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Sunken Warships of San Isidro, Leyte: Remnants of the Japanese

Central Force in the Battle for Leyte Gulf?


Pablo U. Amascual III

Chief Administrative Officer

Leyte Normal University



               The Battle for Leyte Gulf during the Second World War is considered by most historians as the biggest naval battle in history. The scope of the encounter in terms of warships, warplanes, and manpower involved is nothing short of astounding. The casualties borne by both warring parties are incomparable to other similar engagements, to say the least. It was by all standards a decisive victory for the American naval forces and could easily have turned the tide in favor of the Japanese Imperial Navy had the result been otherwise.


               The battle was waged in an attempt by the Japanese to thwart General Douglas MacArthur’s bold return via the Leyte Landings on October 20, 1944, the second biggest amphibious invasion in modern history after the Normandy Invasion less than five months earlier. The Japanese naval forces organized three attack forces with the American landing armada in the Leyte Gulf as target. The largest attack group organized hastily by the Japanese was the Central Force headed by Admiral Kurita. This powerful force encountered a token fleet of American escort ships in the Philippine Sea off the island of Samar. Despite overwhelming superiority, the Japanese Central Force surprisingly retreated through the San Bernardino Strait. Part of the remnants of the Central Force were pursued and destroyed by American warplanes.


               There are two sunken Japanese warships in San Isidro Bay, northwest of Leyte Island. The warships were destroyed on or about the same period when the Battle for Leyte Gulf was waged. This paper will attempt to establish the circumstances that led to the sinking and destruction of the two ships. It will try to find out if the ill-fated vessels were among the remnants of the Japanese Central Force which retreated after almost bringing the Leyte Landings to their doom.




The Shari’ah in Muslim Filipino History


Calbi A. Asain

Mindanao State University – Jolo, Sulu



               The Shari’ah or Islamic Law is a crucial contribution of Muslim Filipinos to the history of Filipino jurisprudence. It is as old as Islam itself in the Philippines because being Muslim means adherence to the Islamic Law. Hence, tracing the history of the Shari’ah is like tracing the history of Islam in the Philippines.


               Despite the coming of foreign colonizers to our country, particularly the Spaniards, who attempted to proselytize the natives and to destroy Islam, the Shari’ah has remained intact – governing the lives of Muslim Filipinos upon their conversion to Islam and serving as a major unifying force for them in their struggle for recognition and identity in a predominantly Christian country.


               This paper expounds the beginnings of the Shari’ah, its codification process, and its gradual integration into the law of the land, cognizant of the mixed or multi-ethnic character of Filipino society, in response to our continuing efforts for national reconciliation and solidarity.





The Historiography of Eastern Visayas Revisited


Rolando O. Borrinaga

School of Health Sciences

University of the Philippines Manila

Palo, Leyte



This paper presents an inventory and analysis of local history articles that appeared in the Leyte-Samar Studies journal, the graduate school publication of the defunct Divine Word University of Tacloban through its 25-year life-span from 1967 to 1992.


               Complementing the inventory would be a survey of the historiography of Eastern Visayas that appeared in other publications (in books and journals) prior to, during, and after the appearance of Leyte-Samar Studies.


               The outcome of both efforts could hopefully help identify the gaps that still need to be filled in the study of the local history of Eastern Visayas.





The Visayas: Islands in the Seas, A Historical Perspective


Earl Jude Paul L. Cleope

Silliman University

Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental



This paper is a modest attempt to offer a new framework for the writing of a “total” national history, one that underscores the role of the sea as a factor in the historical development of the Visayas in the context of national history. Following the trend in historiography inspired by Fernand Braudel, the discussion in this paper uses the maritime perspective as analytical framework for the reconstruction of the history of the Visayas. This paper is intended as a sequel to the introductory essay of an ambitious project on the history of the Visayas. While a previous paper (“The Visayas: Islands in the Seas, A Historical Perspective,” November 21 –23, 2002, 23rd National Conference on Oral and Local History at UP Cebu College, Cebu City. Sponsored by the Philippine National Historical Society and National Commission for Culture and the Arts) explores the role of the bodies of water surrounding the Visayas Islands in the historical development of the region by examining the folklore and etymologies about the Visayan Islands, this paper looks into the conditions in the islands at the time of European contacts and the subsequent Spanish colonization.


