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Town of Abra de Ilog


 

HISTORY OF ABRA DE ILOG

By Rudy Candelario 

Translated in English by Benjamin Walata

 

I – DURING THE SPANISH REGIME

 

           

            Sto. Tomas was the first village in this community which was mentioned in the history written by Dutch researcher Antoon Postma, about the Parish of Calavite.  According to the aforementioned researcher, Sto. Tomas was one of the mission stations being visited by Spanish missionaries in 1679.  That same year, the parish priest of Baco also mentioned in his report that in the barrio of Ylog, he baptized fifteen (15) children and seventy eight (78) adults.

 

            Mr. Postma also mentioned in his historical pamphlet Mindoro Missions Revisited that in 1722, a community for the indigenous people belonging to the Iraya tribe was established by the Augustinian Recollect missionaries in Talasungan, one of the places under Abra de Ilog at present.

 

            In 1739, a group of Moto pirates attacked Talasungan.  They burned the houses, after divesting it of its valuable objects.  They captured many inhabitants of the village and sold them as slaves.  The following year, they again plundered the village.

 

            In 1750, a Spanish missionary reported that Talasungan was a mission station where three hundred fifty (350) baptized Irayas and one thousand (1,000) catechumens being taught by Fr. Tomas de < xml="true" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" prefix="st1" namespace="">San Jose of the Catholic faith, resided.[1]

 

            It was mentioned in an old document of the Spaniards that in 1765, Fr. Jose de San Antonio, the missionary assigned in Dongon, a village which was located at the present site of Brgy. San Nicolas, Sablayan was transferred to Ilog, the old name of the municipality of Abra de Ilog.

 

            Due to the continuous attack of Moro pirates, the mission station of Talasungan was totally destroyed in 1788.  Fr. Juan dela Concepcion, a Recollect missionary wrote that “even the beautiful garden of flowers was mercilessly trampled and destroyed by the Moros.”  

           

            In 1803, the Spanish missionary again established Abra de Ilog.  In this place, they gathered, taught and baptized the indigenous people who lived in the mountains.  In 1807, a missionary described in his report that in Mission San Rafael de Ylog, there were twenty nine (29) houses and one hundred thirty nine (139) baptized Irayas.     

 

            A priest assigned in Calapan, who visited Abra de Ilog in 1827, stated in his report that Domingo Pangilinan was the gobernadorcillo of this village.  It was stated in an old map drawn in 1829 that this place was a visita of Calapan, with sixty two taxpayers and has a baluarte or fort where a pedrero or a mason worked. 

 

            In 1832, when the people of Sablayan filed a complaint against the parish priest of Iriron due to his harsh treatment of his parishioners, the castillano or Spaniard who lived in Abra de Ilog helped them approach the concerned government officials in Calapan.

 

            Before the Filipinos revolted against the Spaniards, the families of Zoleta from Marinduque and Leyco from Batangas arrived.  Almost all public land in Abra de Ilog were bought by these two families.[2]

 

            In 1898, a group of revolutionaries from Abra de Ilog helped the group of Filipino freedom fighters who attacked Calapan, particularly the capitol where Mindoro Governor Rafael Morales held office.  After one month, with the support of Col. Alfonso Panopio of Batangas, the revolutionaries of Mindoro forced Governor Morales to surrender.  The formal surrender of the Spanish governor took place at the spacious plaza of Calapan, on July 1, 1898.[3]

 

 

II – DURING THE AMERICAN REGIME

 

 

            The independence gained by the Mindoreños from the Spaniards lasted only for almost four years.  In August 1901, the American soldiers under the command of Major R.K. Evans attacked Mindoro.  A company led by Captain F.B. Shaw attacked Calapan and Abra de Ilog.  A group of revolutionaries under the command of Col. Deogracias Leyco gallantly defended Abra de Ilog.  Although the defenders of Calapan surrendered, the group of Col. Leyco continued resisting the American soldiers using the guerrilla style of fighting.  Their armed resistance lasted for almost a year before they finally surrender due to the superior weapons of the enemies.[4]

 

            In 1902, under the American government, Abra de Ilog was created as a municipality.  Rosalio Miciano was appointed as the first municipal president.

 

            To lessen the expenses in administering the local government, the American authorities reduced the number of municipalities in Mindoro.  On January 4, 1905 by virtue of Act 1280, Abra de Ilog was made as a barrio of Mamburao.  After five years or in 1910, it was again created as a municipality.

 

            From 1908 to 1912, during the administration of Captain Louis J. Van Schaick as governor of Mindoro, only four barrios were under the jurisdiction of Abra de Ilog.  The barrios were Balao, Camurong, Baluguhan and Kabignayan.  However, from 1914 up to 1969, during the administration of Filipino governors, more barrios were created and added to the original four.  The additional barrios were San Vicente, Cabacao, Tibag, Wawa, Lumangbayan and Matabang.[5]

 

            The first building for the primary school was constructed at the center of the municipality of Abra de Ilog in 1916.  The following years, the government appointed teachers and built schoolhouses at the different barrios of the town.

            The road connecting Abra de Ilog and Mamburao was constructed by the Americans.  It was finished in 1935.  Due to this development, many schoolchildren of Abra de Ilog were able to study at the elementary school of Mamburao.  It became easier for the people of Mamburao to go to Abra de Ilog and board the big sailboat plying the Batangas-Abra de Ilog route.[6]

 

            In the book written by Professor Remigio Agpalo in 1971, with the title of The Political Elite and the People, he mentioned that a school for the Iraya tribe was established by the American government at Sitio Tara, Brgy. Balao, Abra de Ilog on January 11, 1939 by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 369.  The classes opened for the children of the indigenous people at Tara Settlement Farm School were from Grade I to Grade IV.  Unfortunately, World War II broke out and the school was closed.[7]

 

            One of the incidents which the people of Abra de Ilog, particularly of Brgy. Wawa could not forget, was the visit of President Manuel Quezon to this town in 1941.  The president was aboard his yacht which dropped anchor near the shore of Wawa.  He conferred with the local officials of Abra de Ilog inside his yacht.[8]

 

            The leaders who served as municipal presidents of Abra de Ilog during the American regime were Gavino de Jesus, Jose Zoleta, Ricardo Zoleta II, Francisco Isla, Leon Venturanza, Estanislao Vasquez and Ireneo Cortuna. 

