Three distinguished Bicolanos from the province of Camarines Norte earned national acclaim because of their significant contribution in shaping Philippine history as a people. They are Jose Maria Panganiban. Gen. Vicente Lukban and Wenceslao Q. Vinzons. The events surrounding the lives of these three personages impinge in no small measure on the national life. Their heroism in different epochs was like a ray of hope especially during the turbulent years that attended this province. There are many others in this province who died for freedom who are by no means less heroic and are continually venerated as harbingers of social change. But the three aforementioned names stand out for their distinct nationalism which is tangent not only to the life of the people in this region but to the national polity as a whole. Thus, the names of these three men will always be inextricably linked with Bicol Region, alongside the great men whose names are almost synonymous to Philippine nationalism
The need to assert their rights compelled the people of Camarines Norte to resist colonial hegemony through an intellectual advocacy at one end, typified by Jose Maria Panganiban, and through an active or armed resistance on the other. However, it is a pity that over the years, there is very little attempt to bring to a focus the role of these heroes from Camarines Norte and the dynamics of their historical periods. This may be due in part to the propensity of some historians and history teachers to magnify the Tagalog-centered history Presently, however, there are serious efforts and keen interest as shown by the National Historical Institute and some historians to dig deeper into local histories using both documented sources and oral traditions. There is still so much to be done in order to fill in the gaps in our national history. For history to be relevant to the people down the grassroots, the local communities should see how they are integrated in the historical process and how history would find resonance in their developmental tasks.
A weak area in the writing of local histories is the inaccessibility of archival records and partly, the inability to road such records. The best remedy to this difficulty is to refer to published materials which extensively used primary sources. This precisely is what I resorted to capture some slices of life of the people of this province as they were vividly recorded by some eyewitnesses and other chronicles.
This paper presents some preliminary notes which could serve as a basis to jump-start a more thorough research for a comprehensive history of the province of Camarines Norte, oftentimes referred to as the province of Hilagang Kamarines. One interesting area that must be examined is the indomitable spirit of the people of this province. This province is not wanting in herpes and the spirit of communitarianism prevails especially during moments of disasters. The long list of heroes of this province is an eloquent testimony that the people could rise above themselves notwithstanding the great perils in their midst. They also know how to rise to the challenges of the times and cooperate with one another. This has been manifested many times over during calamities.
The letter of Governor General Guido de Lavezares to the King of Spain in 1570s about the valor of the people of Bicol is valid in Camarines Norte even centuries later. It says thus:
Juan de Salcedo conquered the region of Paracale and the Bicol river…Their maguinoos and datus possessed much gold. They are the most valiant people we have ever met in the region of the Philippines. Although they do not attack the Spaniard, they defend themselves in their villages and never surrender unless subdued by force of arms.
The foregoing passage provides a glimpse of how unyielding our forefathers were and the events in the late 19th century and recent developments could only confirm the observation made centuries ago. They were not described as savage brutes, neither were they made to appear as aggressors; they were simply seen as audacious defenders of their liberty. This explains why the intrepid Panganiban, Lukban and Vinzons never, at any moment, wavered in their struggle for freedom.
A province of brave men, Hilagang Kamarines is also rich in cultural resources being home to archeological artifacts, crafts, cuisine, myths, legends and lore. The indigenous heritage of its people is enriched by Spanish cultural-religious influences which are deeply engraved in the psyche of its affable inhabitants. The land area of this province, straddling a topography of partially undulating fields in most parts and mountainous slopes in the periphery with a total dimension of 2,112.50 square kilometers is blessed with tremendous physical attributes.
