Monday, 14 October 2019

Ang Kasaysayan Sang Victorias Kag Iba Pá: Halin Sa Malihao Pakadto Sa Tubó, Hasta sa Asó

(The Early History of Victorias and A Few Other Things You Almost Didn't know)


Preface
After having lived away from this town that I also call my own, I came home to walk its streets, roam its busy corners, and rediscover its history. From the stories I was told, to the ones I asked and read about, and lately, to the detailed history written in 1953 by the Victorias public school teachers, and by one distinguished Victoriahanon, who made sure the generations that would come after his would be able to read it as he lived it, I thought of bringing their interesting stories all together and write them because, firstly, they have to be shared, and secondly, their stories have become ours, too.

I'm talking about my hometown, Victorias in the southern Philippines, and thanks to the kind Victoriahanons who patiently answered my questions about their lives and their past, who walked with me as I explored the corners of this town to satisfy my curiosity, and who gave me mental images of what this town was like when photographs were not available about the past generations I wanted to know.

I am grateful to the Victorias public school teachers who, in 1953 and under the mayorship of Benito Montinola, Sr. (1950-1953), recorded in written form the history, culture, traditions, even myths and legends of Victorias (hereinafter referred to as 'the 1953 compilation'in compliance with the 1951 executive order of then President Elpidio Quirino who instructed all cities and municipalities in the Philippines to do so in order to save what was left after the destruction of World War II. And thanks to Ms. Christine Mae Sarito, who painstakingly compiled the 90 pages of the works of these public school teachers into digital form, I was able to read and relive our past. 

These 100 teachers from various public schools in then municipality of Victorias, led by their district supervisor Mr. Hermogenes Hipolito, went around interviewing people, sat down together, and wrote these stories, legends, myths, and traditions of Victorias. Although I want to write all their names here as a tribute for their unforgettable deed for all of us, I am specially mentioning three, namely, Mrs. Juliana Delgado, Miss Manuela Delgado, and Miss Elsie Ledesma, whom I personally knew; they have long passed. These teachers should be given the honor and tribute for their contribution to the history and psyche of all Victoriahanons.🙏

But the biggest thanks we should all be giving to as Victoriahanons is to Señor Esteban Jalandoni for, not only writing down events and stories that were personal to him (hereinafter referred to as 'the Jalandoni memoirs') and that contributed to what we are today, but also for his service to our own that spanned his adult life. He was our town secretary in 1901 and eventually the treasurer, justice of peace, and our mayor from 1928 to 1930. He was a true Victoriahanon, a real 'public servant' during the time when that term carried integrity with it and deserved everyone's respect. Thanks to his family and descendants for preserving and sharing his memoirs with us, and to Mr. Dino Acuña who provided me photocopies of 21 selected pages of the Jalandoni memoirs, specifically, Pages 10 to 25 and 27 to 31. 

Let me add that, with everything Señor Esteban Jalandoni had done for our town, he and Capitana Tutang (more story about her in Chapter IV below) are the only Victoriahanons who deserve to be up there on a monument at our public plaza and no one else.

I have laid in the following chapters the stories using the chronology of the 1953 compilation, highlighting the stories that interested me; their compiled stories ended in 1953. And now, I am retelling them along with my questions, ideas and arguments they caused me to infer because in written history, there are more stories hiding beneath those words than what they actually tell. And as I don't have the resources to dig deeper into our past, this is what I only came up with: Victorias's history in my style of storytelling.😄 And although I have made efforts to ensure that these stories are true based on the Jalandoni memoirs, the 1953 compilation, online information, and a few limited sources, I do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss or damage caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause.😄

So, going back to our history, where do I start? Where else, but from the town plaza!😊 

                                  

Chapter 1. El município de Victoriás

Standing at the middle of the Victorias public plaza and facing southeast, I was face-to-face with the stone município whose presence and history dwarfed me literally and figuratively. 

It was completed in the late 1930s with the cost of 30,000 pesos under the town leadership of Don Felix Lozada Montinola (1934-1940). Then, it was surrounded by trees, open spaces, and a few wooden houses in the surrounding plots. 

In the morning, public servants, local politicians, and townspeople crowded its halls, while in the late afternoon, its façade was bathed with red-orange hues of the setting sun with its twin, stucco-ivory columns driving home the message that this building was more than just an huge office for public servants. (Read my separate blog about the history of the município here)

Back then, in the 1930s, tall stone buildings constructed near the national highway were rare on this part of Negros island as most mansions were hidden inside haciendas, and any visitor to Victorias would have been impressed by this elegant and massive structure, turning the município as a landmark. Any passing traveler would know this was Victorias when one saw the ivory building. 

Unfortunately, as of this writing, it is painted tastelessly white and green, and is surrounded by a poorly maintained  public plaza littered with dog poop (I always had to watch my step!😡) and garbage from undisciplined Victoriahanons, and is a favorite tambayan of high school students during the day when they cut classes.😓


Chapter 2. Daan Banwa, where everything began

But the crowded city center was not the original settlement of Victorias; everything began 1.2 kilometers to the west of the Victorias public plaza.

Before becoming a town in 1906 and a city in 1998, Victorias was just a barrio near the mouth of the Malihao River on the northwest side of Negros island facing the Iloilo Strait. That barrio, also originally named Malihao after the abundant malihao plants on the river banks, is now known as Daan Banwa (Old Town) and is currently the City's Barangay 9. 

Though there are no verifiable written records of the barrio's earliest settlers, the 1953 compilation mentions of Indonesians, Cebuanos and Boholanos as early inhabitants of Daan Banwa even before the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines. 

Although Cebuanos and Boholanos might have rowed from the east, a piece of Visayan history regarding 'Indonesians' came to mind. Or was the 1953 compilation referring to Indonesians, or maybe specifically, Borneans?


Chapter 3. Did early settlers come from Aninipay during the pre-hispanic period?

If the history and research written by Pedro Monteclaro in Maragtas are correct, in the 1200s, ten datus from Borneo, led by Datu Puti (whose name in the present time has been unfortunately reduced to a cooking condiment) arrived at Aninipay, the old name of Panay Island, and asked Pulpulan, the chieftain of the ati natives, and his son Marikudo for land where they could settle. 

The ati people are an ethnic group of short, dark-skinned people with curly hair who were the earliest occupants of the islands with their own culture and way of living. (They have been sadly ignored and relegated to a minority).

And over the centuries, long before Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the archipelago, the communities of those Bornean datus thrived in the plains and along the coastline of Aninipay. These settlers were expert seafarers even before they set foot in Aninipay. They treated the sea, not as barriers, but as highways that enabled them to reach other islands. 

