August 30, 2009 in Ilocos
By ARTHUR ALLAD-IW
Cabugao town of Ilocos Sur is my newest discovered lovely place. A coastal town along the South China Sea, is not only gifted with natural beauties – like the Salomague Island but also rich with the history of their ancestors’ anti-colonial struggles.
After we attended the founding of the Ilocos Sur chapter of the National Union of Journalist of the Philippines, I learned from our hosts and appreciated the struggles of their ancestors against the Spanish, American, and Japanese colonizers.
In year 2007, they celebrated the centennial of the Ilocano 1806 -1807 Basi revolt. The said revolt was launched against the basi (sugar cane wine) monopoly decreed by the Spanish colonial government.
As an avid reader of William Henry Scott’s books, particularly the Ilocano Resistance to American Colonial Rule, I learned of the anti-colonial fight as our hosts identified the historical landmarks and monuments to commemorate the heroism, in the different towns they brought us to.
Diego Silang and his men built an outpost on Balaywak hills. The hills were also the battle sites between the troops of Gabriela Silang (Diego’s wife) and the Spanish conquistadors, explained one local.
During the American-Filipino war, presumably when the Americans were hunting down Emilio Aguinaldo, at least 18 from Cabuyao were martyred in Mount Bimmuaya of Barangay Maradodon, Cabugao to slow down the offensive of the American colonial soldiers.
My source added that the anti-Japanese resistance movement was founded in a hill known as Balay-aran in Barangay Caellayan, Cabugao.
Their ancestors’ heroic struggle is rekindled at present as they face various issues here in Cabugao.
With a land area of approximately 100 square kilometers, Cabugao is an eight-hour ride or 433 kilometers from Manila. It is 220 kilometers and five hours drive from Baguio City. Its economy is mainly agriculture, particularly farming and fishing.
Sangguniang Bayan member Danilo Gasmen shared that one issue they face now is the use of dynamite in fishing. Though aquatic resources, particularly fish species, are abundant in the area, fishermen are pushed to use dynamite, a cheaper and easier but very destructive means to meet the consumers’ demand.
Gasmen explained. It destroys the coral formations found in these coastal areas.
Gasmen added that particularly identified for protection are the corals and several fish species thriving around the Salomague Island. The island is 1,109 hectares wide.
Salomague Island is less than 10 minutes banca ride from Sabang barangay, we (Baguio journalists) landed and set foot-on the white sand beach. The water was so clear and blue; a reason scuba divers frequent the area. Local picnickers are also among those that we met in the island.
Due to the fish species that abound in Salomague Island, the town adopted an ordinance that declared the waters around it a fish sanctuary. But this noble policy is violated as the illegal dynamite fishing has now entered the area. My source said these fishermen using dynamite once gave their catch to a PNP official for his birthday celebration.
Populated by 33,847 people, Cabugao has a great potential for tourism related businesses. However, at present, it faces another problem: The increasing garbage and problem of disposal.
Despite an ordinance on ecological solid waste management, our visit to their dumping site in Sitio Baliw, Barangay Quezon, Cabugao showed that garbage was not yet segregated.
The waste was bulldozed down the rice fields, creek, and a residential area as there was no retaining wall to hold it back. During rainy season, the waste will find its way to the South China Sea.
Like their ancestors who faced the colonial challenges in the past, the people of Cabugao will also face the new issues and challenges as a community.# nordis.net