MUNICIPALITY OF SAN ISIDRO, Historical Data - Philippine Historical Data MUNICIPALITY OF SAN ISIDRO, Historical Data - Philippine Historical Data


Municipality of San Isidro

About these Historical Data

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I. Official Name

a. Former name

San Isidro. They call this place San Isidro. Cagutongan. They once called this place Cagutongan. For years before, it had to bear the peculiarity of its topography, where stones are huge and numerous, where its soil seems hopeless with seeds and, therefore, a virtual impossibility for man to live in. But that was the place and they called in Cagutongan, a term in the Ilocano Language referring to a great body of stones.

But the eyes are easily deceived, just as time and place easily change. For against the great boulders of rocks that characterized the place years before, comes now a small but progressive municipality. It is not an old municipality, though, as it was only founded two or three years ago; but it has been showing signs of rapid improvements and increase. The rocks were soon to give way to the elements of nature assisted by the inhabitants. And now lies a place, not stones as before, neither a hopeless place as when once perceived, but houses of progress and with great promise. The stones were soon to give way to the birth of a new place, which we now call San Isidro.

At first, San Isidro met some sort of an opposition in its effort to become a municipality by its own right, because then it was just a mere barrio of the municipality of Pilar. Yet these opportunists failed to visualize the fact that once in the history of Pilar, San Isidro was the seat of municipal govemment. And who knows if it were so that the site of government maintained in here really continued, that Pilar would just be a barrio of Cagutongan in much the same way that this place was, two or three years ago. Granted, however, as it was a fact that such site was only here for a short period, we cannot now say that the people of San Isidro are inexperienced in political problems. For that time, however, short, was sufficient in all its means to give experience to the inhabitants in political problems and administration. The time was sufficient to kindle a fire of enthusiasm in the hearts of the inhabitants to work and achieve for its birth as a municipality, independent of its own. This, they were successful.

b. Present Name

For the name San Isidro, they were never bothered. For it was sort of a pride to have for her name, something derived from that of a hero who gloriously died for the sake of his people and country. Isidro Paredes, they calied him in life. San Isidro, they called the municipality thus, in memory of Isidro Paredes.

II. Establishment

The geography of the place is such that it can hardly be determined whether it belongs to the province of Ilocos Sur or to Abra, for the respective municipalities in each province have equal access to the same. The people of Santa Maria, a town of Ilocos Sur for one, would rather go to San Isidro (Cagutongan) to barter their goods and to look for things they do not have rather than to Vigan and other municipalities of the same province.

With this in mind, it is not unusual to find people from Santa Maria go to that place now and then. And it happened that Don Agustin Agaloos is one of

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them. Perhaps, this man thought for the first time of going to the place for commercial reasons, but with the least [the] intention to remain. Seeing, however, that in this place was richness both of soil and of people, he remained with his family. He remained to stay only to found a place. And that was years ago, during the Spanish period.

Like Magellan, who heralded richness in this country, and to be followed thus by subsequent expeditions, Don Agustin Agaloos saw promise in the place, and invited his near relatives as well as friends. Don Marcelo Valeros, Don Daniel Bosque, and Capitan Juan Benaoro from the various municipalities of Ilocos Sur came by virtue of this invitation.

At first, they thought that going to that place was a failure. These people were met with failures that discouraged them a lot, failures that were religious, political, and economic in nature. But little by little, they toiled to success. Until later, they understood that their efforts were not in vain after all.

Not long thereafter, Don Agustin Agaloos found it necessary to have some sort of intercourse with the neighboring people. And this, he was able to establish by intermarriage between his and the family of Valeriano Blaza. This Valeriano Blaza was a hero of Barrio Naguilian, somewhere four or five kilometers from this place. Once, they said when the Americans, as part of their military strategy, were plundering the place, Valeriano Blaza aside from saving himself and his family, thought of saving, too, the statue of our Lady of Pilar, and this gained significance because it was sort of a mystery.

III. Names of persons who held leading Official Positions in the Community, with dates of the Tenure, if possible

For our purposes, it is necessary to first classify the leaders to whose incumbency, San Isidro had been under.

Our first criteria of classification is time element. Whether their respective periods fall before or after the severance of this place from the municipality of Pilar, and its recognition as an independent municipality. So that to mention men before that historic event would be tantamount to enumerating the administrators, too, of the municipality of Pilar. For San Isidro was then Pilar much as Pilar was San Isidro then.