Like all early settlements, a river is always a required element. For survival, inhabitants needed a source of water for washing, cooking and other daily needs, irrigation for their vegetation, and a navigable passage into the inner areas of the island due to the absence of roads or cleared paths. 

The earliest known settlers of Daan Banwa must have arrived in several wooden boats loaded with brown-skinned men, women and children, huddled together with their livestock, ornaments, pottery, amulets, instruments, plant seeds, and Bornean culture and traditions.

If they were from Aninipay, the amihan winds would have carried them here to this northern part of Buglas, the old name of Negros Island, to an area with a river surrounded by fertile land. Their men must have scouted and chosen this place several moons before, a place near the mouth of a silty river where they could migrate to for reasons that would have included the need for a bigger, fertile area for a growing clan, or perhaps to avoid conflict with other clans and tribes. Although avoiding gossipy neighbors could have been a reason, it wouldn't have been enough to cross the Iloilo Strait for.  

Here, they found mangroves, nipa and malihao plants, and with their experience in agriculture, they planted and raised fruit-bearing trees and vegetables, and cultivated rice that fed their clan a few seasons during the year alternately with root crops.

This community must have thrived for a long period and must have even lived in harmony with the local ati tribes in the neighboring forests, an area full of trees, vegetation and wild animals thriving along the three rivers that converge as one and now known as Malihao. During the period of these early communities, these rivers overflowed when their banks could not contain the deluge from the mountains and the incoming high tides from the sea. (Two rivers - Malihao originating from Brgy. 18A, near the Victorias Golf & Country Club, and Magnanud River from Bgry. 8 - whose respective sources are 4.1 kilometers apart, converge as one at a spot 660 meters north of Bangga Daan, specifically at the intersection along the national highway that leads to Daan Banwa. Taytay Bahô is Malihao River while Magnanud is the one next to Bangga Daan).

If ever there was an ancient settlement in Daan Banwa, its disappearance might have been caused by bloody attacks from Moro pirates who roamed around the Visayan seas to plunder villages and kidnap women and children to make as wives or sell as slaves, natural disasters like destructive floods from the overflowing rivers, or deadly diseases that eradicated a whole tribe. Whatever it was, we will never know.😭


Chapter 4. Capitana Tutang and Nuestra Señora de Las Victorias (1880s)

During the last decades of the Spanish period, the Daan Banwa settlement grew and prospered with its inhabitants probably coming from the neighboring areas like Saravia, Manapla or even from Panay island. In the 19th century, migration from Panay island to the Negros island was already common. Even the former Victorias mayor, Don Felix Montinola, who was elected in 1934, crossed the Iloilo Strait and settled in Saravia. He was born in Jaro, Iloilo in 1864 but moved to Saravia (now E. B. Magalona) in the 1890s (or earlier) with two of his unmarried sisters. In 1897, he married the daughter of the mayor (no less!) of Saravia. 

Even some of the revolutionary fighters against Spain in the Negros island were Ilonggos who joined Elias Magbanua and his Negrense fighters in a stand against the American soldiers at Sitio Guintabuan in Saravia on August 19, 1899. (Read my blog about Elias Magbanua here).

While Daan Banwa was still a barrio, it switched several times from being a part of Saravia and Manapla because its population and income were hardly enough for it to be recognized as a town. It must have been a sleepy village near the sea and river where people gather in cool afternoons to exchange stories and opinions. But around the 1880s, when Gregorio Conlu was the teníente del bárrio and Daan Banwa was part of Saravia, an unfortunate event happened - an event that somehow became fateful to both the inhabitants and the barrio, and eventually to our hometown.

Gregorio Conlu and his wife Fausta Gosiaoco, popularly known as 'Capitana Tutang', sold tubâ (coconut wine) and probably other things like dried fish and fermented condiments at their home. And one afternoon, the couple noticed a paraw, a boat with outrigger and common in the Visayan seas, coming into the Malihao River and loaded with passengers. While its passengers remained on board the whole afternoon, they came to shore at seven in the evening, drank tuba at Capitana Tutang's store, and left at half past seven.

But when it was late in the evening with the couple's store already closed, the same men, numbering six, came back with bolos and robbed the couple by entering through a window. Capitan Conlu and his clerk, Alfonso Pechera, were able to evade trouble by putting out the light (there was no electricity then) in the store and went up the attic of the house to hide. Although Capitana Tutang was left sitting at the table frozen in fear, she was not hurt by the tulisanes. Instead, they killed two comisarios (peacekeepers during that time like our present-day barangay tanod) who later came to the house to apprehend the bandits. 

Unfortunately for the couple, Capitana Tutang had to surrender her jewelry, cash of 500 pesos, and some clothes the tulisanes liked, and although their neighbors came out of their homes because of the commotion, no one was able to help as they were all threatened by the bandits who escaped using Capitana Tutang and her maid Mikay as hostages.

Both hands tied, Tutang and Mikay were brought into the paraw until they reached the mouth of the Malihao River where Tutang was asked whether they could swim. When she said 'no', their hands were untied and were thrown overboard because they already served their purpose as hostages. Because the tulisanes were only after cash and valuables, and were not interested in capturing women and children to sell as slaves, they were most likely from a neighboring island or worse, from Buglas (Negros island) itself. (It was the fearsome Moro raiders from Mindanao who were notoriously known to kidnap women and children because they were more expensive commodities to sell.)  

A good swimmer, Capitana Tutang made it back to shore while dragging Mikay, who couldn't swim, with her. Although we don't know how old Mikay was, it made me wonder why Tutang didn't allow her to take swimming lessons from the men in the village when Daan Banwa was just next to a river and a beach! She probably didn't trust the local men who she thought were really after teaching Mikay anything other than how to swim.😆  

I believe Capitana Tutang was more than a grand dame of Daan Banwa than what the limitedly known town history is telling us. She must have been a culinary expert like Nora Daza because she had a popular store where even bandits patronized, a champion Palarong Pambansa-caliber swimmer who could swim from sea to shore in cold, dark waters while dragging someone with her, a witty, quick thinker who outsmarted the tulisanes, and had more influence in Daan Banwa than her teniente-del-barrio husband. Otherwise, why would she be addressed as 'capitana'? And for all we know, Capitan Gregorio Conlu, with all due respect to his contribution to the old town, was 'under the saya'. He was the one who left his wife behind among the tulisanes and hid in the kísame, remember?

When Tutang and Mikay finally reached the shore that dreadful night, they knelt and prayed. Tutang believed it was a miracle and being a devotee, she believed it was the Virgin Mary who saved them. So when they got home, she told her husband, who must have been relieved but still shaken, about what happened to her and Mikay, she also shared with him her wish to buy an image of the Virgin even though they just lost their money. That night in Daan Banwa must have been dramatic scenes from a telenovela: two dead comisarios bathed in blood from bolo hacks and lying on dirt ground, a teniénte del barrio hiding in a kísame, a kidnapped 'first lady', and helpless townspeople carrying their lighted torches around trying to bring back order to their village. 