By way of synthesis, this paper will collate the textual construct of experts and local historians dealing with each island in the Visayas region to present the “History of the Visayas” as whole in the context of evolving a historiography towards a national history of the Philippines.




The Family in History


Maria Nela B. Florendo, Ph.D.

University of the Philippines Baguio



It is without doubt that the family is an important unit of analysis in the reconstruction of the past. There is the common impression that a family history is a micro-history, which has more limitations than potentials in capturing a broad subject focus. Contrary to the view that the family is a simple social group, studies of its internal dynamics and its relations to the larger community and society show that the family “encompasses a whole range of activities – the political, economic, religious” (Wrigley, 1976) to name a few. McCoy’s An Anarchy of Families (1994) tackles a range of family situations and roles from the socio-economic to the political, and a combination of these.


Hareven (1976) posits that the family could “provide a vantage point” to the study of societal changes over time. The said author stresses that the family is a “constantly changing entity,” and hardly a “monolithic institution. Moreover, the family should not be viewed as a passive social collectivity that adapts to developments in society. Historical studies would show how families evolve as active change agents.


With this study still in its incipient phase, the paper is of two parts. The first part is a brief historiographic reflection on the family. This part includes historical research questions about the family. To lend some “human intimacy to historical research,” the second part is on the history of a family (The Florendos of Vigan). It is the intention of the second part of the research not only to narrate history, but to make accessible to the conference participants the methodologies of history which should allow them to write their own narratives/local histories when they return to their institutions and/or communities.





Laguna during the Japanese Occupation


Gil G. Gotiangco, Jr. II

University of the Philippines - Diliman



               Local narratives and interviews with Lagunenses who lived in the province from 1941 to 1946 offer revealing new insights on the Japanese occupation in the Philippines. While the general consensus is a fervent hope that it will never happen again, information provided by both civilians and guerrillas suggest a kinder and ambivalent assessment of the social milieu from 1942 to the early months of 1944. Psychologically, this may be interpreted as a sober reflection of the wartime years, the informants having been detached from the aforementioned period for several decades. Yet guerrillas, and particularly the civilians, noted a routinary life from 1942 to the first few months of 1944. Accordingly, distinctions have to be made among towns where Japanese military presence was strong and where it was minimally felt. Distinctions are also necessary in distinguishing the victims of the atrocities and the Japanese imperial forces involved. Interestingly, even the assessment of the MAKAPILI is equally ambivalent. Hated during the wartime years, the group is characterized in multi-faceted hues.


               The guerrilla campaign in Laguna is another vital feature of the Japanese occupation. Unlike most anti-Japanese resistance campaign in the country, four groups operated independent of each other. The HUKBALAHAP in particular is worthy of special citation. How all these guerrilla groups fought and achieved modest success against the enemies is a tribute to native military ingenuity and local sympathy to a noble national cause.


               The narratives on the Japanese occupation in Laguna are more than a portrayal of the conquerors and the conquered. Both the resistance movement and the resultant social conditions speak vividly of Filipino value system, humor, and resiliency in times of conflict and non-normative situations. These may explicably shed some light on post-war Laguna social milieu and political growth.




The Role of Women in the Turugpo Religious Festival


Rowena S. Guiang

University of the Philippines in the V isayas

Tacloban College



Religious festivals are central events in community life. They are said to serve as an expression of faith as they also foster a sense of identity in the community. The Turugpo of Carigara, Leyte, is a religious festival where cockfighting, carabao, and horse fighting are held annually every Black Saturday of Holy Week. The festival is said to be a reaction to the church’s actions during the Bankaw Revolt of 1621. Turugpo can be seen as a form of protest that is part of the culture of Carigara. It provided a space where resistance can be expressed. This paper proposes to explore the aspect of gender as it is played out in the Turugpo. Specifically it will look into the narratives of the women in Carigara in relation to the festival. The focus is on women and their stories as they participate in the rituals of Turugpo.





