During the wake for my mother, I was able to hear stories on what Almaguer was before us. It was said to be a land thickly forested with giant balete trees, impenetrable and towering bamboo thickets, and hundreds of monkeys. The Isinays roam the laud part of the dacquel nga carayan while the Igorots are on the daya part. The two tribes are frequently on war against each other. Across the spring and the creek is the Igorot’s burial ground (what is now the Sadang property a house away from ours) where their warriors who died in their wars with the Ilongot’s are interred. A bassit nga carayan snakes between the Isinay’s and the Igorot’s haunts creating a defined boundary but useless defense against Isinay raids.
This land is what Fr. Teodoro Gimeno (OP) later tried to reduce, Christianize, and pacify paving the way for the arrival of Ilocano settlers.
Miguel Tomas and his brothers Potenciano, Leoncio, and Tomas came to Almaguer with 3 other pioneers. One of these is Vicente Ranjo where my childhood friend Roy is descended. Vicente hails from Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte, origin of the famous Pasuquin biscocho. I passed by the town in one of my trips around the northern
The other 2 pioneers are Benigno Salamanca and Jose Labrador of Cabugao, Ilocos Sur. Benigno Salamanca is the ancestor of the
Also hailing from Cabugao are Pablo Samortin and Leona Salatan, parents of Lucena Samortin, our father’s mother and our Lola Senang. They eventually settled in Umingan where Lola Senang will meet Telesforo Ciencia, our Lolo Porong and at that time an encargado of Hacienda Gonzales. Their 2 eldest children --- Pedro “Lilop” Ciencia and Angelina “Auntie Angeling” Ciencia and later viuda de Miranda --- were born in Umingan. I visited their old place in what is now Barangay Bantog and learned that most of the Samortins evacuated to Barangay Diaz along the boundary with Talugtug, Nueva Ecija during the war, and stayed there.
I did my usual pilgrimage in Cabugao and said my prayers in its church dedicated to San Marcos Evangelista. It was an eerie moment: this is where Istak’s father (of F. Sionil Jose’s Po-on) killed the parish priest by beating him with a silver crucifix before fleeing to what is now Rosales in Pangasinan. The pueblo of Cabugas or Cabuyao, as Cabugao was once called, was established in 1725. Fr. Andres Canalejo (OSA) initiated building the first church between 1695 to 1696. It must have been damaged at certain times because it was reported to be reinforced, but most probably rebuilt, in 1824.