 

 

III – DURING THE JAPANESE REGIME

 

 

            In 1942, when the Japanese soldiers under the command of Captain Gashawara occupied Abra de Ilog, they burned the buildings t the town’s center.  They converted into a garrison the old house of Ricardo Zoleta, the richest person in that town.  In the said garrison, they killed twenty suspected members or supporters of the guerrilla movement and tortured fifty civilians in their intense desire to find the hideout of the group of communication experts led by Major Philips.

 

            A group of guerrillas was formed by Sgt. Ciriaco Ramos and Sgt. Mateo Serra in Abra de Ilog.  They joined it with the group of freedom fighters in Paluan under the leadership of Lt. Pedro Nitura.[9]

 

            In 1942, a big fire believed to be started by the Japanese soldiers razed to the ground almost all the buildings and houses in Abra de Ilog.  Those who lost their homes evacuated to the mountains and other municipalities.

 

            During the war, suspected of being a supporter of the enemies, Col. Deogracias Leyco, the former leader of the Filipino revolutionaries who was appointed as municipal judge by the American authorities was killed by the guerrillas.

 

            In 1943, a group of soldiers who were experts in communication and led by Major Lawrence Phillips, built an underground radio communication network at Mt. Calavite.  One of the places which the said group often visited was Abra de Ilog.  The group was a big help to the combined Filipino-American forces who were fighting the Japanese for it reported the activities and movements of the Japanese warplanes and warships on the sea surrounding the island of Mindoro, including Manila Bay.[10]            

                 

            After months of intensive manhunt and with the help of their spies, the Japanese soldiers were able to locate the hideout of Major Phillips.  In March 1944, the enemies riddled with bullets Major Phillips and his companions while they were taking a bath at Kabilugan River, Abra de Ilog.  Luckily, Lt. Ruben Siongco and Sgt. Benjamin Harder, survived the treacherous assault.  

 

            When Major Phillips died, Major Ramsey, an American official accompanied by twelve scout rangers arrived in Abra de Ilog.  Within their three hour stay in this town, they gathered information on the incident which led to the assassination of Major Phillips.

 

            In July 1944, Commander George Rowe and his group arrived in Abra de Ilog.  They continued the mission of Major Phillips --- monitoring the movement of the Japanese soldiers in Mindoro, Southern Tagalog and Manila, through the messages intercepted from the radio network of the enemies.  They established their headquarters and radio communication equipment at Barrio Matabang.  The information they gathered were of great help to the Filipino guerrillas and American soldiers who continued the fight against the Japanese Imperial Army while they were waiting for the return to the Philippines of the liberation forces led by General Douglas McArthur.

 

            On December 15, 1944 members of the Allied Forces landed at the municipality of San Jose.  Before the end of the said month, the liberating forces freed from the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army all the towns in West Mindoro, including Abra de Ilog.  The enemy soldiers who were occupying Abra de Ilog retreated to the mountains of Paluan.[11]     

 

 

IV – AFTER THE WAR

 

 

            After the war, Mayor Francisco Leido served as the leader of Abra de Ilog.  He strived for the economic and moral recovery of the people of this municipality from the great damage brought by World War II.

 

            In 1950, a member of the municipal council of Abra de Ilog, Councilor Rafael Licera, tried to reopen Tara Settlement Farm School, the school for the indigenous people belonging to the Iraya tribe.  Fred Sumbad, an Igorot who was appointed as field representative of the Commission on National Integration (CNI) in Sablayan, helped him.  Their request for the reopening of the school was endorsed by the CNI to the Superintendent of Schools and Congressman Felipe Abeleda.  Unfortunately, since no funds were available for the reopening of the school, the request was not granted.[12]

 

            Mayor Vicente del Mundo succeeded Mayor Leido as the town’s executive.  He also worked for the moral and economic recovery of his people from the damages brought by war. 

 

            The next chief executive of the municipality was Mayor Dionisio Cortuna.  During his administration, the office of the municipal government was placed at the building which is now being used as rural health center.

 

            After the term of office of Mayor Cortuna, Honorable Apolinario Zoleta was elected as the mayor of Abra de Ilog.  He constructed the building for the public market building in this municipality.     

 

            Dr. Jose Rubio, a dentist, was the next municipal mayor of Abra de Ilog.  Through his efforts and with the support of the national and provincial government, the municipal building was built.  In connection with his public health program, canals were dug on both sides of the roads at the center of the municipality of Abra de Ilog. 

 

            Motorboats for passengers and cargoes started plying the Abra de Ilog – Batangas City route in 1955.  The aforementioned sea vessels dropped anchor near the seashore of Sitio Matabang.  Due to this development the flow of goods and services became brisk and many families from other provinces migrated to Abra de Ilog.

 

            Another politician from the Zoleta clan was elected as mayor of Abra de Ilog after the term of office of Mayor Rubio.  He was Mayor Ricardo Zoleta II.

 

            When Fr. John Fisher, SVD was assigned as parish priest of this municipality in 1965, he founded San Rafael High School.  Many youth of Abra de Iog were given the opportunity to pursue secondary education due to the presence of this Catholic high school.[13] 

 

            In 1969, Hon. Apolinario Zoleta was again elected as municipal mayor of Abra de Ilog.  He succeeded Mayor Ricardo Zoleta II.  Some of the projects he implemented were the repair of the municipal building, construction of a building for the offices of different government agencies and the concrete stage at the municipal plaza.

 

            In 1972, when Mayor Gonzalo Zoleta was the local chief executive, a system for potable water was established in Abra de Ilog.  Electricity supplied by the electric cooperative of Oriental Mindoro reached this municipality.

 

            For the third time, Hon. Apolinario Zoleta was elected as the municipal mayor of Abra de Ilog.  In 1986, during his last year in office, the municipal building of Abra de Ilog was burned.

