/7/08

Resuene Vibrante



"Himno a la Nuestra Senora de Penafrancia" composed by Maximo Heguera CM in 1924; supplemented with Bikol lyrics by Bp. Timoteo Pacis CM, Jesus Esplana and Sohl Saez; sung by the Schola Cantorum of the Holy Rosary Major Seminary in Naga City; choral arrangement by Lorenzo Jarcia III; recorded and published by the Caceres Music Ministry in 1989. Video images of the Traslacion and Fluvial Processions.

8/24/08

New Information on Baao’s Early Years
P.B.Robosa

In trying to bring new light on the origin of Baao, a new mystery has come up regarding the patronage of St. Bartholomew to the town from the onset of the town’s foundation in 1590. The question begs attention as a few years back the Municipal Government, in want of a date to call as its Foundation Day for the purposes of registration to the National Government, the adoption of a Municipal Seal and the distribution of a Foundation Day bonus for the LGU employees, has designated August 23 as the town’s Foundation Day. This was in deference to the Town Fiesta of August 24 which by assumption was the town’s conversion and thus foundation (see Sifting Through Perceptions: A Fresh Look at Baao’s Beginnings this blog) but said date was set a day early to retain a civic and official identity apart from that of a purely a religious holiday.
Fortunately, this did not rule out the possibility of replacing it with a date that would be more historically accurate and better documented that future research might yield.
At present, no document has surfaced providing information when or at what point in its history the town of Baao recognized the patronage of St. Bartholomew. The oldest mention of the Town Fiesta on August 24 in Baao was in 1911, the search for older document before this date has been ongoing ever since.
An older document mentioning the patronage of the church of Baao has just recently surfaced, Danny Gerona, in his book "Canaman Through Four Centuries" cited a document dated 1595, a mere five years after the 1590 foundation of Baao, the document is a petition to the Spanish Governor General Francisco Tello signed by Fray Francisco de Villarejo, comisario provincial of the San Gregorio Province for permission to build churches and convents in towns under the Franciscans. It mentions that some parishes have already built there churches, which had, according to this document, “already obtained license in writing and others only by word”, These churches were:

San Francisco de Cazeres, San Joseph de Milauir, San Phelipe de Minalaba, San Pedro Canaman, Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion de Quipaio, Santiago de Ligmana, Santa Cruz de Nabua, San Antonio de Iriga, Santiago de Libon, San Pedro de Polangui, San Miguel de Baao, San Juan Bautista de Camarines(Camalig)

The possibility that a mix-up of names was already explored but proved highly unlikely and thus we have a mention of Baao under the patronage of St. Michael in 1595. This opens an entirely new mystery to the history of Baao.

7/29/08


Msgr. Manuel P. Del Rosario: The Second Baaoeño Bishop
From P.B.Robosa's "Baao Vignettes"

At forty years old, Msgr. Del Rosario became the youngest consecrated Filipino Bishop of his time and the local newspapers dubbed him “The altar boy who became bishop”. Again the Baaoeños had cause to be proud because in the Bicol region, only three places have the distinction of producing among it flock two bishops of the Catholic Church, a rare honor that speaks well of the strong religiosity of the townspeople.
Manuel P, Del Rosario was born on July 1. 1915 at Salvacion, Baao, Camarines Sur, the youngest of five children of Jose Del Rosario and Modesta Platon. He was studios and intelligent that he finished his elementary and intermediate at Baao Elementary school in only five years instead of the normal seven years. At the young age of twelve he was in enrolled by his father at the Provincial Normal School in Naga purportedly so he would become a teacher, but being the youngest and the smallest of the students, he couldn’t stand the manual aspect of the extra curricular activity of cutting grass, so in the middle of the year he got sick. After two months or so of absence, the Principal of the school was still willing to take him in so he could finish the First year, but by this time, the boy preferred to be a full time altar boy. Baao’s then Parish Priest, Fr. Florencio “Padre Inciong” Gonzalez, was able to convince his father to enroll the boy instead in the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary the following year of 1928, from which the boy eventually graduated from in 1932.
From 1932 to 1936, the Bishop of Caceres, Msgr. Francisco Reyes, sent him to study and finish his college education at the University of Sto. Tomas, from where he received his Licentiate in Philosophy. He continued to the UST Central Seminary from 1936 to 1939 to receive with honors his Licentiate in Sacred Theology, and on March 25, 1939 was ordained Priest in Naga City under the hands of Msgr. Pedro P. Santos, then the Bishop of Caceres after the death of Bishop Reyes.
The young priest was immediately assigned as assistant Diocesan Economo, then for a few months, coadjutor of the Naga cathedral then later as Diocesan Economo and coadjutor of the Parish of Iriga. During the War years, he served in important functions in the Diocese of Caceres as Economo, Censor, Rector of the Peñafrancia Shrine and Diocesan Secretary.
In 1949, he became Diocesan Consultor, Vicar forane of Catanduanes and Parish Priest of Virac. The following year, he was appointed Vicar Forane and Parish priest of Gubat, Sorsogon and remained in this post until 1955. On July 25, 1955, he was appointed coadjutor Bishop with the right of succession to the Bishopric of Calbayog, Samar and at that time he was the youngest Filipino priest ever to be consecrated bishop. In the same year, he became Apostolic Administrator of Calbayog and remained there until 1958 when he became Bishop of Calbayog. In 1961, he was appointed as the First Bishop of historic Malolos and took possession of the same on March 4, 1962. On December 15, 1977, because of a stroke, he retired as Bishop.
Among his achievements that can be seen today is the present form of the Peñafrancia shrine which he caused to repair when it was dilapidated after the Japanese occupation. His improvements on the Cathedrals of Virac and Calbayog along with its Bishop’s Residence and on Gubat’s church. He caused the construction of the Carmelite convent and the Immaculate Conception Seminary both in Guiguinto, Bulacan, He also created new parishes in both Samar and Bulacan Very few people know that Msgr. Del Rosario was one of the few prominent Filipino Clergymen of his time that was being eyed to become Cardinal. Today we could only surmise, if Bishop Del Rosario became Cardinal, if not for the untimely stroke. Baao could have the singular distinction of producing not only the First Filipino Bishop but also the First Filipino Cardinal. But history, if not busy repeating itself, sometimes plays tricks. It played a trick involving both Bishop Barlin and Bishop Del Rosario. If Bishop Barlin fought Aglipay that was spawned by the Philippine revolution that had its first seat of Government in Malolos, 65 years later, his “kabanwaan” would take the Episcopal seat of Malolos. I do not know if our poet Laureate Luis Dato noticed this connection but during this time he wrote a poem about Malolos. Strange indeed sometimes---this, History.

7/5/08





The Minasbad: Utility and Artistry in a Bicolano Blade.
From P.B. Robosa's "Baao Vignettes"
Our thanks to kindred spirits from Iriga and elsewhere who graciously linked this site with theirs. This piece could be of interest to them.


