Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Spirituality of the Tinagba

(The beating of the patong or balalong, a hollowed wooden gong used as a communication tool during the pre-colonial days, today signals the start of the street parade of the Tinagba festival in Iriga. Image is from Feodor Jagor's Reisen en den Phiippinen.)

Spirituality lies beneath the etymology and practice of the Tinagba. In the early Seventies, the late Jose Calleja Reyes, a topnotch lawyer whose avocation is Bicol culture and history, first staged the Tinagba, as an expression of his own faith, his researches into the Bicol past and, as a tourism strategy for his nascent hotel business. Tinagba, whose root word is tagba, is defined by Lisboa in his 17th-century Bicol dictionary as "coger las primicias del arroz," or "to pick, gather or harvest the first fruit of rice." The tinagba is "las primicias,' the first stage of the maturation or ripening of the rice grain which we prepare as "pinipig." The practice of culling the first fruit is what gives the Tinagba its root and link to the ancient spirituality of the pre-colonial Bikols. For when our ancestors pick the first fruit, it was meant as an offering, of thanksgiving to the Almighty, the One whom they called "Gugurang" or the "Ancient One." The offering is made in a ritual called "atang" presided by a priestess called "baliana", who with the assistance of women chanting the "soraki", offer their harvest in an altar called "salangat" in a chapel-like structure called "gulang-gulangan." If we examine these elements, we can see why our ancestors were easily converted to Christianity by the Spaniards.

According to a note Reyes wrote about the tinagba, this spiritual aspect of the tradition was what moved him to revive this ancient practice in 1974 in Iriga where he was born. He had a personal devotion to the Virgin Mary in her manifestation as Our Lady of Lourdes; that is why, the Tinagba coincides with her feast on February 11. Understandably, the most prominent feature of his erstwhile Ibalon Hotel complex was the Grotto to Our Lady of Lourdes. In this aspect, Reyes is a pioneer in the "festival" trend which picked up in the 90's as many local government units and places all over the country put up their own respective festivals as a tourism come-on. Reyes' motive, however, was more deeply rooted in Bikol culture than touristic ends. He was an active member of the Bicol Heritage Foundation, whose members included the late Fr. James O'Brien, S.J., Leonor Dy-Liacco, and Luis General; and Dr. Ma. Lilia F. Realubit. This group was responsible for the revival of interest in the study of Bicol history and culture in the late 60's and early 70's, and to which the current renaissance in Bicol literature, art, music, history and even philosophy, can be traced. Reyes was also a pioneer in giving attention to the Agta, some of whom live in his family-owned Hacienda Gumarok at the foot of Mt. Iriga. He it was who made them participate in the first staging of the Tinagba, and to which they have since then continually involved themselves.

In the 90's, street dancing was introduced as an added element to the caravan of carts loaded with farmers' harvest. This was an obvious gay imitation of the practices of other festivals, notably ati-atihan in Negros and sinulog in Cebu, all meant for spectacle and tourism. Looking at this from the perspective of the beginning or root of the Tinagba, one can see this development as a further secularization of an otherwise spiritual celebration. This is a development that is inevitable, however, given the current kitschy trend in what my Sorsogon historian-friend, Toots Jamoralin, calls "peste-vals." Nevertheless, the introduction of these foreign elements is an uninformed departure from the original idea of Reyes for the tinagba, which was to be a celebration of the uniqueness of the native and numinous culture of the Bicolanos.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Iriga's Colonial Economy

A 1950 drawing of the agricultural-based activities in Iriga by local artist, Lars Racelis.

In 1820, Lt. John White of the U.S. Navy brought home to Salem in Massachusetts a sample of abaca rope from the Philippines. This began what would become the abaca boom in the Bicol region as shipyards in the U.S. finding the cordage from abaca far better and stronger than the hemp from South America, boosted the demand for the native fiber. From 1860 until the start of the 20th century, Bicol was the main producer of the fiber plant; and Iriga, was one of the major areas planting the crop. Abaca was the Spaniards' cash crop in Bicol as tobacco was to the Ilocos, coffee to Batangas and sugar cane to Negros which they promoted and propagated as answer to the end of the lucrative galleon trade. This was the main reason why the Americans came to Bicol and why the marching order for Gen. Kobbe was to ensure the continued production of abaca in the region.
Abaca brought prosperity to Iriga that in a report to the Philippine Commission in 1905, Governor Juan Pimentel of Ambos Camarines noted that "The condition of the districts of Daet and Lagonoy and of the pueblo of Iriga is one of relative comfort for the main reason that the principal product is hemp, of which 355,641 piculs were produced in the fiscal year, 5,483 hectares having been planted with this valuable textile plant." Abaca was the reason why in the middle of the 19th century, several foreign travelers have visited the pueblo and left records of their sojourn, and why some of them had eventually settled for good like the Basque Francisco Lamiel, Miguel Sarrato, and Ramon Feced (not the journalist Pablo Feced or Quiapquiap as erroneously claimed by Arejola biographer, Evelyn Caldera Soriano), or the Batangueno Abella family. Their landholdings at the foot of Mt. Iriga, however, were not as extensive as the sugar haciendas in the South as to leave traces of progress, like the colonial houses in Negros that were testimony to the sugar boom. Neither did these abaca planters utilized mechanized operations in the stripping of abaca as to make them competitive and responsive to this early local experience of globalization. Thus by the 1920's, with the decline in the demand for abaca in the world market and the competition posed by the Japanese abaca planters in Davao, Bicol became a picture of economic stagnation. The same picture, which, aggravated by the long-entrenched kind of Manila-centered, patron-based politics practiced by the region's leaders, would remain to this day. In the words of Norman Owen, the abaca trade brought "prosperity without progress" in the region.

The abaca era of Iriga is worth examining as this was an epoch that had so much ecological and social implications and lessons for the present. These include the displacement of the Agta with the acquisition by private owners of what otherwise would be considered today as ancestral domain; the eventual sociological effect of this displacement like crime and brigandage rampant in the mountain area; the degradation of the mountain environment through monocropping; which can explain the current flooding in the city; and the demographic movement and economic growth of Iriga at the turn of the century.

The same route of the abaca also happened to another agricultural product which contributed to the early economic growth of and made Iriga a favorite destination of pioneer settlers, the tang-id or ilang-ilang (cananga odorata, from the Javanese word, kananga). The production of perfume from the flower was noted early on in 1881 by the French traveler Alfred Marche in writing about the livelihood of the Agta he met at the rancho of Ramon Feced. By the end of the 19th century, Iriga was one of the biggest sources of the oil extracted from ilang-ilang, supplying perfume distillers based in Escolta like Stahl and Rumcker (which was eventually bought by the German owners of Botica Boie), and Legarda and Tuason. Both pharmaceutical firms won gold medals for their ilang-ilang perfume, which became a hit in Europe, during the St. Louis Exposition in 1904. According to a 1908 testing conducted by the Bureau of Science, the Iriga oil (from ilang-ilang) "approaches first-grade in quality." However, profligate agricultural practices where farmers just cut the whole trees in harvesting the flowers, the competition posed by other ilang-ilang oil producing countries like Madagascar, an exacting quality standard now demanded by international markets like Europe, a powerful typhoon which struck central Bicol in 1913 as recorded in Easton vs. Diaz & Company, (a case involving the sale of an alambique used for distilling ilang-ilang oil) which destroyed known ilang-ilang plantations in the region; and a raw material supply-side kind of economic activity that did not venture or convert into modern distillation processes; eventually spelled the demise of the high-value agriculture-based product.

Indeed, the land and its cultivation, that is agriculture, was the early economic source for Iriga. Mt. Iriga, with its abaca and ilang-ilang plantations also yield considerable volumes of bejuco or rattan which the natives made into furniture. Unfortunately, the kind of rattan which grew in the area did not come to par with the standard of the export market. As a 1906 report said: "At Iriga and Pamplona rattan beds and chairs are manufactured imitating those of the same kind imported from Hongkong, and though they are a fair imitation the quality of rattan is not as good as that from which the Hongkong articles are made. Horse raising was another land-based economic activity. As recorded in a 1904 report of the Governor General of the Philippine Islands, "At one time this locality was famous for its ponies." Rinderpest, a deadly epidemic which hit the cattle industry in the region also wiped out stocks of horse-raisers, affecting the local economy in general.

