Information gather from the island of Siquijor
LEGEND OF SIQUIJOR ISLAND
Long, long time ago, Siquijor was not among the islands in the Philippine Archipelago. One evening a strong earthquake and a thunderstorm occurred. Flashes of blinding lightning laced the sky in white fire. Deafening thunder roared. The earth shuddered. The sea raged. From the churning waters of the ocean's womb was birthed an island. Until today farmers up in the mountains still find empty giant shells beneath the surface of their farms. Does this suggest some truth to the theory that Siquijor rose out of the sea?
Soon the place was covered with varieties of trees, the greater number of which were tugas (molave) trees. Because of the preponderance of tugas in the area, old people called the place "katugasan."
At night fireflies covered these trees. Spanish soldiers and missionaries aboard galleons plying the Visayan area at night noticed the sparkling nocturnal scene. They called the island "Isla de Fuegos" or Island of Fire, referring to the eerie glow the island gave at night as Spanish galleons passed by.
Wishing to know more about the mysterious island, the Spaniards visited the place. Upon their arrival, they met a native who was fishing. They asked him in Spanish what the name of the place was. The native thought he was asked his name and responded "Si Kihod," limping around to demonstrate how he got his name. Because Spaniards found it difficult to pronounce the "d" eventually "Si Kihod" was changed to Siquijor.
Others maintained that King Kihod was the island's legendary ruler. Still others claimed that "Kihod" is the beginning of low tide when the seawater is drawn from the shore to the open sea. The Spaniards arrived at the place when the sea was ebbing.
Very little is known about Siquijor and its inhabitants
before the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century. The original inhabitants
came as farmers and fishermen from Cebu, Bohol and the adjacent islands.
In 1903, a cholera epidemic struck that almost wiped out the population of Talingting. Scores of people succumbed daily to the dreaded disease. The corpses hard to be carried to Larena for the church rites and burial. Since there were no means of transportation at that time, the caskets had to be placed on makeshift bamboo stretchers and carried by pole bearers all the way to Larena, a good twelve kilometers from the village. Since quite a number had to buried daily, the people had to make several trips each day. At the height of the epidemic, it was not unusual to see people carrying corpses to and from Larena, as some people who were with the funeral procession were overtaken by the disease along the way and had to be carried back on the same stretcher to be buried the next day.
It was a gruesome sight to see and endless trek of people negotiating the mountainous trail to Larena to bury their dead, and to carry back on their way home another victim of the disease who fell along the way.
In 1918, another epidemic took a heavy toll of lives. This time, the dreaded smallpox disease, created untold hardships, suffering and misery among the village folks. Those who witnessed the 1903 cholera epidemic thought that the wrath of the evil spirits was on them.
It was the sad and tragic experiences of the people in the village that made them entertain the idea of seceding from Larena as a separate political entity and to enjoy greater autonomy in the conduct of their political affairs.
The task of bringing the matter of autonomy to the authorities in Negros Oriental, which was the seat of the provincial government at that time, fell on a committee created for the purpose. The committee which was composed of prominent people in the village, was headed by the late Rafael Maglangit who lost no time in bringing the matter to the authorities in Negros Oriental. A representation was made in the Philippine Legislature. Finally in April 1924, the municipality of Enrique Villanueva was inaugurated. It comprised the territory of the whole village of Talingting, from Lotloton in the south to Bitaug in the north, a total of 14 barangays in all.
The first to occupy the mayoralty was the late Rafael Maglangit, a principal teacher by profession and the head of the delegation that petitioned for complete separation of Talingting. He served until 1932 and was succeeded by Patricio Para who served from 1932 until the Japanese occupation in 1943.
During the Japanese time in 1943, the Japanese Military government appointed the late Eustaquio Tedlos as mayor of the town. In the early days of the American liberation of the Philippines, the USAFFE instituted the late Casiano Aque to act as mayor of the town to replace Eustaquio Tedlos who was accused of collaborating with the Japanese.
Between 1945 and 1946, when the Commonwealth Government was finally restored, Maryo Patricio Para came back to serve the remaining days of his term.
Early in April 1946, barely 8 months after the end of World War II, a general election was held in the Philippines. Former Mayor Casiano Aque who ran as mayor under the Liberal Party won overwhelmingly over his opponent.
Mayor Casiano Aque served for 2 terms when he
was elected again in the elections in 1949. In 1953 he lost to Roque Aquino.
