“Pozorrubio Historical Vignettes”
by Mel V. Jovellanos
How The “Awaran” Came To Be Written
“Awaran” is a Pangasinan word which means a carefully-researched and documented story or account. Only about a dozen towns in the province of Pangasinan have preserved their awarans. Awarans generally describe the foundations and beginnings of each and every town. They preserve for posterity the history of the concerned municipality. We are lucky we have found the awaran of Pozorrubio which describes in detail our early beginnings as a pueblo or town.
Here are excerpts from the “Awaran na Inletneg na Baley na Pozorrubio,” written sometime in 1940 by Atty. Filomeno G. Magno, the first professional produced by the town of Pozorrubio.
He was requested by Dona Gliceria Magno Venezuela, Attorney Magno’s first degree cousin, to do some research work and write that awaran. Dona Gliceria herself was a retired school teacher who realized that the true story of Pozorrubio should be written and preserved for prosterity. She had three elder brothers who were all former Mayors of Pozorrubio. Her husband, Don Manuel Itliong Venezuela, was once upon a time also a Municipal Councilor. Thus her perseverance in preserving the true history of the town.
Foreword To The Awaran
After finishing the writing of the awaran, Attorney Magno wrote in his foreword or “Pasantabi” the following:
Sra. Doña.Gliceria Magno de Venezuela
Wadian itekepko so apat iran sakal na inpagawa yod siak ya “Awaray Baley na Pozorrubio.” Diad katikey na pananon ya niter ed siak ya pangisulat, kanian maganat so inpangawak ta makulang so inkauksoyto, no bilang, saray caparak ya maalumiim ya mantombok ed siak, sikaralay mangonkol na panggegendanan; ta say nangetelan koy datos, alimbaway nanbabaquil ya awaran, balet wadtan so principal, say guinawan mismo na Don Benito Magno ya lakitayo, fundador na sayan baley; nanlapud Departamento Ejecutivo tan nanlapud saray archivos day Frailes ed Manila, singa Agustino, Dominicos tan saray Jesusuitas.
Kerewenkopa no nayari, ta sakeya sakal ed, paiter yod Municipio, onkanan bengatlan kinaanto, say sakey para saray familia nen agui tayon Don Juan M. Magno, tan saysakey para si anak Don Victorio Magno.
Say ibaleskon gawaen ya isulat say awaran na luyag tayon Pangasinan tan saray binaleybaley ya nasasakopanto.
Say magalang lawas,
(Sgd.) Atty. Filomeno Magno
Before the end of 1942 or less than two years later, Attorney Magno was dead-executed by Japanese commandos who suspected him to be a guerrilla officer. He was only 60 years old-one of the most brillant and most promising among the Magno clan who were the direct heirs of Don Benito Magno, the first Gobernadorcilo and prime leader of the anak banus who founded the town of Pozorrubio.
The copy of the awaran that was given to the Municipio in 1940 was destroyed during the war for liberation in 1945. The copies given to Don Juan Magno who was the first and only Provincial Board Member ever of Maj. Gen. Jose P. Magno, Jr.) have since then been hopelessly misplaced.
Doňa Gliceria M. Venezuela (grandmother of former Mayor Noli M. Venezuela), however, managed to save her copy but forgot all about it during the next 28 yeas.
While rummaging through some documents on July 30, 1968, former Mayor Noli who was at the time the incumbent Vice-Mayor of Pozorrubio, found the awaran copy of Doňa Gliceria. Mayor Noli kept the awaran with him during the next 23 years when, after casually mentioning to him where he might be keeping about Pozorrubio’s history, told me about the awaran written by Attorney Magno. And that was how I was one of the brothers of Don Florentino Magno who was once upon a time also a town mayor of Pozorrubio.
As stated by Attorney Magno, his principal source of data for his awaran came from the personal notes written by Don Benito Magno himself!
Because of the existense of this awaran, some hitherto accepted dates regarding Pozorrubio’s foundation has to be reexamined. Anyway, according to this awaran…
The History Begins
Don Benito Estaris Magno, handsome, light-complexion, serious-faced, of medium height and possessing a magnetic personality, had a strong-willed mother, Doňa Maria Estaris (Akolaw Inkew) who was Benito’s first teacher in learning the three r’s. Don Benito’s wife Doňa Francisca Aldana, was also a teacher later in Claris as well as in the public school set up in the new site of the town (Cablong in 1880). Thus the Magno, Estaris and Aldana clans of Pozorrubio have been related by blood during the past almost 200 years.
