HISTORY AND CULTURAL LIFE OF THE TOWN
PART ONE - HISTORY OF CURRIMAO
Currimao, which many years ago [was] the central depot of the Compaña General de Tabacos de Filipinas for Ilocos Norte and northern towns of Ilocos Sur, is located at the southwestern shore of the Province of Ilocos Norte. This small town was once the commercial distributing center of the province in its trade with Manila and Cagayan.
But with the improved means of land transportation, articles of merchandize are no longer on the port of the town, which was once flourishing with wealth [but] has turned into one of the poorest municipalities of the province.
Currimao derived its name from the combination of a Spanish name or word, "correr," meaning to run, and a local word, "comao," meaning marauders. During the Moro depradations on coastal towns of the Philippines, Moros in their warring vintas were sometimes drifted by strong sea currents into the shore. Once ashore, these intruders robbed the people, killed them, and sometimes carried them away as slaves. A watch tower was erected in the western part of the shore overlooking the sea that the then-few settlers could be warned when these sea robbers could be seen from a distance. Upon hearing the bell from the tower, the settlers would run ("correr") away from the intruding marauders ("comao"). Hence, the origin of the present name, Corremao, Corrimao, or Currimao, which is a simplification or contraction of the combined words "correr" and "comao." The ruins of the watch tower still stand today.
As Currimao is the only navigable port of Ilocos Norte, early settlement in this former barrio of the town of Paoay could be traced back as early as the latter part of the 19th century, when traders in their sailing bancas frequented the port to sell or barter their products with the few inhabitants. But permanent settlers of the place actually began in 1865 when the Compaña General de Tabacos de Filipinas inaugurated its trade line between Manila and Aparri, thus making Currimao as an intermediary port of call for the two provinces. The erection in Currimao in 1869
of the permanent storehouse of the Compaña General de Tabacos de Filipinas had generally boosted the growth of this town. Since that time, more people from Paoay, Batac, and some Ilocos Sur towns who were originally peddling and trading with the inhabitants chose to live permanently. Among the descendants of the early settlers are: the Quianzons, Aglipays, Guzmans, Hurtados, Dumlaos, Guerreros, and Quitorianos.
Currimao is only a 32-year old municipality. Once a progressive barrio of Paoay, Currimao with six other barrios was organized into a distinct municipality on January 1, 1921, by Executive Order No. 59, s. 1920. The first officials were appointed by the Governor General and whose terms of office expired at the inauguration of the first elective officials on October 16, 1922. The late Don Julian Aglipay was the first president of the town and whose appointment was largely due to the late Mons. Gregorio Aglipay, once head of the Philippine Independent Church. Messrs. Gregorio Dumlao, Eugenio Quitoriano, Pascual Q. Quebral and other prominent people of Currimao worked the hardest in the consolidation of the seven barrios and in mining the approval of the Governor General.
During the Spanish regime, Currimao was still a barrio of Paoay, hence, barrio absoluto (teniente absoluto) was the barrio official. The one appointed as head of the barrio was Mr. Felix Pobre, a native of Paoay, but was assigned to hold office here on behalf of the capitan municipal. The capitan municipal who held office in Paoay at the time was Don Julian Llaguno.
During the American regime, [the] names of officials were changed as follows: president, vice-president, justice of the peace, municipal treasurer, secretary, and chief of police. As to the names of officials, they were the late Don Julian Aglipay as mentioned above, Mr. Andres del Rosario as the municipal treasurer, Mr. Pedro Quianzon as vice-president, Mr. Liberato Dumlao as secretary, and Mr. Melecio Pagtama as chief of police. Those were the first officials of the town.
To show the historical sites, old structures such as an old brick house near the shore, together with the watch tower
are still in existence. Only, they are no longer serviceable. During the American Occupation, schools, wharfs, piers, lighthouses, bridges, etc. were built, improved, repaired and rehabilitated; but when World War II broke out, said buildings were again damaged, but some were not repaired due to the lack of funds as necessary papers for war damage claims had not been filed. During liberation, most of those who got claims from the War Damage Commission, Manila, have been able to rehabilitate their houses, some have not, due to supreme poverty, so they utilized whatever amount they received for their daily bread. One of the victims from the war damage benefits was the old Central School Building, which up to this time has not been reconstructed or rehabilitated. By that time, steamships dropped at the port, that is, before the war, to load and unload cargoes from Manila to Aparri through this port. Passengers from every town of Ilocos Norte, especially Bacarra and Laoag, were frequent visitors to our town and, at the same time, people believed that there was a fiesta more often. There were several stores along the port area owned by the Chinese. Restaurants appeared where passengers resided while waiting for the ships, but due to the opening of the Bangui-Claveria Road, trucks took the places of ships, thus paralyzing the rapid business of Currimao.
When fiestas were held, the municipality depended upon the Currimao Labor Union (Union Obrera de Currimao), a well-organized society in town, especially on financial matters. Religious processions were held on the bay where Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje, the Patron Saint, was viewed by visitors who attended our fiestas. Floating but religious processions were among the most important features of all previous fiestas.
During the enemy occupation, Currimao was one of the landing places where transport carried soldiers, especially Koreans, to shore and invaded the whole town, ransacked houses, which had been deserted by the evacuees for safety to the outskirts of the town. Properties were lost and looted, even school properties were damaged, that until now, the same condition, as mentioned above, could not be realized.
Customs, traditions, beliefs were common in Currimao in the olden times, [but] which are still done by the natives. When there was [a] marriage ceremony, dowries were given to the native girls as a prerequisite to marriage. Buried people were given precious ornaments as a sign of reverence in the after world. Superstitious beliefs were also rampant. People at that time, and even this time, were and are still superstitious. Old folks, especially, believed in anitos that if bones of the deceased were brought home, we could not sleep as the spirits followed and molested them.
Different games like "pom-pom-pull-aways," "patalonton," "sallona," and songs like "Daldallot," "Ub-ubbing Cam," etc. were observed. Contests were held. Riddles of the different types were delivered as entertainment to everybody, especially during Sinadag in honor of the deceased while lying in state. Now, it is being lessened due to pressure of work, not at home, but at school. Proverbs were also prevalent.
Few or no writers were active in the olden days, except now where Minister Salvador P. Lopez had done a great deal of work in journalism, especially the favorite column "So It Seems" in the Philippine Herald before the war, which is still being continued by him. Such was the history of our town, Currimao.
(SGD.) CIRILO QUIANZON
(SGD.) Miss JOSEFA Q. DUMLAO
(SGD.) Miss JUANITO C. AGLIPAY
(SGD.) ANDRES ORCINO