Aquino served as mayor until the early days of his second term when he
was appointed Provinical Assessor for Siquijor. His vice mayor, Angel Putong,
took over until the end of the term. In 1961, Angel Putong lost to Porferio
Inguito. From then on, several personalities graced the mayoralty seat
in succeeding political exercises. They were:
Earl Stanley Matas (the present mayor, as of January 1997)
It should be noted that during the martial law regime, then Assemblyman Manolito Asok filed a bill changing the name enrique Villanueva to Talingting, the old familiar name for which the town is popularly known. The bill which became a law now mandates that for all forms and purposes, the name TALINGTING should be used to refer to the previous name of EnriqueVillanueva.
Such is the history of Talingting, a small but
peaceful town in the northeastern part of Siquijor which in the course
of time was able to produce 3 provincial governors; Vicente Villanueva,
Marcial Pal-ing, and Ben P. Aquino); two division superintendents for the
DECS Division of Siquijor; Victorio Concepcion and Candida D. Samson.
During the American occupation, the presidents
were Narciso Tangcalagan, 1916-1919; Placido Ligutom, 1919-1922; Eustaquio
Ligutom, 1922-1924; Fermin Paglinawan, 1925-1927; Antonio Marchan, 1928-1930.
Telesforo Lumacad became the first municipal mayor. He served for 3 consecutive
terms. He was the municipal mayor during the Japanese occupation. He was
forced to surrender to the Japanese because the Japanese threatened to
kill all other municipal officials. He was put to jail. During the liberation
time, Marcelo Fua served as the town mayor. He was then followed by Arturo
Ontal and Vicente Monte
At this period, Siquijor was briefly governed by Shunzo Suzuki, a Japanese civilian appointed by the Japanese Imperiol Forces until he was assassinated by the guerilla forces led by Iluminado Jumawanin Caipilan, Siquijor in October 1942. Mamor Fukuda took over the control of Siquijor from June 1943 until the Japanese forces abandoned the island when the liberation forces came in 1944.
At the outbreak of World War II, Siquijor, then a sub-province of Negros Oriental, was headed by Lieutenant Governor Nicolas Parami. Refusing to pledge allegiance to the Japanese Imperial Forces, Lt. Governor Parami was taken by Japanese soldiers from his residence at Poo, Lazi one evening and brought to the Military headquarters in Larena. He was never heard of again.
The Japanese announced their arrival in the island by heavy shelling. On November 10, 1942, Japanese warships started shelling Lazi town from Cang-abas Point. Properties and lives were lost. Then followed the enemy occupation. In Lazi, a garrison was established in the old Home Economics Building of the Central School.
In 1943, the Japanese Puppet Government appointed
Sebastian Monera of San Juan as governor of Siquijor. His administration
however was cut short when he was executed presumably by Filipino guerillas
operating in the mountains of Siquijor.
Siquijor island felt the presence of American rule when a unit of the American Cavalry Division came over and stayed for sometime. The American Military Governor in Manila appointed James Fugate, a scout with the California Volunteers of the U.S. Infantry, to oversee and to implement the organization and development programs in Siquijor Island.
Governor Fugate stayed for 16 years as lieutenant governor of Siquijor. In line with the policy of Civil Governor William H. Taft advocating The Philippines for the Filipinos", and in consonance with the provisions of the Jones Law which was passed in 1961, more and more Filipinos were allowed to hold important offices in the government. It was during this time that Governor Fugate relinquished his office to give way to a Filipino in the person of Demetrio Larena who was appointed governor of Negros Oriental including Siquijor Island, which was then administratively and politically attached to Negros Oriental as a sub-province.
Governor Demetrio Larena served from 1916 to 1920. He was responsible for renaming the old town of Canoan to Larena after his name which held on to the present. He is remembered as the First Filipino Governor for Negros Oriental and Siquijor.
After his term ended, Pablo Bueno succeeded Governor Larena. Like his predecessor, Governor Pablo Bueno became the second Filipino to occupy the position of governor for Negros Oriental and Siquijor. Governor Bueno only held the office of governor for 2 years from 1920 to 1922.
In 1922 General Leonard Wood visited Siquijor to appraise its public works. President Manuel L Quezon also came and visited the island on board the presidential yacht "Casiana."
With the passage of the Jones Act, the government of the Philippines became autonomous. It was during this time that provincial governors were elected by suffrage. However, at this time, Siquijor was under Negros Oriental as a sub-province in which the highest governing office was vested in a lieutenant governor. In an election held in 1922, Tomas Padayhag of Larena became the first lieutenant governor to be elected into office in Siquijor Island. His term of office began in 1922 and ended in 1924, a period of two years.
