HISTORY AND CULTURAL LIFE OF PASUQUIN
Part I : History
Origin and Growth and Development of Pasuquin
The legendary history of any community is woven in the threads of fiction, legends, etc. and is real beginning, growth and development is considered official. There are various stories regarding the beginning of Pasuquin as a town and the date of its foundation is more or less definite. The older folks of this community claim the town was founded on or about the first quarter of the 18th century, 1725. Legends have it that most of the towns, sitios, have been existing as early as 1700. The Tinguianes (Itnegs) came down from the mountains and made their huts some miles east of the town. They were the first settlers.
How was the name "Pasuquin" originated?
This is an interesting version. Upon the arrival of the Spaniards in the Philippines, they moved northward and found the Tinguianes in the east side of the town. The white comers asked the Tinguianes to help them in locating a better place for them to live. In the course of time, the first natives had placed a peg indicating the limits of the town. The Spaniards asked this question, "Donde esta aqui el lugar o sitio, Indios?" Where is this place, here? "Pasuk aqui," the Tinguianes answered intelligently, adding the word "aqui" of the Spaniards to the word "pasuk," and repeating the words "aqui pasuk." Reversing the two words, "Pasuk Aqui," they pointed out with their fingers the place indicated by the "Pasuk,"
which means "peg." The Spaniards understood the term "pasuk aqui" to mean "pasu-in" as the name of the new settlment or town. But the natives pronounced the words "Pasuk-in," understanding it to be the name of the place, and henceforth, the town was known as Pasuquin. The letter "k" is equivalent to "qui" according to some modern Filipino writers.
As regards other comers more civilized than the Tinguianes, legends have it that the wandering inhabitants, known by their groups as Ibaliws, were first to put up encampments with flat top roofs of cogon grass and big tree leaves. "Ibaliw" means "came from other land across the sea."
The new place or town was thickly vegetated. When the Tinguians moved further into the interior, they battled the Ibaliws who ran away to the other [outer?] limits of the town. They moved to the western limits to "Pao" to the northern limits to "Parang," sitios, the latter a stream they meant as "Parañg" and the other "Pao Pao." They meant as fishing permitted or ground in that river, "Parañg." As time passed by, the word "Ibaliw" was changed to "Ibalio," a family name well-known in the town as intelligent, patient, modest, and industrious.
Meanwhile, other comers arrived who settled in groups and gave their respective groups a name to distinguish one from the other. Thus originated the family names Manrique, Guerrero, Josue, etc. Later, the Spaniards baptized and rebaptized some of these groups with different names, calling them as Luna, Aguinaldo, Cariaga, Peralta, and other
names now prominent in the community.
Names of persons who held leading official positions. According to Census figures, Pasuquin has the following population: 1903 - 3,123; 1918 - 9,192; 1939 - 12,000; 1948 - 10,792. The early people of Pasuquin more or less understood the elementary practices of government. Some became "Cabezas de Barangay" or heads of the barrio, or tenientes del barrio. The early town officials, according to records were Florentino Luna, Tiburcio Aguirre, Silvestre Aguinaldo, Paterno Ravelo, Felipe Ibalio, etc. They were all called "Capitan Municipal."
Early in the beginning and up to the middle of the American rule in 1925, Pasuquin had been more or less sufficient in rice, corn, mongo, maguey, indigo, tobacco, molasses, lengñga, sweet potatoes and fish products. During this period, our town's fertile agricultural lands were very productive. It is believed that with the use of the irrigation system, when completed and extended to Pasuqin, our farmers' production in rice, corn, tobacco, mongo, beans, etc. will quadruplicate pre-war production.
History of the Old Catholic Church
carried stones and sand from the seashore and the nearby rivers. All were compelled to work without pay.
From 1889-1891, Fr. Aquilino Garcia was the head of the church. During his term, a severe earthquake partly destroyed the altar. 1892-1893: Fr. Gerardo Blanco succeeded Fr. Garcia. In his time, the strongest earthquake shook the greatest portion of the roof and its walls. It was during a religious procession on Good Friday morning when the earthquake rocked the church to destruction. However, there was no casualty because all the people had gone out for the procession. After the earthquake, minor repairs were done. But the repairs did not do any good. A temporary building was erected and was used for the time being. This did not last long. Then, Fr. Trinidad Ranjo in 1910 held his Mass in the old municipal building which is now the present Catholic church. This building was purposely made as a convent and temporarily used as a municipal government building before it became the church.
We must not forget to know also that Pasuquin is the burial ground of more than two hundred Japanese soldiers and marines clubbed and murdered by both civilians and volunteers. In spite of this fact, few houses were burned by the cruel Japanese soldiers. But many lives and properties were destroyed and lost during the occupation. Public documents, school records, and properties were burned.