The natural endowments in Hilagang Kamarines provide opportunities for the flourishing industries of mining, fishery, agro-forestry and agriculture. Secondary industries in handicraft as well as service and knowledge work sector draw their strength nowadays from a wide base of skilled human resources. The lush vegetation of verdant values is crowned by emerald rainforests, which, like a fortress, shield the prairies. It is also veined by rivers like the Daet and Labo rivers whose freshwater exits at the eastern side of the province to suffuse with the flanking Pacific Ocean. Added to its physical allure are the uncorrupted, breathtaking beaches that are strewn in its shoreline. Other beaches are embellished by stretches of white sand situated in accessible islands that evoke an image of an enticing paradise. Scattered all over the province are waterfalls, some cascading like a rampage of blizzard in a steep descent as in the case of Mananap Falls, others beautifully spitting froth and spume into the air as the water reaches the receptacle river.
The climatic conditions have so toughened the survival abilities of the inhabitants of the province because sporadic cyclones cause fortuitous havoc in people's lives Calamities often bring out the best among the local inhabitants because they learn how to come to each other's rescue. The people have become resilient and tough in overcoming their difficulties. Through the years, the people of this province have built houses which are considerably vulnerable to typhoons but nonetheless suitable for a place that experiences distinct periods of dry season.
The charms of this province, as well as its storied past, continue to be a source of pride for its people. The inheritance of freedom won by our great forebears continues to inspire them to learn their past.
The groundwork to relearn our history was already started by a number of historians but much still remains to be done. This paper only presents some take-off points on which more comprehensive studies could be done.
A Place Gilded With Gold
The first time Camarines Norte came within the sphere of influence of the Spaniards was when Juan de Salcedo became interested in the gold mines that abundantly existed in the town of Paracale. That place was so named because paracale literally means a person who digs: In other words, it is a place of diggers. During that time, precious metals such as gold and silver fetched good prices at the European markets which explains why Juan de Salcedo, a fearless grandson of Governor-General Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, started to get attracted by the prospect.
The feat of Juan de Salcedo from Manila southward in 1571 was aptly chronicled in Manuel M. Calleja's work Santiago de Libon and quoted in Mariano Goyena del Prado's Ibalon. Salcedo was only 22 years old when he set out for his daring conquest of Bicolandia.
Salcedo took along Lt. Juan Ramos and eighty soldiers, which he split into groups, each taking different routes to Camarines. In the village of Majayjay (Laguna), they sustained a scuffle with the residents who were led by the datu Gat Pulo. Owing to the accident and the treachery of the guides, the first expedition was a failure.
Salcedo returned to the village of Bay (Laguna). This time he chose better guides and revived his method of splitting his men into groups for the exploration trip to Paracale, now his obsession. But a system of espionage was organized by the townspeople in order to detain him, through alarm calls sent to wayside towns and to the towns of Camarines This proof of unity and native intelligence clearly showed that in the pre-hispanic years, there existed among the villages a bond of affinity that brought people together during times when their autonomy was being threatened. Salcedo quickly understood the scheme invented by the people of Bay He sailed forth then, this time carrying only his arms and accompanied by only fourteen soldiers. But an overflowing stream delayed them for days. Hunger was a problem but this was appeased by a chance discovery of an uninhabited village where rice and swine are found.
Salcedo's arrival urged Amindanan, the Moslem Chief of Mahapan (Mauban), to escape the Spaniards. Salcedo quickly knew it would be valuable to make peace with Amindanan and gain his goodwill and favor for the Paracale undertaking which gave a lot of stumbling blocks And so he walked to Mahapan, this time without a guide, and arrived there at the exact moment that Amindanan and his family were set to sail. Salcedo detained the chief and explained reasonably that to go was stupid and senseless since the Spaniards desired only peace and friendship, Amindanan, enchanted by Salcedo's valor and calm, turned back. He granted him not only friendship but also facility and guides from his own men, besides preparation and other necessities for the navigation.
In Mahapan, Salcedo reunited with Lt. Juan Ramos and thirty soldiers and departed for the trip to Paracale with Amindanan. Contrary winds, however, forced them to lay anchor in a small island where the people arose in uprising. There Lt. Juan Ramos died of an arrow dart, and many soldiers were wounded. Owing to these difficulties, the expeditioners resolved to abandon this inhospitable place but a storm dragged them into a bay called Hondagua, where they stayed for more than a month suffering great financial needs. All through the journey. the natives along the towns resisted and fought the Spaniards. Eventually, Salcedo and his men took possession of the land of Paracale on December 1571.