In my study of native decorative design, one object stands out as a permanent but unheralded example of Bicolano craftsmanship and artistry, the ubiquitous Bikol farm implement, the minasbad. This tool that was once surely a weapon in the days of old, is our local version of the Chinese broadsword and has its most beautiful expression in the Rinconada area. Here, a number of craftsmen from Iriga still make the highly decorated wooden sheath and the distinctive hilt of an animal figurehead made of elegant Carabao horn. Some are still sold ornamented with the traditional trimmings of a cloth or abaca sash and cow hair tassel. Seeing these masterpieces made using the traditional Malay forge and a minimum of handmade tools is an education in ancient blacksmithing, metallurgy, engraving, and carving. The handle-figurehead alone can be made into a variety of possibilities from animal heads, parts and other shapes. When I had one made, the elderly craftsman told me that I could have the pick of ten different species of animals on the hilt but I choose the traditional hound’s head for my minasbad. I did not stop there though and started collecting a few other examples until the increasing cost and my wife’s strange stares stopped me.

As a boy, I heard many stories about the minasbad and admired examples of them made by my Uncle Leopoldo "Papa Dodoy" Bagaporo de los Santos who was an expert in bolo craft. I heard the story that he learned blacksmithing in Iriga while growing to manhood there during WWII. He used unique but tried and tested techniques on every stage of the work in coming out with a bolo that was always an individual work of art. Aside from producing bolos in all its forms, he occasionally experimented with other materials and I have seen bolo parts made of aluminum, bronze and stainless steel and all of them engraved with distinctive decorations. It’s a pity that today only a few examples of his work exists in the collection of family and friends, and again, displaying this obscure skill and craftmanship would be outdated today in the age of cellphones and globalization.




There are still a handful of us though who marvel at the weapons and fighting skills of the ancient Bikolano and no weapon elicit more discussion among us than the minasbad. My knowledge of minasbad lore include how the blade measurements is taken to fit the length of the arm of the bearer, that it must balance on your finger when held in the middle and that the test of its sharpness and the skill of the bearer is proven when the blade can decapitate a Carabao in one stroke. It is told that the Cimarones carried it with pride like a badge when dealing with the lowlanders and how the lowlanders would use their own minasbad to hand articles to the Cimarones, a precaution against a sudden slash that could chop off an arm. I knew that the hair ornament was meant to wipe off blood from the blade after an engagement and that the pointed ears of the hound on the handle was meant to pummel and the teeth-like serrations on the base of the blade was to saw away in close quarter combat.




I also fell in love with the minasbad’s undulating shape, the back of the blade having curves like that of a woman’s in a sinewy “S” ending at the tip shaped like the end of the spoon. It is this part of the weapon that reveal its utilitarian side, this unusual tip is perfect in the harvest of Abaca, the blade lacked a pointed end that would otherwise damage the pith of the Abaca plant.

The minasbad’s use as a farm implement is also versatile. You could clear a path with it, cut small branches, cultivate, crop bamboo or even cut down a small tree. It is fortunate for the minasbad that though it would have been essential to the ancient Bicolano warrior in war is today in peace, still an indispensable tool of the farmer, thus saving this artifact from oblivion. So important could have been this object to its owner that enough time was also spent in the care and ornamentation of not only the handle but the blade and the sheath. The most distinctive part of the minasbad or any other bolo manufactured in Rinconada is the Carabao-horn handle. This type of carved handle is totally non-existent elsewhere in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, in the Bicol region, I believe it is found only in Rinconada.




The grip is reinforced by ribs around the handle that also served as ornamentation and the pummel is formed by the head of an animal usually that of a dog or a hound with its fangs opened in a contorted grin. In what is supposed to be the forehead, the end of the tang is locked in bronze forming a little crown parallel to the points of what would be pointed ears. The appearance reinforces our connection to the Malay archipelago as it appears very similar to their garuda sculpture. The other design elements on it show both local and foreign influences, the scale-like and triangular siko-siko patterns are certainly indigenous but the curved and counter-curved lines on the surface of the sheath and on the brass fasteners are definitely a Spanish flourish. The Spanish baroque element is more pronounced however on the blade that the pattern even ends in a floral design. This somewhat strange design element for a weapon is common to other cultures like the Japanese who add flower patterns to their swords. The “S’ curve of the blade is similar to that of Chinese broadsword as well as the sheath construction, suggesting that the original design could be Chinese. This wouldn’t be impossible because iron working in Bicol during pre-Hispanic times was the best developed in the Philippines.

But time has undoubtedly added embellishments to the minasbad. You can see some of them today furnished with a brass hand guard similar to a cavalry saber or more commonly the hand guard of a Japanese Samurai sword. Time has also taken toll on the crafting of the minasbad as many examples now appear mass produced and of sloppy manufacture. You can still acquire well-made ones but at serious cost suitable to a discerning collector, and admirers are but a few and the survival of this inherently Bicol artifact and its fine nuances are at risk








The story of this Bicol blade dates back to Philippine pre-history. The noted Philippine historian William Henry Scott mentions in one of his books that the pre-Hispanic Bicol language contained the most numerous and highly specialized words pertaining to warfare signifying that our ancestors were probably occupied if not skilled in the activity. The first Spaniards in the region noted the gallant bearing of the Bicolanos as they were the ones possessing the best and most complete armor and weapons. Undeniably, the centuries of Moro threat could have had a hand in the development of the Bicolano martial spirit and weapons technology. During the height of the problem, when the Bicolanos asked for succor from Manila, the impoverished government simply instructed the Bicolanos to manufacture bladed weapons as a measure against the Moros, perhaps the minasbad was manufactured in large numbers and was looked upon as the match for the Moro kris and it was during this time that it acquired its pre-eminence as a weapon and its storied repute.

6/16/08

1,234 Days of Fear: The Japanese Occupation in Baao
P. B. Robosa from "Baao Vignettes"

