MUNICIPALITY OF ALCALA (CAGAYAN), Historical Data of - Philippine Historical Data MUNICIPALITY OF ALCALA (CAGAYAN), Historical Data of - Philippine Historical Data


Municipality of Alcala, Province of Cagayan

About these Historical Data

[Cover letter]

Division of Cagayan
District of Alcala


May 4, 1953

The Division Superintendent of Schools
Tuguegarao, Cagayan

S I R :

I have the honor to submit the following:
a. History of Alcala and Its Barrios
b. Local Proverbs
c. Local Songs
d. Local Riddles
e. Local Legends
Very respectfully,
Elementary Principal


Supervising Principal

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Division of Cagayan
District of Alcala


The town of Alcala is a thriving community in the central part of Cagayan. Its population of approximately 17,000 is predominantly Ilocano and is made up largely of independent farmers and small landowners. Only a very slight trace of the native Cagayan characteristics is found among the people. An explanation of how this fact has come about may be gleaned from the following:

Among the most flourishing towns in the province of Cagayan during the Spanish regime were Amulung and Nasiping. Each of these towns comprised a vast territory which was highly suitable for agriculture, but due to the sparseness of their population, great portions of these territories were left practically untouched and uncultivated. Between these two municipalities is the territory now occupied by Alcala, which was once a part of Amulung. An effort, however, was exerted by the Spanish government to increase the population of these sparsely inhabited territories when it set aside a large portion of the domain of Amulung for agricultural settlement. At the same time, the lands set aside were offered to the so-called "conquistas" from the Ilocos provinces, particularly Ilocos Sur, who would like to come to Cagayan. In addition to the offer of lands, the offer was made more tempting by providing the settlers with the necessary expenses and support up to the time when they could produce enough to enable them to support themselves. This offer attracted many Ilocano settlers with their families to occupy the settlement.

It must be stated that during the entire Spanish regime, the Rio Grande Cagayan served as the main artery of commerce and communication up and down the province. The mail, as well as the wares of trade, were carried by boat daily up and down the river between Amulung and Nasiping. This slow means of transportation required a midway stopping place for passengers to eat at noontime or to rest. On account of this necessity, a settlement was created right at the spot which was originally called the sitio of Fulay. The Ilocano immigrants decided to remain in this place. The Ilocanos were brought by Don Praxedes Ochoa, a native clergy from Vigan, Ilocos Sur, who became the first priest of the new settlement. Some natives of Tugueguarao, Cobagan, and Tuao were also brought to live in this new town. Fulay derived its name from the particular color of its soil, which is red and becomes sticky after rain, and in Ibanag, this word means "fula."

On July 29, 1787, by a royal decree of the governor-general, Fulay was declared a new ecclesiastical town, and by a subsequent order, dated October 20 of that same year, Don Jose Figueras, the then-Alcalde Mayor of Cagayan, officially proclaimed Fula as a municipality.

According to the Dictionary of Geography, Statistics and History of the Philippines by Fr. Manuel Buzeta and Fr. Felipe Bravo, edited in 1850, the name of Alcala was taken by the Spaniards from the Arabs, and it signifies "strength" or "fortitude." It was during the good administration of Señor Don Francisco de Paula Alcala, the then-governor general of the Islands, that Fulay was changed to Alcala in honor of His Excellency.

On account of his old age, the parish priest, Padre Don Praxedes Ochoa, after many years of service to the people of Alcala, resigned and Previsor Fr. Casimiro Gonzales, a Dominican, succeeded him. This new priest started to build a new church and a convent made of bricks and cement. The building was still incomplete when he left the town. Fr. Pedro Perez completed these two buildings whose ruins still stand up to the present time. The church was des-

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troyed by a strong typhoon on Octber 2, 1924. Rev. Father Salvador Baua, a native clergy and parish priest of the town, rebuilt a portion of the structure but, unfortunately, it was again destroyed by the last global war.

In view of the fact that Alcala had the biggest church and convent within his diocese, and strategically located, Bishop Father Jose Campomanes, together with many other Dominican and Augustinian priests, selected the place as their best vacationing resort and, in case of danger, a good place for refuge. And right at this place, they were caught during the Philippine Revolution by Colonel Daniel Tirona in 1898.

During the revolution, another Filipino clergyman named Fr. Aniceto Marcos, also a Dominican and a native of Batac, Ilocos Norte, was assigned to this town. He was highly respected and beloved by the people.

