CITY OF VIGAN (ILOCOS SUR), History and Culture of - Philippine Historical Data CITY OF VIGAN (ILOCOS SUR), History and Culture of - Philippine Historical Data

CITY OF VIGAN (ILOCOS SUR), History and Culture of

City of Vigan

About these Historical Data

[Submission Letter]

[Note to the reader: The original historical data on file at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections for the City of Vigan is unusual in that not only does it seem disorganized but also a few pages are duplicates. It is suspected that the file is incomplete and that many of the pages of the original were not scanned because these had been destroyed with the passage of time.]

Division of Ilocos Sur

Vigan, April 30, 1953

The Division Superintendent of Schools
Vigan, Ilocos Sur

S i r :

I have the honor to submit the historical data as called for in the General Memorandum No. 34, s. 1952 and Division Memorandum No. 19, 2. 1952.

Very respectfully

Supervising Principal

Incl.: As stated above

[p. 1]


Capangpangan may not be a famous barrio of Vigan — in fact, it is far from being one. Neither is it a conspicuous community, but it has a claim to be the most distinguished locality among all the barrios of Ciudad Fernandina for three main reasons: first, it is the only barrio of Vigan whose inhabitants are slipper-makers, leather tanners and shoemakers. Second, its people come from a stock of hardy traders and adventurers as its name suggests. And third, it played a prominent role during the Japanese occupation of the town of Vigan.

Historians recall that among the first settlers of this place were Capangpangan textile traders from Pampanga, mostly Macabebes who were not only traders of refined jusi and sinamay but also adventurous men adept in the art of fencing. These traders intermarried with the first natives, settled here and became the first known couples who taught their progenies the native art of tanning leather, making slippers, and the avocation of fencing. So avowed were the barrio folks in fencing that there was a time when they also invaded other barrios, other communities and surrounding towns, spotting an opponent to challenge in the game of fencing. As these virile men roamed from place to place looking for opponents, they also brought with them goods of tanned leather and chinelas to trade. Their more adventurous nature brought them as far as the Cagayan Valley where some of them had settled and left behind such prominent families as the Arrans and Azurins of Tuguegarao.

History recorders of this barrio from the early days of Spanish rule to the present agree on the fact that the early settlers of Capangpangan were those Pampangos, especially from the town of Macabebe, thus the name of this barrio derived its name CAPANGPANGAN in commemoration of those early traders. Those men developed the art of making at first chinelas out of the crude tanned leather of native cattle, dogs, pigs, and some other domestic animals. They could also tan the skin of reptiles which they usually caught from the then nearby forest of the barrio. As their tanning became more refined with the advance of civilization and the corresponding demand for shoes, the natives ventured into making shoes out of the native crude leather. So adept were the natives in the art of making shoes that there came a time when their products were not only sold locally but orders came from as far as Manila. In fact, the shoe manufacturers of the Poblacion of Vigan were from this barrio. These occupations of tanning, slipper-making, and shoe manufacturing of the people of Capangpangan gave them quite enough income for their families to have a decent living until the outbreak of the Pacific War.

During the early days of the Japanese occupation of Vigan, the people continued with their main occupation. Some had more than enough money from their businesses but, as the period of the war became more critical and raw materials were scarce, most of them abandoned their businesses. A few ventured into the making of sandals out of dumped truck tires. For the first time in the history of Capangpangan, rubber sandals were introduced. This trade of making rubber sandals persisted up to the liberation of the Philippines and created a good demand from other provinces. But after liberation, people from other towns and provinces were clever enough to copy the original designs of the Capangpangan folks and are now making a good business for themselves in their own communities.

The most critical period of the war made Capangpangan the most historic spot of Vigan. Even during the early days of the Japanese puppet regime, Capangpangan stole the limelight when members of the resistant movement who were captured, maltreated, and tortured by the enemy and finally executed were laid to rest by decree of the Japanese Imperial Forces at a promontory within the jurisdiction of Capangpangan. There is a move now among the barrio elders and those from other places whose relatives were verified to have been buried in this promontory to make this hallowed spot as a sacred place — to be the tomb of the unknown soldier, for in fact and in truth, this little hill of sand at the eastern bank of the Mestizo River between Vigan and Capangpangan became a silent cemetery for fallen comrades in arms during the whole period of the Japanese puppet regime — the unspeakable tomb of the unknown soldier, the unsung hero.