In Paracale, Salcedo arrived at the mines ahead of his soldiers who had to fix roads due to rainy weather. The mines were indeed rich and valuable, and approximately 280 feet deep. But the natives had to leave for fear of the Spanish soldiers who likewise complained of their bad tricks.
Another narrative on the conquest of Paracale by Salcedo was made by Danilo Gerona who used contemporary accounts which revealed the hazardous sojourn of Salcedo and how undaunted he was in facing all the challenges for his single-minded pursuit of a place renowned for its richness in gold.
Legazpi, who must have been informed by his grandson Salcedo, attested to the opulence of gold in this province. In his letter to the viceroy of Spain, he mentioned that:
There is gold everywhere in these islands, whether little or much is obtained, the natives do not continually work on them except during necessity as the natives do not endeavor to have treasures nor do these strike them as such except the datus or magnoos.
It is believed that during the two-month stay of Juan de Salcedo he also explored the neighboring town of Mambulao, originally called "Mambulawan" which, if translated, means bountiful in gold. Eventually, Salcedo and his men left Paracale on January 1572 and returned to Manila where they were welcomed with much jubilation for they had been presumed dead. In 1573. Salcedo returned with a larger force to explore this time not only Paracale but the other parts of Bicol peninsula Salcedo, along with Captain Pedro de Chavez, conducted a systematic conquest of the towns of southern Camarines. The gradual establishment of Spanish settlements from 1573 to 1576 in Camarines province signaled the start of the inroads of Spanish administrative control of Bicol peninsula. Finally the City of Caceres was established in 1579, and the whole of Bicol fell under the effective control of the colonial administrators.
Chronicles reveal that since the time that Salcedo reached Camarines area until 1829, there was only one Camarines. It was said that when the Spaniards reached Bicol peninsula, they found that there were scores of "camarin," or hut, whence the name of the region. Los Camarines, originated. In 1829, the province of Camarines was partitioned into Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur. In 1854, they were fused and given the name Ambos Camarines but were separated again in 1857. Ambos Camarines (ambos means both) again resurfaced in 1893 and it was the setup of the province up until the American period in 1919.
Concomitant with the task of colonization was the effort to evangelize the natives of Camarines Norte. The Franciscans were the first ones to do the mission of proselytizing the natives. The old towns of Paracale, Mambulao, Daet, Capalonga and Indan were sites of early missions. Although earlier efforts at Christianization had already been spearheaded by the Agustinian friars, it was the Franciscans who actually blazed the trail of apostolate in Camarines Norte. One interesting story regarding the evangelization of this province was about how the people of a village named Capalonga got converted to Christianity. The difficulty in converting the natives, said the story, was overcome when a Catholic layman named Marcos engaged in a sort of test of strength against a witch who had the power to make a large rock move without touching it. The amazement of the people on how a certain Marcos countered the mystical power of the witch encouraged them to submit themselves to the God of Marcos. The natives got convinced in a very graphic way that the god of the witch was less powerful than the God of Christianity. True or not, the story is a classic case of how the cross triumphed without bloodshed.
By the 17th century, according to the Franciscan missionaries, Capalonga had a population of 1000 souls and possessed a bamboo church and a convent. Indan, on the other hand, had a population of 1800 souls, a wooden church and convent, while Daet had 1200 as its population, a wooden church and convent. The religiosity of the people of this province can be more or less gauged by the products of Catholic families It must be noted that the first Filipino clergy who was ordained in 1706 was a Bicolano from the town of Paracale. His name was Don Gregorio Cabalquinto. He passed away in his seventies in the early part of 1753 after having spent 47 years in priesthood.
