MUNICIPALITY OF VILLASIS (PANGASINAN), History and Cultural Life of Part 1 - Philippine Historical Data MUNICIPALITY OF VILLASIS (PANGASINAN), History and Cultural Life of Part 1 - Philippine Historical Data

MUNICIPALITY OF VILLASIS (PANGASINAN), History and Cultural Life of Part 1

Municipality of Villasis, Pangasinan



About these Historical Data

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Approved by:

District Supervisor

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This account is intended for the younger generation and other who may not have the chance to acquaint oneself with the history and folkways of the town. No person can claim himself a Villasinian without knowing the immediate facts regarding his hometown.

This written account is not designed as a research contribution to the history and folkways of Villasis but, rather, a contribution so that people, at least, will know the growth and developments of his hometown so that he can better understand how to live most in it. No person can enjoy life or appreciate his town without knowing its history and background, its culture and growth, just as one cannot appreciate and love his country without knowing its history.

Acknowledgement is due to Mrs. Remedios O. Botuyan, who prepared this manuscript, and who wholeheartedly devoted her time in gathering the different data connected to the preparation of this write-up; to Judge Guillermo Manantan, who gave most of the historical facts; to Don Teodoro Basconcillo, who freely gave his knowledge in this particular field to help make this account a success; to Mr. Andres Aldana, the Municipal Treasurer, who gave information regarding the income and projects of the municipality; to Mr. Alfredo Fabro and Miss Restituta Obedoza, who made a survey on the lives of rural folks; to Mr. Ramon Jotie, who contributed some statistical data.


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There was no such town as Villasis in the seventeenth century. The village that now constitutes the said town was formerly known as PANDUYUCAN, originating from the word "oyucan," a certain species of bees. Owing to the presence of forests, these bees were found in abundance so that the great supply of honey and wax was not at all a surprise. People were attracted to the place that resulted in the tremendous increase of its population. Great progress was exhibited by the inhabitants, thereby changing the status of the village, Panduyucan, into a town courtesy of the first Filipino archbishop and governor-general, Lino Espelita.

It was not until 1782 when Panduyucan rose to prominence. Like in other places, forced and heavy labor characterized the period, hence, an armed movement resulted. This caused panic among the inhabitants. To insure their lives, they moved to other places. Only a few inhabitants remained, so that the town was once again converted into a barrio. Successive attempts were made to regain its former status but were all in vain. In 1815, however, through the leadership of Remegio Macaraeg, Aurelio Nava Figueras, Gabriel de la Cruz, and others, the community was formed.

There are two conflicting sources on how Villasis got its name. One reliable source says that the marriage of the successful rulers — VILLA and ASIS — brought about the name of the town. Still another says that, in 1850, a man of sterling character exercised his sovereignty over the townspeople. He was such a commendable ruler that his subjects loved him very much. This was ANTONIO URBIZTONDO y VILLASIS, in whose honor the town got its name. As to which is to be treated more seriously remains to be proved.

Villasis covered a wide area, but when the neighboring towns of Urdaneta, Rosales, Santo Tomas, Alcala, Asingan, and Santa Maria were formed, its boundaries were fixed and the area was greatly reduced. The

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town of Villasis is composed of the barrios of Anamperez, Bacag, Barangobong, Barraca, Capulaan, Caramutan, Labit, Lipay, Lomboy, Pias, Puelay, San Blas, San Nicolas, Tombod and Unzad. The town is bounded to the north by Urdaneta; to the south by the Agno River; to the east by Asingan and Santa Maria; and to the west by Malasiqui. The total area is about 7,814.0312 hectares and a population of twenty-four thousand, more or less.

Luckily, the town is situated on a rich agricultural region and is accessible by good roads in every direction. The fertility of the soil, coupled with the diligence of the inhabitants, makes Villasis quite a progressive town. Most of the people engage themselves in farming, hog and poultry raising, and the "buy and sell" business. Rice, corn, tobacco, peanuts, beans, sugarcane, mongo and vegetables are the most important exports of the municipality. It is also interesting to note that the town supplies neighboring towns and nearby cities (Dagupan, Cabanatuan, Manila) with the earliest seasonal fruits and vegetables like eggplants, tomatoes, gourd, squash, and watermelons, which may be bought by the truckloads. Coconut, pomelo, star apple, camote, ampalaya, and papaya are also grown to some extent.

Prior to 1941, Villasis was a third-class municipality. This year (1951) is only its tenth milestone of enjoying its classification as a second-class municipality with an annual income of ₱52,000, more or less.

