The National Hero’s brooding monument in its black suit occupies a prominent place in the city hall grounds. I guess it was supposed to eternally gaze at the church across the plaza, probably as an atonement for his Masonic heresy, until a busy road separated the munisipyo from simbahan (they were supposed to be adjacent or fronting each other as decreed by the Laws of Indies) and a blasphemous multi-purpose hall (a favorite project of a congressman) completely blocked the ecclesiastical from the political --- literally the separation of the church and the state.
Don Pepe of our revolutionary (or was it reformist?) past now looms like a frozen sentinel in the munisipyo part of the plaza, regal and great but largely ignored. Someday, I will place a prominent signage beside it to inform those who pass by that it was erected on the 29th of December 1926, and there is in fact a Spanish inscription to prove this timeline which read: Este monumento se ha mediante contribucion popular de los vecinos de Munoz, N.E. encabizados por el hon Concejo Municipal 1925-28, secundados por las entidades civicas. Veternos de la revolucion Logia Bato No. 185. L.D.T. Samahang Liwanag ng Bukas. Entidades religiosas Iglesia Metodista Episcopal, Iglesia Filipina Independiente. Then perhaps the present generation of those who built it would remember.
Papaya was once under the jurisdiction of San Juan de Guimba. In 1886, it was renamed in honor of Alcalde Mayor Don Francisco Munoz, became a separate town in 1913, and subsequently built its first church in what is now Lumang Bayan. It became the techie-sounding Science City of Munoz in 2000.
Tanglaw was born in the Ilocos Sur town of Santiago, spent time in a rented place somewhere in Intramuros' Gen. Luna Street, then moved to Lumang Bayan in Munoz at around 1942 or 1943 when the Japanese occupation became unbearable. He remembered their dampa near the river that cuts through Lumang Bayan, the spiders he caught, and Amang, Inyong, Poldo, Oscar and the twins who always played with him. They might have passed by and gawked at the hero’s monument, their innocence mesmerized and probably wondering what he’s done to have it. Then there’s the war, the big battle in what is now CLSU, and liberation. In 1945, he left Munoz back to Manila then migrated to the United States in 1980, and never came back.
I would meet Tanglaw many years later in that amazing cyber-world of flickr. He sounded nostalgic and spoke of coming back someday. I thought I could do him a favor by trying to retrace his footprints in Lumang Bayan and fly back into the time of spider hunts and childhood fantasies. I walked towards the river along what I thought was the old quarter where the old big houses and large bodegas of the local elite still stand. The river is at the outskirts of the town and serves as the delineation of the bayan from the baryos. Its placid water, the dull metallic hue, and noxious fumes exude the smells of urban growth and overwhelm the senses. The river has changed. Somewhere, the memories of Tanglaw’s dampa stir among the swaying bamboos.
In 1993, I arrived in Munoz and never left.
PHOTOS (top to bottom): (1) JPR’s monument in Munoz, (2) the city’s modern church of San Sebastian, and (3) the bridge across Tanglaw's river in Lumang Bayan.