In 2006 I posted “Historical Data of Baler 1952-1953“, the source of which was then unknown since I just discovered it in my old hard disk. Later snooping led me to the copies of the original documents in the National Library. And the document was not alone. There’s also the same historical data for Casiguran and Maria Aurora. For this post, I will slowly encode the Historical Data of Casiguran from 1952. It’s longer than the Baler document so visit this page from time to time until it’s complete.
Historical Data of Casiguran
No record of its establishment and change of boundaries can be given to date as no informer could be found in this locality. However, the town of Casiguran was once under the province of Nueva Viscaya. But sometime in the year 1905 or 1908 the boundary of Quezon province was extended to the north so as to include Casiguran.
As far as could be remembered by the informer, the province was ruled by the following governors: Hon. Manuel Quezon, Lucban, Abastillas, Filemon Perez, Maximo Rodriguez, Leon Guinto, Dr. Casiano Sandoval, Hilarion Yanza, Gregorio Santayana, and Vicente Constantino. Other officials who served in the province were Representatives Fabian Millar, Jose Angara, Francisco Lavidez, Primitovo San Agustin and Rafael Villar. Some of the outstanding citizens of the province were Don Filemon Perez r., MAnuel Quezon, Don Justo Lucban, Vicente Lucban, Mrs. Aurora Quezon, Gregorio Sena, Elias Desembrana, Fortunato Suarez, Dr. Casiano Sandoval and Jose Angara.
No further information could be gathered about the province in this municipality as there are no available informers.
Fifty-one years ago, my ambition took me out of the Philippines to gamble my life into an uncertain and unfamiliar world. I matured in cold environments and lived most of my life in places that endured the seasonal assault of winter. But it had been in 1964 that I’d experienced a full-fledged winter of 150° below zero temperature. That was when I was assigned and stationed in the South Pole, where the only other population besides us, were penguins and polar bears. After the initial astonishment had passed (along with an impulse to shovel a mountain of snow), one thought remained and haunted me¾ the enchantment of the tropical climate. My longing for warm weather resurrect my memories of Baler seventy-four years back. I used to stroll along the shore of the Outer Banks; an island a kilometer away east of town¾ Sabang, Labasin, and Buton. The hamlet of Castillo at the southern tip was once a part of it. But that area was transformed and relocated by the tidal waves on the other side, east of Kinalapan-Pingit river during the seventies.
It was in 1847, that castillo (fortress) came into existence. Two were built, one was located atop Point Baja (Ermita), and the other was by the outfall of Kinalapan-Pingit River. The construction was an innovation of the parish priest, Fray Jose Urbina de Esparragosa assigned in Baler from June 7, 1840 to 01 May 26, 1853.
Accordingly, the fortresses were built as an observation post or a watchtower. It served to warn the community of marauders/pirates coming to Baler Bay, which happened on occasions. The most severe and catastrophic occurred in the summer of 1798. Marauders from southern Philippines plundered and swept the towns along the Pacific seaboard. In Baler, they had taken prisoner Fray Benito Zambudio or Zamudio, the parish priest, and held him for ransom.
Note: This is on permanent exhibit at the Museo de Baler. The texts are from the same exhibit and prepared by the National Museum. The burial site excavated was at Sitio Castillo, Brgy. Sabang just on the right side of the road before the entrance to the Carmen T. Valenzuela Elementary School.
Update 2014: The exhibit is no longer on display.
A Prehistoric Burial Site
Sitio Castillo, Brgy. Sabang, Baler, Aurora
(a permanent exhibit at the Museo de Baler by the National Museum)
In September 1989, then Governor Eunice Cucueco reported the discovery of artifacts and destruction of archeological site by pot hunters at Sitio Castillo to the National Museum (NM), a government agency mandated by law to protect and preserve the cultural properties of the country. Hence, the NM sent a team of archeologist to assess the site and save artifactual materials as well as to conduct an archaeological excavation in the area.
Surrounded by Baler Bay, mountainous areas, and Kinalapan and Castillo rivers, the Julio Site is located on a sand dune at Sitio Castillo about 3 kilometers south of the poblacion of Baler. In this site, the archeological excavation undertaken by the National Museum yielded a primary burial dated back from the 14th to 15th centuries A.D.
Exposed at the depth of 120 centimeters from the present ground surface underlying a recent garbage pit, a human skeleton was found in an extended position, lying on its back with arms laid parallel to the body and oriented to east to west direction. On top of the skull was a large blue and white porcelain bowl that was used as a head cover. A small stoneware jar with dark brown glaze was found in an upside down position on the left shoulder blade. Both tradeware ceramics are attributed to the Ming Dynasty Period. Other associated artifacts found were glass and shell beads, and shell bracelets. The camelian beads were found in a cluster at the left lower leg. On the other hand, shell bracelets belonging to Conus (Lithoconus) leopardus were found on each wrist rested on the pelvic bones. Other associated materials found on this layer were fish bones and shells.
The Julio site is the only archeological site ever recorded in the province of Aurora. This is a primary burial site associated with personal belongings and grave goods. This was a tradition among prehistoric Filipinos where they buried their dead with grave goods or funerary offerings, such as earthenware, stoneware, porcelain and stone and metal implements. It was believed that the dead needed food or material possessions as he journeyed from the land of the living to the land of the dead.
Furthermore, the recovery of blue-and-white ceramics, stoneware jars and carnelian beads provided evidences that Baler was a part of trading activities even before the arrival of the Spaniards.
Primary Burial in Julio Site
There are various burial practices in the Philippines. One is primary burial, wherein corpses are interred directly into the ground in extended and supine or flexed positions.
The human skeletal remains recovered in Julio Site, Baler was in supine position with arms extended on the sides or parallel to the body, and the head facing the east. It was associated with grave goods that can be dated to the Neolithic Period. These were tradeware ceramics, shell bracelet, and glass beads, funerary offerings known locally as pabaon. It has been common practice in the Philippines to bury the dead with objects believed to ease a soul’s journey to the afterlife.