The Development in the "Cabicera"
Daet was a thriving settlement when Juan de Salcedo explored Camarines in 1570. One story that was handed down by word of mouth from one generation to the next in the capital town of Daet is apparently attributed to a certain Don Manuel dela Estrada, a pure-blooded Spaniard, who came to Daet as an exile from Spain because he was driven away by an incident that allegedly happened in the royal court in Spain. He was of the nobility class and was later conferred with the title Marquis de Camarines
He was responsible for bringing in the first hemp plant on his way to the Philippines via the Manila-Acapulco galleon. Because of this. Daet became one of the sites of early abaca plantations. Years later, the Philippines clutched the monopoly of hemp fiber the world over. He devoted his entire life building and developing Daet. For one, he supervised the construction of the old church of Daet, the old Spanish bridge. other stone buildings, construction of culverts and other infrastructure.
Marquis de Camarines, his honorific title, married a Filipina and later, a long line of blood relations sprang which still links the old families of Daet even up to the present. The ruins of the palatial mansion of the Marquis de Camarines were still visible in recent years. They were located in the area where the building of the present-day Provincial Capitol of Camarines Norte is located. To immortalize the memory of the Marquis, a street at the back of the Provincial Capitol was named after him−M. D. Camarines.
The veracity of this story needs to be validated. A 1953 account took cognizance of the existence of this data but there was no acknowledgment of its provenance. As it stands, the story is a result of a tradition handed down from generation to generation. Some prominent families who traced their roots to the Marquis say that the story is authentic.
The Moro Hostilities
If one is to visit the present-day town of Jose Panganiban, formerly known as Mambulao, one can still see the remnants of the forts constructed during the Spanish period as first line of defense against the marauding Moros. The Moros came in droves by sea and attacked and pillaged the settlements established by the Spaniards in the, Bicol area.
Moro depredations increased in frequency from 1573 till the 19th century and their fury intensified as well. Since the towns of Camarines Norte were near the coasts, they were very much vulnerable to the raids. The towns of Daet, Talisay, Paracale, Indan and Mambulao were not spared from the hostilities. Many fell victims to the marauders. As an initial effort to protect their lives, the natives of the province thought of ringing the church bells as a signal to the helpless inhabitants to go to safer grounds while the able-bodied men were to prepare for a scuffle Moro pirates then "vented their wrath on church bells by tearing them down from the belfry and dumping them into a river or sea." Curious stories, on the other hand, had it that church bells were thrown into the river or were hidden by the inhabitants in the belief that their sound attracted the Moros to their places.
Inadequacy of defense was reported in the towns of Labo. Indan, Daet, Talisay, Paracale and Mambulao. Consequently, watchtowers and fortifications were constructed to prevent the enemy from gaining any beachhead Watchtowers were used to have a farther view of the sea to determine if there were incoming enemies and consequently signal for early combat preparations. Castillos were constructed in the towns of Capalonga, Labo, Mambulao and Daet Baluartes were located in the towns of Talisay, Paracale, Daet, Mambulao and at the shore of Mantisan. Like the baluartes, castillos were also armed with cannons and muskets: Budyong, made of either a large conch or a carabao horn was sounded upon the sighting of incoming enemies. The Moro piracies were nothing but a reaction generated by Spanish expansionist campaigns in the lands of the Moros in Mindanao Caught in the middle of the fight between the Spaniards and the Muslims in Mindanao were the natives among whom were the inhabitants of this province. They were the unwilling victims of the Moros who prowled the seas of Camarines to exact vengeance for what the colonizers had done to them. They established their lairs in nearby islands and launched numerous surprise attacks.