Within the first class, the first in our list were the Governadorcillos, whose period came about from 1846 to 1896. As the designation implies, this was during the Spanish period. Among them were Juan Valera, Vicloriano Astudillo, Aniceto Valera, Juan Benaoro, Marcelo Valeros, Daniel Busque, Edilberto Packing, Enrique Valera, and Eulalio Bandeyrel.

It is interesting to note that these names mentioned are found with common familiarity in any place of the locality. And that the residents bearing those names are still in a similar manner as before, the leaders of their respective communities. So, that for purposes of politics, the politicians never bothered to compaign upon individual electors. It was only necessary for them to convince in this favor, these mentioned leaders for their voice means the voice of all. Teachers like I do, find it convenient to gain their influence if we are to desire some improvements of the school because their will is necessarily followed.

I believe, this tradition finds some sort of an influence in the early Barangay system where the chief's word was the law among them. And the

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only difference that I can see, insignificant as it is, is that before it had the force of law, in contradiction to the present where sentimentality binds them with a force just as strong.

The next in our list of leaders were the Presidentes Municipales ranging from 1902 to 1936. Note that history records only two of them: Arcadio Valera and Ramon Valera, because of [the] obscurity and confusion caused by the Fil-American war. It was then at its height. Therefore, recording was impossible. Administration was then useless. So that rare was the time then when there was a stable government.

Then comes the line of Municipal Presidents, who through their undying efforts gave peace and improvement to the place. Among these remarkable men are: Rafael Dalligas, Roman Venus, Benedicto Sotelo, Anselmo Balleras, Claudio Almazan, Marcelino Sotelo, and Lucas Lactao. The second from the last name mentioned is presently a provincial board member.

Of the municipal mayors, we have first Jesus Domingo. Then comes our beloved Municipal Mayor, Jose Millan. It must be brave of him to initiate leadership in the place as a municipality. For this time, he is no longer a mayor of Pilar as it was called before, but proudly a mayor of the Municipality of San Isidro. With Mayor Millan then an ordinary leader, the residents fought in the form of a petition for the severance of the place from Pilar. With him, improvements both in schools, the church or even of the municipality as a whole came about. Among his resolutions when he swore office was to educate the general public. And [with] this, I think, he is successful because enrolment is now rising. The interest of the people in educational affairs increased. And this, the municipality takes pride to say.

IV. Events, incidents, and Important Facts relating to the History of San Isidro

Again, it Is convenient for us to classify the important events with [the] time element as our criteria. And with this as our basis, we have at least three groups of happenings. The first were those that occurred during the Spanish regime. Second, those that came about during the American administration, and third, the happenings during the war, and the fourth, those subsequent to its severance from the Municipality of Pilar.

Of the first group, very few can be mentioned, as memory cannot be trusted and as recording was then impossible due to the confusion that was then caused by internal revolts and insurrections. One interesting and significant event, however, that adds history to the Municipality of Pilar (then including San isidro) was the historic annexation of the Municipality of Villavieja to the same. Rarely can this happen in history as we often bear witness to facts which places oftenly become independent rather than be annexed. Recorded history says that the reason behind this move was that Villavieja was then suffering the threats of bankruptcy. I believe, however, that this cannot be the sole reason as the Spanish Central Government could have supplied the amount needed by the then municipality. I would rather believe as a more reasonable ground for this move the fact that the Spanish administrators were then suffering the threats of an impending rebellion and insurrection and that it became necessary for them to consolidate municipalities so as to limit their attention to only one. And this would at least afford them more attention to their political warfare, to be just ready in case an uprising occurs. However, this happened, whatever reason it was behind it. And, as I said, rarely can this happen again.

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Another significant event during the Spanish period was the burning of the Poblacion of Pilar by the Americans in 1898. Note that the term Americans is mentioned. History cannot, therefore, deny that they and there was the beginning of American occupation. The town of Pilar was burned, I admit that was brutal. It was barbaric. But I do not blame the Americans for it. I blame history for so sending the Spaniards to this country, giving thus to the Americans a program to liberate us from the Spaniards. For as we see and we did see, the Americans came to liberate us rather than govern. They came here to make us independent rather than profit. So that whatsoever destruction they caused, the burning of Pilar not to mention, it was an act of benevolence, and of pure liberality. This event, they never worried for the people were then to rest the fruits of these efforts some fifty years after that — the birth of a New Republic.

