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.