In 2006 I posted “Historical Data of Baler 1952-1953“, the source of which was then unknown since I just discovered it in my old hard disk. Later snooping led me to the copies of the original documents in the National Library. And the document was not alone. There’s also the same historical data for Casiguran and Maria Aurora. For this post, I will slowly encode the Historical Data of Casiguran from 1952. It’s longer than the Baler document so visit this page from time to time until it’s complete.
Historical Data of Casiguran
No record of its establishment and change of boundaries can be given to date as no informer could be found in this locality. However, the town of Casiguran was onve uncer th province of Nueva Viscaya. But sometime in the year 1905 or 1908 the boundary of Quezon province was extended to the north so as to include Casiguran.
As far as could be remenbered by the informer, the province was ruled by the following governors: Hon. Manuel Quezon, Lucban, Abastillas, Filemon Perez, Maximo Rodriguez, Leon Guinto, Dr. Casiano Sandoval, Hilarion Yanza, Gregorio Santayana, and Vicente Constantino. Other officials who served in the province were Representatives Fabian Millar, Jose Angara, Francisco Lavidez, Primitovo San Agustin and Rafael Villar. Some of the outstanding citizens of the province were Don Filemon Perez r., MAnuel Quezon, Don Justo Lucban, Vicente Lucban, Mrs. Aurora Quezon, Gregorio Sena, Elias Desembrana, Fortunato Suarez, Dr. cAsiano Sandoval and Jose Angara.
No further information could be gathered about the province in this municipality as there are no available informers.
On August 19, 2013, in time with the 135th Birth Anniversary of the Star of Baler Manuel L. Quezon and the Baler Fiesta, Banak, Inc launched the book Ak’kaw Poppo – Talaan ng mga Salitang Baler, a dictionary of Baler words compiled by Olag Selaznog. I believe this is the first published collection of unique words that we use exclusively in Baler. The earliest known collection of Baler words was made by Damian Amazona in the 50s and reportedly his manuscript is still extant at the National Archives. Poppo Olag Selaznog (Galo Gonzales) has been compiling his list since he left Baler in the 50s. Batangbaler also has an online dictionary of Baler words since 2002. The 88-page booklet also features list of unique expressions we use in Baler like Are! and Akkaw! and a foreword by Mrs. Zeneida “Nini” Quezon Avanceña.
The book publisher Baler Aurora Ngayon Angkan at Kasaysayan (Banak, Inc.) is a non-stock, non-profit organization that consists of individuals who trace their roots to Baler, Aurora. Its members are bound by a common desire to learn about, document and preserve Baler’s colorful history, culture and genealogy. Yours truly, Kidlat, is a member of Banak, Inc.
The book is available for P200.00 at 43 Quezon Street (opposite NorFil Gas Station), Barangay Suklayin, Baler, Aurora. Look for Enick Valenzuela.
On April 28, 1949, First Lady Aurora A. Quezon and her convoy were ambushed along Baler-Bongabon Road. They were on their way to Baler to inaugurate the Quezon Memorial Hospital. Her daughter, Maria Aurora, son-in-law Felipe Buencamino III and Quezon City Mayor Ponciano Bernardo were also killed. Armed Forces Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Rafael Jalandoni luckily survived the ambush.
In 1990, the National Historical Commission installed a marker in the ambush site located between KM 168 & 169 along Baler-Bongabon road in Labi, Bongabon, Nueva Ecija. In March 2012, it was discovered that the marker was missing, and its shelter blatantly vandalized. Banak, Inc. has taken the initiative, with the help of Bongabon local government, to restore the marker and build a shrine in time for her 64th death anniversary in April 2013.
Fifty-one years ago, my ambition took me out of the Philippines to gamble my life into an uncertain and unfamiliar world. I matured in cold environments and lived most of my life in places that endured the seasonal assault of winter. But it had been in 1964 that I’d experienced a full-fledged winter of 150° below zero temperature. That was when I was assigned and stationed in the South Pole, where the only other population besides us, were penguins and polar bears. After the initial astonishment had passed (along with an impulse to shovel a mountain of snow), one thought remained and haunted me¾ the enchantment of the tropical climate. My longing for warm weather resurrect my memories of Baler seventy-four years back. I used to stroll along the shore of the Outer Banks; an island a kilometer away east of town¾ Sabang, Labasin, and Buton. The hamlet of Castillo at the southern tip was once a part of it. But that area was transformed and relocated by the tidal waves on the other side, east of Kinalapan-Pingit river during the seventies.