Last December 14, 2007, sixty six years had passed since the conquerors from the Japanese Empire disturbed the cheery and peaceful life of the people of Baao. The bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 spearheaded the Japanese juggernaut in the Pacific and on December 12, five days later, they reached close to home in Legaspi. In the early morning of December 14, the Baaoeños awoke to the sound of the Japanese advance forces slamming their way through the Bicol region. On December 18 and 19 along the national highway, the town saw a continuous flow of Japanese armaments and personnel going towards the direction of Naga, heralding almost four years of occupation.
Initial reaction was slight as Filipino-American forces chose to avoid engagement and instead moved northwards to regroup. Government employees prepared to abandon their posts and readied themselves and their families for as yet uncertain future, some of them raiding whatever was left of the town coffers. The local government disbanded or resigned in anticipation of a possible brutal take-over. For a while, the town was almost deserted as initial fear grew into panic and most of the residents moved into the outskirts of the town. The fear of the Japanese later subsided as Japanese propaganda and good public relations began to take its effect and most of the towns people needed return to the ”poblacion” to buy and sell needed foodstuff and commodities. In a few months, a semblance of a local government was reorganized and in Baao, the respected Tomas Guevara was persuaded to take the difficult job of steering Baao through the subsequently difficult years. History proved that the choice was a godsend because Mayor Guevara proved to be a match for the dangerous situation that was thrown to his lap. His mettle in dealing with the arrogant and unpredictable Japanese was responsible for saving unnamed but valuable Baaoeño lives.
When the Japanese promises proved false and the war resulted in the eventual downturn in the economy, the Baaoeños had to fortify themselves to years of scarcity, uncertainty and depravation. The fortunate few who retreated to the mountains could live off the land but still food was scarce because the men who tilled and planted were either scared to work, were being held in Japanese prisons or were forced under the employ of the Japanese. An adventurous lot had joined roaming guerilla bands to harass the Japanese, while a few took advantage of the situation and simply resorted to banditry and extortion. For everybody, food and money was scarce, thus danger could come from anywhere, from the shameless bandits impersonating guerillas to the abusive and undisciplined Japanese soldiers. Thus, a life in town was safer and was endured by some in order to protect their property while living under the menace the enemy. The scarcity of manufactured goods lead some enterprising citizens to try their hands at making such necessities as soap or oil and going into trades like weaving and wine making.
In the end, Japanese brutality brought up its worst as the war turned disastrously for them. Although the Japanese were always swift in meting punishment to guerillas or anyone suspected of having ties with the underground as demonstrated by the execution of Baao’s Chief of Police Eusebio Dato, who, early in the occupation, was found aiding the guerillas, the anticipation of sure defeat and annihilation began to dull their reason. As American planes started to bring damage to their positions and causing casualties among their ranks, maddened and crazed Japanese burned more than 70 people including women and children inside houses in Agdangan on October 17, 1944 in what will be one of the war’s documented cold-blooded atrocities by the Japanese against Filipino civilians. At these point, further Japanese crimes in the form of summary arrests and kidnappings was the order of the day and not a few prominent Baaoeños and Chinese residents became victims of this reign of terror, causing most of the people to avoid the town altogether. Japanese retreat was followed by American planes harassing them and not a few of this American bullets and bombs found their mark not on the enemy where they were intended, but on the local civilians. However, relief was felt among the people that the long awaited end to the war was near. The war ended in Baao officially on April 15, 1945 when American advanced scouts reached Baao. Though the town was half deserted, the news of the arrival of the Americans was greeted with jubilation.
We are fortunate that this period of our History was recorded so close after it happened by one of those who experienced the war and modern readers will be delighted to read the following account. Although some dates disagree now with statements given by persons who had first-hand experiences or were closer to the event than the writer who recorded this dates, may I reprint the following without alterations from the Baao Fiesta Souvenir Program of 1946.
Local Chronology of Events
By Pablo B. Esplana, Bureau of Education
1946

1941
December 12-at 2:00 A.M. Japanese forces landed at San Miguel, Caramoan. Camarines Sur and simultaneously at Legaspi. Albay. This is probably the first Japanese to land on the Philippines.
December 14-at 5:38 A.M. A division of Japanese forces passed in Baao with complete war armaments.
December 18 to 19 A continuous flow of Japanese cavalry units passed Baao. The Bicol Region is completely overrun.
December 25 - Japanese forces landed at Atimonan, Tayabas.
1942

April 10 - Municipality of Baao raided by guerilla forces. The Treasury Department said to be ransacked
April 19 - The Municipality of Iriga was raided by Guerilla forces, some Japanese were killed and the Japanese position in Alatco burned.
May 1 - Naga was raided by guerilla forces under Capts. Flor Miranda and Gordinker. Naga fell in the hands of the guerilla. Governor Villafuerte and M. Crescini fled to Tinambac. Naga commercial district burned.
May 9 - A unit of about 16 Japanese trucks re-enter Naga from Legaspi in the afternoon same unit was harassed by a guerilla unit at Waras River. The fight lasted for about one hour. Many Japanese soldiers were killed including one officer. About sixteen Filipinos were either killed or wounded. Houses on both sides of the road from Waras to San Nicolas. Iriga, were burned by the Japanese.
May 12 - Camarines Sur recaptured by Japanese forces. Provincial and Municipal Governments formally organized, with Capt. Tuneyosi as Director of Japanese Military Administration.
July 17 - Local Guerilla detachment under Lieutenant Wenceslao and Lieut. Estrada captured at Salvacion, Baao.
Nov. 30 - Baao chief of Police Mr. Eusebio Dato executed by the Japanese soldiers, at the Suspension Bridge Naga, Camarines Sur.
1943
In first month of this year, a bandit terror disguised as guerilla under Capt. Amado Bueta and Lt. Juan Bueta terrorized the mountains of Baao, believed to have killed at least 21 innocent civilians. In last months of same year, a guerilla unit under Sgt. llagan was routed by P.C. in Himaao Public School llagan was killed.
1944
May 29 - Work on Japanese Military preparations begun. Laborers were taken from every Municipality in Rinconada.
June 20-Mabatobato Japanese position attacked by guerilla unit of unidentified group. Some Japanese were killed.
October 17 - Agdangan was burned with around 100 civilians, mostly women, children and old people were burned, Barrio Lieuts, from San Isidro. and Agdangan Neighborhood President were killed.
October 21 - Fifty U.S. planes raid Mabatobato, Anayan, Pili and San Jose. Pili around 500 Japanese soldiers killed.
Nov. 20. The Cari of Rufino Bayrante. in San Francisco. Baao. raided by Japanese forces from Iriga in an effort to trap Dioscoro Asetre alias (Big Boy). Two unidentified persons, male and female. were killed.
December 30 U.S. bombers raid Naga railway and machine-gunned Iriga. Naga station was completely destroyed.
1945
Jan. 13 - a column of about 600 Japanese soldiers on way to the north from the south was met by 4 U.S. raiders at Baao, About 50 of the soldiers were killed. Two Civilians, one a Chinese (Cha) was killed
Jan. 15 - Four U.S. planes raided Iriga, Baao Pili and Naga, Fifteen civilians were killed or wounded in Baao at Maglapid's residence on the road leading from Baao to Nabua.
Jan. 16 - A bigger squadron of U.S. raiders attacked Iriga. Baao, Pili, and Naga. Eight bombs were dropped at the Baao Railway. One civilian (Isidoro Bulalacao) was killed and two were wounded
Jan. 17 -Jap soldiers kidnapped Mr. Juan Badilla and Chinese Diogna, Pana. Arnado and Valeriana Bravo, a Filipina.
Jan. 20 - Japanese soldiers kidnap Dr. Dominador Barreta, Santiago Barretta. J. Barono. S Amilano, P. Blando, M. Botor, Mericia Badiola and her sick husband, with R. Martirez.
Feb. 22 - Japanese soldier kidnapped Martin Badiola, P. Silvestre, C. Bustilia, T. Bersa, A. Bulalacao, N Laut.
March 13 - Sunday as usual for several Sundays Japanese market car came to barter farm products with textiles and others. This day around 50 Japanese solders went with the market car and raided San Vicente killing C Bulalacao. Two others, Tomas Biseno and Fabian Bacsain, were killed in the afternoon, in Del Rosario.
March 25 - Blue Eagle Guerilla harassed Japanese forces at Agdangan, Report made by Commander Juan Guevara states 49 Japanese soldiers killed One B1ue Eagle soldier was wounded.
April1 Last appearance of Japanese market car in Baao, American forces landed at Legaspi, Albay.
April 7 - Japanese soldier abandon Iriga. Pawili Bridge blasted by Japanese.
April 9 - Camarines Sur guerilla harassed Japanese in Naga.
April 12 - Iriga was subjected to a heavy machinegun raid. The Japanese evacuated it earlier, some civilians were killed.
April ??? - Naga was subjected to a heavy raid, Bombs and machine guns were used. Naga Educational area was destroyed. Many Japanese soldiers were burned.
April 15 - American Advance scouts (suicide forces) reach Baao. Civilians jubilant.
April 22 - Baao Municipal Building was burned midnight of this day.
April 29 - Main body of U.S. forces reach Baao. May 5 - PCAU organized the local Municipal Government in Baao. Vice Mayor Francisco Barretto was appointed Acting Mayor and schools were opened.
Sept. 30 - 158th infantry 2nd battalion, under Col. Sandlin leave for another destination probably Japan.