 

V – AFTER THE PEACEFUL EDSA REVOLUTION

 

 

            After the peaceful revolution at EDSA in 1986, President Corazon Aquino appointed Ricardo Reyes as OIC Mayor of Abra de Ilog.  He did his duty well that during the 1987 Elections, his town mates decided to extend his term as mayor of this municipality.  Under his administration, a new building was constructed to house the different offices of the municipal government, concrete roads and municipal plaza were built, including a center for the senior citizens of this place.

 

            Despite the peace process advocated by the government, during the last part of Decade Eighties, the rebel group belonging to the New Peoples Army (NPA) strengthened their force in Occidental Mindoro.  In 1987, a big group of NPA rebels entered the town’s center.  They gathered the people, including the policemen in front of the municipal hall.  They explained to the crowd the ideology of the communists.

 

            When the commanding officer of the Philippine Constabulary (PC) detachment in Mamburao learned about the presence of the NPAs in Abra de Ilog, a group of soldiers led by Lt. Leonides Ortiz was sent to this place.  Unfortunately, another group of NPA rebels ambushed the soldiers in a sitio of Brgy. Armado, near Brgy. Cabacao.  Lt. Ortiz died during the ambush.  The eighteen soldiers and a civilian who were with him in the military truck were wounded in that treacherous attack.  The communication facilities of the soldiers were totally destroyed.  The rebels took with them the twelve high caliber firearms of the soldiers when they retreated to the mountains.[14]

 

            To avoid the occurrence of similar incidents in the future, the government intensified the giving of seminars to the people in the rural areas, highlighting the advantages of a democratic form of government.  They also strengthened the implementation of the peace process in the province.

 

            In 1988, during the administration of Occidental Mindoro Governor Peter Medalla, Jr., a concrete pier was constructed in Abra de Ilog.  The travelers started using it in 1992.  Due to this development project, the number of sea vessels plying the Abra de Ilog – Batangas City route increased.  Roll-on roll-off ships carried not only passengers and cargoes but also passenger jeeps and cargo trucks from other municipalities of Occidental Mindoro.  The number of passenger jeeps and buses going to Abra de Ilog from other towns of the province increased.  The roads and bridges joining Abra de Ilog and Mamburao were repaired.  However, due to the uncontrolled cutting of trees on the mountains of this town, every rainy season, flood frequently occurred and the roads and bridges were oftentimes destroyed.

 

            In answer to the request of parents & teachers, a public high school was opened by the Department of Education in Abra de Ilog, in 1992.  As a result, two schools offering secondary education could be found in Abra de Ilog; San Rafael High School and Abra de Ilog National High School.[15]

 

            During the 1998 Elections, Atty. Ma. Gloria Montenegro was elected as municipal mayor of Abra de Ilog.  Among her visible accomplishments were the concreting of roads and bridges.  He attended to the needs of her constituents, including the indigenous people belonging to the Iraya tribe.  With the support of the national & provincial government, the highway joining Abra de Ilog and Mamburao was widened and turned into concrete. 

 

            Despite the effort of Mayor Montenegro to maintain peace & order in Abra de Ilog, the NPA rebels continued to sow fear to the people of this municipality.  On October 18, 2002 SPO4 Christopher Pacaul was killed by NPA hit men while he was on his way to his boarding house.  The soldiers immediately hunted the perpetrators of the crime but up to the present time, they were not able to capture the assassins.  Due to that fateful incident, military checkpoints were put up in some portions of the highway linking Abra de Ilog and Mamburao.[16]

 

            Mayor Ma. Gloria Montenegro was reelected as  the local chief executive of Abra de Ilog during the 2004 Elections.  She continued implementing the development projects in this municipality.

 

HISTORY OF THE NINE BARANGAYS OF ABRA DE ILOG

 

 

I – ARMADO

 

 

            The indigenous people belonging to the Iraya tribe were the first settlers of this place.  They lived by hunting and farming using the kaingin system of agriculture. As much as possible, they avoided contact with the lowlanders.  They also avoided the Spanish missionaries during the Spanish regime.

 

            During the last part of the Spanish regime, families from Batangas and Marinduque who were looking for vacant land to farm, landed at the seashore of Abra de Ilog.  Some of them reached this sitio.  They bought the kaingin of the Iraya and occupied the wide vacant land.  The indigenous people transferred to the mountains.

 

            Life was peaceful and simple for the families who settled in this part of Abra de Ilog.  However, when the Filipinos revolted against the Spaniards, men of this place joined the revolutionary forces.  The freedom fighters hid their arms in this sitio.  During that time, the male inhabitants of this place carried weapons or were armed.  In Spanish, armed men were called armado.  The sitio got its name from that word.

 

            In 1901, during the American occupation of Mindoro, people from other places arrived and lived in Armado.  As a result, in this sitio, one could hear not only Tagalog but also Ilocano, Bicolano and Visayan dialects.  Barrio officials of Cabacao were the ones who administered this sitio.

 

For years, the children of Armado attended classes at the elementary school of Cabacao.  In 1974, through the efforts of Franco Mercene, the Department of Education opened Grade I & Grade II classes in this sitio.  Many pupils enrolled in the primary school.  After two years, the primary school became a complete elementary school.

 

After the establishment of Armado Elementary School, the farmers formed a cooperative.  It was called Armado Multi-Purpose Cooperative.  Seventy (70) members joined the group.

 

On August 21, 1991 Armado was elevated to the status of a barangay.  Appointed as its first barangay captain was Lauro Damiray.  The first members of the Sangguniang Barangay were Ellen Mauleon, Villardo Zoleta, Bayani Quiñones, Larry Belen, Hermogenes Dimasacat and Yolito Cortuna.  Appointed as barangay secretary and barangay treasurer were Evelyn Quiñones and William Cordis, respectively.

 

During the election held in May 1994, Sancho Quiåones was elected as barangay captain.  The members of the Sangguniang Barangay were Myrna Manalo, Loreto Manalo, Isidro Bumatay, Arturo Fajardo, Manolo Villalobos, Yolito Cortuna and Adolfo Damiray.  Appointed as secretary & treasurer of the barangay were Rudemson Fajardo and William Cordis respectively.