By the first decade of the 20th century, however, the agriculture-based economy of Iriga would shift to a service-oriented activity with the start here in 1914 of the operations of ALATCO, the country's first organized bus transportation company, established by a former U.S. Quartermaster Corp veteran, Albert Louis Ammen. World War II, thereafter would greatly affect its operations, that by 1954 its ownership passed hands to the Tuasons, who in turn would sell their interests in the company to a corporation which also changed the name of the bus company to Philtranco. After 1946, the challenge of responding to the demand for higher education among the young, and rebuilding from the destruction wrought by the war, ushered in the establishment of local colleges in Iriga like the present University of Saint Anthony, University of Northeastern Philippines and La Consolacion Academy. In summary therefore, before the schools, agriculture as exemplified by abaca and ilang-ilang, and transportation service, as represented by ALATCO were the two main reasons for the relative economic growth of Iriga. After the war and after the establishment of local colleges, there is no new or other novel reason offered by Iriga to attract people to come and settle in the city, the way the abaca and ALATCO did in their times. This is the contemporary challenge of the city.

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Iriga Historical Timeline

5 million years ago during the Pleistocene, the present Philippine archipelagic formation took shape after million years of tectonic processes like subduction, continental collision and strike-slip faulting, where the Bicol volcanic arc that includes Mt. Iriga is an example.

10,000 years ago or around 8,00 B.C. Mt. Iriga erupted, that is during the Holocene or last ice age.

5,000 years ago, the "Ibalon," a 240-line "fragment of a certain manuscript in verse,"recorded by Fr. Jose Castano in his account of the origin, superstitions and beliefs of the ancient Bicols, and published in Wenceslao E. Retana's Archivo de Bibliofilo Filipino, mentions the tribes of Panicuason and Asog, thus showing the existence of a pre-Spanish community in what is now Iriga. Asog, which eventually referred to the mountain, is a pre-Spanish kind of transgender priest who presides in the cult to Asuang centered in what is now Mt. Iriga. The word Iriga must have originally came from Yrago, the other name of the daughter of Asuang, Oryol, an animist shape-shifting snake goddess called naga or naguini by the Sundaland natives, that is, Borneo, from where the original inhabitants of Iriga, Nabua and the present Naga came from.

1578 Nabua was formed as a pueblo from five rancherias or villages, namely Lupa, Caobnan ruled by Bonayog, Bua, ruled by Tongdo, Binoyoan and Sabang ruled by Magpaano and Caayao respectively. Huertas mentioned that Panga, the ruler of the rancheria in Lupa came from Borneo. He said that Iriga came from Iraga, which means "poseedores de mucho terreno," or possessors or owners of much terrain, that is, land. He did not mention about villagers being enjoined to relocate to Iriga because of the flooding in Nabua; hence, this long-accepted account of the origin of the name of the town does not have a historical basis at all.

1583 Iriga was established as a doctrina, an ecclesiastical term synonymous with the word "convent." As a doctrina, residents received regular religious indoctrination from the pioneering Franciscan missionaries, Fray Pablo de Jesus and Fray Bartolome Ruiz, as initial strategies for conversion.

1610 Death in a Manila Franciscan convent of Fray Pablo de Jesus, who along with Fray Bartolome Ruiz are credited for the conversion to Christianity of much of the population of the Bicol region, including Iriga.

1637 Fr. Andres del Sacramento was assigned in Iriga, and later in December, in Buhi. He died in Manila in 1644.

1649 Fr. Juan Bautista Marza was assigned in Iriga after his stint as administrator in Bacon and Nabua. Thereafter, he was re-assigned in Nabua, Tabaco, Camalig and Polangui in 1666. He died in Cavite in 1677.

1679 (December) Fr. Francisco de San Juan Evangelista, who came to the Philippines in 1674, was assigned in Iriga, after his return to Manila from Siam. He had also been previously assigned in Libmanan and Nabua.

1683 Iriga became a separate pueblo.

1710 Don Bonifacio de los Angeles organized the first four barrios of the pueblo, namely: San Agustin, San Isidro, San Nicolas Tolentino and San Antonio Abad

1727 A new church made of bricks was built by Fr. Diego de la Cruz.

1763 Treasures amounting to 1.304.147 pesos in silver and other goods on board the patache Filipino from Acapulco Mexico were unloaded in Palapat in Samar near the coast of Albay on orders of Simeon Anda to save them from falling into the hands of the British who had invaded Manila and had demanded the payment of the deficiency in the P4-million ransom from the cargo of the patache. From Palapat, the cargo were transported to Polangui then to Iriga where the party rested at the Franciscan convent. From Iriga, the cargoes were transported along the Bicol river in Nabua, then Bula, Minalabac, Milaor, Nueva Caceres and to Cabusao along the San Miguel Bay where it was taken to Mauban passing Lamon Bay in the Province of Tayabas, until it was eventually hauled to Nueva Ecija and presented to Sr. Anda.

1823 San Roque, San Francisco de Asis, San Juan Bautista, Sto. Domingo de Guzman, San Miguel Arcangel, Sto. Nino, Santiago de Galicia became new barrios.

1828 (September 18) Fr. Manuel Royo died in the convent of Iriga at the age of 69 and after 51 years as a Franciscan priest. He came to the Philippines in 1787 and had served the mission in Lupi, as parish priest of Ligao, secretary and commissary of the Camarines province, and as a minister in Naga.

Rafael Diaz Aranas in his Memorias Historicas y Estadisticas de Filipinas called the cimmarones as those inhabiting Mt. Isarog and as Negritos those in Iriga, Buhi and the mountains of Caramoan. He also placed the number of "infieles reducidos" to a total of 500.

1838 (December 18-19) A typhoon struck Camarines and Albay.

1841 Fr. Tomas de Alfafara built a new church after a fire gutted it.

1845 French Seismologist Alexis Perrey noted the "conical mountain of Yriga...including a dozen small cones, between the villages of Yriga and Buhi, south and southeast of Lake Buhi."

1846 A famine swept the Bicol region during the administration of Don Juan Lomaad.

1857 A cholera epidemic broke out in the Camarines province.

1859 Feodor Jagor came to Iriga and wrote: "I found the highest points of the Yriga to be 1,212 meters, 1,120 meters above the surface of the Buhi Lake." He also expressed doubt as to the veracity of the report made in Huerta's Estado Geografico of the supposed eruption of Mt. Iriga. "It is not improbable that the eruptions of 1641 when a mountain fell in Northern Luzon and a lake took its place, has been transfered on the Iriga," he wrote in Reisen en den Phiilppinen.

1861 A fruit bat discovered in Iriga was listed as Cynopterus Luzoniensis and is commonly known as Peters' Fruit Bat. Some authors however, include the fruit bat under brachyotis.

1865 Iriga's population was recorded at 8,909 by Fray Felix Huertas in his Estado Geografico.

1870 (March 11) Birth of Eulogio Mirando, Municipal Mayor 1923-28.
(August 3) Birth of Felipe Monponbanua, Iriga's first municipal presidente.

1871 A smallpox epidemic and locusts invaded crops in Iriga during the time of Don Lucas Caayao.
(June, September 29) Typhoons hit Camarines.

1875 An earthquake "muy fuerrte" or very strong shook Iriga between the East, Northeast up to the Southeast part of the town, lasting about 50 seconds. The tremor recurred seconds later but on a lesser intensity and duration. In the neighboring town of Buhi, the wall of the church suffered cracks, according to a seismological report of Padre Miguel Sadera Maso published in 1895.

1876 Agustin de la Cavada reported seeing "nueve piramides," which were apparently the shape of the chapels which bear the images of "S. Juan Bautista, S. Francisco de Asis, S. Roque, S. Domingo de Guzman, S. Miguel, S. Agustin, S. Isidro, S. Nicolas Tolentino y S. Antonio." He also noted the presence in Iriga and Libmanan, of a church, parish, school, municipal hall and factories.

1877 The Annuario Filipino issued in this year cited Ramon Feced and Joaquin Llorens as residents of the town dedicated to agriculture and commerce. It listed the population of the town at 10,445.

1880. Bureau of Forestry Inspector General Sebastian Vidal y Soler climbed Mt. Iriga to gather local species of flora.

1881 * Fr. Manuel Crespo in his Memoria Sobre La Reduccion de Monteses del Isarog en Camarines Sur mentioned the two reducido villages of Novelda and Feced in Iriga, the early model of hamletting that the Americans later used in its war in the Philippines and Vietnam.