6/4/08


Answers to some welcome comments

May I answer some comments from our readers.

from j.a. Carizo:

“This is an interesting entry. But I just wonder: If the entry on the Chinese interaction is true, how come I haven't seen Chinese residents in the area? And almost all of the surnames of the locales (since post World War II) are not Chinese-sounding surnames?”

Well, contrary to common perception, Baao has many Chinese residents and business people(read “A Spark Into the Darkness:The Life and Death of Dr. Dominador UyBarretta) My side of the Esplana Family have many stories of Chinese migrants to the town assuming the Esplana family name to integrate smoothly among the people. This example of integration is probably the reason the Chinese is seamlessly assimilated into the population and also this is why very few of their original names survive. From the same aforesaid article above, you will find that many of the Chinese doing business in Baao before the WWII were among those taken by the Japanese and never returned. I have found traces of the Chinese in Baao not only in its pre-Hispanic history but during the last century when they migrated to the town intermittently in waves.

From “paula abdul” :

This site appears to have only entries from Paulix Robosa when it is supposed to be from and/or for the "Baao historical and cultural society." Isn't this too presumptuous? Does this organization really exist? Who are the members, anyways?

Word of advice: just make it a personal blog, minus the pretense. It wont hurt.

Some entries are also from Fr. Ramirez and A. del Rosario. Yes, there is a “Baao Historical & Cultural Society” composed of many people not only those mentioned above and anyone interested in Baao History and Culture, barring objections, is considered a member. However, much as we like that many would contribute to this site, we are still in the process of calling attention to it and soliciting contributions. Your comments are not only welcome but also a big help. I am afraid I would be presumptuous if I would put the History and culture of Baao on a personal site of which I have several already.

From “ali-ponga”

“Do you know why our area is called “Rinconada”? I've done some research and couldn't find an explanation.

Take a map of the Bicol region, and using a ruler, trace a line following the Bicol river from Bato Lake to Bula. Then with the same ruler, trace a line from Bula then to Baao, on to Buhi, double back, by-pass Iriga and Nabua but end at Bato. By connecting your lines, you will find that you have created a triangle or three corners. In English, the Spanish “Rinconada” means “cornered”or “little corner”.

Keep searching and Enjoy!

P. Robosa

5/26/08

Something interesting about the name "Baao".
A friend, who read this blog, told me something interesting about the name Baao. After consulting some of his Chinese friends, he found that the term "Bao" pronounced "baw" in Chinese means variosly as "to stand out, to bulge or to protrude". While the term "Baao" pronounced "ba-aw" in chinese means "to be abundant, to be filled, plentiful or not lacking". My friend, with equal enthusiasm, easily convinced me that this could be another likely origin of the name of our place, as in the Bicol region, particularly in Baao's Mawacag site a rich cache of chinese porcelain was found by pot hunters, one of only a handful of sites in Camarines Sur. This would suggest an ancient and lively interaction with the Chinese. Could the chinese, during their constant visits, marked the name from their own tongue to describe a place that could have been rich and abundant in resources as a lakeshore habitat could have been before the Spanish arrived.

5/25/08

Baaoenos Bravos


A reader was surprised to hear about some of the revelations here of Baao history particularly of our resistance to the entry of foreigners to our region, against the Spanish (according to Gaspar de San Agustin), our vigilance against the Moros, the Americans ( in the Battle of Agdangan), and of recent history, our defiance of the Japanese ( which I will have a chance later to publish some of my writings on the topic here). These all seemed to the reader all too out of character for the Baaoeños. I would have shared the same disbelief if I am as uninformed as I was two decades ago. I grew up thinking that we were a people too far removed from written Philippine history except for the connections formed by the little quaint stories about the past I lovingly coaxed from my elders. The image of our local hero, Bishop Barlin, contributed to the idea of the Baaoeño character as God-fearing, law-abiding, and loyal--docile even. Although this may be true, it is only one side of our character, Barlin, for his part, was some sort of a revolutionary, the Spanish both feared and loved him, the Americans tried to use him but he ultimately went against them and he sided with the then unpopular stand of defending the rights of the Catholic Church against the Philippine Independent Church. which the revolution canonized as the badge of nationalism. In him, I see another side the Baaoeño, they are trailblazers, adventurous and intrepid, or if not, in the words of the priest-historian Fr. Jose Castaño who stayed in Baao for ten years, “a people possessing an impetuous character”. I sympathize with the reader who as I am only beginning to see a glimpse of the Baaoeño character through the struggles of our people throughout history, and I assure our readers that the Baaoeños posses a collective character that is more astounding and inspiring than what we had ever known of them.

5/11/08

Timeline of Baao History
Paulix B. Robosa from “Baao Vignettes”


The following is a reconstruction of the history of Baao based on various existing sources and documents found locally and elsewhere. The earliest year the village was referred to was in Fray Gaspar de San Agustin’s 1698 Conquistas de las Islas Filipinas, lo temporal por las armas del Señor Don Fhelipe segundo el prudente y la espiritual por los religiosos del orden de nuestro padre San Agustin. On page 355, Libro 2, the villages of Baao, Bula and Naga put up a protracted resistance to the entry of Spanish colonizers upon their arrival in 1576. This suggests that even before 1590, Baao was organized
enough to mount resistance against foreign invaders.