 

Through the efforts of the abovementioned officials, a day care center, health center, waiting shed, basketball court and meeting hall were constructed in Armado.  Two classrooms were built and the comfort room of the school was repaired.  In addition, the road connecting Armado with its eight sitios were improved.

 

On May 11, 1997 Sancho Quiñones was reelected as barangay captain of Armado.  Elected as members of the Sangguniang Barangay were Ronnie Manalo, Edwin Manalo, Aser Cabarles, Yolito Cortuna, Evelyn Quiñones, Adolfo Damiray, Rodrigo Basilio, Luis Deladia and SK Chairman Rhodora Fajardo.  Luisito Daprosa was appointed as barangay secretary.

 

The leader of Armado at present is Brgy. Captain Yolito Cortuna.[17]          

 

 

2.  BALAO

 

 

            The indigenous people used to get from this place a kind of grass the roots of which were used to make fishes dizzy so that it could easily be caught.  In their dialect, they called that kind of grass as balao.  They also called by that name this place where the said kind of grass grew abundantly.

 

            During the Spanish regime, only the kaingins of the indigenous people could be found in this place.  Like other settlements in Abra de Ilog, when families of farmers from Batangas and Marinduque arrived, the indigenous people transferred to the mountains.

 

            The place where Balao is located at present was a former sitio named Tulay Bulo.  It got its name from an improvised bridge built over its wide river.  The bridge was made of a specie of bamboo known in the Tagalog dialect as bulo. 

 

            The place originally called Balao was the wide plain near Tulay Bulo where Cortuna Family lived.  However, when the said family transferred to Tulay Bulo, they changed the name of the sitio to Balao.

 

            In the early part of the American regime, a group of families from Marinduque and Batangas settled in Balao.  The group was composed of the families of Quirino de Guzman, David Masangcay, Felix Palma and Federico Damiray.  They cleared the forests and converted it into agricultural land.  The sitio grew and when Abra de Ilog was created as a municipality in 1910, Balao was included in the list of barrios under its jurisdiction. 

 

            When World War II broke out, Cortuna Family hid in the original sitio of Balao. The Japanese soldiers did not reach this place.  The old men who did not leave Tulay Bulo recalled that the individuals who made their lives difficult were not the Japanese soldiers but those who pretended to be members of a group of guerrillas in Abra de Ilog.  The said group demanded food from the people and those who disobeyed them were either tied on anthills or under the scorching heat of the sun.

 

            After the war, the people of Balao tried to make their barrio progressive.  In order that their children would be able to study, they requested the municipal officials that a teacher be assigned in their community.  In 1948, Mayor Dionisio Cortuna assigned Mr. Crisostomo Paras as the first teacher of Balao.  The house of Luis Guna in Lutic, a sitio of Balao, was made as the temporary classroom of the first twenty pupils in Grade I. 

 

            That same year, the Municipal Council of Abra de Ilog officially approved the request of the inhabitants of Balao that their place be created as a barrio.

 

            In 1949, the primary school of Balao was transferred to the lot of Ricardo Zoleta, on the place where the center of the barangay is located at present.  Under the leadership of Norberto de Leon, the parents of schoolchildren built a school house made of lumber, bamboos and nipa shingles, through cooperative labor.

 

            In 1952, under the administration of Mayor Ireneo Cortuna, a school building made of strong materials was constructed in Balao.  The lot where it was built was donated by Cortuna Family.  After a few years, the primary school became a complete elementary school.

 

            Through the cooperation of the inhabitants, barangay leaders and local officials, a concrete bridge was built in Balao, the road connecting the barangay with nearby places was constructed, the barangay plaza was improved and the barangay hall and concrete stage were built.  Moreover, some of the projects implemented by the national government in this place were the Core Housing at Sitio Magnot and the Day Care Center at Sitio Lutic.

 

            The leaders who served as teniente del barrio, capitan del barrio and barangay captain of Balao were Pedro del Mundo, Quirino de Guzman, Jose Mendoza, Norberto de Leon, Venancio Cortuna, Agapito Arellano, Eugenio Cortuna, Gervacio Cortuna, Ambrocio Salagubang and Crisogono Ulayao.  The leader of the barangay at present is Brgy. Captain Flocerpido Reyes.[18]

 

 

3.  CABACAO

 

 

            The indigenous people belonging to the Iraya tribe named this place as Baluguhan because it was here where a kind of tree they called balugo, grew abundantly.  However, the name was changed to Cabacao when people from Lemery, Batangas and Marinduque arrived and settled in this place.

 

            The change of name was due to a question of a Batangueño which was misunderstood by an Iraya.  The said member of the tribe of indigenous people thought that the Batangueño was asking the name of the bird which was singing during that time, instead of the name of the place.  He answered bacao.  The Batangueño thought that it was the name of the place.  He told the group of families which settled here that Bacao was the name of their settlement.  Years later, the name became Cabacao

 

            When more families from Lemery, Batangas and Boac, Marinduque arrived and settled in this place, the indigenous people transferred to the mountains.  The group of people who decided to live here was composed of the families of Venturanza, de Joya, Ramos and de Jesus.

 

            The number of inhabitants of Cabacao increased, gradually.  In 1933, during the American regime, the parents requested the municipal government that a primary school be opened in their community.  The municipal councilors approved their request.  In 1934, Mr. Venancio Cortuna was assigned as the first Grade I teacher in Cabacao.  Temporarily, the house of Jose Acbang was used as classroom.  After three years, the government constructed the school building on the lot donated by Deogracias Leyco.  It took thirty three years before the primary school became a complete elementary school and Mrs. Lourdes Balanza was assigned as its administrator.

 

            When World War II broke out, the people of Cabacao experienced anxiety and hunger.  Some of those who did not evacuate to other places became victims of the atrocities of the Japanese soldiers.  A few men were forced to join the group of freedom fighters in order to avoid being tortured by the enemies. 

 

`           When peace was restored, the inhabitants of Cabacao who evacuated to other places returned to their sitio.  In addition, families of farmers from other municipalities of the province came and settled in this place.