* (February 18) Alfred Marche, a French traveller and explorer who visited the hacienda of Ramon Feced, noted that the local Negroes in Mt. Iriga, apart from planting abaca, extract oil from ilang-ilang trees which grow abundantly in the mountain. "Ylang-ylang is an expensive perfume well-known in elegant society; in Paris it currently costs five hundred francs a kilogramme, and at one time it costs twice this amount. The flower which provides the essence grows in a very tall tree only found at altitudes of five or six hundred metres."

1887 * Jose Rizal's bodyguard, Jose Taviel de Andrade, visited Iriga and drew the village of "Novelda,'' showing a row of houses and a group of natives about to dance to the accompaniment of local musicians.

* (May 23) Birth of Santiago Ibarrientos Gonzales,who served as Municipal Mayor from 1929 to 1937. He began the construction of what is now the local Rizal Park and monument, the Cuyasao Bridge in Sto. Nino and donated the land in what is now the Santiago Elementary School, which used to be the site of the Spanish-time village of reducido natives called Novelda.

* Population of the town was 15,229.

1890 Pedro Paterno in his Los Itas, published in Madrid in this year, noted that the Negritos in Tarlac and Iriga cultivates rice, corn, abaca and the flowers of ilang-ilang; that they look up to the sky to synchronize their planting, their labor and their travels according to the movements of the stars.

1891 P. Marcellino da Civezza Prato in Storia Delle Missioni Francescane, recorded the population of the town at 10,732.

1892 The Iriga church tower was built with wood and iron.

1898 *(October 21) Dean C. Worcester wrote of the election for municipal officials held on this day in Iriga under the supervision of the military commander of Camarines who announced the victory of his friend who was a candidate for the position. The voting was oral and the military official did not say how many votes his friend garnered.

* The Military Notes on the Philippines recorded the town's population at 17,094, the second highest in the province following the neighboring Nabua town with 17,789.

1899 (September 19) Genaro Saavedra was born to Fabian Saavedra and Benita Sarza.

1900 * (February 25) Some Filipino troops headed by Col. Elias Angeles and Col. Ludovico Arejola, retreated to Iriga and Buhi after advancing American forces belonging to Co. K of the 45th U.S. Volunteer Regiment defeated them in their trenches in Agdangan, Baao.

* (May 5) 24 Spanish friars and 25 Spanish prisoners were abandoned at the Iriga Franciscan convent by Filipino revolutionaries, mostly Tagalog natives, headed by a certain Col. Pena, who made them march from Daet. Pena, apparently heeding the advise of the Spanish friars to proceed to Buhi and blow-up the bridge at Santiago so the Americans cannot get them. Among those who met the troopers of the 45th Infantry upon their arrival in Iriga were the local Chinese population.

*(October 19) A gruesome massacre was committed by Jose Avila and Paulino Casio, who with 25 other companions, "boloed to death five natives, including a child 3 years of age and young girl 11; cut and wounded, and tortured three women, one small girl and one man, with intent to kill them" in a ranch called Quisquisan, now Tubigan in Sta. Maria. For this, Brigadier General Thomas H. Barry, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Volunteers sentenced the pair to die by hanging in Nueva Caceres on July 26, 1901.

* (December 14) Col. James Parker commanding officer of the 45th Infantry was assigned as military administrator of Iriga. He introduced the installation of sanitary toilets, assigned his men to teach in the public schools in the town, summoned the residents to paint their houses in time for the visit of Gen. James M. Bell, constructed the road from Bato to Polangui; and enjoyed with local belles in the bailes he loved so much.

1901 * (June 29) Lt. Col.Chance M. of the 26th Inf. became the military administrator of Iriga.

* Santiago Guevarra is elected presidente municipal and served until 1903. Guevarra led local officials during the 1901 consultation with the Philippine Commission in Nueva Caceres. William B. Freer, who would later become the superintendent of public schools in Camarines, credited him for having established public schools in six barrios of Iriga, the first one to have done so in the province. In 1907, he was appointed as a member of the provincial board of tax appeals.

* (August 5) Felipe Monponbanua was appointed by Civil Govenor William H. Taft as Justice of the Peace of Iriga with Gil Nagrampa as his Auxiliary.

* (September 1) Anna K. Donaldson, a Thomasite, was assigned initially in Naga and later in Iriga as teacher.

* ( Dec. 31) Iriga was organized as a municipal government under the American regime.

* Horace Shelton was appointed as Supervising Teacher of Iriga and later on, as Postmaster of the town. Mails from Iriga and Nabua were brought to Naga through the launch, Vicol.

1902 * A total of 14.49 kilometer of telegraph line was laid up to Buhi, according to the Census of the Philippine Islands conducted in this year.

* Husband and wife, Herbert Ingram and Bessie B. Priestley from Pompona, California, were assigned as teachers in Iriga.

* (March 3) Basque planter and plaintiff Ramon Feced lost his abaca hacienda at Mt. Iriga to the defendant, Mariano Abella, when the Supreme Court rejected his prayer for a summary writ of recovery of his property that was attached by the Malolos government. In his ruling, Chief Justice Arellano said "1. that the summary writ of recovery lies only against the ousting party and not against a third person who has received the realty fro the former; and, 2. that the evidence in this case discloses that the defendant is not the ousting party."

1903 * Act No. 959, an Act Reducing the 43 Municipalities of Camarines Sur to 35, stated that "The Municipality of Iriga shall preserve its present boundary." The Act was enacted on October 23 of this year.

*(June 20-22) Johann Gottfried Hallier climbed and collected floral samples at Mt. Iriga. Hallier was born in Jena, Germany in 1868. As a botanist, he is credited for having proposed several original systems of angiosperm.

* Under Act No. 110, which is An Act appropriating one million, two hundred and sixty-three thousand, seven hundred eleven dollars and fifty-nine cents($1,263,711.59) in money of the United States, for the payment of sundry expenses incurred for the benefit of the Insular Government for the second quarter of the year 1901 and other designated periods; $75 was appropriated for the pay of native doctors of Iriga; $21 for street lamps and chimneys; and $83 for the pay of engineer and foreman of the repairs of the roads in the town.

* In his annual report, Governor Juan Pimentel of Ambos Camarines said that "...Few cases of cholera accompanied by deaths" have been recorded in Nueva Caceres, Nabua, Baao and Iriga for this year. He reported that a local board of health was organized in Nueva Caceres, Daet, Tigaon, Goa, Buhi and Iriga. In Iriga the head of the local health board was a medical undergraduate, Epifanio Villafuerte. He also reported the construction of 25,970 feet ditching and repair of two bridges, measuring 8 and 10 feet between Nueva Caceres and Iriga, costing $2,761 that was charged to provincial funds; the repair of 5,280 feet road between Nabua and Iriga amounting to $428.18, charged to congressional fund; and similar repairs of road between Iriga and Buhi, 1,500 feet in distance, also charged to congressional fund.

* William E. Boling was appointed Supervising Teacher for Iriga and Buhi.

* The Encyclopedia Britanica, published in 1910, listed the population of the town at 19,107. On the other hand, the 4th Annual Report of the Philippine Commission for this year, recorded it at 19,338.

1904 * Iriga's exhibit for the General Collective Exhibits, and for Education won Honorable Mention at the St. Louis Exposition.

*Lucas Mendez is elected municipal alcalde until 1905.

1905 * An intermediate school was established in Iriga with 1,231 pupils, according to the report of Governor Juan Pimentel, published in the Sixth Annual Report of the Philippine Commission of this year.
* Fr. Jose Algue, S.J. reported a "better rice" harvest for Iriga and Nabua, which along with Buhi, "produce the greatest amount of abaca."

1906 * Manuel Crescini elected alcalde municipal till 1909.

* (February) William B. Freer, Superintendent of Public Schools in Ambos Camarines, wrote that "Because of the production of abaca the town of Iriga ranks third in importance in Camarines, being outclassed only by Nueva Caceres and Daet. Numerous springs of pure water pour out from the base of the mountain; there the people go to bathe, and thence they fetch the water for household use in great, hollow sections of bamboo. Trees of the sweet ilang-ilang grow in the forests of the mountain side, from the blossoms of which perfume is distilled for commerce."

1907 (November 24) An earthquake hits Iriga. "The towns which suffered most are those to the south of Iriga volcano and along Quinali river. Within this area, nearly all the stone buildings which had successfully withstood the earthquakes during April came to the ground this time. Many fissures opened in the ground and huge landslides occurred on the mountain sides," according to the Monthly Bulletin of the Weather Bureau under the Department of the Interior.