1590 – Fr. Peter Baptist, Father Custodian of the Franciscans in the Philippines journeys to the Bicol region and founds several villages with the encomienda Bao among them.
1591 – Baao is first mentioned in an official document as the village of Bao in the census of 1591. The census describes Bao as an encomienda of the heir of the Spaniard Sebastian Perez and is a visita or visited by a friar from Nabua. Baao population - seven hundred four.
1597 – Fr. Peter Baptist is martyred in Japan and will eventually be canonized as St. Peter Baptist making Baao distinct as one of the few towns in the Philippines founded by this martyr-saint.
1611- A strong typhoon is recorded
1656- Baao is again mentioned in an official document in the tablas capitulares or acts of corporation of the Franciscans as a visita of Bula and continued to be mentioned as such until 1793.
1678- Official government taxation in the region begins
1679- First mention of a priest administering to the town by the name of Fr. Alfonso Caparros from the “Catalogo geographico… (1877) of Rev. Fr. Eusebio Gomez Platero
1684 - Construction of a church made of wood on the site where the town transferred from Layoan. The site was located at a place where rivers Langday and Bay once flowed together and met. The former chapel in Layoan was made of nipa and bamboo.
1691- Strong typhoon.
1693 – Gomez Platero mentions another priest who administers to the town at this year, Fr. Matias Guadalupe
1696- A cholera epidemic and a strong typhoon are recorded.
1698- Strong typhoon
1700 – Locusts devastate the region.
1702 – A strong earthquake is recorded for two days and two nights.
1705 – A cholera epidemic is recorded and news of a Moro invasion
1706 – Church destroyed by a strong typhoon
1709 – Cholera epidemic
1711- Strong earthquake
1713 – Epidemic of unknown cause
1714 – Strong typhoon for two days and two nights.
1716 – Don Gonzalo Gumabao becomes the first recorded Teniente del Visita of Baao and serves up to 1718.
1719 - Don Cipriano de Torres becomes Teniente del Visita and serves up to 1721. He also serves again in 1723, 1729 and in 1741.
1720 – A new church was built of stronger materials until the town moved to its present site.
1722 – Don Luis Martines becomes Teniente del Visita.
1724 – Don Mariano de Nieves is Teniente del Visita and an epidemic ensues.
1725 – Don Luis Martines becomes Teniente del Visita again and serves up to 1727.
1728 – Don Eustaquio Mariano is Teniente del Visita and a strong earthquake is recorded.
1729 – Don Cipriano de Torres is Teniente del Visita and a cholera epidemic breaks out on this year.
1730 – The position of Teniente Segundo is instituted.
1731 – The village under Don Justino Eusebio moves to its present site and a church of stone began to be constructed.
1732- Don Josep de los Reyes is Teniente del Visita and serves as such in1737,1738,1742, 1747 to 1751,1758 and again in 1774. Altogether he served a total of ten years as Teniente of Baao.
1733 – Don Luis Martines is Teniente del Visita and serves up to 1736.
1739 - Don Philip Dimaague (Dimalacao?) is Teniente del Visita and a strong earthquake is recorded. Don Philip Dimalacao serves again in 1761 and 1769.
1740 – Don Diego Tomas de Aquino becomes Teniente del Visita and an epidemic ensues.
1743- Don Bernardo de la Trinidad is Teniente del Visita and serves up to 1745 and again in 1766.
1746 – Don Alonso del Espiritu Santo becomes Teniente del Visita and news of Moro invasion arrives this year.
1747- Don Josep de los Reyes is Teniente del Visita and serves up to 1751 when a Cholera epidemic ensues.
1752- Don Melchor Angel is Teniente del Visita and crops are destroyed by swarms of locusts this year.
1753- Don Lazaro Quilbano is Teniente del Visita and Bula, the village to which Baao is connected as a visita becomes independent of Nabua to which it was also connected as a visita.
1754 – Don Pablo Ramos is Alcalde de Naturales and serves as such again in 1756, 1759,1762 and in 1767. This year the region experiences a rice shortage.
1755 – Don Jose Tomeo is Alcalde de Naturales and serves as such in 1757, 1760.
1756 – Don Pablo Ramos is Alcalde de Naturales and locust swarm devastates crops.
1757 – Don Jose Tomeo is Alcalde de Naturales and a Moro raid reaches Nabua.
1758 – Don Josep de los Reyes is Alcalde de Naturales and Cholera reaches the town along with news of a Moro invasion.
1763 – Don Fernando del Sacramento is Alcalde de Naturales and a death of a member of the Baaoeño Principalia is recorded in an incident in Nabua.
1764 – Don Florentino Atigo is Alcalde de Naturales.
1765 - Don Ventura Guillermo is Alcalde de Naturales and will serve again in 1770 and 1781. The province is devastated by plague.
1771 – Don Alfonso Caceres is Alcalde de Naturales and will serve again in 1791. This year Baao is mentioned in church records as independent of Bula in ecclesiastical matters with a certain Fr. Jose Jesus de Maria as curate.
1772 – Gomez Platero mentions a curate or parish priest for the town in the name of Fr. Jose Jesus de Maria.
1773 – Don Florentino Simon is Alcalde de Naturales. Trouble ensues with neighboring town of Nabua regarding the capture of a group of Nabua fishermen by the Baaoenos, Commissioners are sent from Naga to keep the peace.
1775 – Don Alejo de los Reyes is Alcalde de Naturales. He will serve again in 1780, 1783, 1789, 1793 and in 1798.
1777 – Don Manuel Alejo is Alcalde de Naturales.
1778 – Don Francisco Elomena is Alcalde de Naturales. Locust swarm devastates crops.
1779 – Don Ventura Antang is Alcalde de Naturales and will serve again in 1784. Plague is reported.
1781 – Strong Typhoon
1782 – The title of Alcalde de Naturales for the town chief is replaced by Gobernadorcillo to end the problem of mistaking it for Alcalde Mayor which was the title of the Provincial Governor. Don Pedro de San Juan is the first Baaoeño Gobernadorcillo.
1783 – Plague is reported
1785 – Don Francisco Mattheo is Gobernadorcillo and will serve again in 1788 and in 1792.
1786 – Don Pascual Uriel is Gobernadorcillo.
1787 – Don Felipe Lumaad is Gobernadorcillo. Strong typhoon reported.
1790 – Don Fernando Benjamin is Gobernadorcillo. Baao population 1,770 families
1792 - Don Francisco Mateo is Gobernadorcillo. Baao population: 1,939 families.
1793 – First Parish priest of Baao in church records appears by the name of Fr. Domingo de Palencia. Baao becomes independent of Bula as a “visita”, It can be presumed that Baao at this point becomes a “Pueblo Civil” or township. Baao population: 1,947 families
1794 – Don Juan Dimacatin is Gobernadorcillo.
1795 – Don Calixto Lopez is Gobernadorcillo. Recruitment of young men for the army is recorded this year.
1796 – Don Gil Benjamin is Gobernadorcillo. Locust swarm and plague are reported.
1797 – Don Pedro de San Juan is Gobernadorcillo and Rev. Fr. Jose Fuensalida is Parish priest.
1799 – Don Manuel de San Esteban is Gobernadorcillo and Rev. Fr. Pedro Antonio de Santisima Trinidad is Parish priest.
1800 – Don Alfonso Caceres is Gobernadorcillo. Strong typhoon and plague reported.
1801 – Don Antonio de San Jose is Gobernadorcillo and Fr. Jose Diaz del Rosario becomes Parish priest and serves for 21 years, one of the longest terms as Parish priest of the town.
1802 – Don Vicente Marcelo is Gobernadorcillo.
1803 – Don Roque Raymundo is Gobernadorcillo.
1804 – Don Francisco Alfonso is Gobernadorcillo.
1805 – Don Teodosio de Sta. Ana Bagaporo is Gobernadorcillo and government recruits young men to be sent to Manila.
1806 – Don Policarpio de Sto. Domingo is Gobernadorcillo. This year 28 Baaoeños are recorded captured by people from Nabua allegedly for rustling carabaos.
1807 – Don Blas Candelaria is Gobernadorcillo.
1808 – Don Temoteo de San Jose is Gobernadorcillo. In September of this year a boundary dispute erupts between the people form Baao and people from Nabua. Scores on both sides are recorded killed in the incident including members of the Principalia. Names of two Mesia brothers emerge as heroes. The incident reaches the provincial government and was unresolved for years to come.
