MUNICIPALITY OF BURGOS (ILOCOS SUR), History and Cultural Life Part I - Philippine Historical Data MUNICIPALITY OF BURGOS (ILOCOS SUR), History and Cultural Life Part I - Philippine Historical Data

MUNICIPALITY OF BURGOS (ILOCOS SUR), History and Cultural Life Part I

Municipality of Burgos



About these Historical Data

[Cover page.]

Province of Ilocos Sur

Compiled by:

Classroom Teacher, Burgos Elem. School

[p. 1]

History and Cultural Life of the Town
Part I - History

There are no other tangible means by which one can really appreciate and understand the present status of a certain place than to delve into the facts concerning the beginnings of such place and link them with the progression of events which led to the town's position these days. It is well to remember the important personages involved and their achievements for the progress of the placed under consideration.

The present official name of the town is Burgos. According to the verbal information furnished by two of the oldest living residents of this place, Mr. Dacio Cordoncillo and Mr. Roberto Malag, aged 81 and 79 years, respectively, the present name Burgos was given around the year 1908 [by] the Provincial Governor Juan Villamor, who said that he ought to call the place; however, he contradicted the idea himself because he was still alive. As an alternative, he deemed it appropriate to call the place Burgos in honor of the oustanding Ilocano martyr priest of the Cavite revolt of 1872, Father Jose Burgos.

Long before 1908, the place was called Bato. The most authentic information given about the origin of the name Bato is: Father Laigo, the parish priest of Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur, gave the name as a signification of a big stone located at the southeastern part of the place. This stone seemed to be the bulwark against the flooding of the place by the river on its eastery boundary. As far as the two old men mentioned above can remember, the place was already named Bato way back in the 1970's [likely 1870's].

In the early days, Bato [was] called a rancheria. Most of the people living there were pagans or Tinguians or what we call Itnegs. The place was a conglomeration of people from different parts of Abra and [the] Mountain Province. The population was a rich stock but not so when considering their intellectual capabilities, as there was only a very inconsiderable percentage of the inhabitants who could really be called within the bounds of literacy.

[p. 2]

With the advent of [the] Spanish regime, the old unit of government, the barangay, was gradually obliterated. The Spaniards organized several barangays or barrios into a town. In the case of Bato, which was then a rancheria in the 1870's, the head was called a gobernadorcillo, alguacil mayor or capitan. Like other barrios then which were rancherias as Masacayan, Lucaban, and Mambug, orders came from the Alcalde Mayor of Villa Fernandina, the capital of the Ilocano encomienda. We might have the notion that the gobernadorcillo was the real ruler of the town. Such was [not] the case. The real ruler was the Spanish priest, who was in charge of the parish of Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur. He was the religious as well as the political and educational adviser of the inhabitants. The Filipino officials followed his orders and advice, and the Spanish officials in the provincial capital and in Manila followed his recommendations in all matters affecting the rancheria of Bato.

As has been stated, the gobernadorcillo or alguacil mayor was the most important official of the rancheria. Next to him was the "teniente mayor," who acted as the vice-gobernadorcillo or vice alguacil mayor. The next in power was the "teniente segundo," who acted as a corporal. The "teniente tercero" was the next official considered as a policeman, and he usually held a green whip. His work was to receive orders from the corporal. There were other three "tenientes" who held red whips and they were lower than the "teniente tercero," who held a green whip. [The] Following [is a] list of different alguacil mayores or gobernadorcillos who were all natives of Bato. They were usually called capitan and they had only one name as they were not yet baptized. They were obstinate people when it came to conversion to Christianity and they still refused to undergo the baptismal rites.

Capitan Rivera
Capitan Ablan
Capitan Regino
Capitan Guerrero
Capitan Mariano

[p. 3]

Capitan Gasilen
Capitan Guiba
Capitan Patti
Capitan Guiba
Capitan Lanas

In the case of Bato, the gobernadorcillo was appointed by the parish priest of Sta. Maria. The other officials of the rancheria were, in turn, appointed by the gobernadorcillo. In the late 1880's to 1892, the gobernadorcillo and the officials under him were chosen by the principalia of the rancheria; that is, the officials and ex-officials of the place. With the enactment of the Maura Law of 1893, which provided for the election of local town officials, the alguacil mayor was then elected but the system of election was indirect only. It was not the direct popular type that we have today.