The next class of event with our criteria as a basis of classification is that which occurred during the American occupation. Among them were: (1) the transfer of the municipal government of Pilar to barrio Kimmalasag, (2) the selection of barrio Cagutongan (now San Isidro) as the seat of municipal government of Pilar, (3) and the transfer again of the municipal seat of government to Balioag.

It is interesting to note that these events that happened were administrative in nature. They did not reflect, as when during the Spanish period, ideal disorders. In a word, they reflect a pericd of peace. They reflect a problem that was purely administrative, as the transfer of seats from one site to another without fear of an attack from the Filipino insurgents.

Matters that are religious in nature also confronted them. The spread of Christianity also was an issue to them. So that it becomes necessary to station in Pilar some sort of missionaries. They were granted this, and the SVD fathers came.

During the war, San Isidro became a picture of blood, murder and torture. No doubt, a heart can melt to sorrow if it recalls to mind the things that happened then. San Isidro can be viewed then as a place which neither belonged to the Japanese nor to the guerrilla forces. For the situation was such that today, it is occupied by the Japanese and tomorrow by the guerrilla forces. It was, therefore, naturally expected that the occupation of one required the aid of the civilian population, and that the occupation of the other needed just as much. And those who aided one, although they acted under the compulsion of an irresistible force and under the impulse of an uncontrollable fear, were suspected by the other as spies or as pros for the other. In other words, the aid to be given to one was treason to the other. There was no trial then. Mere suspicion was sufficient to convict one, and that conviction always meant death. Nowhere was the recourse of the people for upon the occupation of one, the inhabitants were forced to serve and upon the occupation of the other they were taken for as spies.

Such was the picture of San Isidro some 10 years ago. A picture of death, fear, tears, murder, arson and other calamities involving great ruin. Homes had to be deserted. Properties had to be destroyed. Few were those who survived. The convent had to be transferred to Lumaba, Villaviciosa, a place some 3 to 4 kilometers from the place, to save it from being burned by either force.

Time that was, however, when the Japanese forces had to wane and our guerrilla forces had to be reinforced so as to complete their program they called "liberation." The male civilian population had to be organized to be equipped with

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bolos and called themselves the bolomen battalion. Women had to be organized, too, to become nurses of the wounded and called themselves the WACS, it was a sort of a sacrifice, but it was glorious for it was soon to bear fruit some four or five years later, a fruit not in the form of money or any other property, but a fruit in the form of freedom, peace, and common happiness. And, probably, this event was the beginning of a new light for the making of this place as a municipality in itself. From then on, San Isidro gained its distinction due to its rapid growth and improvernent. Peace and order prevailed. Unlike some other places, it seems as if no war ever happenad before.

Diseases, which are the aftermath of war, as malaria, dysentery, and typhoid fever were kept at their lowest. The people employed all means of doing this. Toilets had to be constructed. Wells had to be repaired. Astray animals corraled. The people did this under a common objective — to prevent diseases.

Production, especially tobacco and corn, was increased. By the way, San Isidro, together with Pilar, is the main source of Abra tobacco. Cattle raising became very common. Poultry raising also was not unusual. I, for one, and my husband, have several hundreds of chickens which are a sufficient source for our daily use of eggs and meat. Preventive as well as curative medicine for chickens is not surprising to be seen in the place. They use them for better production very intelligently.

Schools and houses of the semi-permanent type were constructed. It seems a dream when one imagines the boulders of stones before {o these semi-permanent houses nowadays. It seems impossible, but it did and if is as we were now. Looking at the school building, I too remember Baguio, a place I was lucky enough to see some four or five years ago. For the tree bearing fruits and the plant-bearing flowers by the steps covered with flat stones, reminds me every now and then of the famous Baguio yards. Only last month, I painted the stones by the sidewalk from the money partly mine and partly from the community, and really, they make a beautiful view. They make me forget that there in that same spot was nothing but boulders of rocks several hundred years aga.

In a word, the people were restored io their normal lives. For these people, I am proud to say, are industrious and untiring. More, so, hospitable. Visit the place once, and admire the truth of my statement.