Payments of war damages were paid. But this was only one-third of the actual value. Some were not paid. However, people are continually rehabilitating. Modern buildings are now being built in the places of those destroyed. More scientific poultry in Pasuquin, Laoag and San Nicolas.
[Note to the reader: In the original scanned documents filed at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections, the next two pages were ordered pages 10-11. Since they belonged to the "history" rather than "folktales" section of the document, pagination here is corrected and they will be re-ordered as pages 5-6.]
IMPORTANT FACTS OR INCIDENTS
DURING THE JAPANESE OCCUPATION
I. On December 9 and 10, 1941, all the people evacuated to the barrios, mountains, and other far places from the town. When every famly had evacuated, then groups of gangsters took chances in looting the different stores of the town. In the evening of Decemberm 9th, a group of Japanese forces first passed through our town from the north to the south.
II. During the first three months, the Japanese forces did not establish any government yet, but the forces used to visit the town and hold meetings. In order to have a good crowd, the soldiers distributed soap, matches, and candies to the people who attended the meetings. In this connection, many people were captured and brought to other places where they were executed.
III. A military Japanese government was established, with Mr. Isidro Peralta as Chief of Police. Severe punishments to the extent of killing were inflicted on persons who went against [in the original document, "in obeyance" which is incorrect] the laws.
IV. Ladies and gentlement (single) from twelve to twenty-five years old had forced Radio Tayso (calisthenics) every morning. Those who refused to do so were severely punished.
V. In the early part of 1942, when the Japanese occupation army left our town, the late Governor Ablan and his company came down from the mountains to meet the people at the town plaza. There were many people who went to meet him and he assured us that we should remain faithful to America, as soon America would come to relieve us from the Japanese. Governor Ablan issued war notes for us to use in our secret business transactions because we did not value very much the Japanese war notes, although we used them for our formal business transactions.
VI. When the Japs learned of the coming of Governor Ablan, then they came to charge the people for collaborating with the Americans. The suspected collaborators were captured and they even burned their houses.
VII. At the very same time that the Japanese forces occupied the town, the Filipino soldiers with some recruited followers called "Pilpilme" were secretly mobilizing in the mountains. They had followers in the town who were closely observing the reactions of the people to the Japanese. If they found those who were faithful followers of the Japanese, they captured them and executed them out of the town. The same case with the Japanese, if they found rabid followers of the Americans, they had to execute them. So, there were many killings, then.
VIII. Some of the Japanese soldiers had already been very familiar with the place that they were enchanted with the beautiful ladies of the town, thus they fell in love with them. The commander was one of those who fell in love. Every afternoon, he used to visit his loved one. When the Pilpilme learned about it, they killed him. When the High Commander learned about this death, a group of soldiers came to investigate the whole town. They summoned all the people for a meeting at the Catholic church. All people went except those who escaped to hide in far places. All males were kept in the East Central School with fixed bayonets and machined guns [aimed] towards them. All the females with the children stayed in the Catholic church. We were detained for two days and two nights without any food. Those who were very fortunate to have escaped prepared food for their kin and all the children had to share with the food they gave. The males were required to make bamboo swords and went to search for the body of the dead commander. They did not release the people until the body was found in Ngabangab, where many executions of the prominent people and guards of the barrio were made. As soon as the search began, the family of the lady loved by the commander was captured and investigated. As they investigated them, they punished them very severely by tying, beating, pouring water into their mouths and by hanging them, and the watchers were asked to beat or box them.
PART II: FOLKWAYS
The old folks had common superstitious beliefs. Some of these are the following:
On New Year's Eve, farmers used to go out to observe the stars and the weather. When the stars shone exceedingly bright, they signified [a] good harvest and calm life for that year. If the stars were very dim and the sky very cloudy, they foretold calamity and [a] poor harvest, and [that] famine was likely to come.
The Siniguelas Trees. When the fruit grew in clusters at the tip of each twig and none at the middle, if signified [a] bountiful harvest. Few fruits and none grew at the tip, and far apart, it meant scarcity of harvest due to [the] lack of early rain.
Omens on [the] Kingfisher and the Crow. When the kingfisher or the crow flew over a house crying very noisily, it foretold the death of a sickly person in the family or accidents were likely to occur among the members of the family.
The Intestines (Cadcadua) [probably meant umbilical cord] of a newly-born child were believed to have something to shape the characteristics of the owner. When wrapped well in a palm leaf (labig), and hung high from a tall tree, the owner (baby) would become a good, clever climber. He might become a good sailor also.