Church Bells as Historic Witnesses: The Case of Samar and Leyte

Regalado Trota Jose

Center for the Conservation of Cultural Property

and Environment in the Tropics

University of Santo Tomas



Church bells are historic legacies of parishes and missions. They carry inscriptions that give dates, names and other data that can deepen studies on local history. On a national or wider level, the data they carry afford a better understanding of such aspects as the evolution of bell technology in the country or the extent of missionary undertakings in a given region. The ways in which the bells are rung, and the structures that house the bells, are other topics about bells that are worth pursuing.


Samar and Leyte were under the religious administrations of the Jesuits, Franciscans, Augustinians, and seculars at various times during the Spanish colonial period. The present paper draws information from the author’s unfinished documentation of church bells throughout the country. The church bells of Samar and Leyte will be viewed against the historic developments in the two islands. They will also be seen against the backdrop of the development of church bells in the Philippines.






Holographs of Felipe Lianza, Sr.: Representation,

Emplotment, and Local History


Jose N. Lianza

Leyte Normal University

Tacloban City, Leyte



               Historiography in the Philippines has to be contextualized and de-contextualized in the discourse of post-colonial Significant-Othering. This is necessary in order to see how this Othering takes place.


               As his grandson, this writer holds manuscripts of Felipe Lianza, Sr. (1896-1991). “From his early years and while serving as municipal mayor, he took notes and kept a running diary of everything important happening around him and even those that occurred long before he came to the scene. He wrote down the history of each barrio (now barangay) of Carigara with adaptations” (Makabenta, et al. 1995).


               Carigara, Leyte town is noted for its history and culture in the crónicas of Spanish Jesuits, e.g., Pedro Chirino’s Relacion de las Islas Filipinas, the Bangkaw Revolt in 1621, and the Augustinian Evangelization in 1580.


               This paper will investigate the holographs of Felipe Lianza, Sr., primarily his representations of constructing and reconstructing meanings of histories in the Weltanschuung of the lived-life realities of his memories. It employs interpretation theories of cross-disciplinary boundaries in the social sciences, literary, cultural, and media studies. The emplotment of Lianza’s stories as metaphor of etic/emic dichotomy interpretations will be examined in the writings of Philippine literary discourses of national and local history. Consequently, deconstructing history will be pursued in the context of the Euro-centric discourses on meta-narratives of local narrative-signification. Finally, this paper will recapture a local perspective writing of history.




Town Planning and Urban Historiography in Iloilo:

A Historiographic Assessment


Randy M. Madrid

U.P. in the Visayas, Iloilo City



               This paper will focus on the growing interest among historians, social scientists, local scholars, and researchers in the West Visayan region in the emerging field of study of urban historiography. With Iloilo City as the point of reference, a historiographic assessment and analysis of existing documents found in the universities and libraries in Iloilo will be undertaken. The development of urban historiography in Iloilo will be traced by examining the various social history works of Alfred W. McCoy, the economic and development histories of Henry F. Funtecha, studies on the development of the sugar industry by Demy P. Sonza, and the landscape and structural histories of this writer. Moreover, extant records, especially town planning and zoning blueprints, the City Beautiful Plans, cadastral surveys, detailed engineering studies, and city ordinances on zoning and housing will be used as supplementary sources in data analysis and interpretation.


               The second part of the study will be a thorough discussion of colonial urbanism and the morphogenetic development of the town of Iloilo from a weaving center to a port-of-call of inter-island and international trade and commerce in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Historiographic remarks from travelers’ impressions and observations will be correlated with the development of micro-history focusing on Iloilo's urban development. Karl Brunner's Manual Urbanismo will be utilized to interpret the integration of architectural and urban historiography with that of the functional planning of towns and cities as well as to single out the problems encountered by emerging urban centers.


               Lastly, 19th century Haussmannic urbanism will be employed in analyzing the shift of development from a micro-historic colonial city to an urban enclave fuelled by European investment and capitalist expansion. Urban reforms and renewals will be closely linked with urban modernization characterized by its sanitary reforms, residential expansion, urban design, and neighborhood revitalization. All these are collectively termed by Latin American urban historians as “Belle Epoque Reforms.”