The Idea Of Independence from San Jacinto Develops
When Don Benito was 40 years old he first broached the idea of organizing a new town independent from San Jacinto, to be located in barrio Claris (now the site of Brgy. Amagbagan). This was in the year 1867. He informed his relatives and close friends who also had thriving homesteads in the Barrio of Claris which included at that time the areas that compose now barangay Nantangalan, Maambal, Bantugan, Dilan, Malasin, and Talogtog, that they will file a petition requesting for their secession from the mothertown of San Jacinto.
The other landholders in Claris who reportedly had herds of cattle and other livestock in Barrio Claris were Don Agustin Venezuela (Father of Don Protacio, great-grandfather of Mayor Noli and the undersigned), Don Manuel Arabe, Don Domingo Aldana who was Don Benito’s brother-in-law; Don Jose Sabaldoro and Don Tobias Paragas. All of them contributed not only financially but also morally to the secessionist idea of Don Benito.
But while they were still discussing their strategy, somehow the parish priest of San Jacinto got wind of their plan. Immediately he ordered for the presence of Don Benito at the kumbento. There, Don Benito was called names by the Friar, reminding him that San Fabian had just seceded from San Jacinto and in the process succeeded in getting large chunks of prime of San Jacinto landholdings. “Now you want to reduce further the land area of San Jacinto,” he shouted. He slapped Don Benito on the face, called him an ignorant indio and finally let him go.
It was a traumatic experience for Don Benito: getting slapped on the face for his burning ambition of proclaiming an independent Pozorrubio!
At the price of a slapped face, independence was finally won by the Magno-led secessionists. But that is going ahead of the story.
The slapping friar sent letters to his connections in the Office of the Governor-General in Manila and on the basis of his letters the first petition of Don Benito for the creation of Claris as an independent town was shelved and forgotten.
Claris The Barrio Is Destined To Become The Town Pozorrubio
One however, cannot fight destiny. Claris was destined to become a town and so within a few months after Don Benito was confronted by the angry Dominican, the “Slapping Friar” was suddenly transferred elsewhere. And then out of the blue came a very dedicated and brotherly Parish Priest, another Dominican, who was the complete opposite of the slapping priest. The Rev. Fr. Asencio proved to be more cooperative and understanding. Don Benito did not lose time in the Barrio of Claris. Father Asencio was so impressed with the large number of people who went to the chapel and to the convent which was built for him in Claris. He sent for Don Benito and told him the proper steps to undertake in making a new petition. He told him to go Lingayen and look for a certain Seňor Domingo Castro who had plenty of experience in the preparation of petitions (addressed to the Governor-General). Later Don Benito showed to Fr. Asencio the petition worded by Sr. Domingo Castro.
The Origin Of “Claris”
After making his corrections, Father Asencio himself prepared a long communication addressed to the proper authorities, mentioning among other things why the proposed town should not be named Claris. In the light of this new development, we should now question the existense of a supposed to be brave Malay leader named Claris who reportedly drove away the Igorots and was so honored by naming the place after him.
The name Claris according to Father Asencio, was derived from Juan dela Cruz Palaris, the leader of the 1762 revolt against Spain which was centered in Binalatongan (now the city of San Carlos). San Jacinto took an active part in that rebellion where almost 2,000 rebels from San Jacinto subsequently perised. Remnants of the rebels surreptitiously named the sitio Claris, in honor of Palaris who proclaimed himself king of Pangasinan and ruled the province which at that time included portions of Zambales, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and La Union.
The Origin Of “Pozorrubio”
In choosing a name for the proposed new town, Father Asencio suggested Pozorrubio – in honor of the incumbent Governor-General dela Torre whose other title was Conde de Pozor-the Count of Pozor (apparently a place somewhere in Spain). At that time the story of the red well already well known among the Spaniards referring to the vicinity around Barrio Claris. In honor of the Count, POZOR, they added RUBIO. This is the reason why Pozorrubio has two r’s instead of just one. Don Benito and the anak banuas acceded with the new name saying it was something unique and different from the numerous towns named after saints. Pozorrubio indeed sounded totally different. Anyway, with father Asencio’s favorable recommendations, Don Benito along with father Asencio’s man, Sr. Domingo Castro, together with the Don’s brother-in-law, Don Domingo Aldana and DonAgustin Venezuela, proceeded to Manila by caruaje (stagecoach pulled by four horses) to deliver the second petition. The Manila-Dagupan railroad linewas still in the drawing boards that year. In those days it took several days to make the rip from San Jacinto to Ybale (Manila).
At the time Don Benito and company submitted their second petition, the Queen of Spain was Isabel II. It took 22 to 28 days for a trip from Manila to Madrid via the newly –opened Suez Canal.
