Calbayog History

Last updated: Monday, 13 February 2012 01:00

Calbayog began as early as 1600 in a settlement called Hibatang by the river bank of the present Oquendo River. It had 2,000 inhabitants under the spiritual guidance of a certainJesuit, Father Ignacio de Alzina.

The present barangay Anislag was the forerunner of Calbayog settlement. The barangay is
located along the river bank of Oquendo river, about ten kilometers north off the city proper. Historical remains of what was once a village church can be noticed by travelers passing this barangay. The place was often visited by flood during stormy days, so Anislag settlement became unsafe. The hardy settlers left the place in “balotos” (bancas) and hastily rigged bamboo raffs following the river towards the sea. At Cahumpan (now barangay Cahumpan) they decided to stop just for a moment’s break. Somehow, at the spur of the moment and by common consent, they settled down at Cahumpan to start life anew.

More settlers came. Some crossed the river to Sabang (now barangay Trinidad). After a
certain period of time, the restless settlers moved again and settled at Taboc (now barangay Obrero), a settlement which directly face the open Samar sea. The place was once a vast swampland which extended from the present Nijaga Park, where the monument of national hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal and local hero Benedicto P. Nijaga now stand.

Taboc is the place where the name Calbayog began. Taboc, so legend says, once abounded
with “Bayog” trees. They were cut down and burned for fuel in making “Cal” (lime) out of sea shells and corals. From these two things, the Spaniards called the place “Calbayog”. The second version says that there was once a man named “Bayog”. It so happened that there was no other path leading to the sea except at Bayog’s place. Fishermen used to say “tikang kami kan Bayog” (we came from Bayog) or “makadto kami kan Bayog” (we shall go to Bayog).

One day a “guardia civil” asked for the name of the place. The fisherman mistaking the query for another thing, answered “tikang kami kan Bayog” (we came from Bayog), with the correct query and a wrong answer, the Spaniard took the last words, “kan Bayog”, for the name of the settlement. A lot of tongue-twisting and mispronunciation changed the original name of Calbayog.

POLITICAL HISTORY by: Narciso Y. Miano
Philippine history tells us that our country had been ruled by three foreign colonizer Spain, America, Japan from 1521 up to 1946. For more than four hundred years the Filipinos fought courageously and heroically to gain freedom and independence. While it is true that some Filipino leaders handled low level positions in government in any of the periods of dominance, yet those officials were considered as puppets. When America overthrew Spain in 1898 she established a military government, opened schools , and introduced English as a medium of communication for the purpose of implanting unity and understanding among the Filipino people who speak diverse dialects. It was during the American Regime when the Filipinos began to learn the ways of democratic governance, especially when Manuel L. Quezon became the President (in 1853) of the Commonwealth Government, and followed by Manuel Roxas as the first President of the Republic (in 1846).
Just like any other municipality in the country, Calbayog had her own Chief executives
during each of the aforementioned regimes up to the present.

Spanish Regime
During this time, the Chief Executive was called Capitan Municipal. These executive were Rufino Pido (1886-1887), Pedro Matudan (1888-1889), Pablo Camilon (1890-1891), Pablo Jaropojop (1892-1893), Antonio Tarrayo (1894-1985), Anacleto Rueda (1896-1987) and Catalino Jaropojop (1898-1899).

American Regime
The American Regime may be divided into three stages: when the Philippine government was a government of Americans assisted by Filipinos (1898-1916), when the government was run by Filipinos with American help under the Jones Law (1916-1935), and when the government was entirely in the hands of Filipinos with an American High Commissioner as an observer during the Commonwealth Period (1935- July 4, 1946).
The top executives were called Presidentes Municipal. These chief executives were Anastacio Pido (1900), Rufino Pido (1901), Hugon Rosales (1902-1910), Ildefonso Rosales (1910-1913), Luciano Ortiz (1913-1916), Buenaventura Rosales (1916-1919), Senecio Mancol (1919-1922), Cesario Ortiz (1922-1925), Anastacio Pido (1925-1928), Buenaventura Rosales (1928-1931), Ireneo Ortiz (1931-1934), Tomas Gomez (1934-1937) and Donato Tubal (1937-1939).

