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.

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