1908 Raymond F. Bacon of the Chemical Division of the Bureau of Science rated the ilang-ilang oil produced in Iriga as nearing "first-grade oil in quality"

1909 * (January 2) Domingo M. Guevarra, founder of Radiowealth and DMG, was born in Iriga.

* Wilson Gilbert Rhoads was appointed Supervising Teacher of Iriga up to 1913.

1910 *Mariano Alanis served as alcalde for a year.

1911 *(May) Birth of Felix Ordas Alfelor to Ciriaco M. Alfelor and Josefa A. Ordas.

*Casiano Tagum is elected alcalde municipal and served for a one-year term.

* E. L. Miller, chief of the Division of Ethnology, Philippine Museum, in a study of the Agta in Mt. Iriga and Isarog, opined that the Agta and Dumagat probably belong together, that they may have been remnants of a pre-Bicol and pre-Tagal Malayan element, and a cross between Negritos and Malayan peoples.

* Albert Louis Ammen, a former U.S. Quartermaster Corps soldier, started his transportation business in Iriga with a steam launch or batel that ply the Barit river up to Nueva Caceres.

1912 * The Americana: A Universal Reference Library and written by Frederick Beach, recorded the population of the town at 17,100.

* (June 12) The Quarterly Bulletin of the Bureau of Public Works reported the inauguration of the 150-foot steel span Balos Bridge, as the "main feature of the town fiesta". The bridge which was finished a month earlier was contracted to Atlantic Gulf and Pacific for P3,100.

1913 * Manuel Crescini is elected anew as alcalde.

1914 * (July 1) ALATCO was incorporated with Albert L. Ammen as president, Lot Dean Lockwood as vice president, William Leslie A. Bowler as Manager, and R.F. Rawson as Assistant Manager and Treasurer. From a single-cylinder Grabowski truck, the ALATCO grew to be what the National Historical Institute noted to be the "country's first organized bus transportation company" and established Iriga as the birthplace of the bus transportation industry in the Philippines.

* (Sept. 9) Birth of Gilda Gales in Iriga. When she joined the movies, she was called the "Greta Garbo of the Philippines." Gales was the daughter of an agent of the Smith Bell Company which had an abaca trading post in the Bicol region. She died on June 16, 2003 in Monrovia, California.

1915 * Genaro Saavedra hauled four gold medals in 100 Yards, High Jump, Pole Vault and Decathlon in the Far East Championships held in Shanghai, China.

* (October ) A typhoon struck Camarines province, as recorded by Mack Cretcher in his memoir, A Tenderfoot in the Tropics, published in 1918.

1916 * (January 10) Governor Leonard Wood in battling for the purchase by the Philippine government of the outstanding stocks of the Manila Railroad Compay, told the Third Philippine Legislature that "It will only be upon completion of the line between Hondagua and Iriga that its operation through Ambos Camarines and Albay will pay fixed charges upon that section, I am confident, however, that upon the completion of that line the through traffic from the southern provinces will produce revenue more than sufficient to pay the fixed charges, and that the completed system of railways will prove to be profitable investment in the way of dividends upon the stock acquired by this government."

* (October 13); birth of fiction writer Socorro Federis Tate to Esteban Federis and Eulalia Madara.

1917 * Raymundo Angeles is elected alcalde.

1918 * (March 3) Birth of Jose C. Villanueva, eventual first Mayor of the City of Iriga, to Tomas M. Villanueva and Genoveva Cailao.

* (August 22) The Supreme Court sustained the election protest of Andres Garchitorena against Manuel Crescini for massive cheating during the election for governor of the Province of Ambos Camarines, thus voiding the latter's victory.

1920 * Zacarias Guevarra is elected alcalde municipal.

1921 Juan K. Taduran wins the gold in the Decathlon in the Far East Championships held in Shanghai, China. In this same year, he was awarded the World Trophy for Track and Field by the Amateur Athletic Federation, the first of only two Filipinos, the other being Simeon Toribio for Track and Field in 1930, who was given the award which was discontinued in 2000.

1923 * Juan K. Taduran wins the gold in the Decathlon in the Far East Championships held in Osaka, Japan.
* Eulogio Mirando is elected alcalde mayor, serving until 1928.

1924 Miguel R. Ibana founded the Camarines Sur Institute which would later become the Apolinario Mabini Institute, the forerunner of the present Mabini Colleges in Daet, Camarines Norte where Ibana and his wife, Flora, transferred in June 1949 after selling the rights to the school to a local group of educators headed by lawyer, Felix O. Alfelor.

1925 Juan K. Taduran wins gold in the Decathlon in the Far East Championships held in Manila, Philippines.

1929 Santiago Gonzales is elected alcalde and served until 1937.

1934 *Lawyer Luis de Leon was elected representative of the 2nd District of Camarines Sur in the 10th Philippine Congress, composed of the towns of Bombon, Calabanga, Camaligan, Canaman, Gainza, Magarao, Milaor, Ocampo and Pili.

*(August 25) Birth of Eddie Ilarde in Iriga.

1935 Ronald Kookooritchkin, son of Russian emigre' Eremes Kookooritchkin and Conchita Segovia was born. He would later join the movies and assume the screen name, Ronald Remy.

1938 Felix O. Alfelor is elected municipal mayor and served until 1940.

1941 *(December 14) Japanese forces entered and occupied Iriga two days after landing in Legazpi and Caramoan.

* Elias Corporal is elected municipal mayor, serving until 1946.

* Francisco Mirando (a.k.a. Iskong Itom), a local toughie in the 40's, became the first victim of the Japanese invading army which had for a long-time stationed their men in the town in the person of Taguchi, owner of the Iriga Bazaar and his employees named Sakudo and Sakamoto. Filipino jazz master and maestro, Angel Pena, who played with the Iriga-based Bicol Masters Orchestra in the 40's, in his autobiography published by the Ateneo de Manila titled A Man and His Music recalled that Mirando, whom he erroneously called Pacifico, "was caught by the Japanese and killed."

1942 * (April 19) Local guerrilas raided the town, killing some Japanese and burning their position at Alatco.

* (May 9) The so-called Waras Ambush.

1943 (October 17) A Japanese courier en route to Naga from Iriga, was waylaid by local residents and resulted in Japanese retaliation in what is now called the Agdangan Massacre.

1945 *(January 15) Four U.S. planes bombed Iriga, Baao, Pili and Naga.
*( April 1) 158th Infantry takes Legazpi, advances Northward.
*(April 11) The Combat Chronology: 1941-1945-U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II
recorded that: "At Iriga, defenses are hit with napalm."
* (April 16) 158th RCT cleared Iriga
*(June 30) Luzon and Bicol campaign terminated.

1946 Iriga had a succession of three municipal mayors under the Japanese government, namely, Filomeno Parpan, Tito Lagrimas and Juan Morallo.

1947* (August 18) St. Anthony Academy was founded by a group of professionals headed by Dr. Santiago Ortega. In 1963, it was renamed St. Anthony College and in 1972, the University of St. Anthony.

* Felix Monte is elected municipal mayor, serving until 1951. During his term, the Iriga Municipal Council donated the lot where the Iriga Puericulture Center now stands.

1948 Mabini Memorial School was founded, retaining the name till 1952 when it became the Mabini Memorial College.

1949 La Consolacion Academy was established.

1950 * (February 28) Award-winning actor and Musical Scorer, Jaime Garcia Fabregas, was born in Iriga.

* Cora Garcia (nee Margallo) appeared with Fernando Poe Sr. in Kami ang Sugatan; and with Alfonso Carvajal in Dayang-Dayang, directed by her eventual husband, writer Nemesio Caravana.

1951 The Guy Jesters Fraternity was organized and made "guy" a popular word in Iriga.

1952 * Santiago G. Ortega Sr. is elected municipal mayor serving until 1955.
* (October 16-23) Typhoon Trix, with the highest wind speed of 215 kph recorded in Legazpi, hit the Bicol region, leaving 995 dead and P0.88 billions in damages.

1953 *(May 21) Maria Leonora Teresa Villamayor was born in Iriga.
* Our Lady of Fatima Parish was established in San Isidro.
1955 * (February 5) Construction of Barit Hydroelectric Plant started in Sta. Justina, Buhi.
* Perfecto I. Taduran is elected municipal mayor, serving until 1959.

1957 * (September 10) Barit Hydroelectric Plant started operation.

* Zaldy Zhornack (Dec. 30, 1940-November 18, 2002) appeared in his first starring role, Barumbado. He was in the cast of the first Lo' Waist Gang along with lead star, Fernando Poe Jr.