1809 – Don Pedro de San Juan is Gobernadorcillo.
1810 – Don Juan de San Pascual is Gobernadorcillo.
1811 – Don Geronimo de Leon is Gobernadorcillo. In June a strong typhoon is recorded and in October a strong earthquake is recorded ruining the bell tower of the church which remained unrepaired until the 1850’s.
1812 – Don Inocencio de Los Reyes is Gobernadorcillo and serves up to 1813.
1814 – Don Anselmo de Sta. Rosa is Gobernadorcillo and debris from the eruption of Mayon Volcano reaches the town.
1815 – Don Vivencio Ignacio is Gobernadorcillo.
1816 – Don Mario Evangelista is Gobernadorcillo.
1817 – Don Juan Magtarayo is Gobernadorcillo.
1818 – Don Inocencio de San Simon is Gobernadorcillo.
1819 – Don Mariano Lucas is Gobernadorcillo.
1820 – Don Antonio de San Bruno is Gobernadorcillo.
1821 – Don Mariano Imperial is Gobernadorcillo and a cholera epidemic reaches the town.
1822 – Don Vicente Ambrosio and Don Francisco Jacinto becomes the town leaders with the title of Alcaldes and Fr. Lazaro de la Cruz becomes an interim Parish priest for 11 years. An order from the colonial government arrives in June ordering the election of two alcaldes in two voting.
1823 – Don Pedro Arroyo and Don Antonio Soriano becomes alcaldes.
1824 – Don Mariano Lucas and Don Gil G. Gumabao becomes alcaldes.
1825 – Don Francisco Tiburcio becomes alcalde.
1826 – Don Anselmo de Sta. Rosa becomes alcalde.
1827 – Don Juan Totanes becomes alcalde.
1828 – Don Ambrosio Bagaporo becomes alcalde.
1829 – Don Mariano Doroteo becomes alcalde.
1830 – Don Rafael Imperial becomes alcalde
1831 – Don Antonio Soriano becomes alcalde and plague is recorded.
1832 – Don Manuel de San Antonio becomes alcalde.
1833 – Don Gil G. Gumabao becomes alcalde and Fr. Tomas Franco becomes interim Parish priest.
1834 – Don Guillermo Bernardito becomes alcalde and young men are taken from the town to serve as sailors to guard against moro attacks. Fr. Thomas Antonio Guadalajara becomes interim Parish priest.
1835 – Don Geronimo de la Fortuna becomes alcalde. Recruitment of young men to fight against the moros continue. Fr. Tomas Manso becomes interim Parish priest.
1836 – Don Francisco Gumabao becomes alcalde. Fr. Antonio Estevez becomes interim Parish priest.
1837 – Don Claudio de San Luis becomes alcalde. Fr. Francisco de Madrid becomes Parish priest.
1838 – Don Rafael de los Angeles becomes alcalde.
1839 – Don Juan de Sta. Ana becomes alcalde.
1840 – Don Raymundo de los Santos becomes alcalde.Typhoon is recorded.
1841 – Don Juan Agustin Esplana becomes alcalde.
1842 – Don Pascual Soriano becomes alcalde.Recruitment of young men continue.Fr. Francisco Roque become Parish priest.
1843 – Don Alejo de Sto. Domingo becomes alcalde.
1844 – Don Domingo de San Miguel becomes alcalde. A strong typhoon is recorded. Fr. Juan Ramos becomes interim Parish priest and replaced by Fr. Andres Barrachina.
1845 – Don Domingo Nunez becomes alcalde. Governor General Narciso Claveria visits Bicol.
1846 – Don Gregorio de Sto. Tomas becomes alcalde.
1847 – Don Juan de San Pedro becomes alcalde.Fr. Francisco Cabrera becomes Parish priest
1848 – Don Antonio Fermin becomes alcalde. Parochial convent is rebuilt under Fr. Cabrera.
1849 – Don Maximo Guevara becomes alcalde and serves up to 1850. The Decree of Narciso Claveria is inforced in Baao and Baaoenos begin to change their names into names beginning with the letter B.
1850 – Jorge Imperial Barlin, the future first Filipino Catholic Bishop is born in Baao to Mateo Alfonso Barlin and Francisca Imperial. Parish church is repaired and repainted under Fr. Cabrera.
1851 / 1852 – Don Lucas Placido Sanchez becomes Alcalde
1853 – Don Fulgencio Bona Purificacion becomes Alcalde and a Tribunal of stone is erected in the town.
1854 – Don Francisco Felices Imperial becomes Alcalde.
1855 – Don Mateo Alfonso Barlin, father of Mons. Jorge I. Barlin becomes Alcalde.
1856 – Don Antonio Babeda Ignacio becomes Alcalde. A typhoon is recorded in the month of October. Fr. Andres Barachina become Parish Priest.
1857 – Don Juan Bolivar Reyes becomes Alcalde. A typoon is recorded in the month of November.
1858 – Don Francisco Fajardo becomes Alcalde.
1859 – Don Damiano Sanchez becomes Alcalde.
1860 – Don Juan Badilla becomes Alcalde.
1861 – Don Francisco Barrameda becomes Alcalde.Fr. Severino Pastoral becomes interim Parish Priest.
1862 – Don Tomas Guevarra becomes Alcalde. Fr. Romualdo de Madrilejos becomes interim parish priest for seven months and Fr. Prudencio de los Santos for two months until the appointment of Fr. Jacinto Franco who will serve for seven years.
1863 – Don Juan Arroyo becomes Alcalde. Order comes from the government increasing the duration of the term of the Alcalde to two years.
1864 / 1865 – Don Jacob Imperial becomes Alcalde. Earthquake is recorded.
1866 / 1867 – Don Santiago Mesia becomes Alcalde.
1868 / 1869 – Don Juan Gumabao becomes Alcalde. Fr. Ignacio Garcia serves as interim parish priest for six months until the arrival of Fr. Jesus Gonzalez who will serve for three years.
1870 / 1871 – Don Juan Baliuag becomes Alcalde.
1872 / 1873 – Don Mariano Barrameda becomes Alcalde. Fr. Isidro Pons becomes parish priest.
1874 / 1875 – Don Bartolome Ballesteros becomes Alcalde.
1876 / 1877 – Don Liberato Bigay becomes Alcalde and a flood inundates the town. Fr. Pablo Gomez become parish priest. Fr. Eusebio Gomez Platero, famous Franciscan historian serves as interim parish priest.
1878 / 1879 – Don Marcelino Barrameda becomes Alcalde and transportation from the town to Naga improves with the completion of the Pawili Bridge. Fr. Vicente Rojo becomes parish priest.
1880 / 1881 – Don Fulgencio Sanchez becomes Alcalde.
1882 / 1883 – Don Juan Bernas becomes Alcalde and a cholera epidemic breaks out. Fr. Carlos Cabido becomes parish priest.
1884 / 1885 – Don Nicolas Beltran becomes Alcalde. Fr. Mariano Herrejon becomes parish priest until replaced by Fr. Mateo Atienza interim for five months and then Fr. Juan Ravalo serves a month as priest in-charge until the appointment of another famous Franciscan historian, Fr. Jose Castaño who will serve for ten years in the town.
1886 / 1887 – Don Eulalio de Austria becomes Alcalde.
1888 / 1889 – Don Genaro Bañaga becomes Alcalde and a cholera epidemic is recorded this year. In September, a corporal of the Civil Guard reported to his Alferez Comandante in Iriga that printed materials subversive in nature was being circulated in the town. Members of Baao Principalia; Don Nicolas Beltran, Don Eulalio de Austria and Don Damian Sanchez were implicated with the distribution of Tagalog translations of the writings of the propaganda movement.
1890 – Don Ignacio Arroyo becomes Alcalde for a year.
1891 / 1892 – Don Pedro Badong becomes Alcalde. Fr. Joaquin Manteca becomes parish priest.
1893 / 1894 – Don Mariano Bañaga becomes Alcalde.
Maura Law Effective 1895 Gobernadorcillo changed to Capitan Municipal
1895 / 1897 – Don Juan Guevara serves as Alcalde for three years. In September of 1896, a reign of terror erupts and some of Baao’s principalia are arrested and imprisoned.
1898 / 1899 – After the declaration of Philippine Independence, Don Paulino Bernas is appointed by the Aguinaldo government to serve as Alcalde. Because of the succeeding war with the Americans, Baao became camp ground to passing Filipino troops with Spanish prisoners heading for Albay
1900 – On February 25, this year, the battle of Agdangan is fought by the Bicolanos including Baaoeño soldiers and officers against three companies of invading American soldiers, because of this the town was almost deserted until peace was restored. The Americans appoint Don Fulgencio Sanchez Alcalde and Don Eugenio Dato Teniente alcalde from April 1900 to June of 1901.1901 – In June 1901 the first elections under the American government was held for the positions of Alcalde and Teniente alcalde.