The official sanction by the Spanish Governor-General approving Don Benito’s petition for the creation of Claris into an independent town and renamed Pozorrubio was officially sent to the provincial government of Pangasinan via Lingayen, on the13th of August 1868. There was much rejoicing in Claris. Not long after that, the Provincial Government was ordered to survey and map out the official boundaries of the new town.
One of the reason given by Don Benito as to why he persisted in his obsession to establish a new town of Alava (now the town of Sison) wanted to include Barrio Claris and many of the adjoining sitios into the territorial jurisdiction of Alava.
Santa Filomena Is Declared The Town’s Patron Saint
Since the approval by the Governor-General in the creation of the new town arrived in Claris on the 13th of August , the town elders, with the concurrence of Father Asencio, declared Santa Filomena to be town’s Patron Saint. August 13 was the Patroness’ day and so during the next one hundred years the Patron Saint of Pozorrubio was St. Filomena.
Soon after the creation of the new town, the people were tasked to appoint among themselves the 12 most qualified among the town’s intelligentsia to form the Communidad or Town Council.
The first batch of 12 in the history of Pozorrubio were:
· DON BENITO MAGNO,
· DON FRANCISCO CALLAO,
· DON PROTACIO VENEZUELA,
· DON DOMINGO ALDANA,
· DON BARTOLOME NANIONG,
· DON JOSE SONGCUAN,
· DON TOBIAS PARAGAS,
· DON BERNANRDO OLARTE,
· DON JUAN ANCHETA,
· DON PEDRO SALCEDO,
· DON PEDRO ITLIONG and
· DON ANTONIO SABALDORO.
The First Local Election
On the 3rd of November 1868 the first local election was held to choose who would become the first Gobernadorcillo of the new town. The Chief Executive would be chosen among the elite dozen. Elected without any opposition was Don Benito. He took his oath of office and started his oneyear reign on January 1, 1869. The seat of government was in the former Barrio of Claris in what is now Barangay Amagbagan.
When Don Benito reigned as the first Gobernadorcillo, the comunidad or Council used the Tribunal or Presidencia (Town Hall) that was constructed on a self-help basis. The piece of land where theTribunal and the first plaza were located, was donated by Don Jose Sanchez and Don Agustin Venezuela.
Because of the lack of catholic priests, the Ermita in Claris had no assigned priest. Every Sunday a priest coming from the mothertown of San Jacinto had to go Claris to say mass. At the time the Parish Priest of San Jacinto was Fr. Pablo Almazan who was a very good friend of Don Benito. Father Almazan appointed Dona Francisca Aldana-Magno, the wife of Don Benito, to teach in the only school set up in Claris. So during the next ten years while the set of government of Pozorrubio was in Claris, Dona Francisca was the lone school teacher. Years later she continued her teaching even when the site of the town was relocated to Cablong.
Pozorrubio Relocates From Claris To Cablong
Why did Pozorrubio relocate itself from Claris to Cablong? According to the awaran, Claris was prone to flooding. The Comunidad decided to look for a better location and so after carefully searching for an ideal site, decided that Cablong was the best place. Preparations for the transfer to the new site took ten long years. This is why the poblacion of Pozorrubio is one of the best-designed and best planned among all the municipalities in the province of Pangasinan.
When the time to transfer took place, the Tribunal or Municipal Hall, the imposing Church and the town plaza were completely finished. Many of the anacbanuas also had their houses ready for occupancy.
On the 18th of December 1880 when the Gobernadorcillo was Don Bernardo Olarte, the new site was officially and formally inaugurated. A big fiesta was held and invited were many special guests from the neighboring towns. It was also the first time that the new Parish Priest, the Rev. Fr. Joaquin Gonzales, took over the parish. He had a brand-new church and a kumbento.
The Author of the Awaran Is Born
Attorney Magno also mentions in his awaran that he was born two days after the inaugurations of the new townsites. Don Benito himself excitedly summoned the best hilot in town, Pascual Magno who successfully brought him into this world. Within 24 hours Filomeno, who was named after the Patron Saint, Sta. Filomena, was baptized – the first child to be baptized in the new church. On record, he was the first to receive the sacrament of baptism, followed by two girl babies surnamed Abawag and Olalan.
The pages of the awaran are full of anecdotes and on how the first barrios of Pozorrubio were organized. It describes what the early Spaniards did during Holy Week and Christmas time; courtship among the early Pangasinenses; life in general under the Spanish regime. All in all it is a very interesting long tale worth reading. One will really enjoy reading the awaran specially because Don Filomeno Magno had a flawless command of the Pangasinan dialect. It is a classic as far as the Pangasinan language is concerned. END