The book entitled “Baler, Aurora” was launched recently at the Manila Polo Club, Makati.
The pages of the book come alive with detailed narratives of great history, great tragedy, and the lives of the great men of Baler, Aurora.
The book takes its title from the capital town of Aurora province, which is situated between the Sierra Madre mountain range and the sea. The rugged, daunting confines, however, have done little to suppress the brilliance and ambition of its natives, who have sought and attained national or international prominence.
In 1735, a tsunami wiped out the entire township, killer waves swallowing most of its residents, save for six families that moved inland before a tsunami ravaged Baler. The Angaras, Bitongs, Lumasacs, Pobletes, Carrascos, and Bijasas built another settlement three miles from the original site instead of relocating elsewhere.
From these families and a small infusion of migrants came a president of the Commonwealth (Quezon), two senate presidents (Quezon and Angara), a former president of the University of the Philippines (Angara), and the first woman majority floor leader of the Philippine House of Representatives (Bella Angara-Castillo). Renowned artists Jeho Bitancor, Maria Cruz, and Zeneida Angara Amador also have Baler roots.
The contrast between isolation and renown and the irony of a remote area turning out so many prominent leaders is discussed in the book. The last stand of 50 Spanish soldiers for Mother Spain also took place at the stone church of Baler place after Spain lost the war and had officially declared it.
The Spanish cazadores, their ranks diminished by disease and hunger, stubbornly held out for a year at the stone church , under siege from Katipuneros just as determined to wipe out the last vestiges of the Spanish military presence.
“The book is a compelling read. You have history and tragedy. It is about a place of impossible isolation that routinely sees its sons breaking out into national prominence. Yet, there are chapters devoted to flora and fauna, artifacts and heirlooms,” said Senator Edgardo J. Angara also the bookâ€™s publisher.
Senator Edgardo J. Angara, a Baler native and one of the biggest names in Philippine politics, published the book that also sweeps through the life and times of Manuel Luis Quezon, often called the greatest president the country ever had, who like Angara was born and raised there.
The book, in a glorious but not awkward shift, also gives an answer that Angara himself proposes in answer to a recurring query. Should Baler thrive on its isolation to preserve its physical grandeur, its pristine natural beauty and progress be damned? Or, should it finally join the economic mainstream, end centuries of isolation and declare itself “open for business?”
For info on how to have a copy of the book, just click here.
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