The Ilocano settlers were by nature thrifty and industrious. They were progressive farmers and merchants. Those who engaged in farming cultivated the fields along the banks of the Cagayan River and the Paret River. After the harvest, they traded their produce in other towns. Corn, tobacco, and vegetables were raised as their secondary home industry livestock and poultry raising were developed. With their natural aptitude for industry, thrift, and love for progress, considerable advancement could have been achieved by these people during the more than fifty years of the Spanish administration in this town. But unfortunately, the Spanish, together with the Filipino collaborating officials during those days, instead of giving encouragement and incentives for progress, harassed and oppressed the people, thus stifling their natural aptitude for progress and prosperity. In fact, during the entire period that the town was under the Spanish regime, the town did not show much progress except, of course, the existence of a few parochial schools where the children of the natives were taught the cartilla, the Doctrina Christiana, the fundamentals of Arithmetic, a little geography, and elementary Spanish grammar. The only vestige of the Spanish regime that is left today is the Cathlic church, now in ruins. After the downfall of Spanish rulein the Islands in 1896, and during the advent of the short-lived Philippine Republic, the then-powerful gobernadorcillos gave way to the more liberal and democratic officials, the capitanes municipales. These sons of this town served under this regime: they were Capitan Segundo Catral, Capitan Santiago Siazon, and Capitan Fernando Gannaban. After their terms, the Americans came and assumed control of the government, which was under military administration until 1901, when civil administration was definitely established all over the country.

Upon the termination of the Filipino-American War in 1900, Alcala, like other towns in the province, had another change of government. The American military government was established, under which the municipal president was elected by "vox populi" or acclamation by qualified electors, not by a few cabezas de barangay as was done in the Spanish regime. This was the first time that the people took part in the election of their presidents. Don Fernando Gannaban was elected and had the distinction of being the first president under the American era. His term of office lasted for one year ending in 1901, when the civil government was established. Another election was held, this time not by acclamation, but by secret balloting. In this election, Don Tomas Rodriguez came out, and at the end of his first term, he was again reelected, so that he served as municipal president for two terms from 1901 to 1903.

Incident to the establishment of the civil government, the United States enunciated its policy with regards to its aministration and control over the Islands, that is, "not to exploit but to educate and train the Filipinos in the artof self-government."

To implement this policy, therefore, the first things that the Americands looked into were the education of the people, the establishment and reorganization of municipal governments, the establishment of peace and order, the improvement of hygiene and sanitation, and the improvemento of agriculture and other industries

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in the Philippines.

The Alcala public schools were opened during the administration of Don Tomas Rodriguez, and to this, the people showed great enthusiasm. A justice of the peace was appointed, construction of better roads was begun, agriculture was greatly encouraged, and the health condition of the people was attended to.

In 1903, Don Macario Ponce was elected to succeed Don Tomas Rodriguez. Don Macario did not finish his term. He relinquised his office to his vice-president Don Primitivo Siazon, who served up to 1905. This administration was devoted to the improvement of roads and agriculture, as well as that of the education of the masses.

In the election of 1905, Don Irineo Teaño was elected and served as municipal president up to 1907. His administration was very peaceful and was devoted to the improvement of agriculture.

The names of latter presidents elected by the people, together with their respective terms of office, their acomplishments, and other information about their administration are as follows:

SEVERINO MENDOZA (1907-1910) - His administration coincided with the establishment of the Philippine Assembly composed of Filipino representatives. It marked the granting of greater Filipino participation in government. The term of office of the municipal president was lengthened to three years.

PRIMITIVO SIAZON (1910-1913) - This administration was devoted primarily to the improvement of agriculture and the education of the people.

LORENZO PONCE (1913-1916) - Don Lorenzo's administration, like that of his predecessor, was devoted solely to the improvement of agriculture, especially the production of tobacco from which the people derived most of their incomes.

FRANCISCO SIAZON (1916-1919) - It was during this administration that the Joint Philippine Senate was established and the Philippine Assembly became the lower house of the Philippine Legislature. in the election of 1916, Don Vicente Fernandez was elected representative for the First District of Cagayan and had the distinction of being the first son of the town to be elected to national prominence. This administration was characterized by the general prosperity of the people. The price of tobacco rose to unprecedented levels and this product reached the height of its development and gave incentives to the development of the natural industry of the people. Education and the general improvement of the town also got their share from the general prosperity of the town.

AMBROCIO PONCE (1919-1922) - Don Ambrocio's administration was one of the most remarkable in the town's history. It was during his term of office that the permanent "Gabaldon type" school building was constructed and general improvements on the education conditions of the town were effected. Agriculture was further stimulated and general prosperity continued. He made general improvements in the town, the most remarkable of which was the acquisition of the site for the "embarcadero" or landing place at the bank of the Cagayan River, and the construction of the road that led to it. The "embarcadero" did much to advertise Alcala. High government officials and dignitaries going either down or upstream had to tarry at Alcala because the road from Tuguegarao terminated at this place. Don Ambrocio also did not overlook the entertainment and recreation of the people. He organized a brass band which, during his time, was one of the best in the province. His administration, too, was remarkable for the maintenance of peace and order as well as for the contentment and happiness of the people.