* The Annotated Bibliography of Philippine Sciences reported that "a farmer in Sta.Cruz, Iriga, Camarines Sur, unearthed an artistic nicely covered small jar approximately 2 feet high containing human bones believed to be more than two centuries old."

1958 (February 22) The Julian Ocampo Memorial Lodge No. 146 of Free and Accepted Masons based in Iriga was constituted. It is named after the former Camarines Sur governor.

1959 Milagros Sumayao won the Miss Philippine Press Photography title. In the movie industry, she used the screen name Mila Ocampo and is the mother of Snooky.

1960 Jose C.Villanueva is elected as municipal mayor, serving as Iriga's first City Mayor in 1968 until 1986.

1962 (June) The Iriga Association of America, based in California, which later became the Iriga Bicol Association of America, was founded by Philippine Scout veterans Alfeo Antang and Glenn Olea, and retired U.S. Army Mateo Magistrado.

1966 * Nora Villamayor emerged as Champion in the Tawag ng Tanghalan Grand National Finals.
* Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal was established in Santiago.
* Sagrada High School (which became the Sagrada National High School in 1988) was opened through the efforts of Felix Guevara and the support of Barrio Captain Francisco F. Llagas.

1967 Nora Villamayor, now known as Nora Aunor, appears in her debut movie, "All Over The World." Nora's entry in the film industry changed the "mestizo/a" standard for actors, brought the so-called "bakya" crowd into the national consciousness; and created a following unheard of and unsurpassed to this day in the country.

1968 * (June 15) R.A. 5261 was signed by President Ferdinand Marcos converting the municipality of Iriga as Bicol's third city.

*(September 3) Iriga was inaugurated as Bicol's third city, after Naga and Legazpi.

1969 (May 22) Iriga Telephone Company (IRIGATEL), incorporated in February 23, 1968, was granted a legislative franchise under R.A. 5974 to install, operate and maintain a telephone system in the City of Iriga.

1970 (October 11-15) Typhoon Sening (Joan), the strongest typhoon in the Philippines till 2006, 275 kph. 768 dead, P1.89 damages, hit the Bicol region.

1971 *(June 19) Sta. Maria was created as a new barrio of Iriga under RA. 6228. The barrio is composed of the sitios of Tubigan, Katungdulan, Bagacay, Sabang, Sampaga, Rao and Cawayan.

* Eddie Alanis, Felix R. Alfelor Jr., Lilia de Lima and Domingo Guevara secured four of the five slots for delegates to the 2nd District of Camarines Sur to the 1971 Constitutional Convention called under R.A. 6132, with former Senator Edmundo B. Cea completing the list.

* (August 26) A fire fight between soldiers of the Philippine Constabulary and members of the New People's Army in San Pedro, resulted in the death of one PC soldier and 2 Kabataaang Makabayan members. The incident was one of the reasons cited by Marcos for declaring Martial Law in the country the following year in September 21, 1972.
* (December 15), operation of the IRIGATEL started after it was granted a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity by the erstwhile Public Service Commission.

1972 (September 21) President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Proclamation 1081, placing the entire country under Martial Law.

1973 St. Anthony College converted into the University of St. Anthony.
1974 The Mabini Memorial University was renamed the University of Northeastern Philippines.
1980 Glenn Olea elected mayor of Seaside City in California, becoming the first Filipino-American to have been elected as mayor in a U.S. city.

Most Rev. Benjamin J. Almoneda is named Parish Priest of St. Anthony of Padua Parish.
Most Rev. Prospero N. Arellano named Parish Priest of Our Lady of Fatima Parish, San Isidro, serving until the following year.
(August 10) Teresita Andalis was drowned by her purported fiancee, David Mathieson in Australia for a AU$3-million insurance.

1982 *November 14 - City High School at the South Central School in Sto. Domingo was converted as the Rinconada National Technical Vocational School under Batas Pambansa Blg. 294.

* Golden Kuhol (Pomacea caniculata Lamarck) was introduced to the country from South America (Brazil and Argentina) via Taiwan, by some local unwitting businessmen who wanted to cash in on its potential as an additional food source. The mollusk, however, turned out a national pest that in 1989, the Food and Agriculture Organization placed the losses incurred by the country due to this pest from 1 to 40% of ricelands in the country.

1983 Lilia de Lima was named one of the Ten Outstanding Women in the Nation's Service (TOWNS).

1984 Diomedes Panton competed in cycling in the 23rd Summer Olympiad in Los Angeles, becoming the first Irigueno Olympian.

1986 * People Power Revolution.
* Politico Corporal is appointed Acting City Mayor, but he was eventually replaced by Salvador de Lima who served until 1987.

1987 (November 23-27) Supertyphoon Sisang (Nina) hit the Bicol region at 240 kph. leaving 979 dead, P1.119 billion in damage.

1988 * Jose C. Villanueva regained his office, serving until 1995.
* Typhoon Unsang (Ruby) with a wind velocity of 215 kph, hit the Bicol region and Central and Northern Luzon, leaving 157 dead and 5.636 in billions of pesos in damages.

1990 (March 9) San Ramon Municipal Hospital was established as a ten-bed hospital by virtue of R.A. 6920.

1993 *(July 1) Former Camarines Sur Polytechnic College President Dr. Lylia Corporal Sena was installed as the fourth president of the Bicol University by Secretary Armand V. Fabella of the Department of Education, Culture and Sports.
* Teddy Rigoroso, former president of Ibalon and SAMASA, was elected Chair of the U.P. Diliman University Student Council.

*Lucio Margallo, a bio-flick of an Iriga-born PInspector Lucio Margallo IV was shown starring actor Philip Salvador.

1994 Our Lady of Salvation Parish was established in Salvacion.

1995 * Nora Aunor wins the Princess Pataten Statue as Best Actress in the 19th Cairo International Film Festival for her role in "The Flor Contemplacion Story."

* Emilia T. Boncodin named one of the Ten Outstanding the Women in Nation's Service (TOWNS).
* Emmanuel Alfelor defeats the septuagenarian incumbent city mayor Jose C. Villanueva to end his more than thirty year reign. He would serve for a full three term until 2005 when he was replaced by his niece, Madelaine Alfelor Gazmen.

* R.A. 7916, also known as the Special Economic Zone Act of 1995, has included Iriga as an ECOZONE, one of the special areas so identified in the said law intended for technology intensive and export-oriented industries.

*Janet Vargas Johnson is crowned Miss Bicolandia 1995.

* (October 30-Nov. 4) Typhoon Rosing(Angela), with a speed of 260 kph, hit the Bicol region, Calabarzon and NCR, leaving 936 dead and P10.829-billion in damages. The typhoon left the central business district and several urban barangays inundated by flood. Rosing is considered one of the strongest and intense typhoons in the history of the Northwestern Pacific Ocean because of its unusually maintained speed of 240 kph for 60 hours, mostly on land.

1997 * Nora Aunor wins the Golden Pearl Award as Best Actress for her role in "Bakit May Kahapon Pa?", in the 1st Malaysia International Film Festival in Penang, Malaysia.

* (October 29) R.A. 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 was signed by President Fidel V. Ramos. The law protects the rights of the so-called Indigenous Peoples like the Agta in Iriga.

* San Diego, California-based McKing Alanis is named one of The Outstanding Filipinos Abroad awardees given by the Filipino Image Magazine.

1998 * Emilia T. Boncodin was appointed Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management, serving till July 2005 when she joined the so-called Hyatt 10 in calling for the resignation of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for election fraud.
In this same year, she was awarded the Presidential Golden Heart Award, given by the President of the Philippines for exemplary performance in government service.

*(October 15-24) Massive flooding hit the Bicol river basin area due to rains brought by Super Typhoon Loleng (Babs), 250 kph.,leaving 330 dead and P6.787 billion in damages.

1999 *Nora Aunor is conferred by the Cultural Center of the Philippines with its Centennial Honors for the Arts.

*Abicel Lowel N. Filio named one of the Ten Outstanding Boy Scouts of the Philippines.

* (March 12) The Medical Mission Group Hospital and Health Services Cooperative of Camarines Sur (MMG Cam. Sur) took over the management of the former Our Lady of Mediatrix Hospital established by the couple Dr. Andres Gonzales.

2000 Vina Rosana Catangui was crowned Ms.Tourism in the Kaogma Festival.

2001 * Corazon E. Malaya is named Pag-Asa Awardee by the Civil Service Commission which bestowed on her the Gantimpala Award "for honesty and efficiency in the delivery of services to the people" the previous year.