In the succeeding election in 1924, Vicente Villanueva was elected lieutenant governor. He came from the town of Talingting. During his term, he established the Larena Sub-Provincial High School, which in time became the Larena National Vocational School until it became the Siquijor State College today. It was also during his term that Talingting was changed to Enrique Villanueva, after Negros Oriental Governor Enrique Villanueva who worked hard to make in into a municipality.
In 1928, Marcial Pal-ing also from Talingting succeeded Vicente Villanueva, his brother-in-law. Lieutenant Governor Pal-ing stayed in the office until 1932. During his term, he continued the projects began by his predecessor Vicente Villanueva especially on the continuing improvements on the Larena wharf.
In another election in 1932, Sergio Jumawan of Siquijor town but who chose to reside in Larena was elected Lieutenant-Governor succeeding Vicente Villanueva.
Rapid development and progress of Siquijor Island marked the administration of Lieutenant Governor Sergio Jumawan. The island circumferential road which was laid out by then Governor James Fugate was improved. The Larena wharf was developed. A separate office of the Bureau of Public Works was established in Larena. More schoolhouses were constructed. A telephone line connecting all towns to the central station in Larena was laid out.
In 1934, Lieutenant Governor Jumawan was elected as delegate to the Philippine Constitution Convention to frame the Philippine Constitution to form the basis of the Philippine Commonwealth Government, which was inaugurated on November 15, 1935.
Siquijor Island, particularly the town of Larena, saw its heyday when on the third term of Lieutenant Governor Jumawan in 1937, a German prospector discovered a huge manganese deposit in the mountains of Larena, Enrique Villanueve and Maria. Lieutenant Governor Jumawan, together with his brothers Engineer Jose Jumawan and Dr. Maximo Jumawan lost no time in acquiring the mineral rights on these lands. In due time, the manganese mines were fully operational under the Luzon Stevedoring Company which was composed of American nationals. Technicians and skilled laborers were recruited from neighboring islands. The convergence of these people in Larena spurred business activities, which in no time at all made it a boom town.
In the elections of 1938, Lieutenant Governor
Jumawan gave way to his brother, Dr. Maximo Jumawan to run for the office
of the Lieutenant-Governor who was challenged by Nicolas Parami from Lazi.
Eventually, Nicolas Parami came out the winner and was duly proclaimed
the fourth elected lieutenant governor of Siquijor.
Baldomero Samson succeeded Governor Iluminado
Jumawan. He was also an appointee of the USAFFE who served until the early
part of 1946.
San Juan was organized as a new and distinct municipality in the sub-province of Siquijor, Negros Oriental by virtue of the "Acta del Ano 1863". This document which concluded the negotiation for the creation of the new municipality of San Juan was negotiated by the governadorcillos of the municipalities of Lazi and Siquijor. Don Francisco Ortiz was sent by the politico military governor of Cebu, Don Miguel Creus y Campus to represent him and to act as moderator in the negotiation. It was also attended by the curas parrocos of the 2 older municipalities and by prominent residents of the then town site of San Juan.
Worded in Castillan, the historic document defined
the intentions of the inhabitants of San Juan and delineated the present
territorial boundaries of the new municipality. It considerably reduced
the size of the municipality of Siquijor while it also resulted in a slight
shrinkage on the part of Lazi. Although the Acta was signed by the parties
concerned on 24 October 1863, it was only on the 6th day of November 1863
when the district government ratified the document.
Governor Pal-ing stayed on until 1951 when Eulogio Omictin who ran and won under the Nacionalista Party succeeded him. Governor Omictin stayed on until the martial law period, holding the record of the "longest staying governor."
In 1978, Manolito Asok of Maria succeeded him
who in turn was succeeded by then Vice Governor Lucito Balanay when Governor
Asok was elected assemblyman for the lone district of Siquijor. In the
aftermath of the EDSA revolution Governor Balanay was forced out of office
on orders of Aquilino Pimentel, a henchman of President Cory Aquino. Taking
his place was Orland Fua of Lazi in an OIC capacity. In the 1987 election,
OIC Governor Fua was elected Congressman for the lone district of Siquijor
with an overwhelming majority. Benjamin P. Aquino succeeded him as governor
of Siquijor. In the 1995 elections, Governor Aquino lost to Lucito Balanay
who assumed the office for the second time.
With the coming of the Americans at the turn of the century, Canoan still was regarded as a "cabezera" where Governor James Fugate, the first American governor of Siquijor, held office for some 16 long years ending in 1916. In the same year, the authorities in Manila, acting on the recommendation of local authorities officially declared Canoan as a capital town.