V. Customs relating to Birth, Marriage, and Death

Not much can be seen now as regards the customs and traditions of the people on this aspect. For their culture is now the same as any Filipino nowadays. So that, the materials I am now to say were taken from the old foks who during their younger days were used to the same.

Birth? If I were a mother in that locality, I would rather have for my first child a boy for they believed that such signified luck and good future. Early baptism also gave good health to the child. Note that baptism relates to Christianity. Hence, we cannot now say that it is of Filipino origin. I would rather call this tradition partly Filipino and partly foreign. Upon the birth of a child, the mother placed it on a big basket. It would then be seen that the child would be crying and at this state, they would give it two or three drops of honey. To my curiousity, I asked them what that meant and they told me, it was to acquaint the child with the sweetness of life.

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Marriage: Their customs on this aspect of life can be compared with the ancient barangay system. When courtship is not the sole affair of the concerned persons but also that or even more so to the parents. Sometimes, the persons to be married never saw each other. A father, for example, who wishes to have his son marry a lass in some other houses will just make some sort of an agreement with the parents of the latter. And in this agreement, the father of the male is expected to show his material resources, otherwise the agreement would be just as good as nothing. The amount must also be sufficiently great. This was, therefore, a sort of a purchase where the will of the woman's party depends upon the quantity presented.

Elopement as we do have now rarely happens if here. Not that they do not have the idea, but I think this finds reason to the fact that the children in here are extremely obedient to their parents. Marriage ceremonies are no longer native in nature, for they are solemnized nowadays in the churches. There is, however, something that is native, although it is now solemnized in churches. As when the pair lights a candle, and the one whose candle bears a fire that is dimmer, will die first.

The marriage celebration is one of pomp. Where no less than three cattles are to be killed by the family of ordinary social standing. The attendants do not only receive what they can eat during the party, but also what they take with them when they go home. These things are not peculiar to the ordinary Filipino. Connected to this, however, is something that is interesting, and that is, when a catlle is killed and it bears a bile that is full and large, it signifies progress and happiness for the just married couple.

Death: Similar to the concept of any human being, death is a horrible thing to them. For one thing however, that is universal in nature is that they believe in life after death. They are cautious not to pass anything over the corpse of the deceased for it may mean cruelty on the ghost of the same. [A] Ghost, therefore, is a concept to them. And this implies their belief in life after death. There is some practice to whose influence I can not trace. And that is, if the coffin of the dead is too long, or in other words too big for it, anybody of the near relatives is going to die soon. This, I believe, is purely of their own origin.

VI. Superstitious Beliefs

I have not heard much of their beliefs for, as I said, the people are becoming more and more with the modern trends of life. It is now more of a saying than of a practice. Sometime after the day's work, children flock before the old men and hear things of the sort.

It is a sign of great loss both to person and property if a thunder sounds first on the southeast direction on New Year's Eve. Out of my three years of stay in this place, I have not heard as yet things as that. I am, therefore, in no position to talk of things on this point.

A cat that is thrown on the roof of the house, they say, invites a heavy rain. This, I saw several times. The first two came out to be true. But the subsequent ones failed. They say, further, that the failure or success of the act depends upon how it is done. With this in view, I don't think their theory can ever be disproved because the failure of an act always finds reason to the fact that it was poorly administered. So, without fear of disgust, they are always justified.

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A heavy roaring of the sea depicts a heavy rain from two to five days. I do not see any practice in life from which this can be derived into. I observed, however, that this happened once in my stay here.

The sneezing of a pig before one starts for a trip is an omen that trip will be a failure. I was a victim once to this. I was preparing to go to school when my pig sneezed for no reason whatsoever, I ignored it. A moment later, on my way to school, I encountered a big snake. And had it not been for my slow walking, I might have been a victim of it. So, from then on, I was a follower of this belief. What I do now is to suspend that trip for four or five minutes, in a similar way as the other members of the community do. This means delay, but it pays, at least sometimes.

In San Isidro is a bird called locally "Cula-ao." And the closest translation that we have so far in our books is the owl. Well, this type of bird sings from four to five in the morning. And whenever it does sing before a house, death to one in the community would be forthcoming.

This is the place, and we call it San Isidro.

Compiled by:

Transcribed from:
History and Cultural Life of the Municipality of San Isidro, online at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections. The pagination in this transcription is as they appear in the original document.
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