The coming of the first settlers of Tabuk (Fourth of a series)
By Estanislao Albano, Jr.
Jose Viloria, 77, retired government employee, relates that his father Francisco who would later be appointed as a military mayor of Tabuk and become its first elected vice mayor, was among the group of professional teachers from his native Balaoan, La Union who came to Kalinga way back in the 1930s to teach the natives and likewise obtain lands. The group includes Dionisio Falgui, Sr. who would become the Education Supervisor of Kalinga, the Obars, Hortelanos and the Dela Penas. Francisco’s first teaching assignment was in Guinaang, Lubuagan where he met and married Juana Rillera, also a pioneer teacher from Naguilian, La Union.
The Viloria’s next teaching assignment was in Naneng, Tabuk. According to Jose, it was his father who renamed the late Camilo Lammawin, father of Mayor Camilo Lammawin, Jr., who was one of his pupils in Naneng. Francisco changed the native name of the elder Lammawin into Camilo because he was eloquent just like the then Senator Camilo Osias who happened to be his (Francisco’s) boyhood playmate. The name Camilo stuck.
Jose said that according to his father, during their early years in Bulanao, their rice supplies came from Lubuagan so that when the Chico River was swollen, they had to eat guavas which were abundant in the place. Despite the preventive measures they undertook, Francisco also got inflicted with malaria. Francisco did not give up, however, and during the distribution of lands in the valley in the late 1930s, he was among the few pioneers which included Baac, Pedro Balacang and Lauro Arizala who were awarded with 24-hectare homesteads. Other pioneers were given five hectares per family with those coming later three hectares per family.
According to Jose, it was his father who invited Arizala to come and settle in Bulanao. Arizala boarded in their house in Lubuagan while he (Arizala) was still teaching in the Kalinga Academy, the Protestant mission high school in that town.
By the account of Nieves Wayet, 80, the first members of the Bago tribe from Salcedo and Sigay towns in Ilocos Sur namely Francisco Bangisan, Alenjandro Dapasen, Roman Baduyen Cosme Sad-ang and a certain Cawaing came to try and find a new life in Tabuk in 1936. According to Nieves, the settlers were all motivated by the information that Tabuk is a wide fertile plain which is virtually uninhabited, a stark contrast to the mountainous terrain of the hinterlands of Ilocos Sur where they tried to eke out a living by cultivating kaingins and a few rice paddies.
When her uncle Francisco Bangisan went home to Salcedo, Ilocos Sur sometime in 1938 with the information that indeed, Tabuk offers a better life if one just works hard, her parents Roberto and Emiliana Daguasi were among the three couples the other two being those of Ramos and Tamangen who decided to also migrate to the new place. She remembers that the three families hired a Sambrano bus to bring them to Lubuagan and from there, they rode a truck to Gobgob where they spent the night in the hut of a pioneer. The following day, the Dapasens and Baduyens came to meet them and brought them to Ubbog at the edge of the Tabuk Valley right across the Chico River from Gobgob.
Eventually, the Daguasis settled in Sapote in the eastern part of the valley which Bangisan had earlier chosen and had developed some rice paddies for wet farming. She remembers that the wild game and fish were abundant so they did not lack meat on the table.
According to Nieves, one reason that Bangisan went home to invite people to join them in the new land that year was because of the start of the survey and parceling of the land to settlers. Those who first arrived in the valley such as Pedro Balacang was given 24 hectares while those who came later like them were allotted five hectares per family. She says that the start of the survey brought in many people from different provinces all wanting to have land of their own.
Aside from the Bago families already mentioned, Nieves said that the following also arrived in Tabuk in time for the distribution of the land and thus, obtained homesteads: Luis Paykoko; Luis Gumpad; Leon Bangisan; Marcos Malaggay; Rufino Tayaben; Santiago Pugongan; Francisco Pugongan; Marcelo Dingoasen; Filomeno Tayucnog; Feliciana Taccayan; Dalmacio Bayudang; Evaristo Libed; Martin Libed; Jose Mongao; Apolonio Buaquen; and Crisostomo Gallang.
Around 10 Bago settlers succumbed to malaria during the first two years. Nieves’ father and brother died of the illness during the first year. She herself did not expect to survive as she had incessant attacks of the illness. The only medicine against malaria they had but which was in short supply was called “Atabrin” and most of the time, people made do with the bark of the dalipawen tree which tasted bitter. There were no doctors then so they went to the albularyo. Bringing out sick people to the hospitals outside the town was out of the question so that if the albularyo could not cure an illness, the settlers just left the matter to fate.
Nieves said that despite the onslaughts of malaria and the harsh life they have to endure during the first years, none of the Bagos who came before the war went back to Ilocos Sur. In their family, she does not remember anyone suggesting going back to their old home. **(To be continued)