BATANES, Province of, A Brief History - Philippine Historical Data BATANES, Province of, A Brief History - Philippine Historical Data

BATANES, Province of, A Brief History

Province of Batanes

About these Historical Data

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1953 - 1954

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prepared by

School Year 1953 - 1954

Batanes High School



This manuscript is prepared in compliance with the requirements of Presidential Executive Order No. 486, and Bureau of Public Schools Memorandum No. 34 s. 1952. This is a compilation of the history of Batanes, from the time of discovery to the present.

A committee composed of some of the teachers of the Batangas High School was formed to make this research. Each member tried his best to gather first hand information, since not enough records were available. The only written record available was referred to through the help of the parish priest of Basco.

Acknowledgement is hereby given to those who had helped the teachers in preparing this collection, giving special mention to Father Casimiro Villalva, who opened his library to some of the researchers.

The following teachers composed the Provincial Committee which prepared the history of the province.

1. Mr. (SGD.) Adriano M. Agagan, Principal Teacher, as chairman with the following members:

2. Mrs. (SGD.) Rucela B. Acacia, Faculty Member

3. Miss (SGD.) Rosita Eugenio, Faculty Member

4. Miss (SGD.) Leonida Guinto, Faculty Member

5. Miss (SGD.) Rosa Lazol, Faculty Member

6. Mr. (SGD.) Jose F. Barsana, Faculty Member

7. Mr. (SGD.) Enrique Melad, Faculty Member

8. Mr. (SGD.) Bernardo Tabalba, Faculty Member

[Table of Contents]


1. Name of Province
2. Former Name, Derivation and Meaning
3. Date of Establishment and Boundary
4. List of Officials and Tenures of Service
5. Outstanding Citizens by Towns
6. Important Facts, Incidents, etc.
(a) During Spanish Occupation
(b) During American Occupation
(c) During and After World War II
7. Destruction of Lives, Properties, Etc.
8. Measures and Accomplishments Towards Rehabilitation

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A group of little islands comprising the northernmost province of the Philippine Archipelago is officially known as Batanes.

Former Name or Names, their derivation and meanings:

Around 1618, when Spanish missionaries first reached this group of islands, they found the people scattered all over the islands. The friars found the natives call the biggest group of inhabitants "Basay" or Batan. This sort of a poblacion with about 10,000 inhabitants was found on what is now called Batan Island. Seeing also several persons of authority in this group, it was natural for the Spaniars to call the whole island Batan or Basay.

Due to the lack of the bare necessities of life in the islands, these earliest missionaries could not do much work and they returned to Manila without accomplishing much toward the Christianization of the islands.

When Gov. Gen. Jose Basco y Vargas sent an expedition to the islands, he gave instructions to call the whole group "Concepcion" and to call its capital "Basco." The name for the whole province was never adopted because the name "Las Batanes" previously given by earlier missionaries was already fully rooted. Batanes is now the name for the whole group of islands and Basco the name of its capital.

Date of Establishment:

The Batanes Islands were established as a sub-province in 1862 for Cagayan and it became a province only in 1918.

Changes in Boundaries:

All islands comprising the northernmost part of the Philippines from Mavudis in the north to Batan Island in the south constituted what was then called the sub-province of Batanes. Later on, the southern boundary was extended southward to include the Baguyanes and Calayan Islands. In 1918, when

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Batanes became a province Babuyanes and Calayan remained with Cagayan and only the original Batanes sub—province remained to compose the Batanes province. This group include Batan, Sabtang, Itbayat islands and a few uninhabited islands on the north.

Chronological List of the Alcaldes, Mayores, Governors and other Principal Officials, indicating their tenures of service.

On March 15, 1770, Don Pedro de Iriarte Vacimo was ordered to come to Batanes. He met Capitan Gatus, the leader of the people in the towm of Manañoy. In Manañoy, they found three suspicious Frenchmen stranded in the island. Don Pedro found the following officials in each of the towns he visited:

1. Basay (with 16,000 inhabitants)
Capitan Maiddan
Don Amacumdam
Don Lindan
Don Dialam
Don Tumbud
Don Tayung
2. Bagatao (Mahatao):
Don Maydam
Don Tubha
Don Isihalang
Don Yddangan
3. Ibana:
Don Pudan
Don Amanqueques
Don Pulag
Don Mangalam
Don Manguman
Don Bacnan
Don Amacudam
Don Maidam
Don Chiyay
4. Manañoy:
Capitan Gatus
Don Tayung
Don Chingan
Don Bacnan
5. Itbud:
Don Mantubhud
Don Chividin
Don Manansol
6. Guitayac:
Don Dialao

There were eleven towns mentioned, but only the six towns above listed had their principales recorded.

In 1778, Fray Matheo Gonzales came as the first missionary and he found that there were 30,000 inhabitants.

In 1788, the King of Spain decided that the little islands be placed under Spain and later to civilize and to Christianize the place. Accordingly, Gov. Gen.

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Jose Basco y Vargas ordered an expedition to the islands and, with 50 soldiers, carpenters, blacksmiths, and mason workers, started from Aparri and came to Basay. Don Jose Huelva y Melgareja was named the first governor of the islands with Don Joaquin del Castillo as Lt. Governor. Frays Baltazar Calderon and Bartolome Artiguez came along as missionaries.