That is just to speak of the past of this barrio. This time, it may yet be unknown and insconspicuous, but the future will tell of the destiny of this community. It is enough for us to speak that it has emerged from the common locality to its more distinguished spot as the unusual hallowed ground for the unknown heroes of North Luzon during the Occupation. For the present, this barrio is content with having produced professional men in all fields, men who, although not of this place, have found

[p. 2]

homes in other places. It is also worthy to mention here our past and present officials who have contributed their share in the role of the barrio. Although these men are not prominent in town, but they are more or less successful in their respective arts and trades, and humble and honest in their dealings with their fellow countrymen, they have been selected to lead and represent the government in this community because of their integrity, their initiative in bringing the government very close to the people since long before the outbreak of the war, and because of the good leadership of these men, there has not been a single case of subversion and Hukship [likely in reference to the Hukbalahap] in these places which accounts for the good barrio administration of the following men as former and present barrio officials: Messrs. Tomas Andres, Alberto Amoroso, Pablo Fetalvaro, Doroteo Ramirez, Simeon Piano, Mariano Ramirez, and also our present barrio officials, Mr. Francisco Azurin and Socorro Fetalvero.

Respectfully submitted: [handwritten]
(SGD.) (Mrs.) Laureana Donato

[p. 2]

DR. JOSE APOLONIO BURGOS, born in Vigan, Feb. 9, 1837, died heroically at Bagumbayan by means of the garrote, on Feb. 17, 1872, with Fr. Mariano Gomez and Fr. Jacinto Zamora. He was the Father of Filipino Nationalism; a patriotic leader; wise scholar and martyred priest who denounced the encroachment of the friars on the rights of the Filipino clergy and people.

LEONA FLORENTINO of Vigan, Ilocano poetess; the author of several inspired poems which are found in the libraries of Europe.

ISABELO DE LOS REYES of Vigan, the initiator of the Filipino Labor movement; organizer of the Socialist Party of the Philippines and the real founder of the Filipino Independent Church. Scholar; folklorist; historian, member of various scientific academies of Europe. He edited the first Ilokano newspaper (El Ilokano). He was imprisoned in the Castle of Montjuic for his political activities and writings. With Rizal, Jaena, and del Pilar, he was a laborante.

ATTY GASPAR DE BARTOLOME of Vigan, member of the Audiencia and the first President of the Ilocos Sur Bar Association.

HON. VICENTE SINGSON PABLO of Vigan, lawyer, Assemblyman, 1st Dist., Ilocos Sur, Author of the law establishing the I.S. Prov. Hospital.

MARCELINO CRISOLOGO of Vigan, Iluko poet, the first Iluko novelist ("Mining wennoayat ti Kararua"). Coiner of the new Iluko lexicons through compound words.

HON. MENA CRISOLOGO of Vigan, the first Filipino governor of the province on the inception of the civil government (Sept. 1, 1901-Sept. 1, 1903). He was a delegate of Ilocos Sur to the Malolos Congress. A scholar, linguist, religious leader, the first president of the Defensores de la Libertad, author of the first Ilokano dramas, and considered as the Ilocano Shakespeare.

Reported by:

Mrs. Generosa A. Tejada
Mrs. Josefina D. Reyes
Mrs. Maria S. Reyes

[p. 3]

Biographical Sketch of Father Burgos

Dr. Jose Apolonio Burgos, the illustrious hero of Ilocos Sur, was born in Vigan, February 9, 1837, in a house southwest of the provincial capitol, where the Philippine National Bank office is now presently housed, bearing the historical marker placed by the National Committee on History headed by Director Rodriguez of the National Library. Father Burgos studied in the Letran College and in the University of Sto. Tomas. From the latter institution, he obtained a degree of Dr. of Theology and Dr. of Common Law, with high honors. He became curate of the Cathedral, ecclesiastical fiscal of the Archbishop's court, master of ceremonies of the faculty in the University of Sto. Tomas, and examiner in the same, and acting canonigo magistral in the cathedral. He was also a writer and leader of his people. He championed the cause of the secular clergy on the question of secularization. He even extended his activities to agrarian problems and in the social and civic life of the nation. He was, in fact, one of the early Filipino propagandists.

[p. 4]

The Cavite Mutiny of Jan. 20, 1872 offered them the opportunity to frame up Father Burgos Gomez and Zamora as alleged perpetrators of the crime of treason.

Following the suppression of the revolt, the government conducted an immediate investigation of the plot and ordered the arrest of those implicated or allegedly implicated in it. Many testified that Father Burgos had gone about the province of Cavite telling the people to join him in a revolt against the tyranny of Spain in order to establish and independent Philippines.

As a result of this investigation, the court, nevertheless declared him guilty and sentenced him to die by the garrote.

The garroting took place at Bagumbayan field, Manila, in the morning of February 17, 1872, witnessed in this tragedy by 40,000 people.

Respectfully submitted by:

Evaristo Abaya Jr.
Burgos M. School




April 15, 1953

Report on the collections and compilation of Historical Data by Committte No. 1 as per district letter dated August 30, 1952.

