Wednesday, August 09, 2006

HOW ALMAGUER GOT ITS NAME

The only document I have of Almaguer’s history is a 3-paged manuscript written by Manong Flor Arellano --- one of the most respected citizens of our barrio. It tells the following story on how Almaguer got its name:

“How the barangay got its name no one knows for sure, although there is an unverified story on the subject. Fact or myth, in the absence of a more plausible material for the purpose, the story is worth retelling.


Then as now, the Apean River (i.e. bassit nga carayan) is like an equator, dividing the barangay into half --- north and south. But unlike today, its water used to be deep and swift and the inhabitants of old used a hanging bridge made of bamboos joined end to end to cross the river. One day, a young man from the southern side was crossing the bridge. He was almost halfway when another young man from the northern side, tipsy from drinking too much tapuy appeared from the opposite end. The young man from the south asked him to wait for his turn, but the other fellow would not listen and pushed on his way. The two guys met at about two-thirds the distance from the southern bank where the river was deepest. A heated argument ensued culminating in an exchange of blows. In the shuffle, the tipsy fellow from the northern side fell and was carried downstream by the strong current almost drowning. When he got home to his folks, he related the incident, twisting facts making it appear that he was ganged up upon for no reason at all by several man from the south then thrown into the river. This angered the men folk from the north and without further investigation they gathered themselves to wage war on the southerners. A long and bitter feud followed, with dire consequences on both sides.
Sometime later when senses cleared and feelings settled, the truth about the incident on the hanging bridge surfaced. Angered by his lying which pushed them into a costly trouble, the elders of the northern side seized the young man who provoked the fight on the bridge, tied him to a tree and flogged him until he begged for mercy and promised never to start any trouble again. Then the elders decided to negotiate for peace with their counterparts in the southern side. They sent an emissary to transmit their offer of peace to their peers across the river. Fortunately, the southern elders were as desirous for peace and they readily agreed to set a day of truce at the riverbank.

Over a makeshift table laden with tapuy, tobacco, betel leaves, betel nuts, chewing lime and roasted venison, the men talked peace --- lasting peace.


As this happened, the place still had no name. The Spanish authorities who had already established a garrison in the town heard about the feud and the treaty that followed and decided to call the place “Calma Despues Del Guerra” which means “Peace after the War”. Later recorders, however, finding the name too long and cumbersome to write, shortened it to “Almaguer””.

Fr. Pedro Salgado (OP) mentioned that Almaguer was established by Fr. Teodoro Gimeno (OP) “with 1,500 souls who disappeared through sickness and other causes”. This might be in 1882 when Father Gimeno built a school and convent after an earthquake. This information means that Almaguer has been in existence long before the Ilocano settlers came. Perhaps, the two young men who fought at the bridge were the warring Isinays and Igorots that Uncle Baldo narrated to us (the bassit nga carayan is the demarcation of their territories). Uncle Baldo, great grandson of Miguel Tomas, also told me that Almaguer was derived from the Spanish “alma de guerra”. I forgot to ask him more about this but I will surely try to find out what it means.


Dung-aws and Reunions

My earliest recollection of death in our family was when our first sister died on my birthday three days after she was born. Mother told us that she went to heaven and became an angel. Our Lola Senang, bed-ridden for some time, died in 1980 when we were in Mapandan, Pangasinan. The telegram arrived too late and we failed to catch her funeral. We remember her as our Lola who would save Lolo Porong’s supply of Balita to sell and give the money to us. Auntie Angeling had a store below the big house in Bambang that Lola Senang managed and every time Daddy comes to visit, she would always slip him a can or two of Swift’s Frankfurters. Lolo Porong died 5 years later in the house Auntie Angeling bought in Almaguer’s Sonsona after selling the big house in Bambang.

Amang Lakay died in 1990 at the age of 89 in Almaguer. That was the first real reunion we had on our mother’s side of the family. The scions of Almaguer’s Fundadores came. An atong (i.e. fire made from big pieces of wood that is kept burning through out the wake) was lit and every relative who came did their dung-aws. Inang Baket and Apong Petra wore black clothes and covered their heads with mantos. Amang Lakay was the first to be buried in Almaguer’s newly opened cemetery that was donated by his second cousin Apong Ino --- son of Miguel Tomas and Lakay Burik’s first cousin. Inang Baket died 2 years later in 1992.

Daddy died in my sister’s house in Bambang in 2000 on his third heart attack during my oldest pamangkin’s birthday. Mommy will follow 4 years later because of cancer. During her wake, I found her collections of photo albums that she annotated depicting moments of our family, and a blue note book where she jotted down our history. I met long lost relatives and from them and Mommy’s chronicles, I learned the story of Lakay Burik and the barrio of Almaguer.


1 comment:

Almi said...

Interesting posting. I googled our family name "Almaguer" and hit on your blog. I enjoyed reading your posting.

Luis Alamguer
Waco, TX, USA