Nearby Histories: Empowering Communities to Rediscover their

Past and Heritage: The Tangub City Experience.


P. Emelio S. Pascual

University of San Carlos

Cebu City



Despite the wide adherence and practice of local history in the academe, many communities in the Philippines still remain in the dark zone of the unknown past. Perhaps this is due to the dwindling number of history students enrolling in our universities or possibly the continuing preference for “big” histories, thus leaving small, remote, and unheard of communities uninteresting for the scholarly historian.


What is a community, therefore, to do when they find themselves wanting to know more about their past and heritage but cannot manage to attract academic or professional historians to do research in their area? This was the case of Tangub City in Misamis Occidental. The dynamic local government unit took the initiative to create their own City Historical Commission and passed ordinances to integrate the teaching of local history in all levels of education. However, the main obstacle in fully implementing these ordinances was the lack of teaching and learning materials for use in the classroom.


In consultation with the History Department of the University of San Carlos in Cebu City, the Tangub City History Project was launched in December of 2004. The most unique feature of the project is the involvement of the various sectors of the community in the conduct of research. Community members, including teachers, government employees, student volunteers, barangay health workers, and concerned citizens were trained in data gathering techniques such as cultural mapping, oral history, and family genealogy and went into the field on a voluntary basis. From time to time, faculty and students of the University of San Carlos do the community work side by side with the community workers as part of their academic extension work.


Though the project still has a long way to go in accomplishing its goal of producing a detailed history fact book for classroom use and other practical purposes, the project has received wide acceptance. It has excited the community into knowing more and more about its past and heritage. This is the history that is more interesting to them as it is also more useful for them. It is history that is just “nearby” rather than the histories that alienate or marginalize them.




The Anguren Account of the Balangiga Incident, Its Context and Aftermath


Rev. Eustaquio B. Rosaldo and Rolando O. Borrinaga, Ph.D.

Municipal Government, Quinapondan, Eastern Samar and

School of Health Sciences, U.P. Manila, Palo, Leyte



               This paper presents and annotates a previously unknown eyewitness account of a participant of the “Balangiga Massacre,” the famous native attack on Company C, Ninth U.S. Infantry Regiment, in Balangiga, Eastern Samar, on September 28, 1901.


               Capitan Lope Anguren, the mayor of Quinapondan in 1901, led the company-size contingent from his town that joined the attack on Company C. His account was apparently dictated to and recorded by his son, Arturo, long before he passed away in 1952.


               Anguren’s account provides enriching details about the Quinapondan situation before and after the arrival of the Americans in town, the preparation for the attack on Company C, the attack itself, and the subsequent reprisal of the U.S. military on his town, the religious needs pf which were served by the parish priest of the adjacent town of Balangiga.


Accommodation, Localization, and Resistance in Abra (1598-1898)


Raymundo D. Rovillos

University of the Philippines-Baguio



The Tinguians of Abra, like many other indigenous peoples in the Cordillera and elsewhere, manifested their agency amidst colonial incursion and imposition in many ways. The long period of native encounter with colonialism (1598-1898) is full of narratives of native accommodation and localization of foreign (Spanish) influences. These processes can be shown in the performance of everyday lives of the natives as gleaned in colonial records. Resistance was the native response to physical displacements as well as cultural alienation. This is demonstrated in overt actions such as armed “uprisings” as well as everyday actions such abandoning the pueblos or insisting to walk around the streets of the pueblos naked (cf. James Scott, Weapons of the Weak (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985).


Besides highlighting indigenous agency in the context of colonial experience in Abra, this paper also tackles the process of ethnic identity construction throughout the period. I will argue that ethnic labels are not merely products of colonial impositions but also as local reaction to the effects of colonial administration. Ethnic identity formation is a clear example of accommodation and localization- i.e., indigenous agency. The “Tinguian” identity is therefore a product both of social construction as well as of continuities with the pre-colonial process of group formation. The blanket statement that ethnic groups are purely colonial creations should be reviewed: ethnic groups were already emerging prior to colonization, and these identity markers intersected across groups in Abra and neighboring areas in the Cordillera. This paper will prove the dynamism of ethnicity as discourse and practice.