The five officials of the town, together with two substitutes, were elected by twelve delegates selected by the principalia. The principalia was composed of (1) the gobernadorcillos, (2) the lieutenants (tenientes), (3) certain cabezas de barangay, and (4) residents who paid a land tax of fifty pesos. Election was left in the hands of twelve men who could easily be controlled by the parish priest (in this case, the priest of Sta. Maria). Furthermore, the Spanish provincial governor had the power to say whether or not the results of the election were acceptable. In Bato, paying of cedula was limited only to the few Christians who went to live with the Tinguians. The gobernadorcillo usually went to the governor pleading that his people could not pay a cedula tax or any other tax because they were only dependent on camote as their staple food.

The general unrest of the Filipinos about Spanish oppression reached its peak during the Cry of Balintawak of August 26, 1896. The Katipunan's onslaught began and war commenced against the mother country; however, loss of lives was not very prevalent then as only those who refused to be cargadores for food and

[p. 4]

ammunition were usually killed by the Katipuneros. The revolution dragged on but finally, Spain gave up the Philippines to America in the Treaty of Paris of December 10, 1898; however, war went on between America and the Philippines until finally ceased with the capture of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo in March 1901. Lest we forget, [a] military government was set up and then came the civil government.

In 1908, the place became a township and its first president was Capitan Amarga of Mambug. As was stated, the place was then called Burgos. Here is a list of the presidents and [their] periods of incumbency:
Capitan Amarga
Capitan Mannog
Capitan Matbag
Capitan Valentin

The township of Burgos clamored to become a separate municipality but there was [a] separate township called Nueva Coveta east of the river which was then affiliated with Santiago, while Burgos was linked with Sta. Maria. Around 1920, a bitter struggle ensued as to which of the two townships would become the town or municipality. Nueva Coveta won and the municipal building was set up there. The following year, there was an election and Mr. Diego Foronda won as president in the election. [The] Following is a list of the incumbents:

Mr. Diego Foronda II
Mr. Diego Foronda II
Mr. Elias Makil
Mr. Mariano Lestino
During the incumbency of Mr. Lestino, there was again a bitter struggle between political leaders in Bato and those of Burgos (it should not be forgotten that the township of Burgos became Bato again after Nueva Coveta became a municipality.)

[p. 5]

for the municipal building. By force of circumstances, a blunder committed by no other than the president of the municipality himself, the presidencia was transferred on March 1, 1931 to its present site. The Vice-President of Mr. Lestino continued as president for about three months after the transfer of the municipal building to Bato. Due to these events, Bato became Burgos while the former place of the municipal building became Nueva Coveta again. In two or three years after the transfer of the municipal building, Nueva Coveta as a barrio of Burgos became officially called Luna.

The late Mr. Quintin Pilor of Luna was elected president in 1935, a position he held up to 1938. The election of 1938 gave the municipal presidency to Mr. Romualdo Balbalan, a native of Lucaban. He did not live long enough because he died of rabies and the position passed to his vice-president, Mr. Juan Sison, who finished the three-year term up to 1941. Mr. Sison launched his candidacy for mayorship during the election campaign of 1941, and the result of the election gave an overwhelming victory to him. Other municipal officials for this period were: Mr. Antonio Lacguen as vice-mayor; Mr. Antonio Duque, Mr. Casimiro Dalit, Mr. Herminigildo Almazan, and Mr. Felix Quidangan as councilors; Mr. Ulpiano Bello as secretary; Mr. Silvestre Gasmen as treasurer; Mr. Celso Matbagan as chief of police.

World War II broke out in 1941 and the Japanese occupation and Mr. Juan Sison continued as mayor of the Japanese municipal government. The war continued and Japanese soldiers as the Filipino soldiers hiding in the mountains became fiercer every day until at last the people were at a loss as to who of the hostile parties, Japanese and guerrillas, should be followed. Taking sides was dangerous and neutrality could not be adhered to. The fall of Bataan and Corregidor found Filipinos in a tight fix; however, there was a brief respite in the early part of 1943 when the Sons of the Sun were busy asking for the mass surrenders of soldiers. In 1944 came the so-called strictness of the Japanese Kempetai. Mayor Juan Sison had to evacuate his family to Vigan around August 1944, while several others then in