Villasis did not enjoy a very well-organized local government during the latter years of Spanish sovereignty, so that no reliable records of the town executives could be had. However, with the establishment of the military government in 1900, natives were appointed to the helm. Don Benito Bascos was appointed head of the town. The first election of the municipal officials under the new regime took place in 1901, and Don Ramon Ulanday was elected municipal president.

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Under the new regime, the town became more progressive. In 1904 to 1905, Don Mariano Ordoñez held office, and it was during his term that the first municipal building was erected. The town was enjoined to do more planting of shade trees around the town plaza, within school yards, and the road leading to the cemetery. Don Gregorio Basconcillo became the next executive in 1906-1907. His term could be remembered for the establishment of the first kiosko. Tranquilino Bascos served only for a year, but it was he who started the construction of irrigation ditches. For certain reasons, he was later relieved by Don Epifanio Espiritu, during whose term the municipality suffered the greatest loss during the visit of a typhoon. Churches and big buildings were blown down. For six succeeding years, Don Francisco de Leon held the reins. School buildings and artesian wells were constructed, and on his seventh year, he was appointed Provincial Assessor, so his vice, Don Modesto Gamboa, succeeded him. The Gabaldon building was erected and finished during his term. Education attracted the people that enrolment showed a great increase. The municipal building was occupied by the schoolchildren, so that a new municipal building was constructed. With the incoming of Don Isidro Valdez, schools were extended to the barrios. Dr. Jose Rizal's monument was erected, and the public market was greatly improved and enlarged. Don Victoriano Olivar succeeded Valdez for the next five years. He was later relieved by his vice-president, Don Alberto Sison, during the sixth year when the former was suspended from office for a period of six months. Olivar, however, was able to finish his six year term when he was reinstated by the Department of the Interior. His administration can be well-rememberd for the Home Economics and the municipal buildings were constructed during his term. It was also during his term when the Plaridel Bridge, the longest bridge in the Philippines, was cons-

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tructed. Olivar tried for reelection but failed. Don Leo Carbonel, who suffered two defeats at Olivar's hands, had at last realized his dream. During his term, electric lights were installed, the national highway was asphalted, the public market was improved, and the shop building was erected. Like his predecessors, Don Leon Carbonel ran for reelection but was easily wiped out by his young opponent, Atty. Isidiro B. Ibay, who became the youngest local executive in 1931-1934. His administration was marked by many improvements of the public plaza and municipal building. A cemented court in front of the municipal building which now bears his name was constructed. It was during his term of office that the tennis courts, which was donated by the Ramos brothers (Bartolome and Bernardo), was constructed; still of importance was the erection of the P. T. A. Building in the Central School, which now houses the intermediate boys and girls. He was persuaded to run for reelection. He succeeded, but was forced to relegate his office to his opponent, Don Esteban Corpuz, whose electoral protest was confirmed by the Supreme Court. It was rather hectic during Corpuz's term for the municipal council was made up of partisan members. To him, however, the establishment of the once large cattle market in Central and Northern Luzon could be credited. This business became prosperous in the succeeding years, giving the town an income of seven thousand pesos annually from this source alone. Corpuz tried for reelection, but was defeated by Don Paulo Rabe, who was inducted into office as the first municipal mayor on New Year's Eve of 1938.

Mayor Rabe distinguished himself as the builder of several public works. During his first year of office, the public kiosko was contructed through a fund donated by the United Villasinians, an organization of the

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sons of Villasin who were in America. The municipal building was enlarged and modernized. Roads were improved and culverts constructed. The public plaza was improved by the construction of a concrete fence with iron railings in front of the municipal building. Due to the increasing traders, the public market could no longer accommodate them, so that a new market site where new buildings were to be constructed was purchased.

Mayor Rabe came out victorious when he ran for reelection on December 10, 1940, despite the odds that confronted him. It was during his second term that a severe drought visited the place, so that the local government was forced to get a loan of ₱25,000.00 to finish the public works that were just begun. The construction of the public market was on the 'go' when the Second World War broke out, that the plans were not carried out as they should have been.

During the Japanese occupation, the town did not suffer as much as the other municipalities. It is true that murders and robberies were practiced, but not to a great extent. It was during those years that Villasin proved that it could support a large population. The townspeople's loyalty to their country was exhibited by the ability to support the members of the underground movement, be it material or moral. Self-control had to be developed in everyone.