After four months, when she went to her relatives in Bacolod to ask their help in buying the image, a generous cousin, Eulalia Villasor, gave her 250 pesos. She then visited Saravia's parish priest, Fr. Hilarion Narro, whom she told about her wish to purchase the image. The priest then helped her by sending a letter to Spain to order a statue of the Virgin Mary.

Eleven months after Tutang's escape from the tulisanes, the image of the Virgin arrived and was placed at the altar of the church in Malihao alongside the statue of San Casimiro, their patron saint. The image was called Nuestra Señora de las Victorias or Our Lady of Victory, and this was the start of the barrio's veneration to the Virgin.

Months later, two natives of Calatrava, who were captured by the Moro raiders, escaped and took refuge in Malihao. They recounted stories about their Moro raiders attempting to enter the mouth of the Malihao River but was met by a beautiful woman standing on the front bow of a banca holding a sword while a robust man stood behind her and held a lance. Upon seeing the obvious threat, the raiders retreated and instead went up north to Manapla where they continued their atrocities on coastal villages. That's where these two from Calatrava made their escape.

This story reached the priest of Saravia who asked the teniente del barrio to gather his people for an announcement. That occasion, where everyone was assembled, was where the Catholic Church publicly recognized the miracle and the legendary story on the Malihao River.

And to immortalize their gratitude to the Virgin, Malihao was renamed 'Nuestra Señora de las Victorias' with the approval of the townspeople. The change of name was approved by the provincial governor but he officially shortened it to 'Victorias' instead. 

Capitana Tutang should be immortalized in our history with a bust or a monument (although it would be difficult as we may not have any portrait of her lying around), not as a public servant, but because she represented the admirable spirit of our past that should be emulated in the present: bravery, resilience, and unwavering faith in God. 🙏


Chapter 5. Should the town have been called Salvación and not  Victórias?

After reading the 1953 compilation about the miracle, three questions came to mind.

One, should Capitana Tutang (or was it the priest?) have named the image 'Nuestra Señora de La Salvación', instead of 'Nuestra Señora de Las Victórias'? Why? Because she was saved; there was no fighting or hand-to-hand combat with her captors. It wasn't a victory; it was a salvation of sorts.

Maybe she was traumatized by the whole experience that she wasn't able to think straight after. Otherwise, Victorias City wouldn't be holding any 'Kadalag-an Festival'. Instead, it would be celebrating 'Pagpangluwas Festival'.

But then, Victorias has a 'Salvacion Subdivision' (named after Sra. Salvacion Ditching-Triumfo) in its Barangay 6 in the present time, which pretty much redeems Capitana Tutang.😊

Two, the legend says it was San Casimiro who stood behind the Virgin at the banca. I looked him up. San Casimiro or Saint Casimir (the only Catholic saint with that name) was a Polish prince whose images show him wearing a robe and is attributed with holding a lily and wearing a grand ducal hat. He was a pious character who died of tuberculosis, which means, 'robust' wouldn't be an adjective to describe his posture.

Saint Michael, the Archangel, on the other hand, was a fierce warrior of God who is holding a lance on most images of him. So, did the priest make a mistake in identifying Saint Michael, the Archangel as San Casimiro just because he was the patron saint of Malihao? 

In Marian apparitions, it is very rare that the Virgin Mary is accompanied by a saint. If ever she was accompanied, it was always with an angel or a group of angels like when she appeared to St. James, the Great on January 2, 40 CE at Caesaraugusta in present-day Spain; she was accompanied by angels. (Read my blog about that story here.) 

So, was it an honest mistake or was it deliberate? In those times when priests were more powerful than politicians, when education was scarce and most were hardly educated, and when access to information was controlled by those who governed, the story about the patron saint himself descending upon Daan Banwa to save it was a very big deal! Who would benefit from such story? Would this have increased the Sunday mass donations and more prayer offerings be made to the patron saint, not just from the people of Daan Banwa, but from the neighboring areas as well? 😕

(And is it just a coincidence that a prayer pamphlet of St. Michael Archangel - given by a friend years ago - is unexpectedly lying next to the printed 1953 compilation just when I am writing this chapter?).😇  
    (A prayer pamphlet for St. Michael Archangel)

Three, why is San Roqué, whose feast day is August 16, the current patron saint of Daan Banwa and not San Casimiro? When did this change happen? Does anyone from Daan Banwa know?😕


Chapter 6. Eliodoro Tongoy and Esteban Jalandoni save the town (1901)

Although there are no records as to how many times Daan Banwa became part of Saravia or Manapla before it became a town, during the term of Pedro Miraflores (after Gregorio Conlu), it was part of Manapla. 

Pedro Miraflores (whose term was during the later part of the 1880s) was succeeded by Gabriel Montinola (term ended in 1894), who was then succeeded by Guillermo Azcona (1894 to early 1901) and then by Ricardo Gonzaga (1901)When Eliodoro Tongoy led the town during the American military government (1898-1902), the town was threatened again with the relegation to being a barrio.

Captain General Smith (if he was General Jacob H. Smith, he was later court-martialed for ordering the killing of Filipino children ten years old and up) convened the officials from various Philippine provinces for the purpose of abolishing the towns that had low income, and Victorias was one of those towns.

Back at Daan Banwa, as the officials and town council consequently panicked at the thought of losing their positions and esteemed status of running a town to being stewards of a mere barrio that sat next to a river, the council sent town leader Eliodoro Tongoy and Esteban Jalandoni, his secretary, to Bacolod, the capital of Negros province, in order to seek the governor's help. They initially took the boat from Daan Banwa but their ride unfortunately had other plans; it capsized and threw them into the silty waters of Malihao River. Instead, they took the drier path to Bacolod by riding horses.

In Bacolod, they pleaded their case with the governor. On their first try, which must have happened at the governor's office, they were told that it was the Captain General's order, so it must be obeyed. They left the governor's office with a plan to have lunch at the home of Eliodoro Tongoy's mother but detoured and visited the office of a well-known lawyer who told them the same thing.

But it was their second meeting with the governor that gave them hope. On their way to lunch, they fortuitously passed by the governor's residence (still probably riding on their horses) and saw him by the window. He invited them in and this time, an idea came up. The governor suggested that if the Victorias town officials could fund his trip to Manila, he could persuade the Captain General himself for they were good friends. 

The governor needed 500 pesos, which was a huge amount then. Although Eliodoro Tongoy was worried as to where he would get the amount, it was the optimism and persistence of Esteban Jalandoni that persuaded everyone that this idea could somehow work. Señor Jalandoni asked the governor to give them three days to come up with the amount. 

