MUNICIPALITY OF MAGSINGAL, History and Cultural Life of, Part I - Philippine Historical Data MUNICIPALITY OF MAGSINGAL, History and Cultural Life of, Part I - Philippine Historical Data

MUNICIPALITY OF MAGSINGAL, History and Cultural Life of, Part I

Municipality of Magsingal



About these Historical Data

[Cover Page.]

Division of Ilocos Sur


Prepared by
Teachers of Magsingal

Supervising Principal

[Table of Contents.]

Division of Ilocos Sur

Table of Contents:
1. The Story of Magsingal - Misses V. Tolentino, D. F. Garcia
2. How Panay Got Its Name - Mr. A Raquel
3. The Story of Manzante - Mr. T. Soliven
4. How Tagaipuz Got Its Name - Mr. J. Vicerra
5. How Pagsanaan Got Its Name - Mrs. C. G. Vlorendo
6. How Barbarit Got Its Name - Mrs. F. A. Soliven
7. How Macatcatud Got Its Name - Mr. M. Tolentino
8. Biographical History of the Barrio of Maratudo and How It Got Its Name - Mrs. V. F. Ceia
9. How Alangan Got Its Name - Mrs. F. S. Gonzales
10. How Maasasin Got Its Name - Mr. A. Pacleb
11. A Brief History of Napo - Mrs. T. F. Lucero
12. A Study of the Barrio of Dacutan - Ms. V. Oandasan
13. The Character Traits of the People in Cadanglaan - Mrs. D. L. Jacinto
14. Vicente Tolentino - Miss C. Viorge
15. Capitan Minte - Mr. Jose Vega
16. Salt Making Industry - Miss M. D. Tadena
17. Claywork in Magsingal - Mr. T. Soliven
18. Aran, the Giant - Mr. T. Soliven
19. Superstitious Beliefs - Mrs. S. L. Vega
20. Superstitious Beliefs - Miss M. D. Tadena
21. Superstitious Beliefs - Miss C. Udarbe
22. Proverbs - Mrs. A. A. Fariñas & Mrs. L. O. Tipon& 23. Proverbs - Miss V. Oandasan

[p. 1]


The name of this town is hard to trace as to why it was called Magsingal. It is not the same as other towns what have names which have direct meanings in them. The name Magsingal has not meaning in Spanish or in the Ilocano dialect [language]. However, this is a very reliable story how it was named Magsingal.

We know that the people here before the arrival of the Spaniards were not Christians. They were Tinguians. These Tinguians before, as today, spoke a dialect different from the Ilocano dialect. Two of the Tinguian dialects were "Singal" and "Isingal," which means in Ilocano "Yalis" and in English, it means moving from one place to another. Because the Tinguians who lived here before had the habit of moving from one place to another, they called the place "Mangsisingal," a Tinguian word which means "Mangalis" in Ilocano and, in English, it means moving from one place to another. Later, "Magsisingal" was shortened to "Magsingal."

Magsingal became a town in the year 1676. It was established one hundred three years after the establishment of Vigan as a town. Other towns north and south of Magsingal were established ahead. Before Magsingal became a town, there were five villages. These villages were Malungon, Bangay, Magsingal, Quinnuang, and Cabanayan. Each of these villages had its own chief. The village which the Spanish conquerors approached first was Malungon, which was ruled by a chief called Garcia. Garcia was a female chief who was stout and brave. The newly-arrived Spanish conquerors and some Filipinos made her understand to establish a town in one of these villages as was done with the other towns. This brave chief selected

[p. 2]

Magsingal village as the place to establish a town because it was the place where her brother, Tholentino, married. So, this female chief carried on her shoulder a big bell that had been brought by the Spanish conquerors and put it on the place where the present tower is. When these visitors, who were Spaniards and some Filipinos, arrived, they gathered the people and told them the village, Magsingal, must be the place where a town should be established, and the people of other villages should move there in order to be more progressive and much stronger.

Magsingal is located fourteen kilometers north of Vigan. It is bounded to the north by Lapog, to the south by Sto. Domingo, to the west by the China Sea, and to the east by the Cordillera Mountains, bordering the province of Abra. The area is about eight thousand two hundred fifty hectares. The natural resources are the narrow plains, the small valleys, a little forest, the seashores where salt is obtained, the fishing banks, and some fish ponds.