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the Poblacion had to follow suit. On the night of July 23, 1944, as a retaliation against the Japanese for the hardships suffered by the Filipino soldiers hiding in the mountains, the municipal building, dispensary, school, and houses were burned. In October 1944, Mayor Sison met his death in the place where he [had] evacuated. He was lured from the house where he stayed and dispatched near Puyo, Caoayan. Other loyal men to the cause of democracy who met grim deaths at the hands of their kinsmen were Tabao Agbulos, Isabelo Guiba, and Luis Sison. A woman, too, by the name of Eugenia Dufiel met a horrible death at the hands of a misguided company headed by one Delfin Tom-an from Luna. She was accused of being a spy for the Japanese forces. Another man who met a fearful death at the hands of these self-styled heroes was Timoteo Defiesta. There were some others who met the untimely termination of their lives at the hands of such irresponsible guerrillas who did not really know the real meaning of a spy.

The return of American on October 22, 1944 [the correct date is October 20, 1944], when rescuing soldiers first landed in Leyte found several places trying to put up a military government. Around the end of the year 1944, Burgos set up a military government with Atty. Brigido Filart as the military mayor. He held office in a shed around three hundred meters southeast of the present site of the municipal building. With the return of the Commonwealth on August 1, 1945, Mr. Antonio Laaguen, the vice-mayor of the late Mr. Juan Sison, became the municipal mayor. He continued in such capacity until the national elections in April 1946, when the late Manuel Roxas was elected president of the Commonwealth [essentially, Roxas was elected President of the 3rd Philippine Republic independent of America]. By virtue of a special order from the chief executive, Atty. Brigido Filart was appointed mayor of Burgos by the provincial governor, with Mr. Domingo Manog as vice-mayor. Around the end of 1946, the mayor gave up the position to vice-mayor Manog, who continued to be in such capacity until the elections in November 1947, when Mr. Leocadio Directo was elected mayor. Following is the list of municipal officials during 1947-1951:
Mr. Leocadio Directo Mayor

[p. 7]

Mr. Juan Reinante Vice-Mayor


Mr. Federico Guzman
Mr. Laureano Vitales
Mr. Perico Domaoa
Mr. Mendoz Manangan
Mr. Silvestre Gasmen
Mr. Estefanio Guerzon
Mr. Ulpiano Bello
Mr. Demosthenes Pilor
Mrs. Leonora D. Brillantes
Chief of Police
Sanitary Inspector
Chief Clerk
During the election of municipal officials in November 1951, the following became the line-up of municipal officials:
Mr. Fidel Escobar
Mr. Jose Lugayan


Mr. Laureano Duque
Mr. Cayetano Berras
Mr. Francisco Defiesta
Mr. Felipe Cabus
Mrs. Margarita E. Aglipay
Mrs. Leonora D. Brillantes
Miss Maria Batanga
Mr. Ulpiano D. Bello
Mr. Domingo Manog
Chief Clerk
Chief of Police
Sanitary Inspector
The municipal building has not been rehabilitated until now. The remains are roofed with cogon and it serves as the municipal building just the same. The rehabi-

[p. 8]

litation of the dispensary was begun in 1947 and completed in 1949. The Burgos Central School was rehabilitated in June 1949. In 1950, a new school building was built east of the road and it houses, at present, the grade four classes. Last year (1952), a new temporary intermediate building was constructed on the northern side of the school ground. The Home Economics Building and the shop are additional steps toward rehabilitation. A kiosk was built at the plaza in 1950 from funds raised by the Burgos Youth Organization. An auditorium was built from voluntary contributions in May 1951. Beginning with the administration of Mayor Fidel Escobar, several improvements have been made. On February 28, 1952, the public market was inaugurated on the northern side of the plaza. The plaza was levelled, well-improved, and hedges were planted. The monument of Father Jose Burgos has also received proper care and attention. In preparation for the recent town fiesta of Burgos, a permanent stage was completed on February 6, 1953, between the presidencia and the dispensary. The street east of the plaza, the one leading to Macaoayan, was improved. Another important progress is the installation of the pump at the northeastern cornerof the plaza on January 9, 1953.


Transcribed from:
Historical Data of the Town of Burgos, 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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