5/5/08

Apostles of Baao


During the Holy Week services in Baao, especially during the Holy Thursday liturgy reenacting the "Washing of the Apostles' Feet", the roles of the twelve apostles are played by several reputable men of Baao who are traditionally chosen for their good moral character, if not for their closeness to the Parish Priest. Unless one resigns or is incapacitated, the 'office' of an apostle is held for life.

Click for more pictures: Group: 1, 2, 3, 4. Individuals: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11.

3/13/08

Sifting Through Perceptions: A Fresh Look
at Baao's Beginnings
An excerpt from "Baao Vignettes"
by P.B.Robosa

Authors’s note: So that a new Municipal official seal could be submitted to the National Government, it became a matter for the local government to establish and clarify once and for all the town’s foundation date .I was one of those invited to provide some explanation to the question and in the process finally appreciated the extent or lack thereof of our knowledge of our past. In looking at our past, we are provided an opportunity to appraise our origins and along the way look into ourselves. Having done so, we can understand our actions and reactions to the changes and struggles we continue to face.

In the early months of 1889, Lt. Jose Taviel de Andrade of the Civil Guards went on inspection tour of the towns of Southern Luzon. A talented artist, his inspections produced illustrations of the towns he visited and one among these was that of the town center of 19th century Baao. His illustrations from Baao bore three vignettes; a squatting man with a child, a bell tower and a scene of the town “poblacion” showing a cross at the center of a group of palisaded houses.
A modern commentary of this illustration presumes that the cross was intended to commemorate the town's still unverified founding by St. Peter Baptist in the twilight of the 16th century. Carefully read, the commentary echoes the opening passages on the work on the history of Baao by the Franciscan scholar Fr. Felix de Huertas who implies that the circumstances regarding the foundation of the town is unconfirmed. This statement has gained much acceptance with writers but is in direct contradiction to the Catholic Church’s pronouncement that the Franciscan saint did indeed found the town in 1590.
Although, to modern historians, the town’s foundation date marks only the start of the town’s recorded history, the 1590 foundation date is, nevertheless, significant as the formation of the town as a religious and political unit during the Spanish regime. Be that as it may, between Huertas and the Catholic Church, whom do we believe? Is their a way to verify which of these claims is correct?
Published in 1865 and widely available, Huertas’ Estado Geografico, Topografico, Estandistico, Historico-Religioso de la Provincia de San Gregorio Magno, has become a popular reference source for the historical records of Philippine towns. Aside from being based on the Franciscan records Huertas had available to him, his concise chronological presentation of his data makes his book a handy source especially for amateur historians.
Baao’s own Luis Dato in his attempt to provide clarification to the unrecorded origin of Baao readily quotes Huertas even as he pointed out that Huertas’ claims contradict data by that of another Franciscan author, Eusebio Gomez-Platero. While Huertas cites the tradition that Baao was founded in the time of Peter Baptist, he discards this information and puts forward a latter date that agrees with his records and his strict definition of a “foundation”. Because of Gomez-Platero’s biographies on Franciscan priests serving in Bicol towns, we are lead to doubt Huertas’ records when the village had priests administering to it years before the village Huertas’ claims became an independent religious unit. Thus later, Dato unable to be sure of Huertas’ and Gomez- Platero’s claims left the question of the town's origins to “the assiduity of future local historians.”
Up until recently, except for the Catholic Church's uncompromising statement on the foundation of Baao as recorded in their directory, there was no authoritative source available to be found of the “foundation” of the town. In Dato’s time, this lack of definitive source led him to write in resignation that Baao’s origins “are shrouded in myths and legends”. Although his statement holds true when we speak of pre-Hispanic Baao, other documents that have come to light today if that if we are to speak of the formation of the town at the time of Spanish conquest, this statement quite mistaken and needs correction.
What are then the available data, at present, of the origins of the town? Except for Huertas’ difficulty in agreeing with the established assertion of the Church, there is really no significant opposition to the 1590 date. The problems Huertas encounter are due to two reasons: First, although the tradition of St. Peter Baptist's founding Baao is firmly established by his sources, the documents to which he decides to give credence rather than tradition, mentions Baao only in 1656, sixty-six years later than the traditional date of 1590. Second, he is honest about his uncertainty of the meaning of the term “foundation” as to whether this happened during the conversion of the people or, during the time the town formed its own civil or religious unit.
Because of existing documents that were once unavailable to him, we may now be able to smooth out some of his difficulties. Regarding documents mentioning Baao at the earliest time, Huertas’ sources are antedated by documents found in Blair and Robertson's The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898. The books reprints the original and translations of the documents "The Status of Encomiendas, 1591" and Bao or Baao was already mentioned as an encomienda with more 700 inhabitants a year after the 1590 traditional foundation. This invalidates by 66 years Huertas’ claim the town was first mentioned in documents.
Regarding Huertas’ qualification for the foundation of the town as to whether foundation was to mean during the conversion of the inhabitants or, by Baao’s formation into a separate religious and political unit, the following excerpt below appears to give us the answer:

King - His majesty has another encomienda also) Nabua by name, numbering one thousand and eighteen whole tributes, or four thousand and seventy-two persons. The villages of this encomienda are near together. They used to have four ministers, for they visit the two following encomiendas. There are in Nabua two Franciscan friars.
Bula: Dona Maria de Ron - The village of Bula belongs to Dña. Maria de Ron. It is four leagues from Nabua. It has two hundred and six whole tributes, or eight hundred and twenty four persons. It is visited from Nabua.
Bao: Minor son of Sebastian Perez - These fathers of Nabua visit also the encomienda of the minor son of the late Sebastian Perez, called Bao. It has one hundred and seventy tributes, or seven hundred and four persons. Like Nabua, the capital, it used to have four friars, but now has not more than two. These encomiendas are not well administered but five religious would be sufficient for it.
Buy: Sebastian Garcia - likewise these fathers of Nabua visited and instructed the encomienda of Buy, which belongs to Sebastian Garcia; but they can do so no longer. It is two leagues from Nabua, and can receive instruction from no other place. It has three hundred and twelve tributes, or one thousand two hundred and forty-eight persons, who will receive instruction, when Nabua the capital, has the said five ministers.
The document, aside from negating Huertas’ sources, also render somewhat erroneous the statement that Baao's "conversion" cannot be considered as a “foundation”. How can the conversion of the people and village of Bao qualify as the time of foundation of Baao? Using even Huertas’ own criteria, a convincing argument can be made to reconcile both events.
An “encomienda” in the beginning of the Spanish conquest of the Philippines is a royal charge to a person (in Baao’s case a Spaniard named Sebastian Perez) to collect tributes from the inhabitants of a village. In exchange, the “encomendero” must provide protection, justice and instruction to the faith while he and his heirs maintain the encomienda. Thus, if Baao was converted and was an encomienda in 1590, a rudimentary civil and religious unit was formed with the intent to provide order, justice, instruction including catechism and rites of the Catholic faith. This would sufficiently satisfy Huertas’ own definition of a “foundation”, the formation of a political and religious unit under the Spanish crown.
The above passages in addition, by supporting Baao's foundation in 1590, also overturn what we now know as misconceptions of Baao's origins. For instance, because of Dato’s use of parts of Huertas in his frequently reprinted “Brief History of Baao”, when he commences with Baao as a “visita” of Bula, Baaoeños in general assume that Baao was originally a part of Bula like a modern barrio connected to a “Bula poblacion”. If we follow this line of thinking but pushing back time 66 years before, Baao, Bula and Buhi, were originally once “Barrios” of Nabua.
The Spanish dictionary defines "visita" as a religious term referring to a village with a chapel where services where periodically performed by a visiting priest. The priest so assigned makes scheduled visits to the place because of the difficulty posed due to the lack of roads and conveyance between these inland villages. Unlike modern “Barrios” which are originally “Sitios” which are found within the boundaries of and later to be carved out from existing municipalities, Nabua, Bula, Bao, and Buy were all originally separate encomiendas with no clear boundaries and separated by great distances.
Politically, since there was no defined boundaries of the encomiendas or visita, being a visita would not mean affiliation or continuity with another, as do modern barrios to town centers but affiliated simply religiously, by being "visited" from one place due perhaps to proximity or convenience. Let us repeat this line from the Account of Encomiendas to clarify this arrangement:
“likewise these fathers of Nabua visited and instructed the encomienda of Buy, which belongs to Sebastian Garcia; but they can do so no longer. It is two leagues from Nabua, and can receive instruction from no other place.”
Thus, being an encomienda, Buhi like Baao, from the beginning was not part of any place but was an independent village on its own. Also from this example, it appears that the “visita” stage was simply part of a process that each village might undergo or might lose depending on the conditions and availability of clergy that would be able to administer to the village. Take the cases of Buhi and Bula; Buhi a decade earlier was administered from Nabua but in 1591 was not, Baao became independent of Nabua when it became a “visita” of Bula even if the latter was still also a visita of Nabua. It was not 100 years later that Bula became independent of Nabua.
But what is most remarkable when we study these passages is that it gives us a hint to what it was like during Baao's conversion. Note that while the other encomiendas in the list were being "visited" by friars from Nabua, Bao is mentioned, to have recently had its own friars. We know from records that Nabua,. Bula and Buhi were founded a decade or more earlier than Baao and should have reached a degree of stability at this time, Baao was reportedly not visited by friars but "used to have four but now has no more than two". What happened in Baao prior to 1591 that required the services of four friars and still required two a year later? Was the 1591 account simply reporting the aftermath of a mass conversion of the people of Baao in 1590?
It is likely that Baao as a separate civil or religious unit may have regressed or was neglected in the years following its conversion like Buhi in 1591 though converted 20 years before. These lapses may have accounted for the loss of records of the town in Huertas' sources. The 1591 document is a clear picture of the formation of Baao, a year after its conversion and a record of the establishment of Spanish government and religion. From that point, Baao entered the gates of recorded history and the Baaoeños ceased practicing their native culture and religion.
How true then is the tradition that Baao was founded by Saint Peter Baptist? Huertas mentions the tradition that “the town was founded in the time of our Holy Custodian Fr. Pedro Bautista" which covered the period in 1590 to 1591 when St. Peter Baptist was elected custodian of the Franciscan Missionaries in the Philippines. Beloved by the Franciscans, St. Peter Baptist is the subject of many stories and legends. But according the Saint’s biographers (Gomez-Platero's Catalogo Biografico and Sta. Inez's Cronicas) in 1590 he traveled to the Bicol region and founded several villages with Bao among them. He stayed in the region until 1591 when he returned to Manila to assume guardianship of the Manila convent. He finally sailed for Japan in 1593 as envoy to the court of Taicosama, dying there later in 1597 as a martyr.
None of his biographers though, specifically mentions details of him founding Baao and most were writing many years later after the supposed event. It is important to note though that all the same, his biographers agree to the dates regarding his travels particularly the years 1590 and 1591 when he was in Bicol. Accordingly, it would indeed be plausible that he passed by Baao or if he did not, caused his brother Franciscans to convert the Baaoeños in 1590. If these events are true as the Church believes and claims them to be, indeed St. Peter Baptist had a hand in the conversion of the Baaoeños and in so doing founded the present day Municipality of Baao which today accepts 1590 as its foundation year.
We might not know for sure if the Cross that was in the center of Baao in 1889 did indeed honor St. Peter Baptist, but he was much endeared to his brother Franciscans, it would be uncharacteristic for them to let the opportunity slip for creating another legend for a great man.