When the two returned to Daan Banwa, they went to several haciénderos for help. Gregorio Lopez gave 25 pesos while others gave 5 pesos, 10 pesos, or fifteen pesos. The townspeople also contributed until they raised the 500 pesos, an amount that wouldn't just fund the governor's trip, but a small amount to be paid to save the townspeople's pride and honor.

They gave the amount to the governor who then left for Manila. And after two weeks, a telegram bearing good news was received by the alcálde telling him that the Captain General would spare Victorias from being turned into a barrio.

This story alone tells of Señor Esteban Jalandoni's admirable character of not giving up on his town, believing that there was always hope in winning over any challenge it faced.


Chapter 7. Señor Alejandro Acuña Yap-Quiña donates a parcel of land for the new casa-municipal along the Magnanud River (1906)

As the young town no longer faced a threat of it being divided between Saravia and Manapla, the town leaders thought it was time to expand it. Back in 1901, Captain General Smith already approved its continued existence as a town even though its income was low. 

To make the town bigger, they built roads around the areas surrounding Daan Banwa to give more accessibility to and from other areas, and for faster transport of people and goods. That time, they also wanted to move the município to decongest the town center and move it to an area that was more spacious.

And sometime in 1905, during the town leadership of Miguel Azcona (1905-1906) this plan suffered a setback. A certain Señor Leon Montinola took the town to court in order to get back his land that was supposedly taken over by the town to turn into roads and where people built houses. The land in question was the present-day Toreno Heights Subdivision, which is about 400 meters east of the center of Daan Banwa. This subdivision used to be Hacienda Toreno and now, we know it could have been an earlier site, as early as 1905, for an expanded Daan Banwa settlement.

I was able to identify the area by tracing any Montinola property around Daan Banwa. Two sources, one was an 85-year old, told me that Señor Vicente Montinola used to own the Hacienda Toreno. So, I looked up the ancestry of Señor Vicente Montinola and I found out that his middle name was 'Benedicto'. 

As per the Jalandoni memoirs, Señor Leon Montinola's wife was Señora Romana Benedicto. And so, I figured Señor Vicente Benedicto Montinola must be a relative of Señor Leon Montinola, which confirms that the land in question in 1905 was indeed the area where the said subdivision now stands. 

Going back to the Leon Montinola issue, the town council heard that the town would probably lose the case. And so, they would need a new land area to where people could transfer.That's where Señor Alejandro Acuña Yap-Quiña (hereinafter Señor Yap-Quiña) came in.

One day in 1906 when he was at the município and heard about the town predicament, Señor Yap-Quiña, who must have been of Chinese ancestry as he is described by the Jalandoni memoirs as "insic" (Chinese) and "extrangero" (foreigner), offered to donate a parcel of land to the town where the officials could build a new muncípio, an offer he made known during the session with the alcálde and the council on October 2, 1906, a Tuesday (the date which the Jalandoni memoirs stated as "Jueves" - an error?)

During the meeting, they discussed that the people who built homes on the land of the heirs of Don Teodoro Benedicto that had the size of "duha ca pedazo nga duta" (is this equivalent to two kampos?) might have to uproot and relocate their homes or pay rent to these heirs. 

Interestingly, during the October 2, 1906 session, the Jalandoni memoirs mentioned that after Señor Yap-Quiña expressed his desire to donate, a council member, Señor Cipriano Jimenez, invited Señor Yap-Quiña to have a private conversation with him at the município's balcony for two hours. Two hours! Is Señor Jalandoni trying to tell us something? Although this detail seems insignificant, it got me thinking. What was it they discussed that it took them that long? Did they talk about how to go about the donation? Hmm.😕 Interesting, indeed.

On October 15, 1906, Senor Yap-Quiña formalized his donation to the town saying, "... vengo por la presente a poner a disposicion del municipio un terreno de veinte hectareas que podriá escoger en la hacienda Guinpanaan de mi propiedad." (Page 12 of the Jalandoni memoirs).

Translation: "I come here to make available to the muncipality a land of 20 hectares that I can choose within my property of Hacienda Guinpanaan".

This is where I got confused. If Señor Yap-Quiña donated 20 hectares of his hacienda in Guinapaan, that area, in Barangay 5 of Victorias, is about a kilometer from the current city center, situated to the north  towards the direction of Manapla and 1.5 kilometers away from Magnanud River. 

If this was the case, I was thinking Guinpanaan would only be part of the donation. It would only be the site for those houses to be removed from the land of Leon Montinola because, on October 30, 1906, another land was presented to the council as a donation. 

On that day, October 30, 1906, an ocular inspection attended by the council members was held and the exact location of the donated 'parcel of land' was pinpointed by a certain Juan Canlas who represented Señor Yap-Quiña in his absence that day.

The exact location of the donated parcel of land described to us by Señor Esteban Jalandoni in his memoirs is as follows: 
"sa bagatnan subá sang Magnanud, sa Sidlangan duta ni Sr. Alejandro Acuña Yap-Quiña sa Catundan duta man sang amo nga Quiña cag sa Amihan sapa." (Page 13 of the Jalandoni memoirs)

Translation: To the south, Magnanud River
To the west, land owned by Sr. Yap-Quiña
To the east, land owned by Sr. Yap-Quiña
To the north, a swamp.
(Page 13 of the Jalandoni memoirs describes the exact location of the donated land)

Other pages also gave me clues that the land was just next to the Magnanud River:


(Page 15 of the Jalandoni memoirs describes 
the donated land as "sa Magnanud sa dutá 
nga guin hatag ni Sr. Quiña nga sa caron 
guin patindugan sing casa-municipal")

(Page 19 of the Jalandoni memoirs describes the 
new município as "casa-municipal de Magnanud)

(Page 20 of the Jalandoni memoirs describes the new município as "ang casa-municipal de Magnanud") 


To find its location using the description, I studied the topography of the possible sites next to Magnanud River, visited the neighborhood Embarcadero in Barangay 1 (embarcadero is a Spanish word that means a pier or wharf), and visited the low-lying areas around Brgy. 1 and Brgy. 3 where an old swamp was located.

I then discovered that the land where the Yap-Quina Subdivision (Brgy. 3) currently stands used to be a wetland and was a humáyan or rice plantation. This must have been the sapâ (swamp) described in the Jalandoni memoirs. There was no other possible area for a swamp in the city that sits next to the northern banks of the Magnanud River, or near Embarcadero, and not too far from Daan Banwa.

I then mapped out my discoveries and located on Google Earth the location of the donated land. 