Japanese Occupation
With the fall of the Philippines into the hands of the Japanese invaders during the Pacific War (World War II), the Commonwealth Government was transferred in exile in Washington D.C. from May 13, 1942 to October 3, 1994. The local chief executive was called Mayor. The municipal mayor was Pedro Pido (1941-1945).

Liberation Period
With the liberation of the country from the Japanese Occupation, the Municipal Mayors of
Calbayog were Rizal Ortega (1945-1946) and Pedro Pido (1946-1949).

From Declaration of Independence to Pre-Martial Law Era
The Philippines was granted independence on July 4, 1946. And when Calbayog became a
chartered city, comprising the Municipalities of Calbayog, Oquendo and Tinambacan, on July 15, 1948, the city mayors were Pedro Pido (1948-1953), Jose Rono (1954-1967) and Amado Ygrubay (1967-1971).

Martial Law Era up to EDSA Revolution
The City Mayors during this time were Pablo Lucero (1972-1982) and Ricardo Tan (1982-1986). Revolutionary Government (1986-1988) With the downfall of President Ferdinand Marcos as a result of the EDSA Revolution in February 1986, Corazon Aquino was installed as President of the Revolutionary Government. She revamped the officialdom and appointed officers-in-charge (OIC) In Calbayog City, Dr. Godofreda Dean (Apr. 16, 1986 Dec. 2, 1987) was appointed OIC City Mayor by then DLG Minister Aquilino Pimentel. When Dr. Dean filed her candidacy for the mayoralty position in the February 1988 local elections, President Aquino instructed then DLG Secretary to appoint Narciso Y. Miano as OIC City Mayor (Dec. 2, 1987 Jan. 6, 1988). From January 7, 1988 up to February 2, 1986, DLG Operat ions Officer Manuel Lagrimas was the OIC City Mayor by virtue of the appointment issued by DLG Secretary Luis Santos.

Post Aquino Administration
Monday, 13 February 2012 01:00
On February 3, 1988, Roberto S. Rosales assumed office as the newly elected City Mayor
(1988-1992), the first mayor in Calbayog City to be elected under the 1987 Constitution. During his term, Calbayog became a first-class city. Two of his landmark projects are the public market (Phase I and Phase II) and the fishport. In the elections in May 1992, Dr. Reynaldo S. Uy was elected city mayor (1992-2001). By May 14, 2001 Mel Senen S. Sarmiento had won the election and assumed the post July 1, 2001 up to June 30, 2010 and now Dr. Reynaldo S. Uy elected as Mayor for his last 3 year term until June 30, 2013.
In parting, while political freedom was achieved in 1946, a novel form of the same problem
freedom from want spares our people in the face as they tread the third millennium. Our present crop of leaders may well be advised to take a look at the past and learn from it as they grapple with the future in an effort to provide a better life for our people.

Calbayog: Its History and Religion, By: Patrio M. Barandino, Jr.
Calbayog early history has been associated with the introduction and spread of Catholicism in the country. Calbayog started as one of the small settlements in the Island of Samar, an area assigned to the Jesuit missionaries. Jesuit Chroniclers, as early as the 17th century, notably Fr. Ignacio Alcina, wrote many accounts about it and its people.

Jesuit records and reports referred to the settlement initially as Ibatan and Jibatang (Hibatang). It is in the annual report of 1739 that the name Calbayog appeared in the records for the first time. How Calbayog got its name has not been documented. In the absence of concrete factual accounts, some attempted to explain the origin of the name with the legends.

Some believe that the forerunner of Calbayog was a settlement along the Hibatang River, now called Anislag. Others claim that the forerunner was another settlement, now called San Rufino, located in the hinterlands of Oquendo.