This expedition found the people somehow still scattered, although there were eleven places where the population was thickest. In each of these poblaciones was a church built. After the Spaniards befriended the natives, they were offered palek (wine), pigs and goats. Because the soil is poor, weather often bad, and water supply very scanty, the Spaniards found life very hard in the beginning.

In 1792, Don Tomas Nuñez became the governor of Batanes. From then on, the following succeeded one another as governor of the province during the Spanish times: Don Jose Sierra, Don Dinio, Don Jose Paragua, Don Federico Lopea [Lopez?], Don Juan Saavedra, Don Francisco Paulino, Don Emilio Erero, Don Jose Cortejo, and Don Julian Fortea.

After the attack of the Katipuneros, Don Teofilo Castillejos was made the governor of the province and, when the Americans came, Mr. Otto Shearer, a Russian by birth, married to a Japanese, became the first American governor. He was succeeded by Mr. George M. Egan and Mr. Clifton M. Spear. The Americans withdrew and made the whole province a municipality of Cagayan. Each town in the province then became a township only, corresponding to the status of a barrio. The highest official then was called a presidente. The first presidente was Don Luciano Barsana, followed by Don Vicente Barsana. Then, a governor from Cagayan for Batanes was appointed in the person of Don Lucas Gonzalo (1918-1920). The first elected governor of Batanes was the Hon. Mariano A. Lizardo, followed consecutively by Hons. Juan C. Castillejos, Claudio Castillejos, Bernardo Bersana, Jose Abad, Domingo Cacho, and Juan Agudo.

The Japanese came when Juan Agudo was the governor. After he was killed by the enemies, Hons. Victor de Padua and Mariano Bayaras took over. Then, just before the post-war government was fully established, Casiano Cantor was made the acting governor of the province. The Hon. Eugenio Agudo was appointed to continue the term of his erstwhile brother governor. When the first election results came after the war, he was elected to

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the same post. The following election brought us the present incumbent, the Hon. Ciriaco A. Abad.

When the Philippine Assembly was organized, the Hon. Juan Abad was appointed to represent Batanes, but he did not actually go to Manila. So, the Hon. Vicente Barsana was sent to Manila and, for two terms, represented the province. He was succeeded by the following: Hons. Juan C. Castillejos, Claudio Castillejos, Vicente Agan, Mariano A. Lizardo, and again Vicente Agan. The Hon. Vicente Agan died during the Japanese occupation while he was still the representative for Batanes. With the first national elections after the war, his brother Anastacio Agan was as representative for Batanes. He was succeeded by the present congressman, the Hon. Jorge A. Abad. Let it be said in passing that the Hon. Jorge A. Abad was the first congressman from Batanes to be sent on special detail to the U.S. and other European countries, giving him a chance to tour around the world. He also incidentally is the first Ivatan to have an audience with the Pope.

Names of some of the most outstanding citizens (only those best to be included) and their achievemnts:

I - Basco:
1. Manuel Abad - Awarded the title of Marquez.
2. Juan Abad - First Ateneo de Manila Student of Batanes.
II - Mahatao:
1. Nicolas Agresor - Owner and proprietor and manager of the Underwood Business College.
2. Sixto Agraviador - A prominent scholar and hacendero.
3. Raymundo Agraviador - Floor manager of the Gaeity Theater.
III - Ivana:
1. Bernardo Barsana - Ex-Governor, Ex-Third Member, and Ex-Prisco Manager.
2. Vicente Agan - Ex-Congressman and a brilliant lawyer. 3. Mariquita Castillejos - First Sta. Isabel student of Batanes.
IV - Uyugan:
1. Teofilo de los Santos - Ex-Mayor.
2. Clementa Mata - Ex-Mayor of Ivana, Ex-Third Member, and at present, a District Supervisor of Basco and Mahatao.
V - Sabtang:
1. Jose Ballesteros - Ex-Mayor and ex-Third Member.
2. Sotero Faronilo - Ex-Municipal Treasurer, Ex-Mayor, and Ex-Third Member.

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VI - Itbayat:
1. Bernardo de Guzman - Member of the Provincial Board.
2. Domingo Dita - Ex-Mayor.

Important Facts, Incidents, Events, or Developments that took place:
a. During the Spanish Occupation:

Because the primary aim of Spain in taking Batanes into its folds was to propagate Christianity, the first concern of the earliest Spanish officials was to have the natives baptized. Young and old were simultaneously baptized. The peopl were given Christian names after the calendar, including surnames also. Old surnames were replaced by those of Spanish origin. A close study of the prevalent surnames in the different towns seems to reveal that the Spanish officials gave surnames in alphabetical order. For example, in Ivana, made the capital by a latter Spanish governor, most of the surnames begin with A, B, C as Aga, Agagan, Agan, Agu, Agana, Agudo, etc., Basol, Bacunal, Barsana, Barcelona, etc. In Mahatao, one finds surnames beginning with F and G as Fadri, Fabro, Fadullo, Fadriga, etc.