Looking back at the aftermath of the Moro-Spanish conflict, Dr. Luis C. Dery had a very interesting research on the Moro raids, he intoned that
It is also important to show that the Moras left many lasting mementos in the various places in their devastating response to Spanish colonialism. In Kabikolan, more than halfway into the twentieth century, mothers still invoked the dreaded attackers name saying "Hala, iya-on na an mga Moros (Now there, the Moros are coming) and this was sufficient to send thoir recalcitrant children scurrying home Crumbling remnants of many “baluartes” and “intramuroses” (fortified wooden or strong enclosures where people sought refuge and protection whenever the Moros came) still dot many coastal areas in Luzon and the Visayas. The various churches in many coastal towns are mute witnesses to the fire and fury that raged around them as these structures often served as townspeople's refuge against Moro onslaughts
The Moro raids, in the final analysis, ushered in the development of Infrastructure because the natives were by necessity driven to construct better inland roads to facilitate reinforcement of coastal towns which were under siege. The residual result of this was the improvement of travel and communication between various towns.
The long period of quiescence during the Spanish colonial era in this province started to be disturbed when the middle class families were given the opportunity to study in learning institutions both here and overseas. The scions of these families started to imbibe new ideas which enabled them to analyze the sorry state of the colonized natives. Fore- most among them was the great intellectual giant of the province in the 19th century, Jose Maria Panganiban y Enverga.
Panganiban was one of the leading stalwarts of the Propaganda Movement in Spain along with Jose Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar and Graciano! Lopez Jaena. Panganiban was born on February 1, 1863 in Mambulao, Camarines Norte. The town is now named after the hero. He was the eldest son of Don Vicente Panganiban, a native of Hagonoy, Bulacan and Juana Enverga of Mauban, Tayabas. He studied Humanities in the seminary of Nueva Caceres where he obtained excellent scholastic records. He also studied at San Juan de Letran and graduated with honors in 1883 where he obtained the degree of Bachelor of Arts. In 1884, he enrolled at the University of Sto. Tomas to study medicine. It was said that sometime in 1887, while studying at UST, some copies of the book Noli Me Tangere arrived. Since it was considered a subversive and heretical material, Panganiban decided to commit the whole novel to memory such that he could recite the whole passages from that book verbatim before his countrymen.
In 1888. Panganiban went to Spain to further his studies at the University of Barcelona for a medical course. While in Spain, he joined La Solidaridad, a fortnightly publication of young Filipino propagandists in Spain who were advocating reforms for colonial Philippines. The following year, he was stricken with the then deadly sickness of tuberculosis. In 1890, he became extremely ill until he died on August 19.
During his brief stint as one of the finest writers of La Solidaridad, Jomapa, which was his nom de plume, produced several articles of highly nationalist overtones. It was said that like Rizal, Panganiban was also a multilingual person. His intelligence, as shown by his academic records, was only comparable with that of Rizal's. As a close friend of Rizal, del Pilar and Jaena, Panganiban enjoyed respect and admiration from them for he abandoned his personal pursuit to earn a degree in Spain in favor of the welfare of his countrymen. A nationalist in the truest sense of the word, Panganiban's legacy continues to be remembered provincewide.
Another towering figure in the history of this province is Gen. Vicente Lukban. Born in Labo on February 11, 1860, Vicente Lukban served as Juez de Paz of his town. His parents were Don Agustin Lukban and Doña Andrea Rilles. In 1894, Vicente Lukban organized the so-called "La Cooperativa Popular” an agricultural cooperative which advanced the ideals of the revolution. This cooperative tacitly supported the Tagalog-based revolutionary movement organized by Andres Bonifacio Part of the profits earned by the cooperative was sent as financial support to the Katipunan of Bonifacio.
Lukban secretly acted as an emissary of the Katipunan unit in Bicol to gather information about the movements of the Spaniards in Manila. When the revolution broke out in 1896, Lukban was one of those who were arrested by the Spanish Guardia Civil because of his political activities. He was incarcerated in the Bilibid Prison from September 1896 until August 1897. After his release, he joined the Armed Forces of the Revolutionary Government of Emilio Aguinaldo. He joined Aguinaldo in several battles and became Aguinaldo's close confidante, in-charge of planning war strategies and activities.