Fr. Felis de Huerta, a 19th century Franciscan writer noted in his work Estado Geografico that in earlier times, Calbayog was called Tiayban for having been founded near a river of the same name. Then it was transferred due to a flood to the shore of the Hibatang River, whose name it took. Then again the settlers transferred to the place that they permanently occupied and took the name Calbayog.

Hibatang had already been a small settlement at the beginning of the 17th century. It slowly occupied a prominent place among the several small settlements. It became a visita (a large barrio with a chapel) of Capul under the jurisdiction of the Parish priest of that town. After the expulsion of the Jesuit Missionaries from the Philippines in the 18th century, the administration of the parishes in Samar was handled over to the Franciscan Friars.

Eventually from being a visita, Calbayog became a pueblo (town). It was created a separate
parish in 1785. Separated from the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the parish priest of Capul, it was later given it s own minister.

Calbayog as a town and parish during the Spanish period was composed of several villages, the most populated of which are called visitas. Calbayog became a religious center. Its parish priests cared for the spiritual needs of the people living in what are now Calbayog City, the municipalities of Sta. Margarita, Sto. Niño and Almagro. By the late 19th century a number of visitas became the poblaciones when new towns were created from Calbayog. They were Caybago (later called Oquendo), Sta. Margarita, Weyler (later called Tinambacan) and Sto. Niño.

During the American Era, Calbayog rose to political as well as religious prominence. prominent political and religious figures in Samar and Leyte emerged from it, particularly those who studied in the Colegio-Seminario de San Vicente de Paul (now Christ the King College and St. Vincent de Paul Seminary) which was established in 1905 and La Milagrosa Academy which was established in 1911. Both schools were run by the religious.

What is noteworthy is the fact that on April 10, 1910, the Diocese of Calbayog was created by virtue of the Papal Bull of Pope Pius X. The diocese comprised the Islands of Samar and
Leyte. Calbayog became the seat of the diocese. It was only much later that the other
dioceses in the region were created. Republic Act No. 328, otherwise known as the Charter of the City of Calbayog was signed into law on July 15, 1948 by then President Elpidio Quirino. Calbayog as a city with its first set of city officials was inaugurated on October 16, 1948. The city comprises the territorial jurisdiction of the former Municipalities of Calbayog, Oquendo and Tinambacan.

Our Local City’s Hero: Sr. Don Benedicto P. Nijaga History!
Twelve days after the tragic execution of Dr. Jose Rizal, thirteen Filipino martyrs were shot to death by musketry in Bagumbayan, now Rizal Park (formerly Luneta Park) dubbed in Philippine History as the Trece Martires de Bagumbayan, they were charged of treason, sedition and rebellion by the Spanish Government.

One of the thirteen Filipino martyrs with different history of their own, is Don. Sr. Benedicto Nijaga y Pelenio, a native of Calbayog, Samar. Biktoy, as he is fondly called in Calbayog among his peers was born sometime in 1864 to a family of farmers who lived in Sitio Caballero, now Brgy. Rizal I. Farming at that time was so hard for the Nijagas, so that they forced Biktoy to work at the age of 10 in a convent. He worked as a Knight of the Altar (Sacristan) all day long by himself just to earn something for their familys daily subsistence. He was under the tutelage of Fr. Sebastian Cordova who was the Parish Priest (Cura Parroco) in Calbayog at that time.

Biktoy is remembered by his friends as a very athletic individual, lover of nature, courageous, brave and above all patriotic. In 1878, Calbayog was hit by a very dreadful disease-cholera, killing almost one half of the total population. Fr. Sebastian Cordova, force himself to leave his convent to spare his life from the cholera epidemic.

Little did we know that Fr. Sebastian was so king enough to save also Biktoys life by taking all the means to leave Calbayog for Manila and bringing Biktoy with him as his sacristan. There in Manila, Biktoy was given all the opportunities in life where he could study. He was a working student then, serving the convent without sacrificing his studies.