CIPRIANO SABINIANO (1922-1925) - Don Cipriano died before he completed the first year of his term. His vice-president, Don Fernando Trinidad, served as president for the rest of the term. Among the distinct accomplishments of his administration was the construction of three concrete wells in the poblacion. It was also during this administation that the most disastrous typhoon in the

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town's history occurred. That was in October 1924. It destroyed the cathedral and the convent, the remaining vestige of Spanish times, and wrought havoc to crops and properties.

LUIS ARRANZ (1925-1928) - Don Luis's administration was primarily of agriculture and the stimulation of agriculture and the improvement of the town. The municipal building, which was destroyed during the war, was constructed during his term of office. Some schools in the barrios were opened during his administration.

ANTONIO CATRAL (1928-1934) - Capitan Antonio's election in 1928 marked some important events in the history of the town. First, it was the election of the Honorable Melecio Arranz to the Philippine Senate. Second, it marked the beginning of the so-called Catral Dynasty in Alcala which has lasted up to the present time. Third, he was the first president to be reelected since 1907 when greater participation in government was granted to the Filipinos. His administration of two terms was devoted primarily to the extension of education to the people. Some schools were opened in the barrios and the concrete school building in the northern part of the town was constructed under his administration. Three artesian wells in the poblacion were also constructed during his term of office.

NICANOR CATRAL (1934- ) - Ex-Mayor Nicanor Catral is a younger brother of Capitan Antonio Catral. His administration is the longest in Alcala's history and has been under three different governments, namely: the American administration from 1934 to 1935; the Commonwealth Government from 1935 to 1941; and the Philippine Republic from 1946 to December 31, 1951. The Japanese puppet government interrupted his administration. These alone were enough to give distinction to his accomplishments and show how he was loved by the people. An appraisal of his administration is best deferred for the reason that his administration is still in the process of unfolding itself for a better and fuller appraisal.

In the election of 1938, another son of Alcala, the Hon. Conrado Singson, was elected assemblyman for the First District of Cagayan. He was the third son of the town who was elected to higher positions in the government.

THE JAPANESE PUPPET GOVERNMENT (1942-1945) - The administration of Mayor Nicanor Catral was interrupted by the war between the United States and Japan, which broke out in December 1941. Because of the almost simultaneous invastion of the country and the subsequent occupation of the province by the enemy, the seat of the municipal government was moved to Afusing, the biggest barrio of the municipality, west of the Cagayan River. The vice-mayor, Mr. Vicente Capili, acted as mayor up to June 1942. when the Japanese government was established in the town. Capitan Antonio Catral was inaugurated mayor of the new government.

While the enemy government was characterized by atrocity and terror, the administration of Capitan Antonio was relatively peaceful compared with those of other places in the province for the same period. One act of atrocity committed by the enemy, however, stands out as a stigma to his administration. This sad incident happened in August 1943, when 63 men and women were detained and confined, and subsequently two of them were shot, both young men, just for the failure to wear the replica of the Japanese flag in going to church. Fortunately, so grave an act of atrocity was never committed again during his administration.

During this administration in the town were accomplished [incomplete thought to this sentence]. In practically everywhere — every barrio, roads were constructed with the use of enforced labor. In this way, too, he was able to erect a public market which, unfortunately, was destroyed by American planes in one of their raids before liberation.

In May 1944, Atty. Jesus Mendoza succeeded Capitan Antonio as Mayor. He served up to January 1945, when the presence of guerrilla forces on the western side of the Cagayan River was brought to the definite knowledge of the Japanese. From that time on, the town was divided into two opposing districts, with the Cagayan River as the boundary. Also, from the month of January 1945, the people on the

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eastern side of the river secretly crossed to the other side, until practically only the Japanese soldiers in their garrison were left.

On the other hand, the guerrillas, though they practically governed from January 1945, formally established the military government at Afusing in February with the appointment of Mr. Juan Berbano as mayor. Mr. Berbano served for only two months. He was succeeded in April by Atty. Vicente Calvo, who served as mayor up to August 1945 when the Commonwealth Government was reestablished and under which the legitimate mayor, Mr. Nicanor Catral, was reinstated. It was during the administration of Atty. Calvo when the American liberation forces reached Alcala on June 26, 1945. This marked the end of the war for the people from other towns who had evacuated their places of residence to get out of the reach of the tentacles of Japanese atrocities. It must be stated here that towards the end of 1944, the Japanese, suspecting underground movements among the people, began their reign of terror and committed acts of atrocity which caused untold sufferings. To all these, the people demonstrated their admirable fortitude and displayed their faith and hope for eventual delivery. The arrival of the liberation forces was very timely, therefor, for disease was ravaging the people.