The people are Ilocano Malays who belong to the brown race. Today, there are about twelve thousand people. They still have the native culture as evidenced by native ceremonies in marriage and other social activities. Most of the young men and women, however, show an evidence of American culture in a modified form to suit the native ways of the people. The Spanish culture is also evident in older people. The other occupations are carpenters, traders, stove-makers, weavers, salt-makers, and merchants. All the people are Catholics, with a very few exceptions.

At present, there are thirteen barrio schools. One

[p. 3]

barrio school is a complete elementary school. Two have either grade five or grade six. There are two buildings in the Central School — the South Central and the North Central Schools, which have grades one to six. There are nineteen teachers in the Central Schools, and thirty-five teachers in the barrios. There is a yearly enrolment of approximately two thousand two hundred fifty-nine pupils in all schools. The Central Schools have permanent buildings. The site of the North Central School is four and one half hectares.

The future of Magsingal is not very bright. There is no roomf or expansion. All available lands are cultivated and the soil is becoming poorer. There is no irrigation system. The short and swift rivers are slowly destroying the plains bordering them. Industries cannot progress very much. These are the reasons why many inhabitants are going to Cagayan and other places to live and settle.
Miss Vicenta Tolentino
Miss Dionisia F. Garcia

[p. 4]


In the year 1859, in the month of April, there came into the world in the town of Magsingal, Ilocos Sur, a man of distinct ability. He was the son of Francisco Tolentino and Marcelina Tolentino. There was one daughter and three sons in the family, Vicente being the youngest.

While young, Vicente Tolentino studied in a private house. His tutor was his priest grandfather, Father Carlos Tolentino. After learning the alphabets, he went to Vigan to study in the seminary school under the order of Saint Paul. After finishing the secondary course, he pursued the study of [the] priesthood. When he was about to finish the course, he unfortunately contracted a skin disease. To prevent anyone from [being infected by] this contagious disease, his professors advised him to go home for treatment.

In the course of his treatment, he was enchanted by the beauty of Estefania Guerrero, the only daugther of Silvestre Guerrero, a native of Magsingal and Juliana Singson, a native of Vigan, Ilocos Sur. After his marriage, he became a farmer. He prospered because of his industry and patience.

Observing that Vicente Tolentino was a good man, the Spanish authorities appointed him Auxilliar to the Gobernadorcillo, the office of which is now called the Secretary to the Mayor. Later, he was appointed Justice of the Peace in his hometown for two terms. On account of his integrity and uprightness, he was again appointed as Justice of the Peace. While in office, he was attacked by cerebral hemorrhage and died on June 15, 1903. The death of Vicente Tolentino was a loss to the town. His life was a life of service to the community. To honor

[p. 5]

him, the street and district in which his house stands was named San Vicente.

Miss Catalina Viorge

[p. 6]


Like all other towns in the country, Magsingal has its favorite sons and daughters. Capitan Clemente Udarbe is one of them.

Capitan Minti was born on April 8 1869. His parents were Agustin Udarbe and Martina Ulibas. Even as a skill [kid? child?] young clemente showed signs of leadership. He was often chosen by his playmates to lead them in their games of San Pedro and Lipay. He had always been fair and just with them that, when asked to give his opinion or decision, he was never questioned.

Young Clemente obtained his early education from the Parochial School of Padre Vasquez. Having learned everything that the teacher in town knew, he later went to finish his studies in the famous Seminario de Vigan and in the Ateneo de Manila. Upon his return to his town, he was appointed Juez de Paz, a position which he held for several years and without fear.

In 1896, the Philippine Revolution broke out. He joined the revolutionists. He became the close friend of General Tinio. He was appointed treasurer of the Katipunan in this sector and at the same time Delegado de Rentas. After the revolution, he was elected Vice-President of the late Don Vicente Tolentino. When Capitan Vicented died, he automatically became the town president for the unserved period of 6 months. He ran for President the next election and was elected for a term of 4 years. It was during this term that his unselfish love for his people and town were displayed. He had the stone building south of the Presidencia reconstructed on Feb. 28, 1906, which housed the first intermediate school in the province

[p. 7]

north of Vigan.