(Using a Google Earth screenshot and the 
description of the location as per the Jalandoni memoirs, I marked in blue shade the area 
where the 'parcel of land' donated by 
Señor Yap-Quiña in 1906 was located. The area is now occupied by private homes and businesses. 
I indicated the city's important landmarks in the screenshot for reference.)  

There was never a swamp near the present-day city hall and public plaza area because this place 
has the highest elevation in the city center. Swamps are only located in low-lying areas where water could settle. This spot could never be the location of the donated land.

To prove it, you can stand on the national highway of Victorias, with the the public plaza in front of you and the Petron gasoline station at your back, and look towards the directions of Bacolod (south) and Manapla (north). You'll notice that the roads from where you're standing descend. That means your spot is highly elevated. That's why it never floods in this area. 

So, based on the words of Señor Esteban Jalandoni and on the topography or the land features of Victorias, the land where the current city hall and the public plaza stand is not the land donated by Señor Yap-Quiña.


So what about the two-hour conversation between Sr. Cipriano Jimenez and Sr. Yap-Quiña? Could it be that they discussed the details of the donation, which actually consisted of a parcel of land next to Magnanud River and letting those uprooted houses from Leon Montinola's land transfer to Hda. Guinpanaan? And did Sr. Yap-Quiña really transfer the ownership of those 20 hectares in Guinpanaan and that parcel of the land next to Magnanud River?

As of this writing, no signed deed of sale or deed of donation has ever been presented to the public to confirm the donation's exact location and land size. I would have been very much interested to see it as concrete evidence supporting the putting up of a monument in the Victorias public plaza in honor of Señor Yap-Quiña because this was done with taxpayers' money.

I would also be interested, for history's sake, to read the authentic original certificate of title (OCT) or even the transfer certificate of title (TCT) of the said 'parcel of land'. Because if there was, we can study the documents and trace the location indicated thereon. No one even knows the exact size of the donated land, too. 

Interestingly enough, when I asked the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) about Alejandro Acuña Yap-Quiña and his monument at the Victorias public plaza, they told me that "NHCP does not have the specific records about him and/or his monument in Victorias City, Negros Occidental."

                                                  
               (NHCP chairman's October 1, 2019 
                         reply to my inquiry)

The NHCP also sent me their guidelines on putting up monuments in the Philippines. Guideline No. 12-b looks interesting. 



(The NHCP's Guideline No. 12-b prohibits 
monuments endorsed by the honoree's 
relatives without public acceptance and 
should be sanctioned by a national 
government agency.😱 



Read this online article and decide. Further, the NHCP guidelines require me to ask: was this monument donated by private individuals and not paid for by taxpayers' money? And what national government agency sanctioned the putting up of such monument?

As of this writing, the monument of Alejandro Acuña Yap-Quiña standing at the Victorias public plaza is well lighted at night, has manicured lawns surrounding it, and is bigger than those of Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio. But this monument, allegedly put up by a city ordinance in 2014 (I haven't read it), has been controversial.
(Señor Yap-Quina's monument in 
Victorias public plaza)

(Andres Bonifacio's monument)

        (Jose Rizal's monument)

And as I am writing about this donation, more questions and arguments came to mind:

1. If Señor Yap-Quiña, with all due respect to him, in 1906 really meant to donate land without expecting recognition and praises, why put up an expensive monument for him?😕

2. If you noticed in the description of the location of the donated land, it was sandwiched by two of Señor Yap-Quiña's properties. Again, with all due respect to him, I wonder if he had a business agenda when he donated his land? Was this part of his two-hour conversation with Sr. Jimenez on October 2, 1906?

Did he donate 'a parcel of land' just so it would become a town center and his adjacent properties would rise in value? He was a Chinese businessman after all. Or perhaps, he eventually put up stores on both adjacent vacant lots as he later had a captive market right in front because the casa-municipal was always where people gathered everyday. Was this 'philantrophic deed' a mere business strategy to transfer the muncípio in the middle of his property? 😕

If you're asking why were those uprooted homes not relocated here next to the Magnanud River? Simple. The land surrounding the new casa-municipal would eventually be prime lots. Why would you give those away?

Or was Señor Yap-Quiña used by the town council to spite Señor Leon Montinola by asking the former, not only for the land where the houses would be relocated, but also for a 'parcel of land' where the município could be transferred to?😕

As I said, there are more stories hidden beneath those written words.😀

3. The Jalandoni memoirs mentioned of "veinte hectareas". If at that time, "veinte hectareas" were equivalent to today's measurement of 20 hectares, that means they represented 200,000 square meters as one hectare is equivalent to 10,000 square meters. the City of Victorias has a land area of 133,900,000 square meters. Those "veinte hectareas" represented only 00.14% of the City's total land area, and not even 1%. If you'd argue that it's the thought that counts, well I'd say computation counts as well because I heard other landed Victoriahanons also donated land in the past at even bigger sizes, and yet no monument was made to their names. Just like geniune, sincere philanthropists, they probably just wanted to remain quiet. 😏 

But the more important questions are: Were the homes from Leon Montinola's land really relocated to Hda. Guinpanaan? And if so, were the townspeople given the land or simply the right to use it? If Sr. Yap-Quiña donated those 20 hectares to the town, where in Hda. Guinpanaan can we see those 20 hectares and does the City of Victorias own it now?😕

4. The 1953 compilation describes the donation as "a parcel of land" because in 1906, the town only needed a size that was good enough to fit an equivalent of a present-day barangay hall. They did not plan to build a huge palatial município because the town had no money, had a small populace, and their plan was just to 'stretch' the town to the other side of Magnanud River in a new location 700 meters east of Daan Banwa because their original plan of building it on the area, now known as Toreno Heights Subdivision, was contested by Señor Leon Montinola and the heirs of Don Teodoro Benedicto. 

Plus, if the donation was indeed a huge tract of land, the 1953 compilation would have described it as 'hacienda', and not just "a parcel of land".

5. Although the Jalandoni memoirs never mentioned what Señor Yap-Quiña wanted in return for his donation, it's the unwritten things that raise questions. 

The past alcáldes of Victorias like Miraflores, Gonzaga, Ascalon, De Leon, Ardosa, Casañares, Arnaez, Jover, Jalandoni, Tongoy, and Montinola have streets named after them. There's also a Yap-Quiña St. named after Señor Yap-Quiña. So, why can't the proponents of this monument be satisfied with a street name, alongside other alcáldes? 

If the donation was such a big deal, why didn't the past mayors put up this monument as early as the 1950s? 1960s? 1970s? 1980s? 1990s? Or even in the early 2000s?

Is the late Señor Yap-Quiña being exploited now by the living for their own political propaganda, one that is not even sanctioned by any national government agency?😕

6. The NHCP's Guideline No. 12-b prohibits putting up monuments by the relatives of the honoree. If you read this online article, you may have an idea about the relative who put up this monument. 