Proverbs, Maxims or Sayings
2. Do not leave for tomorrow what you can do today.
4. Look before you leap.
5. A rolling stone gathers no moss.
6. If there's a will, there's a way.
7. Cleanliness is next to Godliness.
8. In union, there is strength.
9. Hitch your wagon to a star.
10. Don't count your chicks until they are hatched.
11. Do not cross the bridge until you come to it.
Methods of Telling Time
In the old days, people could tell the time by the sun, stars, so me plants (sensitive or bain-bain, acacia, etc.)
When the shadow falls exactly over your feet, it is 12 o'clock. If your shadow falls by your side it is still before or after 12 o'clock. At sunrise, it is 6 o'clock A.M. At sunset, it is 6 o'clock in the afternoon [evening].
Telling time by the fowls, birds, etc. The first crowing of the cocks, someone can tell one o'clock. The third crowing, he can tell dawn, three to four o'clock A.M. The oriole can wake up a man saying, "Wake up, my sons." (Bomangon can, baroc.) It does this usually at dawn.
Travelers can tell the time by the Great Dipper. When it is at the zenith, it is twelve o'clock midnight.
The Legend of the Sentinela Mountain
Many years ago in our glorious past, glorious because this story deals with the life of the early people in this very place we are now living. It is a story woven by mythical and legendary odysseys as declaimed by the followers of Buneg, our first Ilocano storyteller. The silken fibers of romance and tragedy had been interlaced with truth; truth because the observing eyes of [the] modern narrator or fiction writer would not miss the evidence of nature or traces that may corroborate the existence, though memory fails, to link them so that the story may be related vividly; traces, the footprints of time, prove the story to be true.
Some years after the discovery of Laoag by the Spanish conquerors, there were people of that town who abhorred the presence of strangers. But being weak to resist them, they preferred to move northward across the raging Bacarra River to avoid contact with the white strangers. They selected a place, which of later years, it was called "Nagripcan" in local parlance, and "enclosed" in the English language, because these settlers surrounded their village with strong palisades for their protection in case enemies would come to attack them. With the advent of Diego Silañg, the first Ilocano hero to attack in ambush the Spaniards, the natives' obedience and loyalty changed and the glow of hatred arose, which made them brave and daring. The Nagripcan people, in a meeting, assigned guards to stay on the high mountain located southwest of their village. At intervals of four shifts, each group of ten guards had to keep vigil night and day.
In the early days, this mountain was called "Sentinela." It was the first place where the guards of the village stayed to give warning to the people as soon as the Spaniards were sighted.
But these people did not live long being hostile and warlike against the invaders. About the end of the seventeenth century, after the death of Diego Silañg, who was killed by the invaders, the fire of hatred and opposition subsided. The natives became friendly with the Spaniards who came and settled in Nagrip-can. They taught them new ideas and preached the Christian religion. They baptized them. Soon, the natives forgot their anitos and superstitious beliefs. The whites showed little improvements in agriculture and simple farming among the natives. Industry began to flourish and commerce was revolutionized to the tempo of more active and speedy progress.
The people became peaceful and law-abiding citizens. But there came another era, a period of terror reigned again among the natives. The unexpected coming of the Moro pirates to quench their Islamic lust for captives, abducting beautiful women, looting and burning their villages, became a great problem for them to solve. One time, a favorite choir girl (Cantora) was with a Spanish priest playing and swimming with him in the clear water at the mouth of the Parañg River. The "Tiroñgs" arrived unexpectedly and got nearer the place where they were swimming. The cruel Moros were surprised by the rare beauty. Immediately, they managed to kill the priest and to abduct the beautiful girl. They succeeded. The sad news shocked all the people in the village. They immediately went out in search of them. The found the weak but still alive body of the priest who explained to them the whole story. The villagers pursued the abductors, but the Moros were about to set sail in their Moro vintas. They saw the girl and heard her screaming for help. All in vain!
Due to the cruelty of the pirates, the usefulness of the Sentinela was again remembered by both natives and Spaniards. So, their government assigned guards on this mountain to warn the people of [the] approach of Moro vintas. This mountain is high enough for any-
one could cast a bird's eyeview upon the seashore as far as Laoag to the south and Burgos to the north. The Spanish officer ordered a tower of stone, sand and lime on top of this mountain where the guards stayed night and day, to be built. Another one was built near the seashore about a kilometer south of the mouth of the Parang River, now called Pasuquin River. A big bell was hung in this tower. Upon notice of the approaching Moro vintas, the guards rang the bell to warn the people and let them prepare for their safety. These native guards, under the command of Spanish soldiers, were ready to fight the Tirongs. But these sea robbers never ventured to anchor on our shores again. The people lived happily ever after. But never forget the beautiful girl and the "Sentinela Hill."