One year after his graduation, Fr. Sebastian Cordova recommended Biktoy to work in the
Spanish Army. He was trained and accepted as corporal. After a year, he was promoted and commissioned to become the second lieutenant in the infantry batallion of the Spanish Army. His first assignment as an officer was in the Visayan Region (the whole of Visayas).

He always found time to visit his family, friends and fellow Calbayognons in Calbayog, Samar while on duty. In fact, he never missed a single moment without seeing his fellow Samareños wherever he traveled in the eastern parts of the Visayas. Biktoy was so generous and affectionate to women but there is no record on hand that shows him to be married. His loyalty and dedication to his duty as an officer in the Spanish Military maybe one of the reasons why until his death he remained to be a bachelor.

Spanish and military atrocities remained to be the daily menu of the Indios. After the exile of Jose Rizal in Dapitan, the Katipunan was born in Binondo, Manila.Andres Bonifacio and his men moved heaven and earth to fight against the Spanish government then led by Gob. Heneral Polavieja. The katipunan expanded its membership from Luzon down to the Visayas Region, thereby increasing the number of Katipuneros in a span of one year. Spanish authorities were alarmed by the existence of the KKK or the Katipunan.

Sensing the secret plan of the Katipunan to overthrow the government, the Spaniards
conducted a raid in Binondo printing press where subversive documents were found and
confiscated. One of the documents seized was the list of members of the Katipunan. The
name Benedicto Nijaga was one in the list, being the collector of revolutionary funds in the area. Upon knowing the secret, Gob. Polavieja ordered arbitrarily the arrest of all suspected members of the Katipunan. Benedicto Nijaga was arrested together with twelve other katipuneros while campaigning for revolutionary funds.

Shortly after they were jailed and tortured, farcical trial ensued which was reminiscent of the fate that likened Dr. Jose Rizals trial as well as those of other Filipino martyrs. They were convicted and sentenced to death.

At the early dawn of January 11, 1897, the thirteen unfortunate patriots were taken to
Bagumbayan field under heavy guard. A huge crowd of Filipinos and Spaniards witnessed the very tragic moment. Just before the sun rose, the trece martires bravely faced their final breath to death.

The execution of these thirteen martyrs of Bagumbayan was invariably another stain on the colonial superiority of Spain. They were victims of Spanish misrule and injustice. Their death was not in vain for their blood soaked Bagumbayans soil and watered the seeds of Filipino freedom. We have celebrated the Centennial Death Anniversary of the Thirteen Martyrs with full pride and honor. As a Filipino and a Calbayognon, Im honored and proud to have a fellow Calbayognon Sr. Don Benedicto Biktoy Nijaga as one of the Thirteen Martyrs.

Born to the couple, Baltazar Avelino and Ponciana Dira, at the closing years of the 1800s
(between 1885-1888) were two children, a boy and a girl. The boy became known as Peping and the sister, Daday, whose only son carried the present family name of Acuesta.

Baltazar, known as Tasan, was from Polo, Bulacan and married to a fullblooded Calbayognon. Tasan was an immigrant boy who made good as symbolized with the possession of a vast track of rice and coconut lands, a spacious residence in Calbayog and a Spanish style horse-drawn carriage just as someone’s financial and social success today in Calbayog is measured with the ownership of automobile.

Meanwhile, Peping started his early education in San Vicente de Paul Seminary and for law
profession in UP with Claro M. Recto.

His first taste in politics was as an elected town councilor in his hometown in 1919. Since every election he would jump from one elected position to another, he became a congressman for the whole island of Samar in 1923.

In 1927 as a senator of Leyte and Samar, Peping was elected senate protempore during the
term of President Manuel L. Quezon. Enjoying the blessing of President Quezon he was
appointed Secretary of Labor, later a Secretary of Public Works. As fate would have it, the “nino bonito” of Quezon became the latter’s political nemesis.