As the citizens and taxpayers of Victorias paid for this expensive monument, the cost of which was not even consulted and justified, is that a direct violation of the NHCP guideline?😕 

7Though donating the land was an admirable deed, for me, Señor Yap-Quiña's place in the history of Victorias is trumped by the deeds of Señor Esteban Jalandoni and the legendary character of Capitana Tutang. Where's the tribute to the more deserving  Señor Esteban Jalandoni?

8. Now that we know Señor Yap-Quiña's donated parcel of land disappeared and no longer city property, why was a local public elementary school and a gym (which was built during the mayorship of Jesus Fermin in the 1970s) named after him?

9. For the past three years, I have seen these pamphlet and poster about the declared Don Alejandro Acuña Yap-Quiña Day in Victorias City. Being a writer, I immediately noticed the change in the slogan: from "where Victorias stands today" (2017) to "from which Victorias City has sprouted to what is it today"(2019).


I can prove both slogans wrong.😃

One, the "land where Victorias stands today"  donated in 1906 was actually just a "parcel of land" in the Embarcadero area and is nowhere to be found. 

A reason I can think of is that the donated land was sold when the town officials decided to look for higher grounds where the município could transfer to after the 1922 flood (story in Chapter X) that must have inundated the old município. If it was eventually sold, the proceeds must have been used to help build the new município



(2017 poster)

Two, "from which Victorias City has sprouted..." should not refer to the current city center because Victorias City sprouted from Daan Banwa and nowhere else. That's where everything began even before the 1880s.
(current 2019 poster)

And while we're at it, I have a theory about the land where the current city hall and public plaza now stand. 

Using the same logic about donating one's land for purposes of increasing the value of one's adjacent property, or for the convenience and prestige of living at the town center, I think the old landed families who owned land around the current city center donated a part of their property to become the national highway, public plaza, and município. Again, that's just a theory as I don't have the resources to excavate the past deeper. 😂 

Two landed owners with properties in front of the public plaza were Don Porfirio V. Ascalon (1901-1971), who, I was told, donated the early school buildings of Victorias North Elementary School, and used to own almost the whole block where the Mormon church now stands, and Don Felix L. Montinola owned the block to Don Porfirio's right. We can probably figure this out if somebody manages to find out the other original owners of those properties around the area.😮

Again, it was an admirable act for Señor Yap-Quiña to donate "a parcel of land" (that eventually disappeared) but putting up a monument on the public plaza using the public funds without proper documentation, research, and moral justification was just an expensive mistake. 😭


Chapter 8: Leon Montinola changes his mind and runs for election (March 1907)

After learning that Sr. Yap-Quiña offered his land at Hda. Guinpanaan for the relocation of homes, Sr. Leon Montinola changed his mind about uprooting the houses from his land or charging them rental fee if they remained. He said that people who asked his permission could build their houses on his land and even cultivate some plants without paying rent until they die. He even bashed the town officials as 'childish' for having the idea of moving the people to the other side of Magnanud River.

And in March 1907, Sr. Leon Montinola announced his candidacy to run as alcálde. The townspeople were worried because they could not think of any other strong candidate to run against him other than Sr. Ricardo Gonzaga, whom they visited twice to convince to run. He turned them down, telling them he was busy with his hacienda operations.

Relentless on their efforts to not letting the town fall into the hands of Sr. Leon Montinola, they sent a letter dated June 28, 1907, to Sr. Gonzaga that contained, other than flattery and some flowery words, their confidence in him to lead the town and the danger it would face if Sr. Leon Montinola would win. The letter was hand-delivered by Sr. Ysabelo Infante. He probably rode a horse going to Sr. Gonzaga's Hacienda Ilaya.

Sr. Gonzaga took his time to decide and with a letter to the alcálde dated July 30, 1907, Sr. Ricardo Gonzaga accepted the candidacy to run in the next elections. He won and the townspeople rejoiced.

But going back to Sr. Leon Montinola's offer for the people to build homes on his land, was it considered vote-buying considering he was running for mayor? Paging, Comelec! 😜


Chapter 9.  Victoriahanons stage a play to raise funds for the casa-municipal

So, thanks to Señor Yap-Quiña, the young town had a parcel of land where a new município by the river could be constructed. Remember that this was 1906-1907 when a município was only the size of the present-day barangay hall or slightly bigger; they did not need a huge building at that time because the population and its income were too small and were comparable to those of a barrio. And that time, sadly, they didn't even have enough money to build a município.

After the donated land was turned over, that area next to the land became busier as this was to become the new town center because this would be the site of the new casa-municipal. On that exact spot on the banks of the Magnanud River where people got on and off their boats (for traveling to and from Daan Banwa and other areas) became a dulungká-an or a wharf. It was then called Embarcadero, the Spanish word for a quay or wharf, and is now part of the current city's Barangay 1. The wharf is no longer around but the area is still called Embarcadero as the name stuck. 

And next to the donated land, the officials created new small roads, naming them Calle Real (meaning royal street, usually as tribute to the Spanish monarchy during the Spanish period), Buen Retiro, Lucero, Yap-Quiña (he was already recognized with a street name as early as 1907), Catinal, Comercio, Aurora, Progreso, Burgos, and Union. 

To celebrate the completion of the roads, which were enough for a horse or a cart to pass (this was 1907) and to give some appreciation to the Victoriahanons who cleared the talahib and other shrubbery, and maybe some trees, to make dirt roads and importantly, who worked for free, Sr. Felix Arceo brought two jars of wine and cooked pork to eat with the workers. 

When the town officials later got together, they were able to determine that they needed an initial budget of 1,500 pesos for the new "casa-municipal de Magnanud". In March 1907, the construction for the município was halted because the money budgeted for the construction of the new município ran out.

So, they asked for a loan from the provincial treasurer, an American named Mr. Pedro A. Casanave, who rejected their application for a loan, saying that Victorias wouldn't be able to repay considering the town's income didn't even reach 5,000 pesos the preceding year.

At this point, the community spirit of Victoriahanons of old surfaced once more. Everyone worked to come up with ideas on how to raise money, and one idea was to present stage plays for two nights, May 22 and 23 that year (Wednesday and Thursday), that people could pay to watch.

The first play was titled Flor de una día, a play in three acts written in 1851 by Francisco Camprodón, a Spanish playwright. The stage performers and their characters were: Paz Gonzaga (Lola), Pilar Infante (Elena), Eduardo Servando (Diego), Vito Alba (Padre José), Eugenio Torres (Carlos), Fructuosa Figueroa (monja). 

The income from ticket sales was 200 pesos but after deducting the expenses for props and costumes, what was left was 80 pesos.