 

            In 1961, the inhabitants of Cabacao petitioned the municipal government that their sitio be elevated to the status of a barrio.  The members of the Municipal Council of Abra de Ilog endorsed the petition to the provincial government and when it was approved, by means of a plebiscite, the officials of the local government asked the people of Cabacao if they would like that their sitio be made as a barrio.  Overwhelmingly, the people answered in the affirmative, thus, Cabacao was created as a barrio in 1962.  Santiago Garcia was elected as the first teniente del barrio.

 

            Unity and cooperation among clan members was strong in this community.  When one member has a problem, the clan as a whole worked for its solution.  Although this trait was laudable, sometimes, it caused the unending conflicts and tensions between the clans.  In his desire to maintain peace and order in this barrio, the municipal mayor requested that a detachment of the Philippine Constabulary be placed in Cabacao.

 

            Some of the good things which happened in Cabacao, these past years, were the employment opportunities given by Dizon’s Farm, the opening of extension classes of Abra de Ilog National High School in this barangay and a group of families were chosen as beneficiaries of the Tilapia Fry Dispersal Project of Mayor Meg Montenegro, the present head of the municipal government of Abra de Ilog.

 

            Two tragic events which brought sadness and anxiety to the people of Cabacao were the killing of Brgy. Captain Nicomedes Pagara in 1992, and the assassination of Brgy. Captain Antonio de Jesus in 1998.

 

            With the cooperation of the people, barangay officials and the municipal & provincial government, the roads connecting Cabacao with other barangays and the town’s center were improved; the barangay hall, day care center, concrete stage and barangay plaza were constructed.

 

            Aside from the aforementioned leaders, those who served as teniente del barrio, capitan del barrio and barangay captain of Cabacao were Rodolfo Venturanza, Raymundo Dayandayan, Recaredo Venturanza, Romeo de Joya and Vedasto de Jesus.  The leader of the barangay at present is Brgy. Captain Oscar Santileces.[19]

 

           

4.  LUMANGBAYAN

 

 

            The name of the place came from its being the center of the municipality of Abra de Ilog, during the latter part of the Spanish regime and the early part of the American occupation of Mindoro.

 

            Like some communities in Abra de Ilog, the indigenous people belonging to the Iraya tribe were the early inhabitants of this place.  However, since the sea vessels going to Calavite from Calapan passed through this coastal settlement, travelers from Batangas and Marinduque saw that a greater opportunity for their families’ economic progress existed in this place than in their home province.  The families who first settled here were composed of the families of Balanza, Santos, Arile and de Mesa.

 

            In the early part of the American occupation of Mindoro, since flood frequently occurred in their settlement, some families transferred to a higher place, which is now the location of the present center of the municipality of Abra de Ilog. 

 

            When World War II broke out, aside from harassing the people by means of brandishing their bayonets, kicking and other threatening gestures, the people of Lumangbayan did not experience the cruelties of the Japanese soldiers.  Almost all male adults of this community joined secretly the group of guerrillas which established their headquarters at Sitio Urilan.

 

            In 1948, under the administration of Mayor Dionisio Cortuna, members of the municipal council of Abra de Ilog decided that for every two kilometer interval of communities, a primary school would be opened.  As a result of that decision, two primary schools were opened at Lumangbayan: the first one was at the center of the barrio and the second one was at Sitio Matabang.  The primary schools are now complete elementary schools.

 

            The important projects which were implemented at Lumangbayan and its sitios are the following:

 

            In 1991, under the administration of Governor Peter Medalla, the concrete pier at Matabang was opened.  Due to this development, two ships regularly ply the Batangas City-Abra de Ilog route.  Exchange of goods and services became more brisk between Occidental Mindoro and Batangas.

 

              The following year, two primary schools for the indigenous people were opened at Sitio Matabang and Urilan.

 

            In 1996, the barangay hall which was formerly located at one sitio of Lumangbayan was constructed at the center of the barangay.  When the said project was finished, the National Irrigation Administration built the Alatin-Naujan Irrigation Project.

 

            In order to help poor families, in 1997, Lumangbayan was placed under the CIDSS program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).  After two years, DSWD built ten houses built for poor families.  In addition, the national government constructed the health center of the barangay.

 

            In 1999, Lumangbayan won two contests.  The first one was the Clean & Green Program sponsored by the local government and the second one was the Katarungang Pambarangay Implementation Program sponsored by the provincial government.

 

            The persons who served as leaders of Brgy. Lumangbayan were Vicente Enriquez, Inocencio Reyes, Fausto Taligatos, Pedro Balanza, Lorenzo Arile, Antonio Arile, Extanislao Reyes, Ludegario Balimbin and Leonardo Riano.  The leader of the barangay at present is Brgy. Captain Herminio Arile.[20]

 

 

5.  POBLACION 

 

 

            This place was a forest during the Spanish occupation of Mindoro.  The indigenous people belonging to the Iraya tribe sometimes came to this place to hunt for wildlife and to look for food.

 

            During the Spanish regime, the families of Panganiban and Rubio from Marinduque and Zoleta family from Lemery, Batangas decided to settle in this place.  They cleared the forest and converted it into agricultural farm.

 

            Years later, the number of inhabitants in this community increased.  Moreover, the population rapidly grew when the center of the municipality of Abra de Ilog was transferred from Lumangbayan to this place.

 

            In 1910, through the efforts of Mayor Augusto Zoleta of Abra de Ilog, a primary school was opened in this place.  Its first schoolhouse was made of bamboos and nipa shingles.  Only twenty pupils were enrolled in Grade I.  Nevertheless, after six years, the primary school became a complete elementary school.  Its concrete building was constructed by Mayor Ricardo Zoleta on the lot donated by Deogracias Leyco.

 

            When World War II broke out, two big houses in this community were converted into garrisons by the Japanese soldiers.  They obliged the inhabitants who did not evacuate to other places to exercise every morning at the town plaza.  A few individuals whom they suspected of being members of the guerrilla movement were tortured.