Then came the liberating forces. Villasis, once again, breathed more freely, more freedom was exercised. Esteban Corpuz was appointed Mayor by the Osmeña administration and, with the latter's defeat, Corpuz was relieved by Jorge Evangelista, a diehard Liberal. His incumbency was a rather crucial one, for the government had to start from ruins. As a result of the war, the morality of the people went down.

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The local election in 1947 brought the standard bearers of the existing parties into the political arena, Ibay, a Liberal; and Corpuz, a Nacionalista. Ibay won by a narrow margin of two votes. It is true that improvements are made during his present administration (improvement of the town plaza, a playground for children, construction of a semi-permanent throne, improvement of roads and other public buildings), but one thing that ails the townspeople is the growing number of murder, robbery, and cattle rustling cases that seem perpetrated.

Villasis is one of the most progressive towns in Pangasinan with respect to educational advancement. It has twelve elementary schools that house six thousand elementary school children. The town is not fortunate enough to have a public high school, but pushing the youth to higher schooling is not a very serious problem. The Pacific Colleges and the Pangasinan Central Colleges (both private) are so established to meet the needs of the youth. Both colleges are vocationalized to live up to the current demands of the young republic. Subjects such as Poultry Raising, Home Economics, Stenography and Typewriting, Dressmaking, Embroidery, Hair Science, etc. are being taught.

The accessibility of schools to the masses has certainly helped in the lessening of illiteracy. Two decades ago, the number of unlettered inhabitants rated about sixty per cent. At present, according to a reliable source, 30 per cent are illiterates, as shown below:

(a) Electors
(b) Pupils & Students
(c) Literates below
21 years

3,700 (outside of school)
% of Literacy 70%

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Villasis is a community that gives rise to no political bigwigs; however, it is a community that can be proud of its sons and daughters along other lines. The first to mention is Bishop Juan C. Sison, the titular Bishop of Nueva Segovia, Vigan, Ilocos Sur. Roman Ibay served for some years at the Philippine Consulate in China. Engineer Marcelino Mencias is another worthy of mention. He is one of a few who is holding a key position in MERALCO. Among other are: Melquiades Sibayan, the richest man in town; Primo Mina, owner of the Smart Orchestra and the Rest Shell House; Dr. and Dra. Makaraig San Agustin, the most progressive of the six local physicians; of the score of lawyers, Atty. Tiburcio Leonin, now with the Bureau of Lands, and Atty. Gonzalo Callanta, who is working in Foreign Affairs, and one time sent by the government as a delegate in a world conference, takes the lead.


The ravages of war hindered the rapid progress of Villasis, which had a very good start a few years before the war. With the destruction of the Plaridel Bridge, the roads, and the dilapidated public market, measures were taken to bring back the pre-war condition of the town. With the help of the Philippine government and the American government, the public market, the Plaridel Bridge, and a first class road were built.


Generally, in all towns of the Philippines, childbirth is still accompanied by great pain and superstition. Giving birth is usually by a "hilot," an unlettered obstetrician, usually an old man or old woman who, a few minutes before she was called, was feeding the pigs

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or was doing some cooking.

It is usually the father who buries the "cadcadua" or the placenta. The placenta is buried with books, pencils, or anything which is believed to make the child wiser.

Crude practices of the hilot give much pain to the mother, but he (the hilot) tries to give her relief. When the mother meets difficulties during her delivery, the husband is asked to crawl down the ladder, hands first, or just invert the ladder. The hilot usually cuts the umbilical cord with a sliver of buho and poultice it with tobacco ash mixed with coconut oil. Sometimes, it is cut with an unsterilized razor. Before the baby is dressed, it is placed on a large winnowing basket, then tapped on both sides of its body. It is said that this will make the baby strong-willed and brave.

Soon after the mother regains her strength, she is immediately given chicken broth. This is, course, the first of a series of boiled chicken that she is supposed to eat after the puerperal stage. Most often, the mother and the baby are placed in a poorly ventilated room with improvised screens and windows closed. She stays in this room for two or three weeks before she takes a warm bath.


Baptism is a ritual associated with varied customs and superstitions. People believe that an unbaptized baby is the child of the devil. Hence, children are baptized as soon as possible. If it dies on baptized, the soul will go to limbo.

Mass baptism is preferred to solo baptism. Right after the mass baptismal ceremony, each sponsor, with the baby in his arms raises toward the church door as soon as the church bells peal to announce the end of the ceremony. It is believed that the child whose sponsor reaches the


Transcribed from:
History and Cultural Life of Villasis, Pangasinan, 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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