It was in 1847, that castillo (fortress) came into existence. Two were built, one was located atop Point Baja (Ermita), and the other was by the outfall of Kinalapan-Pingit River. The construction was an innovation of the parish priest, Fray Jose Urbina de Esparragosa assigned in Baler from June 7, 1840 to 01 May 26, 1853.
Accordingly, the fortresses were built as an observation post or a watchtower. It served to warn the community of marauders/pirates coming to Baler Bay, which happened on occasions. The most severe and catastrophic occurred in the summer of 1798. Marauders from southern Philippines plundered and swept the towns along the Pacific seaboard. In Baler, they had taken prisoner Fray Benito Zambudio or Zamudio, the parish priest, and held him for ransom.
This photo was from Mr. Rollie Querijero. It was a group shot of a Flores de Mayo entourage taken inside Baler Church. In May 1939. It has so many details that a historian could learn many things just from this one photo. You might have pictures like this hidden in your Kak-ka’s baul. Bring them to light, have them scanned and give them a second life. That’s why photographs were invented, for the memories. Post it on your facebook page or send it to me at batangbaler at gmail dot com.
One of the most viewed photo album in my Facebook account is this collection of old photos from Baler and Aurora collected from the web, old books and magazines and from Balerians like Poppo Olag and Mrs. Mesina. Some photos from this collection have made it to exhibits at the National Library, NCCA, Malacañang and The Museo De Baler. If you want to add pictures to this collection, then start digging.
Young people of Baler wouldn’t probably know where Caledian is. They would know Suklayin which is one of the big Barangays of the town and where the provincial seat of government is located. Caledian is now just a Sitio of Bgy. Suklayin. It probably got its name from “Kalye Diyan” (the street over there). It has no formal geographical boundary but it’s located along the Quezon highway somewhere between Gloria Street and the Provincial Capitol. The original Suklayin starts at the curve of the highway where the old DPWH (BPH) used to be located and ends at the boundary with San Luis, the place we call Welcome. We live in Caledian since I was a child so i have many fond memories of the place, but that’s another story.
The Google Earth picture above is of Caledian and Suklayin – in Arayat, Pampanga. Coincidence? Not really. That place used to be the farm of Manuel L. Quezon. I first read about a place in Arayat called Caledian from Manuel L. Quezon III’s column in the Inquirer where he wrote about his grandfathers’ farm called “Caleidan”. I wondered if there was a connection with the Caledian here in Baler. It turned out that Pres. Quezon and Mrs. Quezon named it after the place here in Baler, where they also had farms. They loved their hometown so much they made an “avatar” of it in a place that’s nearer to Manila. Of course they also brought in some Balerians to stay in the place to make it more authentic.
Poppo Olag, a retired US navy now living in the USA, read my short note here at Batangbaler and emailed me this:
You bet, the name of the Quezonâ€™s Hacienda in Arayat were not only Kaledian but on the other side was Suklayin. We lived in the farm from 1940 until the outbreak of World War II. Tata Manuel was in charge of Kaledian Farm, while Mang Tomas Ranillo was in charge of Suklayin Farm. Tatay was in charge of the construction of Mt. Arayat National Park. Nonong and I used to climb the Ratilis tree at the back of their house. That was the good old days. We walked back to Baler from Arayat in 1942 when everything quieted down. And, where we settled down? Back to Suklayin!
So it turned out that there’s also a place beside Caledian in Arayat called Suklayin. And those places retained the names until now. So what happened to the farm in Arayat? The family of Manuel L. Quezon, being a champion of social justice and a trailblazer of agrarian reform, redistributed the land to its tenants and farmworkers. Which was also what he did in Baler. When he was president, he ordered a cadastral survey of Baler and gave two portions of lands to each family, a small lot at the Poblacion and a bigger track of land at the outskirts of the town. Most of the lands their family owned in Baler were also given away. Almost a century later, he is still remembered for those unselfish acts. I wonder how we will remember those who are now more into taking than giving.