The military government upon the arrival of the liberation forces became the PCAU GOVERNMENT or government under the Pacific Civilian Affairs Unit of the United States Armed Forces. The first thing that it attended to was the health of the people. It set a hospital in the town and appointed Dr. Segundo Catral to direct it. It did much to prevent the spread of diseases and keep the morale of the people.

When the Commonwealth Government was finally restored, ex-Mayor Nicanor Catral was confronted with the hard task of rehabilitation. In addition to the impoverished conditions of the people, an acute shortage of food became a major problem. Through his able guiding hand, however, his administration successfully coped with the situation and the Alcaleños displayed once more their fortitude in times of adversity.

In the first national election after the liberation on April 26, 1946, two distinguished sons of the town, the Honorable Melecio Arranz and the Honorable Conrado Singson, were again elected senator and congressman for the First District of Cagayan, respectively. Senator Melecio Arranz became the President Pro-Tempore of the Philippine Senate, which gave glory not only to Alcala but also the province of Cagayan. In the election of November 11, 1947, another son of Alcala, the Hon. Nicasio Arranz, nephew of the President Pro-Tempore, was elected provincial governor of Cagayan. His election added another laurel to Alcala.

From the foregoing account, one can see that the history of Alcala is largely the history of the development of the admirable characteristics of its people, upon which its greatness largely lies. Foremost among these characteristics are industry, thrift, fortitude, and ardent love for enlightenment through education. These characteristics have been highly developed among the people and have been demonstrated both in times of prosperity and adversity. Economically speaking, the people in general are not wealthy, but by dint of thrift and industry, and with their ardent belief in education, they have produced sons who have achieved distinguised honors. In proporation to her population, Alcala counts with the greatest number of professionals today in the whole province of Cagayan. This belief in education is further demonstrated after liberation when, in spite of the fact that the school buildings in the municipality were destroyed during the war, the number of schools had increased. Today, there are 19 schools in the municipality. Five of these are complete elementary schools and one with grade five. There are 60 teachers and 2,392 pupils are enrolled during the present school year, 1952-53. The increase in the number of schools was made possible with the organization of PTA's, that took the responsibility in erecting temporary schoolhouses. Two distinguished men in the municipality should be mentioned in this connection for the reason that they aroused moving spirits in this movement. They are Capitan Luis Arranz, an elder brother of the Senator and father of the late provincial governor, who is

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the president of the Municipal Federation of PTAs, and Mayor Nicanor Catral, who works in collaboration with the former in all of these undertakings. It is also through their unselfish efforts that the Alcala Junior High School was opened in the school year 1947-1948.

During the Spanish times, corn and tobacco constituted the most important products of the people. Other products were raised only for local consumption. After the establishment of the government by the Americans, however, a greater and continuous flow of Ilocano immigrants made their way to Alcala. These Ilocano settlers were a daring and sturdy people. The penetrated into the interior and cleared almost every available land suitable for farming. Eventually, rice became and is the most important product of the municipality. Before the outbreak of the Pacific War, the people derived their income largely from the rice which they exported in considerable quantity to other towns of the province and to the Ilocos provinces. Corn, too, was extensively cultivated. Hog-raising also became an important secondary home industry. In the whole province, Alcala compared favorably with any town in the quantity of pigs raised and exported to Manila. Today, the town is well underway to rehabilitation.

After deliberation came the hottest political fight in the history of Alcala, in which Mr. Rogelio Ponce the throne a political mogul of the town. His victory marked the beginning of the young blood to take over the reins of government. He was elected as the Municipal Mayor of the town last 1951. At the beginning of his administration, he was faced with the most pressing problems of an administration, that of balancing the budget. After sheer efforts, coupled with the untiring cooperation of his municipal councilors, the budget was fixed up to date and balanced according to my own evaluation of their accomplishments. He has three years yet to show his mettle and to recuperate from the political dilemma which had not let his eyes close for many days during his few months of stay in office.

Now, one may venture to ask, what future lies in wait for Alcala? To this, the modest Alcaleño can only answer, by resting his faith on the admirable characteristics of her people, which have been tested in the acid of both prosperity and adversity.

Alcala, in the years to come, is bound to rise from the ravages of a shooting war and political controversy. The mere test given by World War II explicitly mirrored to the whole world that the Alcaleños are not only persevering and down-to-earth patient, but are created to die for the sake of making the town an interesting, lively, and conducive one to live in. It is a place where one's personal traits are shown to stand the rigid test of life.


Transcribed from:
History and Cultural Life of the Municipality of Alcala, Cagayan, online at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.
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