Respectfully submitted,


[p. 5]

1. ISABELO DE LOS REYES --- He was the initiator of the Filipino labor movement. He was the organizer of the Socialist Party of the Philippines and the real founder of the Filipino Independent Church. He was a scholar, a folklorist, a historian, and a member of various scientific academies in Europe. He edited the first Ilocano newspaper (El Ilocano). He was imprisoned in the Castle of Montjuic for his political activities and writings. He was a member of the municipal board of Manila and a senator.

2. Hon. MENA CRISOLOGO --- He was the first Filipino Governor of the Province of Ilocos Sur (Sept. 1, 1901-1903). He was the delegate of Ilocos Sur to the Malolos Congress. He was a scholar, a linguist, a religious leader, the first president of the Defensores de la Libertad, author of the first Ilocano dramas, and considered as the Ilocano Shakespeare.

3. ATTY. GASPAR BARTOLOME --- He was a member of the Royal Audiencia. He became the first President of the Ilocos Sur Bar Association.

4. GREGORIO SYGUIA --- He was a wealthy businessman who was decorated with the "Medal of Merit" by the Spanish Gov't. as Alcalde of the Ciudad Fernandina. He was the grandfather of Mrs. Alicia S. Quirino.

5. VENTURA DE LOS REYES --- He was the first Filipino representative to the Spanish Cortes of Cadiz in 1812.

6. HON. FELIX ANGCO --- Second Provincial Governor of Ilocos Sur (1903-1905).

7. HON. ALBERTO REYES --- Lawyer, political leader, Representative and Governor of Ilocos Sur.

8. COLONEL GREGORIO ALCID --- Pre-war famous Manila Chief of Police.

9. DR. GREGORIO FAVIS --- Educated in America, specialist in tuberculosis, once chief of the Tubercolosis Clinic of Ilocos Sur.

[p. 6]

10. VENTURA DE LOS REYES --- Of Vigan, the first Filipino representative (Diputado) in the Cortes of Cadiz 1812.

11. LEONA FLORENTINO --- of Vigan, Ilocano poetess, the author of several inspired poems which are found in the libraries of Europe.

12. MARIANO ACOSTA --- Proclaimed Military Governor of Ilocos Sur during the revolutionary republic in 1899.

13. HON. ESTANISLAO REYES --- The third Governor of Ilocos Sur (1903-1907), a revolutionary leader during the U.S.-Philippine War in 1898.

14. HON. JOSE VILLANUEVA --- of Vigan, a political and civil leader; publisher of the "El Tiempo Catolico" and Gov. of Ilocos Sur (1916-1919).

15. MARCELINO CRISOLOGO --- of Vigan, the first Ilocano novelist; wrote "Ayat ti Karurua"; coiner of new Ilocano words through compound words.

16. VALENTIN ALCID --- of Vigan, political and civil leader.

17. ALEJANDRO ITCHON --- Municipal President of Vigan, one of the founders of the Nacionalista Party in Ilocos Sur.

18. PEDRO FORMOSO DE MESA --- First elective Municipal President of Vigan.

19. GABRIEL ITCHON --- Pioneer telegraph operator; builder of the Vigan Post Telegraph Building.

20. CARLOS FLORENTINO -- Civic leader, literary man, philanthropist.


Chairman of
the Committee

[p. 7]


Two kilometers south of the town of Vigan is the barrio of Tamag. Here, on top of a hill, is situated the Ilocos Sur Provincial Hospital. Just west of it, higher in elevation, is another hill commonly called by the people of the barrio — Balawarte. You do not only enjoy the pleasant cool breeze when on top of the hill, but also the beautiful panoramic view. To the west, you can have a clear sight of the China Sea and its coast far up north extending to the south. Any approaching vessel can never escape one's attention. To the east, extending north to south, towering high above is a clear view of picturesque Gusing Mountain and the neighboring towns and villages.

During the Spanish time, Moro pirates came marauding, pillaging towns and villages near the coast, killing and kidnapping inhabitants for slaves, raping women, committing all sorts of ghastly crimes. To safeguard the people of the barrio and neighboring places from the occurrence of such dangers, something had to be done. It was imperative that the people, in order to have ample time to evacuate inland — to the mountain, should be warned of any approaching vessel sighted in the sea. The geographic location of Balawarte, as aforestated, is suited for such a purpose. So, the Spanish fortified it. They constructed a tower for guards to watch the sea coast. If pirate vessels were sighted, the cannons were fired, thus warning the people of an incoming danger. During times when there were no raids, people loved to stroll to the place to enjoy the sweet, pleasant cool breeze.

The place — a fortification and a tower means, in Spanish, "Balawarte," says an old man of the barrio. Since then, it was all but abandoned to Nature. Now, it is again converted by a businessman into a truck station. It is still called and known — BALAWARTE.

Respectfully submitted:

Juanita A. Celis
Magdalena Raras
Hermogenes Corpuz
Luz A. Parto
Acela M. Cabuyadao

Chairman of
the Committee

Transcribed from:
Historical Data of the City of Vigan, 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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