After the mass baptisms were completed, churches were made. Each of the eleven towns had a church aside from several capillas or chapels constructed at the end of some towns for quarantined patients like lepers. The ruins of one such chapel still stands in Valugan, Basco.

Fortresses and lighthouses were built, obviously along the shores of many towns, some of whose ruins are still found in towns like Basco and Mahatao.

Political affairs were run mainly by the Spaniards, also some principales who served as tenientes del barrio were appointed from among the natives by the Spaniards. They were appointed because of might, influence over a great number of people, or wealth.

Practically no formal education was given the masses except to memorize the "Doctrina Christiana," read orally by a few who know. The few persons who learned how to read and write during the Spanish occupation were servants in the convents or sone of the principales who were privileged to go to the convent to study under a "maestro."

The economic conditions of the islands were never

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paid attention to by the Spaniards. However, some ingenious natives brought agricultural products like garlic, onionis, pigs, goats, and cattle to Aparri in big sailboats in exchange for cloth, lumber, and other bare necessities of the people.

Later on, when steamships visited the islands, cattle was exported to Manila.

b. During the American Occupation to World War II:

With the coming of the Americans after the short-lived Philippine Republic, a new move to educate the masses began to be felt. The first American teacher who came to the province was William Edmunds. He brought along two Filipino teachers, Mr. Rosendo Acacio and Mr [blank space] to help him in the initial work for mass education. Adults who were interested from all over the Batan Islands were asked to come to Basco and be taught English and the three R's. The first students later formed the first teachers all over the islands of Batanes. Mr. Edmunds was succeeded by Messrs. Byron B. Barton, John M. Griffith, and Henry E. Jones. They were succeeded by the following Filipinos in their proper succession: Mr. Mauricio Lazo, Osmondo de Castro, Carmelo P. Quintero, Juan B. Gonzaga, Victor de Padua, and Jose A. Santana. Every town had its elementary school, including a building.

On June 11, 1917, the Batanes High School was opened but not until 1925, when the Hon. Juan C. Castillejos was governor, was a building costing ₱22,000.00 was constructed to house the growing school population. The high school population began with 10 in 1917. It reached its highest in 1929-1930 with 159 and ebbed down to 93 in 1935-1936, then was going up again just before the war with 140. After World War II, enrolment went up steadily from 197 in 1946 to 545 in 1953, in spite of the increasing tuition fees from ₱5.00 in 1946 to ₱60.00 in 1953. Such is the deep interest shown by the youth of Batanes to education.

In 1936, Protestant missionaries came to Basco and their good work can be measured by the increasing converts they have to the new faith not only in Basco but especially in Itbayat. They now have a chapel in Basco

Destruction of Lives, Properties, and Institutions during Wars, especially in

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a. 1896-1900:

When the Katipuneros came to the Batan Islands, there was no resistance offered because the people fled to the mountains. Only the governor, Julian Fortea, was killed. His wife and children were later sent back to Manila. No houses were destroyed. Several churches were abandoned and, finally, destroyed as the people moved to form the present towns.

b. 1941-1945:

Officials killed by the Japanese:

1. Gov. Juan Agudo
2. Principal, B.H.S., Pablo L. Fugaban
3. Principal, B.E.S., Antonio Cabal
4. Principal, B.E.S., Telesforo Cabal
5. Trade School Teacher Luis Aceron and 74 other civilians including teachers, students, government employees, and laborers.

Institutions and Properties Destroyed.

1. Batanes Capitol Bldg.
2. Basco Municipal Bldg.
4. Basco Elementary School Bldg.
5. Batanes High School Home Eco. Bldg.
6. Basco Elementary School Home Eco. Bldg.
7. Provincial Trade School Bldg.
8. Radio Station Bldg.
9. Post Office Bldg.
10. Basco Church
11. Ivana Municipal Bldg.
12. Ivana Church
13. Basco Market
14. Basco Dispensary Bldg.
15. Office of the Dist. Health Officer and Head Teacher
16. Basco Airfield.
17. National roads
18. Several private houses.

Measures and Accomplishments towards Rehabilitation and Reconstruction:

A. Persons -

1. Every war widow receives ₱50.00 until she marries and every minor child receives

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₱10.00 until he reaches the age of 18.

2. Every employee in the government before the war receives 3½ years backpay now being paid in 10 installments.

B. Rehabilitation made possible through the War Damage Commission:

1. Institutions and Properties rehabilitated:

a. Batanes High School Cooperative Store
b. Batanes Capitol Bldg.
c. Basco Municipal Bldg.
d. Batanes High School Bldg.
e. Batanes High School Home Eco. Bldg.
f. Basco Elementary School Bldg.
g. Basco Elementary School Home Eco. Bldg.
h. Radion Station Bldg.
i. Post Office Bldg.
j. Basco Airfield
k. Ivana Municipal Bldg. etc.

2. Every war damage claimant is given a corresponding amount to pay for his damaged property after the claim is processed.
3. Owners of fields taken during the Japanese period for the airfield were paid the price of their fields by the Bureau of Aeronautics.

Transcribed from:
Batanes, Brief History of the Province, by Batanes High School Teachers, 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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