* (March 5) President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed R.A. 9031 which declared "May 27 of every year a special nonworking public holiday in the Province of Camarines Sur and the cities of Naga and Iriga." The day marks the foundation of Camarines Sur as a province.

* Tsomlee Go wins silver in the Taekwando World Cup Championship in Vietnam.

* Jaime Patiam of the Police Community Relations of the Iriga City PNP Police Station was named one of the Ten Outstanding Policeman of the Philippines.

* Mary Joy Therese Taduran crowned Ms. Camarines Sur; while Aprille Maninang was Ms. Kaogma.

2002 Ma. Angeline Tucio was crowned Ms Iriga, Ms. Cam. Sur and Ms. Bicolandia.

2003. * Ma. Angeline Tucio wins First Runner-Up in the Mutya ng Pilipinas.
* St.Therese of the Child Jesus Parish was established in Sta. Teresita.

* Aprille Maninang is crowned Miss Bicolandia.
* Marie Anne Malapo was chosen Ms. Kaogma.

2004 * SPED Teacher Anabelle Catimbang named Metrobank Outstanding Teacher of the Philippines.

* (August 9) PO2 Liza Jane Alteza of the Iriga City PNP Station was named one of the Ten Outstanding Policewomen of the Philippines.

* Ms. Iriga, Kristine Alpapara named Ms. Kaogma after reigning Ms. Karen Ortua was dethroned.

2005 (January 24) The Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation(PSALM) turned over to the People's Energy Services Inc. (PESI) headed by the late former Buhi Mayor Ramon Constancio the Barit Mini-Hydro facility when it won the bidding for the 1.8 megawatt Hydroelectric Power Plant for $0.48- million last year.

(March 31) The Supreme Court in Flor vs. People of the Philippines(G.R. 139987) reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals finding petitioner Salvador D. Flor and Nick Ramos, editor and managing editor respectively of Bicol Forum, for libel filed by then Minister of Presidential Commission on Government Reorganization Luis R. Villafuerte.

*Madelaine Alfelor Gazmen, the daughter of the late Camarines Sur 4th District congressman, Ciriaco R. Alfelor, is elected as the first woman city mayor of Iriga.

*Annabelle Catimbang named Pag-Asa Awardee by the Civil Service Commission.

* (July 7) PO3 Liza Jane Alteza, investigator of the Women's and Children's Concern Desk of the Iriga City Police Station was named one of the awardees in the search for the Country's Outstanding Policemen in Service (COPS) given by the Metrobank Foundation, the Zonta Club of Makati and the DILG.

* Kharlyn Gayle Caroche was crowned Ms.Tourism in the Kaogma Festival.

2006 * (April 29) Philippine Economic Zone Authority Director-General Lilia de Lima was conferred a decoration of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star by the Japanese government for her role in strengthening bilateral relationships between the Philippines and Japan.
* (September 25-30) Typhoon Milenyo (Xangsane) with a wind speed of 180 kph, hit the Bicol region, NCR and Calabarzon, leaving 110 dead and P6.610 in damages.
* (November 26-December 1) Typhoon Reming (Durian) with a speed of 320 kph. battered the Bicol region, leaving 734 confirmed dead and P5.086 billion in damages. The worst typhoon the country has experienced. Officials however estimate the death toll reached 1,200 as landslides hit villages at the foot of Mt. Mayon in Albay.

* P/Supt. Tomasito T. Clet, Chief of Police of the Iriga City PNP Station was named one of the Country's Outstanding Policemen in Service.

* Kristian Cordero wins Madrigal Gonzales Best First Book Award for his poetry collection, Mga Tulang Tulala: Piling Tula sa Filipino, Bikol and Rinconada.

2007 * (April 3) Barangay San Agustin placed second runner-up in the National search for the Most Outstanding Lupong Tagapamayapa in Component Cities.

* Linda Buckland was crowned Ms. Camarines Sur.
* (May 14) Madelaine Alfelor-Gazmen wins second term as city mayor, winning by 21,000 votes over her opponent or 80% of the total voting population.

* (June 7) Death of retired Major General Efren Orbon, former commanding general of the 2nd Infantry Division, Philippine Army.

* (October 25) Dr. Marietta Nagrampa-Almazan was named one of 100 Top Fil-American Women.

* (October 27) landslide occurred in Perpetual Help and the central business district was hit by massive flooding.

2008 *(March 3) A 6.5 magnitude earthquake, tectonic in origin, hits a maritime area 184 km northeast of Catarman, Northern Samar but the tremor was felt in Iriga and Legazpi City.

* (May 7) Laila de Lima named Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights.

* (July 7) Ruben F. Ciron was appointed Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, which replaced the Air Transport Office.

* Tsomlee Go competed in Tae-Kwan-Do in the Beijing Olympics.

* (November) The Supreme Court, in an en banc resolution, ruled the unconstitutionality of several Cityhood Laws which converted as much number of municipalities into cities, citing among other reasons that the P100 million income requirement for municipalities to be converted into cities under R.A. 9009 cannot be applied retroactively to the cityhood bills, that the criteria for the creation of a city shall be prescribed in the Local Government Code and not in any other special laws like the Cityhood Laws; and that the Cityhood Law violate Section 6, Article X "because they prevent a fair and just distribution of the national taxes to local government units."

* (November 11) Himala, National Artist for Film Ishmael Bernal's masterpiece which starred Nora Aunor is voted by CNN viewers as the Best Asia-Pacific Film of All Time, announced at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Brigandage in Iriga at the Fin de Siecle

Essentialism, which works much like arithmetical simplification by reducing numerals into their lowest common denominators, is an American psy-op strategy during the Fil-American War. The same war itself had been reduced as an "insurgency" by the Americans. So, the Bicolano Simeon Ola, the last Filipino general to have surrendered to the Americans during that war, is recorded only in their history books as an "insurrecto," and in some cases, a bandit. The simplification stems from the belief that the American occupation of the country was justified, both legally (remember the Treaty of Paris), and morally (remember too McKinley's supposed agony over what to do with the islands but when God told him it was America's moral duty to do so, he went to a deep and contented sleep). We know better than that of course. America's Pacific expansionism and rise as an imperial power made Admiral Dewey's appearance in Manila Bay much like the young Hulk Hogan snatching a lollipop from Manny Pacquiao.

Nevertheless, there are available records on brigandage in the country, like in the Bicol region, which existed even until the first decade of the nineteenth century, that is, during the American regime. Greg Bankoff, in his book, Crime, Society, and the State in the Nineteenth-century Philippines, disproving a claim of a governor of Camarines Sur in 1807 that there was no bandits in the province, wrote: "Whatever the claims of its governor, however, banditry did exist in Camarines Sur. It may not have been prevalent among the settled lowland communities of the central valley, but it was definitely a problem in the eastern Bicol Cordillera." The center of their activity was Mt. Isarog and for which the Spaniards called them either as remontados, cimmarones or infieles. An underlying cause of this Isarog intransigence was the tobacco monopoly which effectively deprived the upland dwellers of their economic livelihood until even after its abolition.

In the Rinconada area, a major apparent cause was the disenfranchisement and dislocation of the natives because of the proliferation of abaca plantations in the area owned by rich families. "As non-Bikolanos, attracted by the profits in abaca, acquired land in the province, bandits such as the infamous Pancho singled out members of the principalia as targets," Bankoff noted. Pancho is notorious for having burned a house of a wealthy family in Buhi; and killing its seven occupants composed of women, elderly and children, in 1885.

The Agtas of Mt. Iriga were immediately the most affected by the conversion of the mountain into abaca plantations. As the War Department of the Bureau of Insular Affairs reported in 1902: "The most dissatisfied elements in the province has been the non-Christian tribe of Negritos of Mount Isarog and Iriga districts. A conference, however, has been brought with their headmen, and arrangements made whereby they have agreed to present themselves to the governor with a view to bettering their conditions. The chief of the tribe, Andong, lives on Mount Iriga, and will probably be made the first presidente of the new pueblo which it is contemplated giving to the Negritos. The chief has promised to cooperate with the authorities and to be responsible for the good behavior of his tribe. These Negritos were always considered outlaws by the Spanish authorities, who made repeated raids upon them, carrying away their children, etc. to serve as vassals."