The play staged on the second night was titled De Magallanes a Polavieja, written by a local playwright Señor Manuel Fernandez Yanson, and the performers were: Paz Gonzaga (Pinay), Petronila Cuison (Sayong), Eugenio Torres (Perico), Vito Alba (Fray Quintin), Santiago Cuiveces (CapitanTiago), and Esteban Jalandoni (Capitan de guardia civil). Both plays were directed by a 43-year-old Felix Montinola.

If you noticed the name of the lead actress of both plays was Señorita Paz Gonzaga. The town officials thought that, since the plays were in Spanish, they needed someone fluent and one name came up, Señorita Paz Gonzaga. She just finished college that time and was the daughter of Señor Ricardo Gonzaga, an alcálde. Plus, she probably had a stage presence that could definitely sell a lot of tickets.

The second play earned 600 pesos, making the total funds raised from the dramas 680 pesos. Both plays were performed at the public school in Daan Banwa. The second night earned more because many people must have showed up to watch after having heard that the first play and the local talents were good, and that this was for a good cause.

Having funds available to finish the construction, the town council, on May 30, 1907, ordered Señor Pascual Hinojales, the lead carpenter, to continue his work on the new município

And on October 18, 1907, Sr. Pascual Hinojales informed the council that the casa-municipal just needed walls for it to be completed. Since they had no more funds, the alcálde, Sr. Policarpio Ascalon, offered to donate 4,000 nipa thatchings from his hacienda that would serve as the walls for the whole structure.

Having solved the remaining problem on the completion of the casa-municipál, the council then asked permission from the provincial governor, Sr. Manuel Lopez, a native of Silay, to relocate the municipio on October 31, 1907, a Thursday.

On that day, October 31, 1907, when documents had been moved to the município by the Magnanud River, town officials gathered after lunch at the small plaza covered with an improvised tólda using the sail of a boat. Led by the town head, Sr. Policarpio Ascalon, and his vice-mayor, Sr. Segundo de Leon, and council members, Eduardo Cuaycong, Cipriano Jimenes, Mariano Servando, Agaton Tongoy, Ysabelo Infante, Gervacio Miraflores, and Gervasio Ascalon, the inauguration was traditional and yet austere.

Although there were other notable names in attendance, it's safe to say that Sr. Leon Montinola was not invited.😀

Speeches in Spanish were then delivered by Señoritas Consolacion Infante, Pilar Infante, and Antonina Torres, the sister of the town treasurer, by the town clerk, Sr. Panfilo Doromal, and by the town secretary, Sr. Esteban Jalandoni.


Chapter 10. The Malihao River flood (1907) and Magnanud River flood (1922)


On January 9, 1907, dark skies covered the land and rains continued for days. But on January 11, at around 2 in the morning, Daan Banwa was awakened by flash floods from Malihao River that overflowed, causing the townspeople to panic with screams of "Ta-bang!" heard every where. 

People had to climb to the roof with waters as high as their necks near the site of the school and flowing in strong currents. When the waters subsided before noon, homes and businesses suffered losses from sacks of mascuvádo sugar, rice grains and other merchandise, to livestock like chicken, pigs, and even carabaos, cows and horses. Six people were reported to have been swept away along with a few houses.

A few days after the huge flood, on January 14,  news reached Daan Banwa about an old woman who was swept all the way to Estancia in Ilolo and miraculously survived by just clinging on a wooden table. She was from Saravia and their small house sat by the bank of Malogo River. 

But in 1922, when Sr. Vicente Ardoza was the town mayor, Magnanud River overflowed its banks and caused more than just losses to properties, goods, and livestock. 

When I read about the 1922 flood, I remember the most recent one. I was told that, in October 1995, Magnanud River flooded the areas of Embarcadero area and even spilled to as far as the Bat-us area of Barangay 3. Families were evacuated, the murky waters reached the roof of small homes, the coffins of the funeral parlor nearby were swept away floating like a horror-movie apparition, and everything you left behind got wet. If that huge flood happened in 1995, this type of deluge must have happened in that area before and that flood in 1922 must have been the same type or even worse. 

And we should all remember, if this happened before, it can happen again. Mother Nature does not exactly broadcast her intentions before striking.😱

Chapter 11. Victorias Milling Company and migration of Ilonggos to Victorias (1919)

The opening of the Victorias Milling Company in 1919 brought in fast-paced development, huge income, and migration to Victorias.

Although migration from Panay Island to the less inhabited Negros Island continued gradually over the centuries, the 19th and early 20th centuries saw the huge movement from Panay Island, most of them sacádas and other jobseekers at haciendas and sugar centrals.

Victorias Milling Company (VMC), a sugar central founded by Don Miguel J. Ossorio on May 7, 1919, was the biggest reason why many Ilonggos from across the Iloilo Strait eventually called Daan Banwa and later, Victorias town, their home. 
                    (VMC from my plane seat)

One of those Ilonggos was my grandfather, Nemesio Balagosa Delgado (1897-1981), who was a native of Banate, Iloilo, and who became a teacher in Daan Banwa. He was probably fresh off the boat, so to speak, when he fell in love with a Chinese mestiza named Rosario Dy Guaso y Gallego (1901-1951) and later married her in 1923. Unfortunately for the young Rosario, she was disowned by her family when she married him. I wonder if her family could have done what they did to her had they learned that Nemesio's lineage included General Martin Teófilo Delgado who led the revolution against Spain in 1898 in the Iloilo Province. The young Nemesio used to tag along General Teófilo when he was just a kid, according to a late aunt. 

Recently, I met an 83-year old Victoriahanon, Mr. Joshue P. Panes, who is a native of the VMC community and whose chicken relleno was popular recipe, especially for the regular patrons of the Victorias Golf and Country Club where he used to work. Mr. Panes, a former a barangay captain at Canetown Subdivision, told me that his family and relatives were from Passi and from its surrounding towns in the Iloilo Province, who all came to work at VMC during the mid-20th century. Mr. Panes also knows most of the old families in VMC who migrated from Illoilo.
                    (The busy VMC simboryos)

The company suffered huge losses in terms of machinery, equipment and structures during World War II but were all rehabilitated after the war.

If my grandfather were still alive and standing at the shores of his beloved hometown in Banate, looking east on a clear day, he would be able to see the smoke from the VMC sugar central from across the sea.😢  

Chapter 12. Elections of 1928

Although the election in 1907 between Sr. Ricardo Gonzaga and Sr. Leon Montinola was an interesting story, another election, held on June 5, 1928, was more like a nail-biter.

During those elections, Sr. Vicente Ditching ran against Sr. Esteban Jalandoni. When all the votes were counted, Sr. Jalandoni won by 12 votes. Jalandoni received 342 votes while Ditching got 330, according to the Arellano Law Foundation website.