After the Pact of Biak-na-Bato in 1897, Lukban joined Aguinaldo in his exile to Hongkong. Upon their return in 1898, Lukban was appointed colonel and was assigned in Camarines province and Catanduanes Aguinaldo promoted him to the rank of General on December 21, 1898. and assigned him to Samar and Leyte as his field of operations. From 1898 to 1902, he stayed in Leyte and Samar as the politico-military governor. He was responsible for the so-called Balangiga Massacre in Samar where American troops stationed in the town were annihilated almost to a man by the soldiers of Gen Vicente Lukban with the help of the local townsmen. It occurred in September 28, 1901 and was recorded as one of the most humiliating defeats of the Americans in the hands of the Filipinos. After the capture of Gen. Lukban on February 21, 1902, he was brought to Manila where he was imprisoned and released only on July 15, 1902 He turned to politics and became governor twice, in 1912 and 1916, of the province of Tayabas until his death on November 16, 1916.
The influence of Lukban over the natives of Camarines Norte had been far and wide such that his "La Cooperativa Popular" helped galvanize the revolutionary fervor of the inhabitants of Daet and neighboring towns. While he was exiled in Hongkong, the Katipuneros that he organized in Daet led by Ildefonso Moreno staged a standard of revolt on April 14-18, 1898. The revolt spread to other towns of Basud. Talisay and Labo. The Spanish military and civilian community took refuge and barricaded themselves in the mansion of the Spanish merchant Florencio Arana. There they were besieged by the Katipuneros who fought and started their assaults from the very site where the first Rizal Monument now stands.
For four days, the Philippine fighters had almost total control of the five towns, and would have captured the others if not for their lack of sufficient firearms and the apathy of some of their countrymen.
The Daet Revolt was crushed mercilessly after a large Spanish reinforcement arrived from Nueva Caceres and other parts of Camarines Norte on April 18, 1898. Many Filipinos were arrested, tortured and/or executed. Among those arrested were Katipunero leaders Ildefonso Moreno, Telesforo Zaldua, Gavino Saavedra and Jose Abaño. Many others who were arrested were either tortured, killed or imprisoned.
Obviously, the revolt led by Ildefonso Moreno in Daet was a premature uprising which resulted in the execution of the revered martyrs and heroes of Camarines Norte. Be that as it may, that uprising was the first burst of flames of the revolutionary ferment that was sweeping Bicol Region. It emboldened other revolutionaries to set Bicol Region into conflagration.
On September 12, 1898, Gen Vicente Lukban arrived in the town of Daet and found that it was already liberated from the Spaniards. The municipal captain of the town, Valeriano Cuaño, turned over the reins of government to Col. Antonio Sanz who was designated by Gen. Lukban to lead the garrison in Daet. Later in December of 1898, Col. Antonio Sanz and Ildefonso Alegre took the lead in gathering contributions from the people of Daet to come up with what was later to be known as the first ever monument dedicated in honor of the greatest national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. Today, the Rizal monument, the first ever in the whole world built in 1898, still stands as the symbol of the heightened level of patriotism and social consciousness of the people of Camarines Norte as early as before the turn of the century.
The American Period
After the rumpus of 1898 in Daet and in adjoining towns, there seemed to be a lull and a period of normalcy in the province when the Americans waded in the soil of Bicol peninsula. Filipino-American hostilities were not very much felt although raging battles were being fought in other Bicol provinces. The American forces came on March 4, 1900 aboard the steamer "Venus." When it docked in Mercedes, Bicol resistance against the Americans was almost quelled.
Gen. John Bates, the Commander of the American Forces, stationed in Daet two companies headed by Maj. McNamee. When they arrived, Col. Antonio Sanz readily surrendered Daet to them. This marked the start of the formal colonization of Daet which was in the northern part of then Ambos Camarines. Don Juan Pimentel was named as the first Municipal President when the Americans established the civil government. Later, Don Juan Pimentel became the first Filipino Governor of Ambos Camarines during the American regime. He used to hold office in what was considered to be the oldest house in Camarines Norte. The house was recently destroyed by typhoon Rosing.