During his term which began in 1916, Governor Demetrio Larena, the first Filipino governor for Negros Oriental and Siquijor, changed the name Canoan to Larena, his namesake, which was duly approved by the Philippine legislature.
In 1918, Donato de los Nieves was appointed the first municipal mayor of Larena, serving until 1922. He was followed by Timoteo Lomongo who won in the 1922 election. In 1926, Timoteo R. Yurong became the third elected mayor of Larena. In the following election of 1930, Leoncio Quijano got the majority of the electoral votes and won the mayoralty seat. Mayor Quijano was followed by Cornelio Padayhag in the later part of 1937. From 1937 on through the war years, Mayor Padayhag served his office without break until he was replaced by Francisco Marti during the early months of the liberation period.
In the first post-war elections of 1946, Nepunoceno Calibo who ran under the Liberal Party, was elected to office as mayor. In the 1949 election, Conrado Cayongcong,Sr. was elected to office. He was followed by Antonio Albito in 1953.
From then on until the declaration of martial law in 1972, several personalities shared the mayoral seat after every four years. Mayor Albito was followed by Restituto Calibo. Then Antonio Albito bounced back to serve as mayor, his second time. In the following election, he was replaced by Herbert Calibo, who in turn was followed by Soledado Lumosad. Juanito Calibo followed and stayed for most of the martial law era and again succeeded by Herbert Calibo.
The post-EDSA revolution saw Mayor Remedios Albito at the helm of the mayoral office until the present, besting other political aspirants for the office in 3 successive elections since then.
All through the years, spanning the time before and after the war, Larena maintained its position as the hub of business activities in the province. The small but safe port of Larena is a strategic port of call for merchant ships from major cities in Central Visayas and Northern Mindanao. It is home to two commercial banks and a rural bank. Most nationally known commercial establishments usually set their shops here.
One of the remaining bright spots of the town
of Larena is the continuous evolution of one of its educational institutions.
The Larena Sub-Provincial High School, another landmark, established during
the time of Governor Vicente Villanueva evolved to become the Larena National
Vocational School and ultimately to Siquijor State College, drawing a great
number of young people all over the province and neighboring provinces
to its fold.
From caves, fields and diggings various Chinese porcelain were found, indicating the arrival of Chinese’s influence in this island. In the first half of the 19th century, the island was administered as part of the Province of Cebu. This province was made up of a multitude of islands like Cebu, Bohol (Bohol), Siquijor, Camotes, Mactan, Bantayan, Mino, Dawis and Panglao.
The neighboring island of Negros which has been a 'corregimiento' from the beginning of the 17th century became a province in 1839 as 'alcaldia mayor de ascenso' and a 'gobierno politico-militar' in 1855.
The fate of Siquijor changed when Bohol became a separate province on 22 July 1854. By a royal decree it was constituted into a politico-military province together with the island of Siquijor.
Simple geographical proximity should have dictated that Siquijor be made a part of the province of Negros rather than that of the Bohol; but the seat of the mayoralty was Bacolod on the west coast of Negros, far away from Siquijor. Tagbilaran on the west coast of Bohol was decidedly easier to reach.
As early as 1864, the governor of the Visayas in Cebu proposed the creation of a new 'politico-military government' to control the eastern part of Negros Island with Dumaguete as the capital. The proposal further suggested that the Island of Siquijor, which was then made up of 4 towns, be added to the Oriental coast because it is nearer (7 miles) away while it is some 20 miles away from Bohol.
By a royal decree of 25 October 1889, the island of Negros was administratively cut in half. The politico-military government of Negros Oriental was brought into being. Siquijor however, had not been included in the new province.
The Decree of Union (joining the island of Siquijor to the new province of Negros Oriental) was signed by General Valeriano Weyler (Governor-General of the Philippines) on 19 January 1892 and was ratified by a Real Order dated December 3 of the same year. Manuel de la Reguera, Commander of Escalante and Tanjay was appointed temporary Governor of the Province until May 1890 when its first proprietary Governor,, commander of the Cavalry Joaquin Taviera took possession of it.
But Siquijor still remained under the hegemony of a larger and more powerful neighbor, this time it was with Negros Oriental. It was almost out of reach for administrators who did not reside there, who rarely visited it and whose interests and concerns clearly lay with the larger of the two islands. An advantage of this relative geographical and political isolation was that little of the turmoil that rocked the entire island of Negros and of the Philippines during the nationalist revolution of 1896 and the Spanish American war of 1898 ever affected it. The condition in the island was generally quiet during these troubled times.