Like Pancho's early version of the Buhi massacre, another gruesome crime which was recorded, was committed in Iriga on October 19, 1900 by Jose Avila and Paulino Casio, whom the Americans identified only as natives, thus ambiguous whether they were Negritos or lowlanders. On the self-same date, Avila and Casio, with 25 other companions armed with bolos, killed Juan Legazpi, Nicolas Pabon, Baldomero Imena, Aniseta Nueva de Imena, and Eugenia Imena; and seriously wounded Margarita Salanoba Legaspi, Mariano Nueva, Juana Ceron, and Ofrecina Imena at a ranch called Quisquisan, near San Isidro. In sentencing the pair to die by hanging in Nueva Caceres on July 26, 1901, Brigadier General Thomas H. Barry, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Volunteers, found that: "In the foregoing case it appears that these accused, Jose Avila and Paulino Casio, in a company with a band of outlaws, entered the house of Juan Legaspi, at the pueblo Iriga, in the nightime, actuated by no higher motive than robbery and degenerate cruelty and inhumanity, boloed to death five natives, including a child of 3 years of age and young girl 11; cut and wounded, and tortured three women, one small girl and one man, with intent to kill them."

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Iriga "Peace-Time" Architecture

"Peace-Time" refers to the years prior to World War II. Iriga, during the same period, with the presence of ALATCO, the country's first organized bus company, which former U.S. Quartermaster veteran Albert Louis Ammen started here in 1914 , and the presence of abaca plantations at the foot of Mt. Iriga, owned by the Basque Miguel Sarrato and Ramon Feced, their paisano Francisco Lamiel; and the Tagalog Manuel Abella; was a relatively progressive municipality. As reported in 1905 by Governor Juan Pimentel of Ambos Camarines, as the then combined provinces of the present Camarines Norte and Sur (ambos, being Spanish word for both) was known: "The condition of the districts of Daet and Lagonoy and the pueblo of Iriga is one of relative comfort for the reason that the principal product is hemp, of which 355,641 piculs were produced in the fiscal year, 5,483 hectares having been planted with this valuable textile plant." In the same report, and perhaps because of this relative progress of the town, Pimentel said an intermediate school was established in Iriga during the same year with 1,231 pupils. Apart from this, P2,652. was allocated for the construction of the .835- miles Iriga-Buhi road, and P2,897.45 for the construction of the bridge in Barangay Santiago which was burned by retreating rebel forces led by a certain Col. Pena. Another P192. was also allocated for the Nabua-Iriga road. In June 12, 1912, the Quarterly Bulletin of the Bureau of Public Works reported the inauguration, which coincided with the town fiesta, of the 150-foot steel span Balos Bridge which was contracted to Atlantic Gulf and Pacific for P3,100.

Indeed, it can be said that Iriga was enjoying a relative economic prosperity at the fin de siecle that it attracted several foreigners in the town. Among them were the Russian Eremes Kookooritchkin, father of actor Ronald Remy, who came in 1925 after the Bolshevik Revolution; the Polish father of the movie actor, Zaldy Zshronack whose mother was a Taduran; the father of Gilda Gales, the so-called Greta Garbo of the Philippines, who was born here, her father being a travelling agent of the Smith Bell Company, which was into abaca trade in the Bicol region at that time; and the American managers of ALATCO like William Leslie Bowler, and the Stanford University law graduate Lot Dean Lockwood who would also later serve as ALATCO president.

Remnants of this prosperity is evidenced by the presence and survival of at least two houses in Iriga which was built in the chalet-style of the period. A 1936 article about a chalet reprinted by Augusto Villalon in his Philippine Daily Inquirer describes the house as "constructed with a combination of different groups of lumber: ipil for posts, tanguili for flooring and walls, apitong for roof framing. The ground wall may be of adobe stones or bricks, the windows of frosted glass, and the roof corrugated galvanized iron sheets. Complete, this may cost P4,900 or thereabouts."
Villalon said that the chalet, a Swiss housing style, integrated tropical architectural practices much like its predecessor, the bahay-na-bato. He noted that while the old terra cotta roofs have been replaced by galvanized sheets, the "chalet roofs remain steep, wide overhangs still protect windows from sun and rain, windows, now made of glass instead of kapis still slide open to allow the entry of air, and to increase ventilation, the ventanilla (opening between floor and window sill)is still used." This made the chalet, he said, the "Filipino Modern" architecture of the day.
One of these houses is located in San Roque along the road leading to Buhi. As the picture here shows, the house seems to have already been abandoned by its owner to the elements. In more prosperous and heritage-conscious countries, houses like this are likely candidates for restoration. The other, is the Dilla residence in San Francisco, which according to the people living there when we took the photo here, was built sometime in the mid-20's.

(Photos by Frank G. Tanay)

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

What's in a Name I: Mt. Iriga, Asog or Sumagang?

In an article published in a souvenir program for his hometown's fiesta in 2001, my esteemed friend, Stephen Sergio, asked and answered his own question about the old name of Mt. Iriga. Its present name, according to a story he gathered, is a result of a clueless reaction of a cartographer of the old Bureau of Coast and Geodetic Survey on what the name of the mountain was. Having "no idea or guidance of what it was, so he just named it after the town on which it is partly located, Iriga, " explained Sergio who apparently believed the story himself to be true as he also tried to trace the identity of the cartographer, who "old timers at NAMRIA say he was an American while others say he was in fact, an Irigueno." The NAMRIA replaced the Bureau of Coast and Geodetic Survey which was organized on September 6, 1901. If Sergio's source is to be believed, the American cartographer could have been the director of the Bureau; and the Irigueno, one of its staff; for as Governor General Francis Burton Harrison reported in 1919: "With the exception of the director, who, in conformity to law, has always been an American, being an officer of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, the personnel of the bureau has been entirely Filipino since 1917, numbering 26 in all" (18).

This part of Sergio's essay, however, is as conjectural as his following thesis. Arguing that "Iriga was founded and so named only in 1682, 41 years after the volcano's final eruption," he asks, "what was the mountain originally called by the natives?" His own answer: "Sumagang and Asog." Apparently relying on Spanish account of the founding of Iriga, particularly Huerta's, Sergio, missed by a year the founding date of the town, as Huertas recorded it. He also blindly accepted the supposed last recorded eruption of the mountain on January 4, 1641, a date that had already been questioned by scientists and lately, been debunked by geologists and volcanologists. As early as 1875, Feodor Jagor, a German writer and traveller who scaled the mountain in 1859, had expressed doubt as to the veracity of the date which he noted conflict with the report of the famous French seismologist, Alexis Perrey of Dijon, which told of another earthquake in 1628 in Camarines Sur.
"The data of the Estado Geografico are apt to create distrust as the official report on the great earthquake of 1641 describes in detail the eruptions of three volcanoes, which happened at the same time (of these two were in the South of the Archipelago and one in Northern Luzon) while Camarines is not mentioned at all," he wrote in his book, Reisen en den Philippinen or Travels in the Philippines. The late Fr. M. Saderra Maso, S.J. who served as assistant director of the Philippine Weather Bureau agreed with Jagor. "The Estado Geografico also alleges that Iriga, in the province of Ambos Camrarines, was in eruption in 1641; but Jagor gives seemingly good reason for believing that this statement, not to be found in earlier works, is a mistake," he noted.
Dr. Chris Newhall, a volcanologist who closely studied the mountain and who I once invited to orient Iriga City officials about its eruptive history, said that the mountain could not have erupted during the 17th century. It happened, he said, during the Holocene, that is 10,000 years ago during the last ice age; and that the eruption mentioned by the Estado Geografico was that of Mt. Parker in South Cotabato. Besides, a cataclysm in the magnitude and scale of an eruption of a mountain could not have escaped the zealous chronicling zest of the Franciscans who evangelized the Bicol region and who even recorded a scary legend of a local civet cat trader in Buhi during the late Sixteenth-century.

With that settled, what then is Sergio's support for his claim that the pre-Spanish name of the mountain is Sumagang and Asog? As to Sumagang, he relied on oral tradition, that is, it is supposed to have come from the Bicol phrase "agang sumirang", or "early to rise," which was how the early settlers of the pre-Spanish settlement of Boa (now the town of Nabua) had referred to the mountain. As to Asog, Sergio has an interesting and pretty original conjecture. He linked it to the Buhinon word for a dog "in heat," that is,"inaasog." "With its mudflows and hot lava when it was still active, it is easy to deduce why it was so named, and why Asog may have been settled at least two centuries before Sumagang," he wrote. He also cited the Bicol epic fragment "Ibalon" where Asog is mentioned and who he said "is universally known and accepted." By whom and as what, he did not, however, elaborate.