After a series of separation and fusion of the two Camarineses, they were divided again during the American period. By virtue of Public Act No. 2809, approved in a joint session of Philippine Legislature on March 3, 1919, Ambos Camarines was split into Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur, with Daet as the capital of Camarines Norte. This was consistent with the program of Gov. Gen. Francis Burton Harrison to make Philippine bureaucracy and administration more responsive and efficient. Don Miguel Lukban became the first governor of the province of Camarines Norte in 1920. Among his notable programs was the establishment of water system from Tulay-na-Lupa in Labo to the towns of Daet and Talisay.
Because of the marked progress experienced in the field of education during the American period, many of the people were given the chance to hold public office. The most famous public servant who rose to national prominence was Wenceslao Q. Vinzons. He was born on September 28, 1910. He took his elementary education in his hometown of Indan and finished valedictorian. He also finished valedictorian in the secondary education which he took for only 3 years He took up law at U.P. and graduated with honors. He was an orator par excellence and a brilliant writer. He was the editor-in-chief of Philippine Collegian and president of the U.P. Student Council. Respected by other eminent leaders and writers like Ambrosio Padilla, Arturo Tolentino and Salvador P. Lopez Vinzons distinguished himself as an excellent young leader. At the age of 23, he won a seat in the 1934 Constitutional Convention and was voted as an outstanding young man in politics before the war. He founded the Young Philippines Party and in 1940, at the age of 30, he was elected as Governor of Camarines Norte. On the eve of the war in 1941, he was voted as Congressman by his provincemates.
The Japanese Invasion
A long period of quiet progress followed the creation of civil government in the province. This was only broken by World War II in December 1941.
Japanese forces moved towards Camarines Norte in 1941. A group of guerrillas under Wenceslao Q. Vinzons, Sr. with a certain Lt. White of the USAFFE tried to stop the Japanese on December 18, in Laniton. Basud−reputed to be the first recorded guerrilla encounter between Philippine forces and elements of the Japanese Imperial Army−but they were not able to repulse the invading Japanese forces. Shortly after, the Japanese authority appointed Dr. Carlos Ascutia as occupation governor. The elected governor then was Wenceslao Q. Vinzons, Sr.−one of the first among local leaders to answer the country's call for a mutual stand against the Japanese invading forces−and who was later elected Congressman immediately before the war.
Vinzons, together with Basilio Bautista who took over as governor, evacuated the provincial government to the mountains where he organized a resistance movement against the invading forces. He enlisted citizen army volunteers, soldiers, civilians and American reservists into his guerrilla organization which came to be known as the famous Vinzons Command. The Japanese offered a big prize for his capture, dead or alive.
Captured, Vinzons was offered by the Japanese a high position in the occupation government provided that he support the Japanese program of Greater East Asia Co−Prosperity Sphere. He refused. He was subsequently executed by the Japanese but his remains have not been found up to now−like those of Governor Bautista.
After Vinzons death, "Turko's Command"−a group under Vinzons' guerrilla organization−led by Francisco Boayes, known as "Turko," emerged. In 1943, Turko's group burned Daet, captured the capital town and held it for several days before they finally retreated. Then came liberation in 1945. The guerrillas, for a while, took over the government and installed Simeon Deauna as revolutionary governor.
The long process of political stabilization and reconstruction began.
The contemporary period from 1946 to the present witnessed multi−farious and multifaceted events that should be viewed through the lens of an impartial historian so that unwarranted biases would be shunned. This paper aims to present preliminary notes and stimulate further research and evaluation of events in the life of the people of this province. It is hoped that the brief discussion of the events leading to the contemporary period will provide entry points in plodding over dossiers of documented sources. This, perhaps, is the more challenging task that lies ahead for local historians and other history buffs in the province of Hilagang Kamarines.
ABEL C. ICATLO
Museum Curator I
Museum, Archives and Shrine Curation Division