How did he manage to get all of these things done? It was all due to his tack, industry, leadership, and winning personality. What official in town have you heard having donated a part of his salary for public improvement? Perhaps none except Captain Minti.

Capitan Minti was married to Doña Mariana Jurado, a beautiful mestiza who gave him 7 top beautiful children, all of whom are professionals. He died of rheumatism.

Mr. Jose Vega

[p. 8]


The salt-making industry is monopolized by the people of Pagsanaan, a barrio of Magsingal, two kilometers away from the poblacion. Salt making is the chief occupation of the people in this barrio. This industry is tiresome and strenuous, yet the people are patient and they love to do it because it is enjoyable and profitable at the same time. Salt making is seasonal. It begins in the month of January and lasts until the end of May, when heavy rains fall.

There are two methods of salt making. One is the raked and other is the watered. There are also two general processes — the accumulating of earth system and [the] dripping system.

(1) The raked accumulating system — This is operated in the drained muddy ponds, a little but away from the seashore. The first step in the raked method is raking. Rake the surface of the pond in such a way to loosen the earth and break it into small particles. Let it dry up and, after three days, gather the loosened particles by using two pieces of split bamboo, one foot long. Store this gathered earth in a hut and let the hardened salt mix with the earth to loosen by itself through the process of physical change. After a month or more, this can be dripped for cooking.

(2) The watered accumulating system — This method is performed near the seashore. [The] First step in the watering system is, water the sand in the seashore. Carry water from the sea with cans and sprinkle the sandy shore in the morning. When it dries up in the afternooon, the surface becomes thick and rough due to the hardened

[p. 9]

salt mixed with earth. Use also a rake to break the hardened surface. After it is loosened, gather it by using the split bamboo. This does not need to be stored for a long time. It can be dripped at once.

The procudure in the "dripping" system in the raked and watered methods are the same. Steps in the dripping system — First of all, put the raked or watered accumulated earth in a rectangular big box with a hole. Pour water in it and store the water that drips and put it in a big pan to be cooked. Use [a] big pan containing two to six cans. Boil this until the water is half-evaporated, refill the pan and boil until all the water has evaporated. Salt is formed after all the water has evaporated.

I say that this occupation is strenuous and enjoyable for the following reasons. Carrying water, carrying earth and lifting these things are very tiresome. But when the vendor of bibingka, patopat, and all kids of cakes comes, the fatigue is gone. At moonlit nights, the ladies and young men enjoy the dripping system. Here, courtship may take place through helping each other, and through eating roasted camote on the sandy shore.

This time is the period of plenty on the part of the people because practically all kinds of products, crops like fruits, vegetables, and everything from money to gold and clothes are bartered. Everything that is needed in everyday life is bartered by the people from every part of the town and barrios because they are attracted by the salt, which is a necessity.

Miss Martina D. Tadena

[p. 10]


One of the oldest industries in Magsingal is claywork. It began from time immemorial and it was handed down from generation to generation. This is not an industry of all the people of Magsingal. Only a portion of the people who are living in the southwestern part of the town are engaged in it. It is because only this group know this industry.

This industry includes the making of stoves and clay rings for wells. It is very important because people who are engaged in it can have a substantial income for important needs and for raising their standards of living. Stoves and clay rings are some of the important exports of Magsingal. People from other towns come to buy them. Sometimes, the makers export them to Cagayan. Every year, many stoves and clay rings are made and exported.

This industry is not done throughout the year. It is only done during the dry season from November to May. During the rainy season, the people stop this industry because they cannot get clay from the fields. Moreover, the fields are planted with rice. Only those fields not far from their homes can give the kind of clay which is good for clay work.

People who are engaged in this industry need patience. The first thing to do is get the clay from the fields. The clay is dug and carted to their homes. Usually, the men do this job during the moonlit nights. The clay is piled up under a shade in their yard which is made for this purpose.

The next thing to do is to prepare the clay for the molding of the articles. The clay is watered and


Transcribed from:
Folklore Stories, Proverbs, Superstitious Beliefs, Stories of Great Men, and how the Barrios of Magsingal and the Town of Magsingal Got Their Names, 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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