The rift between the two was caused by Director Fragante of the same department. During his term as the Secretary of Public Works, Averlino ordered the importation of some 70 percent the asphalt requirement of the country and the local purchase of the remaining 30 percent. Fragante, a bureau director, defied Avelino’s directive and ordered instead the importation of the total asphalt requirement.

Senator Avelino reprimanded the director through a press conference, and Fragante
complained to Quezon of the deal given to him by the Secretary. It turned out that the director

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had a strong connection with the Malacanang who had a part of the asphalt scandal. At this point, as matter of principle, Secretary Avelino resigned from his position.

In the 1941 congressional elections, Avelino was fitted against Decoroso Rosales; form the
political point of view of the Calbayognons, it was “Ligero” (from ‘Liga de Calbayog” grouping now equivalent to the “Liberal Part”) versus the “Caballero” (from the “Caballeros de Nijaga”) association now the “Nacionalista Party”).

Old timers here recall that to prove “who is who” in Philippine politics Quezon helped defeat Avelino. But Cosoy (Decoroso Rosales) could not make use of his victory for after the
November elections, Japan declared war against America on Dec. 8, 1941.

Considering that the Philippines, though already a Commonwealth at that time, was still under the political jurisdiction of United States of America, thus inevitably our country was drawn into the great Pacific oar on the side of the Allied forces.

Cosoy joined the resistance movement in Cebu, and Avelino commuted between his farm cattle in Cataingan, Masbate and Gilmore residence at Manila.

In postwar politics, Avelino’s political star rose to unprecedented heights when President Roxas founded the Liberal Party and the former was appointed a campaign manager which made him automatically the first president of the Liberal Party in 1946 to 1949, the years that he was also the Senate President.

On two occasions he had shown unusual bravery. During the Huk rebellion he went to the heart of the Huklandia to talk with the people, his only companion was his driver. The second occasion was at Plaza Miranda while campaigning for Roxas in 1947 when a certain Guillen threw a live hand grenade onto the stage. As people scampered for safety, Avelino, who was at the stage with Roxas, had the presence of mind to kick the grenade offstage, thus saving the life of the future President of Philippines.

In his heydays and years after it, the statement attributed to him “What are we in Power for?” was the result of disinformation, misquotation and betrayal by his political enemies ??llow Liberals in the Quirino Wing (Liberal Party).

It came this was: After Avelino lost to President Quirino in 1949 presidential elections, the
former agreed to attend a confidential Liberal Party caucus to patch up their internal squabbles and differences. Quirino, though head of the Liberal Party (Quirino Wing), was appointing Nacionalista people to top posts in his administration. At that time the political trend was the Jacksonian policy for both parties: the spoils belong to the victors.

In that secret caucus, it was agreed that only the Liberals, both the Quirino and Avelino Wings were to be present. Avelino blurted in Spanish, “What are we in Power for, if we do not help the people who gave their money, their time, their lives and everything they have for our party?”

An eye-witness related that contrary to gentlemen’s agreement, a newspaper reporter was
smuggled into the secret, all-Liberal Party meeting. The reporter scooped the infamous line (rather made infamous) in the national dailies the next morning, but written out of context. What came out was only the line of “What are we in Power For?” insinuating that “What are we in Power for if we will not abuse?”

But before his political star declined, he had Calbayog in his mind and his eternal legacy was in making Calbayog the only city in Samar.

He introduced RA 328 in Congress and was approved on July 15, 1948 making Calbayog a City on October 16, 1948, later amended by Republic Act Nos. 1992, 2366 and 2689 and repealed by RA No. 3279, an act which revised the City Charter. Thus, historically, making Jose D. Avelino, the father of Calbayog City.

Just a few months after it became a city, the first City Mayor in the person of Pedro D. Pido had taken oath of office together with his councilors: Mrs. Matilde delos Santos, Florencio Diomangay, Flavio Quino, Pablo Macabidang, Victor Doroja, Rufino Pido, Petronilo Pallones and Francisco Miano.
Sources: Calbayog City Profile 2009,CPDO
Last updated: Monday, 13 February 2012

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