CHAPTER 5
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www.pagsanjan.org
Text excerpts from the book:
PAGSANJAN, In History and Legend
(1975 Edition)
By Dr. Gregorio F. Zaide

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<< Cont'd from Chapter 5, Page 2

Educational Decree of 1863
and Pagsanjan's First Public School

      Prior to 1863, there was no public school system in the whole Philippines. Consequently, there was no public elementary school in Pagsanjan as well as in all other towns in the archipelago. The children of school age in Pagsanjan studied in the classes established and operated by private tutors.
      To improve the educational system in our country, the Spanish Crown promulgated the famous Educational Decree of 1863 which was signed by Queen Regent Maria Cristina of Spain on December 20, 1863. This significant educational decree was actually written by Don Jose de la Concha, Minister of Colonies (Ultramar). It provided for (1) the establishment of a public elementary school in every town to be financially supported by the government and (2) the opening of a normal school for men in Manila.
      Pursuant to the Educational Decree of 1863, the first public elementary school was established in 1864. It was opened at the tribunal municipal of the Gremio de Naturales (now the Municipal Hall of Pagsanjan). Tuition and textbooks wee free, so that the children of the poor masses gladly attended the school. Thus it came to be called Escuela Pia which means "Charity School". Many of the children of the rich mestizo families preferred to study under private tutors.

The Great Fire of 1893

      The greatest calamity that befell Pagsanjan during the last decade of Spain's rule was the so-called :Great Fire of 1893." To Pagsanjeños, this was a horrendous calamity, just as the Great Fire of Rome in A.D. 64 was to the Romans. Until the present day (1970's) the old folks in town, who were eyewitness to the conflagration, still remember this terrible episode.
      On the windy evening of January 28, 1893, as most of the town people were sleeping, a fire suddenly blazed in a nipa hut near the plaza. Because many residential houses around the plaza then were made of nipa and bamboo, the fir quickly gutted them, and fanned by the winds, it whirled with roaring velocity westward along two parallel streets -- Calle Real (now Rizal Street) and Calle San Isidro (now Mabini Street) -- reducing their houses to ashes.
      All the houses from the plaza to the compound of Don Vicente Llamas on Calle Real were completely razed to the ground. The high adobe walls on Don Vicente's home finally stopped the destructive conflagration. On the San Isidro Street, the damage was equally appalling. All the houses (except the stone house of Don Pedro Rosales) on the hilly side of San Isidro Street were burned to ashes.
      To prevent the repetition of the "Great Fire of 1893", the municipal authorities prohibited the construction of nipa houses on Calle Real and around the plaza. They also established the ronda which was the nightly patrol of citizen volunteers so that in case of fire they could promptly put it out or give immediate warning to the sleeping town folks. It is interesting to note that the Pagsanjeños blamed their hated parish priest, Fr. Marcelino Tapetado, for the devastating fire for two reasons: (1) he did not show any sorrow at the tragic losses of the fire victims, and (2) the fire originated at the house of his favorite sacristan.
      A few days after the "Great Fire", some bold illustrados of Pagsanjan sent a written petition to Governor General Ramon Blanco (1893-96) denouncing Padre Tapetado and requesting his transfer to another parish. They were Jose Unson, Elias Lavadia, Mariano Llamas, and Roman Abaya. The governor general, being ignorant of the local situation, endorsed the petition to Padre Tapetado. The latter, in retaliation, denounced the authors of the petition as filibusteros, enemies of God and Spain. Since the word of the fraile (friar) during the Spanish regime was accepted as "gospel truth" by the government authorities, the four brave illustrados were soon wanted by the Guardia Civil, Lavadia and Llamas were caught and were sent into exile. their comrades, Unson and Abaya, were fortunate to elude arrest by fleeing to Balubad Mountain.

Maura Law of 1893 and Reunification of Pagsanjan

      May 19, 1893 was one of the significant dates in Philippine history. On this date Queen Regent Maria Cristina promulgated the Municipal Reform Decree which created a more autonomous municipal government in every town in our country. This royal decree was popularly known as the Maura Law of 1893 after its author, Don Antonio Maura y Montañer, Minister of Colonies. Pursuant to the Maura Law, two local governments of Pagsanjan, namely Gremio de Mestizos and Gremio de Naturales were abolished and were replaced by a single local government called Tribunal Municipal (Municipal Government). The chief executive of the new municipal government was the capitan municipal (municipal captain), assisted by the teniente mayor (chief constable), teniente de policia (lieutenant of police), teniente de ganados (lieutenant of cattle) and teniente de sementeras (lieutenant of the fields). All these municipal officials were elected by twelve electors (chosen among the town ex-officials and tax payers). The method of election was by secret ballot. With the promulgation of the Maura Law of 1893, the Pagsanjeños were reunited as one people -- no more mestizos and no more naturales.
      The first municipal captain to be elected under the Maura Law was Santiago Hocson (father of Mr. Ernesto Hocson), a graduate of the Escuela Normal Superior de Maestros in Manila and former school teacher in Lumban and later Pagsanjan. Incidentally, he was also the last gobernadorcillo of the Gremio de Mestizos.

Continued Chapter 5, Page 4 >>  

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