 

            After the war, many people who evacuated to other provinces returned to this community.  Gradually, this place became progressive.    

 

            A missionary priest felt the need for a secondary school in this community.  He convinced his superiors at the Society of the Divine Word to open a Catholic school here.  In 1969, classes for first year students formally opened at the Catholic school named San Rafael High School.  Its founder was Fr. John Fischer, SVD.

 

            During martial law period, the important roads in this community were turned into concrete.  The municipal officials continued this kind of infrastructure project up to the present time.

 

            In 1985, for unknown reasons, the municipal building of Abra de Ilog was razed by fire.  The succeeding municipal mayors tried to construct again a concrete building and it was realized after eight years. 

 

            With the financial assistance of the Department of Health and the cooperative effort of the local government & a non-government organization, a community hospital for the indigenous people was built at the town’s center in 1991.

 

            Although there was already an existing secondary school, the association of parents & teachers and the municipal government worked for the opening of another high school in this community.  They wanted that the poor students would have an opportunity to study in high school.  With the help of the Department of Education, Culture & Sports, Abra de Ilog National High School was established in 1992.

 

            Another calamity happened in Abra de Ilog in 1998.  This was the burning of the public market building which was constructed a year ago.  As a result, the stores on both sides of the main road of the town became the center of the public market.  Brisk sale of the commodities from the said stores was realized, when a concrete pier was built at the nearby sitio.

            That same year, the multi-purpose plaza at the town’s center was improved.  Aside from serving as a playground, the important gatherings sponsored by the local government were held here.

 

            The persons who served as leaders of Poblacion, Abra de Ilog were Reymundo Ituralde, Moises Sangalang, Atanacio Zoleta, Ernesto Miciano, Sr., Guillermo Ituralde, Atanacio Zapata, Nicanor Balanza, Isidoro Padua and Barolito Nieva.  The leader of the barangay at present is Brgy. Captain Rouseller de Jesus.[21] 

 

 

6.  SAN VICENTE

 

 

            The first name of this place was Sablay Uway.  It was due to the abundance of rattan in this area, during the early days, that every time a person gets out of here, rolls of rattan vines are hanging on his shoulders.  In the Tagalog dialect, the hanging of rattan vines is called sablay uway, thus, it became the name of this place.

 

            Sablay Uway was a forest during the occupation of Mindoro by foreign powers.  Some families permanently settled in this place only after World War II.  Its first inhabitants were spouses Gregorio Bonifacio & Fructosa Alfaro and Francisco Aquino & Gabriela Cabral.  After a few years, the families of Tano, Bacay, Bunyi, Anilao & de Chavez from Cabangisan, Isla Verde and Tingloy, Batangas arrived.  The population grew until this community became a sitio of Barrio Tulay Bulo or Brgy. Balao at present. 

 

            Since a wide area of this place was a forest during the early days, a Chinese businessman from Batangas City built a saw mill here.  Many able bodied males of Sablay Uway worked as laborers in the saw mill.  The big trees disappeared, gradually, that after ten years, the saw mill stopped its operation.

 

            The farmers, through the leadership of Pedro Manzano, built an irrigation system for their ricefields.  They formed an association and it was named Tuay Farmers Irrigators.  Through cooperative labor, they constructed canals in order that water from Tuay River would reach their farms.

 

            The first primary school opened by the government in a place under the jurisdiction of the barangay at present was at Sitio Tara, a settlement of the indigenous people.  The said school accepted enrollees in 1939.

 

            In 1960, when Mayor del Mundo was the head of the municipal government of Abra de Ilog, he worked for the elevation of Sablay Uway to the status of a barrio.  When the municipal council approved the petition of the people that this sitio be made a barrio, Mayor del Mundo immediately submitted the petition to the provincial board of Occidental Mindoro.  When the petition was approved by higher authorities, the sitio leaders proposed that Vicente, the first name of their mayor, be made as the official name of Sablay Uway.  Since it was the custom, during that time, that whenever the name of a person is being used as the name of a place, the word San is added, thus, Barrio Vicente became Barrio San Vicente.  During martial law period, President Ferdinand Marcos ordered that all barrios be called barangays.  From that time onwards, Barrio San Vicente was called Brgy. San Vicente.

 

            Spouses Estanislao Bacay and Ceferina Fernandez were two of the settlers of San Vicente.  They felt that a primary school should be opened in their barangay.  They spearheaded the request of the parents to the municipal government and the Department of Education for the opening of  San Vicente Primary School.  With the assistance of Division Superintendent Purificacion Abeleda, a class for Grade 1 pupils was opened in this place and Nita Bacay, the daughter of the leader of the petitioners, was assigned as its first teacher.  The schoolhouse was built on the lot donated by the parents of the first teacher. 

 

            At present, the former primary school is a complete elementary school and the teachers assigned here are Ms. Evarista Manongsong Abante, Ms. Lita Hernandez Clarito, Ms. Marcelina C. Baquero, Ms. Gemma Balanza Dote, Ms. Myrna Ramos Reyes and Ms. Estela Andaya.

 

            In 1986, through the active teaching and guidance of Fr. Rod Advincula, SVD the Basic Ecclesial Community in San Vicente was formed.  Since that year up to the present time, the Roman Catholic religion is the only religion of the inhabitants of San Vicente.

 

            According to the people, the important things which happened in San Vicente were the construction of the barangay hall, plaza, concrete stage, day care center and the feeder roads which joined the center of the barangay with Tara, Kadilawan and Pambuhay, the sitios of the indigenous people.

 

            Those who served as leaders of the barangay were Estanislao Bacay, Melquiades Belen, Feliciano Ramos, Efren Larez, Pacifico de Chavez and Benito Luzon.  The leader of the barangay at present is Brgy. Captain Seming Hernandez.[22]

 

 

7.  TIBAG          

 

 

            The name of the barangasy came from the erosion of the bank of the river flowing through this place, every rainy season.  In the Tagalog dialect, soil erosion is called tibag, hence, the name of the place.

