Wednesday, July 26, 2006


I visited the church of Obando, Bulacan on 27 October 2004. It will be the first of my visita iglesias that will span the island of Camiguin in Mindanao to Luzon’s northernmost town of Claveria in Cagayan. My late father told me that his father/my grandfather hailed from Obando and I went there to hunt for traces of my past.

Oyet told me to look for old church records: baptisms, marriages, deaths. I found these to be mostly intact --- bounded and yellowed parchment papers that ignited my rhinitis --- and managed to convince a reluctant parish staff to allow me to browse the archives.

I failed to find my grandfather’s name but came across several entries bearing the Ciencia Cruz surname. These were written in a flourishing script of old espanol that I tried to decipher with my deficient tagalog espanol. Somehow, I managed to catch the drift. I came for traces of my history and that is what I got. Nevertheless, it is enough material for me to confirm that my father’s side of our story originated in Obando, Bulacan. I was also able to construct a theory that we used to be called as Ciencia Cruz which later evolved into C. Cruz (there were no middle initials in the entries but the C. Cruz’s started to appear after the disappearance of the Ciencia Cruz’s). These discoveries gave me a mighty itch to prove my theory and unravel the mystery why my grandfather “fled (?)” to Umingan in Pangasinan, dropped the Cruz in favor of the Ciencia, find a job as an encargado of the Hacienda Gonzales, and married my grandmother who herself was a migrant from Cabugao, Ilocos Sur (shades of Po-on, and her maiden name started with an “S”).

This experience brought me to more churches in Umingan, where I was told that the records are stored in Urdaneta after the church was destroyed in the big war/dacque nga gubat and the only relic left was a big bell that was just recently recovered from treasure hunting thieves; and in Santiago, Isabela where my father was born and a new church was built over the old one. Later, I realized that I am really no match for the demands of the creative non-fiction that Oyet rubbed on us. I fell in love with those churches of “haunting loveliness” and forgot my hunt for the past. I have became a churchophile (i.e. Spanish era, extant or in ruins, restored or defaced, rebuilt or reconstructed).

With this new perspective, I discovered new (to me) historical nuggets on my Obando research. It used to be called Catanghalan and later renamed after the Spanish Governor-General Don Francisco de Obando y Solis Marquez when it was established as a pueblo in 1753; that its first resident priest is Fr. Manuel de Olivencia (OFM) who started building the church in 1754; that it has the rarity of having 3 patron saints namely Sta. Clara to whom Obando’s famous fertility dance originated, San Pascual Baylon who is the current focus of the town’s 3-day fiesta, and the Nuestra Senora de Salambao whose image was found by fishermen in 1763.

Obando is the hometown of my great grandfather Esteban Ciencia. I learned this from the anecdotes of dead aunts and uncles. In my files, I keep a photocopy of a document stating the baptism of Segunda Ciencia Cruz, daughter of Esperidion Ciencia Cruz and Juana Angeles of Barangay Primero, attended by her godparents Don Mauricio and Dona Josefa Conde Santos, Mateo and Pelagia Antonio, and a certain Dona Romana, and held on 6 June 1900.


romuel s. flores said...

got stumbled upon your blog just right now. Wow! you are now a legit "alipin ng teknolohiya" sic witout the pun hehehe. to tell you frankly i am still an idiot in this kind of communication highway while you are now really a bonafide netizen member. well i have yet to use this kind of "unedited, own your own publication" but i am now encouraged because of this. (sir but how about our common line - prrm e-group that you might have forgotten - you are still our moderator). well going back to your very personal and historical - literally taking back --way way back your steps to trace your roots is a great leap forward (borrowing from mao's cultural revolution tenet) towards the future of your "puli". i extend my hearfelt congratulations! i tell you being an astute and keen observer of will not only reach miles and miles of the future...your generation will now be assured of a place in earth's history....and the God of history told..."go yeh and multiply..."

Anonymous said...

I was browsing articles about Obando when I came across your blog. I grew up and live in a town right next to Obando, which is Malabon (now a city). I worked in Obando in a factory and gained a lot of friends which up until now remains so dear to me. A municipal employee once told me to move to Obando because she always see me around town. If you are intersted in Obando because of your roots, I feel in love with Obando because of its people and its peaceful environment. If I were you, I would find a way to get connected with your relatives who might still be in Obando. Good luck.