Nevertheless, with the authenticity of the Bicol epic having found scholarly support and strength in the study of Dr. Zeus Salazar on the applique on an earthen urn found in Libmanan which he argued are visual representation and retelling of the epic, I tend to agree with Sergio that Asog is indeed the pre-Spanish name of the mountain. I believe, however, that this was because the foot of the mountain was the center of the cult to asuang which Castano noted in his Breve Noticia; and that asog was the pre-colonial "priest" who preside at such rituals as defined by Lisboa in his Bicol dictionary. The presence of the asog, I would submit, in another essay, is a reason why the etymology of Iriga is not "I-raga" as Huertas recorded it, but Irago, the shape-shifting serpent daughter of asuang. As a serpent, Irago links the ancient beginning of the people of Iriga to the naga-worshipping riverine tribes in the sunken Sundaland, and thus gives a more ancient origin of the town.

The obliteration of Asog as the name of the mountain, however, is an evidence of the triumph of the Spanish colonial project and is never the handiwork of one ignorant Irigueno cartographer as I will show in the following excerpts from various documents in various years which had consistently referred to the mountain as Mt. Iriga:

1. From Memorias Historicas y Estadisticas de Filipinas (Imprenta del Diario de Manila published in 1830), Rafael Diaz Arenas wrote of the "Escoria del volcan del monte Iriga. (Dregs of the volcano of Mt.Iriga)

2. From the Sur Les Tremblements de Terre de la Peninsule Scandinave (Impremeurs de la Marine et des Colonies. Paris. 1845), Alexis Perrey had these notes:

"Les montagnes coniques d'Yriga, lat. 13 21 N long. 123 30 E. de Gr., comprenant une douzaine de petits cones, entre les villages de Yriga et de Buhi, au sud et au sud-est du Lago de Buhi. (29)
(The conical mountain Yriga, lat. 13 21 N long. 123 30 E. of Gr.,including a dozen small cones, between the villages of Yriga and Buhi, south and south-east of Lake Buhi.)

3. From Jagor's Travels in the Philippines (Chapman and Hall. London. 1875.):

"I found the highest points of the Yriga to be 1,212 metres, 1,120 metres above the surface of the Buhi Lake" (220).

4. Fr. Manuel M. Crespo's Memoria Sobre La Reduccion de Monteses del Isarog en Camarines Sur (Establecimiento Tipografico de Ramirez y Girauder. Manila. 1881.) is the only document I found which mentioned the mountain's two names:

"El Iriga o Asog, de menor base y altura, esta tambien cubierto por el N. y O. de poderosa vegetacion. Desde este monte se destaca hasta Sangay en Lagonoy, y hasta el mar enlazandose con la de Tiui, una cordillera muy accidentada, con montes de colosal altura, de vegetacion gigantesca, cordillera poco esplorada, hasta que las operaciones militares la han reconocido en todas direcciones"(15).

5. In two papers read in 1882 and published in the Transactions of the Seismological Society of Japan. Vol. V.(Government Printing Office. Tokyo. 1883.) the name of the mountain is also spelled Yriga.

"The earthquakes seem to have been entirely extinguished in the line of volcanoes which begins with one called Ysaro and ends with Bulusan, and includes those called Yriga, Masaraga, Bulic and Mayon, the last of which has a height of 8000 ft., and has concentrated in itself all the volcanic activity of the whole region. (85)
- from Earthquakes in the Island of Luzon in 1880 by Don Jose Centeno y Garcia.

The other is from Enrique Abella Y Casariego's paper, El Mayon:

"Las colinas del N.E. que dominan al pueblo de Malilipod presentan dos o tres cumbres en serie lineal, de formas cupuloides que lo mismo pueden atribuierse a conos parasitos, modificados por las erosiones considerable del Mayon, que a una o varias potentes corrientes de lava que se hubieran insinuado en aquel sentido; semejantemente a lo que Drasche supone en las(33) colinas que se encuentran al O. de los volcanoes apagados Yriga y Malinao"(34).

6. From Ramon Jordana y Morera in Bosquejo Geografico e Historico-Natural del Archipelago Filipino (Imprenta de Moreno y Rojas. Madrid. 1885):

"Desde el Mayon y el monte Mazaraga, la zona volcanica se prolonga hacia el NNO, por el monte Malinao,el Iriga y el Isarog"(150).

7. From the Military Notes on the Philippines (Washington. Government Printing Office. 1898):

"Mount Iriga, between Mount Isaro(g) and Albay Volcano is 3,976 feet high" (94).

8. From The Inhabitants of the Philippines by Frederic H. Sawyer (Sampson Low, Marston and Company. London. 1900.):

"The ground is level for leagues around, yet from this plain two extinct volcanoes rear their vast bulk, the Ysarog, 6500 feet high, and the Yriga, nearly 4000 feet high"(199); and,

"From Nueva Caceres, I travelled by a good road to Iriga, a town near the volcano of that name, passing close to the Isarog on my way" (285).

9. From the Jesuit mission's El Archipielago Filipino: Collecion de Datos (De La Mision de la Compana de Jesus en estas Islas.Washington. Imprenta del Gobierno. 1900):

"Dos clases de negritos habitan en esta provincia: unos al Norte, en los montes de Capalonga, no lejos de los confines de Tayabas, y otros en las cercanias del monte Iriga. En las faldas del monte Isarog viven los salvajes llamados cimarrones del Isarog, los cuales tambien se hallan en algunas de las etribaciones de este monte, que se extienden por la llamada peninsula de Camarines. Hay tambien igorrotes en el monte Iriga al SSE, del Isarog"(74).

10. From the Report of the Philippine Commission to the President, Vol. II(Washington. Government Printing Office. 1910):

"The Igorrotes are the Malay Negritos of Mount Iriga,Ambos Camarines. They also occur in the provinces of Abra, Pangasinan, Nueva Viscaya, Zambales, and Pampanga" (358).

11. From Rev. Curtin G. Roop's Religion of the Philippine Islands (The Missionary Review of the World. Vol. XV. Jan.-Dec. 1902. Funk and Wagnalls Company. New York.1902):

"As one goes far back into the interior, Christianity shades off into paganism, and some sections will be found where the two are blended. Thus there is not only variety but confusion of religions in the islands. For instance, there is a small sect of pagan natives living on the slopes of the volcano Yriga, some of whom are criminal exiles from the villages, but more of whom have voluntarily withdrawn thither on account of aversion to the labor and conventionality of the village life. These people, tho pagans, yet decorate their walls with crucifixes as talismans. They say that if these crucifixes were not of some value the Spaniards would not use so many of them" (685).

12. From the Census of the Philippine Islands of 1903. Vol. 1 (United States Bureau of Census. Washington. 1905):

"There are numerous other volcanic peaks of less note in this neighborhood, among them Masaraga, 5,244 feet; Malinao, 3,066 feet; and Iriga, 4,092 feet.(63)"; and

"Mt. Iriga has not been examined, as far as we know. The Estado Geografico alleges that Iriga, in the province of Ambos Camarines, was in eruption in 1641; but Jagor gives seemingly good reason for believing that this statement, not to be found in earlier works, is a mistake. Many of the extinct cones retain traces of solfataric action or at least give vent to hot springs" (226).

13. From the Seventh Annual Report of the Philippine Commission. 1906 (Bureau of Insular Affairs. War Department Government Printing Office. Washington. 1907):

"The Mount Iriga district was the only one studied in any detail, but as the exports of abaca mount to from 3,125,000 to 3,437,500 kilos per year, it can be seen that it is an important one" (364).

14. From The Philippine Experience of An American Teacher by William B. Freer (Charles Scribner Sons. N.Y. 1918.):

"To the left of the Pili road rise the gently concave slopes of Mt. Isarog, while to the right, in the distance, is seen Mt. Iriga - both of these extinct volcanoes" (168).

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Before the FilCab, There was Cony

In the 60's, the Cony was the popular mode of transportation for the Iriga-Nabua route. The miniature cars were manufactured by Aichi Machine Industry Company in Nagoya, Japan, founded in 1943. In 1965, the company became part of the Nissan group. Its 360cc model, which was the one converted as a passenger car, was powered by a 354cc 18hp 2 cyl. engine, making it more fuel-efficient; and, meant lower taxes for its manufacturer. The rise of the Philippine-manufactured jeeps like the very colorful Sarao and its competitor, the Francisco Motors; and the emergence of independent local bus operators who saw in the increasing number of passengers travelling to and from Iriga a new business opportunity; spelled the eventual demise of this once Little Prince of the Iriga-Nabua Road in the early 70's.

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