Bruna “Bunang” Fabrigar: The Pulahan Historic Leader


Daniel Codilla Talde

Tacloban College

University of the Philippines in the Visayas



               My interest in documenting the story of Bunang in the Pulahan Movement of Samar was aroused by Father Richard Arens’ work, “The Early Pulahan Movement of Samar,” in Leyte-Samar Studies (1977). His article contains a section on the participation of Bunang in Pulahanism.


               As the article lacks details, I attempted to pursue additional information to fill up the gaps by looking into (1) her personal data or information; (2) her contribution to the Pulahan movement; (3) the circumstances that influenced her to join the movement; and (4) the changes in her life after joining Pulahanism.


For this purpose, I used memory documents to capture the dynamics of her life, since written colonial documents have failed to note her story. The oral accounts were gathered primarily from the residents of the municipality of Paranas, Western Samar, known to be Bunang’s hometown. But other accounts of her life from the residents of the neighboring municipalities (Gandara, Matuguinao, and San Jorge) were also considered, since Bunang’s influence as a Pulahan was not only confined to her immediate community but to the neighboring towns as well.


               Since it is not possible to understand Bunang in isolation, being a Pulahan historic leader, I supplemented this documentation with textual data that have bearing on Pulahanism vis-avis millenarian movements and tried to go over the existing background materials on women in history.



Reading the Maragtas Narrative as Political Myth

Tomasito T. Talledo
University of the Philippines in the Visayas
Miag-ao, Iloilo Campus


This paper reads the Maragtas narrative earlier textualized by Pedro Alcantara Monteclaro (1907) as foundation of political myth. As a political myth, it seeped into the works of esteemed Ilongo writers Magdalena Gonzaga Jalandoni (Hiligaynon, 1958) and Ricaredo D. Demetillo (English, 1961 and 1975). Such creative appropriation, among others, has disposed the Maragtas narrative to loom as mythic frame of a hierarchical social order. As a foundational myth, Maragtas has supplied a convincing political story that in the final analysis responded to and justified the desideratum of the Philippine state.




From Mainstream to Revolution: Franciscan Activities in the Diocese

of Nueva Cáceres, Kabikolan, 1768-1898


Stephen Henry S. Totanes

Ateneo de Manila University



               This paper serves as a sequel to an earlier research project on Franciscan missions evolving into mainstream parishes in Kabikolan from 1578-1768. By 1768, the Franciscans were already administering the majority of the parishes in the Diocese of Nueva Cáceres which had jurisdiction over the provinces of Ambos Camarines and Albay in Kabikolan and portions of Tayabas (now Quezon) province in southern Luzon. In this year, the Franciscans expanded their evangelical work to the island of Samar with the expulsion of the Jesuits from the Philippines, who turned over some of their parishes in Eastern Visayas to the Franciscans upon their departure.


               For the next one hundred and thirty years, the Franciscans continued to maintain their presence in Kabikolan, albeit, in many instances, competing with and eventually yielding some of these parishes in their jurisdiction to the secular clergy. This period also coincided with the establishment of the twenty-one California missions under the leadership of Fray Junipero Serra, OFM, across the Pacific Ocean, along the western coast of the north American continent. With the establishment of the Seminario Conciliar de Nueva Cáceres in the late 18th century and the

training of native secular priests being sponsored by the Diocese, more and more Bikolanos were taking on the helm of the parishes in their region and replacing the Franciscan friars.


               At the outbreak of the Revolution in the Tagalog region in 1896, nearly half of the parishes in Kabikolan were already in the hands of the native secular clergy. But in the crackdown that followed the discovery of the Katipunan, three native Bikolano priests were among those in a group executed in Bagumbayan on January 4, 1897 that came to be known in Bikol history as the “Quince Mártires.” The Franciscans would bear the brunt of the repercussions of these executions the following year, when a revolt led by officers of the local guardia civil in September 1898 resulted in the imprisonment of twenty-two Franciscan friars in their own convent and church in San Francisco, in the center of the town of Nueva Cáceres and their eventual abandonment of most of their parishes in Kabikolan.