 

            This place was a forest during the Spanish regime.  In the early part of the American regime, from Lemery, Batangas, the family of Zoleta arrived and settled at the center of the municipality of Abra de Ilog.  They bought the forested plains of Tibag.  However, they did not develop the area, thus, when other families of farmers from their hometown came and lived in Tibag, the Zoleta family sold to the newcomers their uncultivated farm.

 

            The persons who first settled in this place were the families of Antonio Encarnacion, Salvador Dayandayan and siblings Felicidad & Praxedes Dayandayan.  They turned into productive farm the uncultivated land of Tibag. 

 

            In 1910, when Abra de Ilog was created as a municipality, Tibag was already a sitio.  Progress came to this sitio, gradually.  After almost thirty years, when the sitio leader thought that the number of inhabitants of this place was already sufficient for its elevation to the status of a barrio, he led the petition of the families to the municipal council of Abra de Ilog that Tibag be created as a barrio.  Their petition was approved.  Tibag became a barrio in 1939.  Guillermo Cayetano was elected as the first teniente del barrio.  He has only served for one year when World War II broke out.

 

            During the war, the old residents of the place revealed that what made life difficult for the people were the individuals who pretended to be freedom fighters or guerrillas. The said pseudo-freedom fighters were the ones who confiscated domesticated animals and anything they would like to get from the homeowners.  They were suspected of killing two or more persons who did not follow their rules and regulations.

 

            When peace was restored, through the leadership of Teniente del Barrio Cayetano, the people requested that a primary school be opened in their community.  However, some requirements were not met and their petition was denied.

 

            In 1973, through the leadership of Capitan del Barrio Luis Tupas, the people of Tibag reiterated their request to the members of the municipal council for the opening of a primary school in their place.  This time, their petition was granted.  A Grade I class was opened and through Principal Efigenia Liceria, Miss Nazurka dela Fuente was assigned as the teacher of the pupils.  A schoolhouse was built on the lot donated by Gavino Garcia, Sr.  At present, two teachers are teaching the pupils who are studying at Tibag Primary School.  They are Ms. Peny Caliwara Oropesa and Ms. Glenda Ramos Marasigan.

 

            Through the guidance of their parish priests, the Catholic faithful of Tibag built their own chapel.  In 1995, the house of worship was blessed by Bishop Vicente Manuel, SVD, DD.

 

            With the assistance of local government officials and the cooperation of the people, the leaders of Tibag were able to build the barangay hall, concrete stage, multi-purpose pavement, day care centers at Sitio Aluyan and Sitio Labac and a municipal telecommunication system at Sitio Aluyan. 

 

Aside from the aforementioned leaders, those who served as barangay captain of Brgy. Tibag were Mariano Dayandayan, Francisco Tupas, Eustaquio dela Fuente, Bayani Corona, Gonzalo Zoleta, Jr., and Quirino Rebato.  The leader of the barangay at present is Brgy. Captain Iluminado Ricalde.[23]            

 

 

8.  UDALO

 

 

            This barangay is composed of two communities, namely; Udalo and Camurong.  The name of the two places came from the plants which could be found there.

 

            During the Spanish regime, Udalo and Camurong were forests.  Big trees abound there.  When the Americans occupied Mindoro, a certain Mr. Gibbs was given permission by the government to operate a logging concession in this area.  As a result, Gibbs Timberland started to cut trees on the hills of Camurong.

 

            Adventurers from Batangas and Marinduque were the first workers at Gibbs Timberland.  When they got married, they decided to settle permanently inside the logging concession.  Two communities were formed and according to old residents of the area, those who first settled in Udalo were composed of the families of Dimasacat and Tupas.  On the other hand, those who settled in Camurong were the families of Conte, Gregorio and Caballero.

 

            In 1910, when Abra de Ilog was created as a municipality, the list of barrios under its jurisdiction included Camurong.

 

            When World War II broke out, the people of Camurong experienced the cruelties of the Japanese soldiers.  Some patriotic men who joined the guerrilla movement were killed by the enemies.  They were reported to the Japanese authorities by their barrio mates who acted as spies of the enemies.   

 

            Three years after the war, a primary school was opened at Camurong.  Unfortunately, after four years, a destructive flood occurred and the primary school building was destroyed.  The government authorities transferred it to higher grounds, on the lot donated by Spouses Antonio & Vicenta Villamin.  The primary school which was transferred to this place became a complete elementary school in 1955. 

 

            The sitio where the primary school was transferred was named Bugtong but at present, it is called Camurong.  The place where it was originally located is now called Hulo.

 

            Since Udalo was also a big community, another primary school was opened in this place in 1951. The school building was constructed at the lot donated by Tupas Family.

 

            In 1970, although the community of Camurong was bigger than Udalo, during the administration of Mayor Apolinario Zoleta, Udalo was registered as one of the barrios of Abra de Ilog.  The decision was made due to two reasons: the first was the fact that the leader of the barrio lived in Udalo; and the second was the claim of Villamin family that the land where Camurong is located at present is their property.

 

The people of Udalo could not forget the two events which happened in their barangay.  The first one was the bloody encounter which occurred between the government soldiers and members of the rebel group in 1987.  The second one was the opening of extension classes of Abra de Ilog National High School at Sitio Camurong, in 1999.

 

Those who served as leaders of the barangay were Jose Tupas, Ananias Bacay, Antonio Manongsong, Restituto Bronda, Teresa Anilao, Federico Pav, Ciriaco Bunquin, Hilario Silan, Pedro Manongsong and Domingo Sepillo.  The leader of the barangay at present is Brgy. Captain Bonifacio Dimayacyac.[24]

 

 

9. WAWA  

           

 

            The name of the barangay came from its being near the mouth of the river.  In the Tagalog dialect, the mouth of the river is called wawa.

 

            In an old map drawn during the Spanish regime, at the place where Wawa is located at present, the old village of Ilog was indicated.  In the history written by Antoon Postma, a Dutch researcher, it was described as a community of the indigenous people belonging to the Iraya tribe which was frequently visited by missionary priests.  It was then under the jurisdiction of the Parish of Calavite.  It was also narrated that this was one of the places often plundered by Moro pirates.  In 1757, Ilog disappeared from the map because the pirates burned the houses of the villagers who hid in the mountains.