And since Sr. Ditching couldn't believe he lost, he filed an election protest that reached the courts. But it was the arguments on the votes that were as interesting as the final tally.

In those days, education was scarce and some people were illiterate or could hardly read or write. But votes for Sr. Jalandoni, where his name on the ballots was written as "Aslaben Ahanla" and "Baslian Jalandoni", and even "Sitiban Jaladu" because the last syllable was missing as there was no space left on the side of the ballot, were all counted for Sr. Esteban Jalandoni because of the legal doctrine idem sonans that says a person's identity is known even if his name is misspelled. (See? I just learned something new from a Victoriahanon electoral case 90 years ago.)😊

The court decided for Jalandoni who had 338 votes, compared to Ditching's 337. Given a few votes were deemed disqualified, the total of 675 ballots for a 1928 Victorias election tells us how small the voting population was. And I also wonder whether illiterate people were allowed to vote considering they might not have known how to write. 

Today, in 2019, Victorias City has 62,725 voters, compared to less than 700 in 1928. 

I wonder what was an election campaign like back then. Did they vote according to conscience, or according to cash?😃


Chapter 13. Victorias life during World War II (1942-1944)

The saddest chapter in our history was during the Japanese Occupation when people lost their lives, lost their freedom, and their way of life was disrupted from 1942 until 1944, and even longer because rehabilitation needed time for all families and especially children who were not able to go to school during those years.

The Japanese forces landed in Bacolod in May 1942. That month, the evacuation of Victoriahanons to the mountains started even before the Japanese entered the town at around 9:30AM on May 27, 1942, a Wednesday. 

Even before that time, when Manila fell to the Japanese forces, Victoriahanons were informed via a loudspeaker that blasted the news throughout the town, drawing fear of the impending arrival of war to Negros island. 

And when that time came, that morning of May 27, 1942, the atmosphere was tense and full of fear as the townspeople expected the worst. Their idyllic lives of abundance in a laid-back town prosperous from an economy made rich by the sugar industry would be changed by a foreign military force. World War II finally arrived in Victorias. 

Months after the Japanese took over, the underground movement burned down the houses and mansions on September 19, 1942, so that they wouldn't be used as Japanese garrison or shelters. Even school buildings and a local hospital were burned down.

After the burning, the local church had to close as Fr. Vicente Luzada evacuated to the mountains for his safety. Because of this, baptism for babies born to Catholic parents was delayed and requiem masses for the dead were not said.

Sr. Jose Jover, Sr. was still the mayor of the resistance movement, while Dr. Basilio Tanco was the Japanese's puppet mayor. Dr. Tanco was able to save from certain death people who were suspected by the Japanese as being guerrillas or spies.

During those years, the prices of commodities were monitored and controlled to avoid profiteering. Food was rationed and new Japanese currencies, called 'Japanese money', were introduced. These were difficult times, especially when you talk about the atrocities of the Japanese soldiers, some of whom were actually Koreans. As Korea was a Japanese colony that time, the Japanese Imperial Army sent Koreans to the Philippines to fight for them. Those Korean soldiers, I was told, were more cruel.

During the war, when Japanese soldiers roamed the towns and haciendas, able-bodied men would hide in the kísame (attic) or in the fields until they were gone. 

On several occasions, when they roamed Hacienda Dapdap, owned by the family of Don Felix Montinola, those Japanese soldiers were met by the late Doña Luisa Montinola, wife of the late Don Benito Montinola, Sr. (mayor from 1950-1953). She was tasked to 'meet and greet' them and offered them water and 'botong-botong', a native sweet candy made from sugar, as refreshments for these tired soldiers. This 'friendly encounter' was meant to take their minds off from hunting down guerrillas hiding in the sugarcane fields.  

We may have heard other atrocious cruelties by these Japanese soldiers like killing a helpless family using bayonets because using guns would just waste bullets.

But just recently, a horrifying memory of such cruelty was shared with me by Mr. Joshue Panes, 83 years old and a highly respected member of the VMC community. He recounted how his young uncle during the war witnessed his parents being killed on the spot by the Japanese soldiers at their hometown in Dao, Capiz Province in the Panay Island. 

That day, all the people were ordered to gather at the town plaza in order for the Japanese soldiers to search for guerrillas. Unfortunately, both his parents were not able to join the assembly as his father could not walk because he had a disability. While everyone was at the plaza, Japanese soldiers roamed the streets and inspected the houses. That was when they found the couple still at home. Believing they were guerrillas as they didn't obey the order, both were bayonetted to death and their home set ablaze. His young uncle witnessed this and brought this heartbreaking memory until his last days. And as Mr. Panes was telling me this, I could tell the sadness in his eyes and voice. 

True and horrifying stories about the war like these are difficult to retell because they bring back very sad memories and emotions.😭

On April 26, 1944, coincidently the feast of Nuestra Señor de Las Victorias, American forces like the salvation everyone prayed for, arrived into the town. 

The town was then governed by the resistance movement, and two years after that, in 1946, elections were finally held again. Sr. Hector Montinola, a son of Don Felix Montinola, won over Dr. Basilio Tangco and Elpidio Buenacosa.


History Continues:  Malabay Kita Tanan Nga Daw Asó (We're all just passing by like smoke)

The Victorias history I just retold is far from being complete. We haven't even spoken about the 1950s onwards. Maybe the next time I stumble upon some materials, we'll talk about them.

We haven't even discussed the scandals that sent the Victoriahanons' tongues wagging like the story about a group of people working in a local bank and who turned out were milking it dry through fraud and had to flee the town when they were discovered in the late 1980s! Or about warring families, or those town mistresses! I'm sure you heard a thing or two about them!😃

I started telling our history from the Victorias public plaza, went over to Daan Banwa, faced the tulisánes and swam with Capitana Tutang and Mikay back to shore. We crossed the Magnanud River, watched Spanish plays, built a município, and went up the mountains to hide from the Japanese. Now, I am back to the public plaza where, I ask again: who donated this spot? Maybe someone can dig up the OCT to find out for us.

And since I am still at the public plaza, I might as well show you what I found: a marble marker for a time capsule set to be unearthed in 2064.

I read it and I am now cringing because the Victoriahanons of 2064 will definitely think of us, the Victoriahanons of 2014, that we didn't know how to construct our English sentences properly. There are 98,856 Victoriahanons now in the city and not one could write proper English, especially on a slab of marble that could not be corrected? But if the city government cares, it has 45 years to rewrite it.😛

So, as we have judged those who came before us, we, too, will be judged by those after us. 

And since we are talking about history, click on the video and listen to this Hiligaynon song which, if you listen to its lyrics intently, is a message to all of us. 

Because just like asó (smoke), everything in this world will pass.🙏