 

            Even before the coming of the Americans in Mindoro, a group of families decided to settle in this village.  The group was composed of the families of Leyco, Rodriguez, Enriquez, Castillo, Reyes, Malaluan, Marasigan, Cacait, Carpio and Landicho from Taal, Lemery and other towns of Batangas.  They cleared the forests and converted it into agricultural farms.  Others decided to become fishermen.  They again formed the old community of the Iraya near the mouth of the river.  Rosalio Miciano served as their leader when the community became a sitio. 

 

            Inn 1901, patriotic men of this sitio joined the group of revolutionaries led by Col. Deogracias Leyco of Taal, Batangas.  They defended the town of Abra de Ilog against the American soldiers.  Unfortunately, due to superior manpower and ammunitions, the American forces under the command of Captain Robert Offley and Captain Shaw were able to defeat the revolutionary forces.  As a consequence, Abra de Ilog was occupied by the American soldiers.

 

            Sitio Wawa was elevated to the status of a barrio in 1914.  After two years, the primary school for Grade 1 & Grade 2 pupils, were opened.  The primary school became a complete elementary school in 1920.

 

            When Abra de Ilog was formally created as a municipality by American authorities in 1902, Rosalio Miciano, the leader of Wawa, was appointed as the first municipal president.

 

            One important event which the old folks of Wawa could not forget was the sudden visit of President Manuel Quezon to this municipality, in 1941.  The president was aboard his yacht.  He talked with the local officials of Abra de Ilog while his yacht was anchored near the shore of Wawa.

 

            When World War II broke out, many inhabitants of Wawa evacuated to other places in order to avoid the cruelty of the Japanese soldiers.  They only returned when peace was restored.

 

            Before the concrete pier at Matabang was constructed, the ships and motorboats plying the Abra de Ilog-Batangas City route dropped anchor at the seashore of Wawa.  Almost all able bodied men of this barrio worked as porters.  Many of them continued with that kind of work even though the pier was transferred to another place.

 

            Aside from Rosalio Miciano, those who served as teniente del barrio of Wawa were Tomas Enriquez, Sr., Pedro Reyes, Florencio dela Rosa and Juan Cacait.  Those who served as capitan del barrio were Tomas Enriquez, Sr., Gregorio Subong, Armando Arile and Conrado Leyco.  Those who served as barangay captain were Lupita Andaya Enroquez, Ediser Castillo and Jimmy Falqueza.  The present leader of Wawa served as the chief of police during the administration of Mayor Apolinario Zoleta --- Brgy. Captain Floro Castillo.[25]          

 



ENDNOTES/SOURCES OF INFORMATION:

 

[1] Antoon Postma, Mindoro Missions Revisited: Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society,

  Vol. 5 (1977), p. 258

[2] Volker Schult, Mindoro: A Social History of a Philippine Island in the 20th Century, 1991, p. 96

[3] Florante Villarica, Oriental Mindoro From the Dawn of Civilization to the Year 2000 A.D., 1997 p. 31

[4] Editorial Staff, STAA Souvenir Program, 1970, p. 161

[5] Ibid

[6] Interview with Mr. Apolinario Cristalino, April 26, 1998

[7] Remigio Agpalo, The Political Elite and the People, 1972, p, 239

[8] Brgy. Captain Floro Castillo, Ang Kasaysayan ng Brgy. Wawa, 1947, p. 1

[9] Reynaldo Cuisia et al, History and Cultural Life of the Town of Paluan, 1950, p. 6

[10] R. Cuisia et al, History and Cultural Life of the Town of Paluan, 1950, p.50

[11] Ibid

[12] R. Agpalo, The Political Elite and the People, 1972, p. 240

[13] AVSJ Staff, History of San Rafael High School, 1956, p. 1

[14] P/Supt, Remy Santiago Macaspac, Historical Background of Occidental Mindoro Provincial

    Police Office, 1997, p. 3

[15] Interview with Fr. Ronilo Omanio, March 3, 1997

[16] Interview with PO2 Jocelyn Doronio,  San Jose, Occidental Mindoro Police Station, January 15, 2007

[17] Information supplied by Brgy. Capt. Sancho Quiñones & Brgy. Sec. Luisito Daprosa

[18] Information gathered by Irene Cortuna, Edita Regudo, Blesilda Balanza, Purificacion de Padua &

    Matilde Ituralde

[19] Information gathered by Delia Villamin & Sonnie Celso

[20] Information supplied by Hipolito Enriquez, Villardo Enriquez, Brgy. Capt. Herminio Arile &

    Sonnie Celso

[21] Information gathered by Clarita Admana, Nora Cortuna & Lauro Celso

[22] Information gathered by Lita Clarito, Pacifico de Chavez & Purificacion de Padua

[23] Information gathered by Purificacion de Padua

[24] Information gathered by Jose Sepillo, Catalino Carbonel, Brgy. Capt. Bonifacio Dimayacyac,

    Sonnie Celso & Sion de Padua

[25] Information supplied by Brgy. Capt. Floro Castillo

 

 

REFERENCES:

 

A.  Published Materials:

 

      1.  Agpalo, Remigio

1972      The Political Elite and the People

  1. Postma, Antoon

1977   Mindoro Mission Revisited, Phil. Quarterly of Culture & Society, Vol. 5

      3.   Villarica, Florante Oriental Mindoro from the Dawn of Civilization to the Year

            2000 A.D.

      4.   Editorial Staff, 1970  STAA Souvenir Program

 

B.  Unpublished Materials:

 

       1.   Castillo, Floro

             Ang Kasaysayan ng Brgy. Wawa

2.      Cuisia, Reynaldo et al

History & Cultural Life of the People of Abra de Ilog

       3.   P/Supt. Remy Santiago Macaspac

             Historical Background of Occ. Mindoro Provincial Police Office

       4.   AVSJ

             History of San Rafael High School

 

C.   Resource Persons:

 

       1.  Apolinario Cristalino

       2.  Fr. Ronilo Omanio

         3.  PO2 Jocelyn Doronio