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Posted: March 22, 2012
History of Antequera
Antequera on Pre – Spanish Period
It is said that Antequera was already populated by the year 600 A. D. It was based on the books of the Eskaya tribe which was handed down from generation to generation to the present day Eskayas now living in Taytay, Duero, Bohol. It was stated there that the first Eskayas settled in the town of Talibon. Sometime later, they settled in Loon, and then they migrated to the mountainous barangays of Loon like Campatud and Cansubayon. Then they later went down and settled in a place they called Canlaas Panas, which is now graphically located in the present lowlands of Antequera. There they lived for long period of time from the year 600 A. D. up to approximately the year 1600 A. D. that already was the time of the Spanish Regime. The kingdom of the Eskayas was located in the lowlands of Antequera where their established capital was said to be the present barangay of Viga, stretching to the riverside valleys beyond the present day Abatan Bridge. The most famous of the Eskaya leaders recorded during those days was HARING LOMOD, who had another name, and this was Tamblot. His reign was on the early 1600’s and he was the first Boholano who raised revolt against the Spanish conquestadores. The subject of their feud was the white silver church bell and the folks called it “Lingganayng Ugis” (White Church Bell).
The Story of the “Lingganayng Ugis” (White Church Bell)
This story began during the early Spanish settlement in our province. The first churches built by the Jesuit priests in Bohol as recorded were the churches of Loboc, Baclayon, Panglao, Viga, and Tubigon. Among these first five churches, only the church of Viga does not exist nowadays. The reason why the Jesuits built churches on these places was that these places were already thickly populated during those days, with Viga, the kingdom of Tamblot. It was easy for the Spaniards to gain favor from the leaders of these places after they offered lots of presents for them. The people already had a religious belief which the Spaniards took advantage of. Tamblot during that time was not just a datu but also the highest priest of the kingdom, as stated by Jes Tirol, a well known Boholano Engineer and Geologist, Tamblot’s rank was equal to the present day Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. The Jesuit friar, in order to gain favor from Tamblot and from the natives, entrusted the whole church to Tamblot and gave him a silver church bell, the “Lingganayng Ugis” for the use of the church. It was said that when the bell rung, it was so loud that it could be heard clearly up to some fifteen-kilometer radius. The feud began when the priest found a new settlement lead by Malabago, a contemporary of Tamblot in the upland territory of the present day Cortes, Bohol. The priest built a church there and decided to get the lingganayng ugis from the church in the kingdom of Tamblot. But Tamblot resented and did not permit them to get the bell. The priest decided to challenge Tamblot for a contest, and whoever wins would get the bell. The contest was called “lumba sa abilidad” or a power showdown. The priest first challenged Tamblot to light a cigar without any matchstick, friction sticks, or the sun. This time the priest won. But Tamblot then was the next to challenge and he said whoever shows something inside a bamboo whenever he cuts the chambered stem would win the contest and this was the final round. The priest could not get even water from the bamboo stem but Tamblot somehow got water, rice, some berries and just anything every time he cut each chamber of the long bamboo stem. But the priest could not accept defeat and he decided to get the bell by all means. One day, Tamblot climbed up the hill where the bell was installed. He had an extraordinary strength that he could lift the heavy silver bell alone. He stood overlooking the people below and called out “To be fair, no one should own the bell but the waters of this land. If anyone tries to get the bell out of the river, I will have this place flooded.” And he threw the bell to the deep river of Bahian, a sitio in Viga near the place where the church was built. This is the story of the legendary Lingganayng Ugis in Antequera.
In the modern era, we may think this is just a myth but nobody could explain why, as many folks testify that by the early 1900’s, the bell was still visible and many efforts were exerted to get the bell out but every time they lashed the bell out of the river, a flash flood would happen and the river becomes muddy. Nobody dares to get the bell out of the river until now and it is not visible anymore for the folks said it is already buried deep under the river’s sand.
Evidences of Eskaya Presence in Antequera
Evidences that Eskayas settled here for a long time have been found. Engr. Jes B. Tirol of the University of Bohol found Traces of Eskaya writings some 400 meters inside the Inambacan Cave of Villa Aurora on this town. He said that some of the writings were already covered with stalagmites measuring about thirteen inches high. Geologist studies prove that stalagmites grow an inch in one hundred years so it means that the writings were there for some one thousand three hundred years and that would be about sometime in the late 600 A. D..
The ruins of the church in Viga still exist nowadays and look like a rocky ruins of a crudely made temple.
Just Before Antequera Become a Town
Before Antequera became a town, it was a barangay of the town of Maribojoc named Agad. The center of this barangay was graphically located in the present day barangay of Celing, because of the abundance of water in the place. Records reveal that it was indeed the liveliest place in those times. Agad is a term, which means a blessing or departing words for the voyagers. It was so because the place was a vast forest and a total wilderness. So when people from Maribojoc say they are going to this place, the rest of their families will bid them goodbye and wish luck on them saying “AGAD pa unta ug molampos mo sa inyong pagpanaw didto.” which means ” May you get success in this journey.” That is why the name Agad was adapted. The very source of water supply where the people of the former Agad depend on for their daily needs still exists today and this is the Boho Spring located in barangay Celing. At that time, because we were still under the Spanish Government, the people in Agad created a meeting hall which records tell that it was located on the plains between Boho Spring and the hill in front of the present day Central School. The barangay of Agad progressed and lots of Maribojocanons and people from Paminguitan (former name of Cortes town) migrated here. Many sitios were created to identify the presence of the migrant folks. The migrants from Maribojoc, Calape, and Loon settled in Abehilan, Quinapon-an, Cansibuan, Tabuan, Obujan, and Tagubaas. Migrants from Paminguitan(Cortes) settled in Agutay, Angilan, Viga, and Tupas. Migrants from Balilihan settled in Cansague, Candungao, and Bantolinao. Barrio Agad existed with the spirit of unity from the people. The deads were, at that time to be buried in Maribojoc because Agad was under the parish of Maribojoc. The local folks asked the parish priest to grant them their request to make a local cemetery here and so it was done. The former cemetery was located in the present day town plaza. Many years passed then the leaders of the different sitios called “tenientes del barrio” agreed to request the church leaders, the local government of Maribojoc, as well as the leaders of the District of Bohol, Province of the Visayas that their big and progressing place may be made into a town.
To make their request feasible, they furnished a master plan for the new town. There they sited the location of the roads, the houses, the convent, church building, the town hall called Tribunal, and the site of the plaza, which was the local cemetery. They submitted it to Governor General Romualdo Crespo of the Philippines.
The Birth Of A New Town
At last, a Superior Decree dated March 17, 1876 signed by His Excellency Governor General ROMUALDO CRESPO of the Philippines, barrio AGAD and all the sitios included in the resolution was declared a new town. And with that decree, DON JOAQUIN BENGOECHIA, the governor of the District of Bohol, Province of the Visayas issued another proclamation, the Act of June 27, 1876 ruling the placement and the dimensions of the boundaries of the new town. Following the law and the rulings made by the higher authorities of the District of Bohol, the authorities of the new town of Agad, the towns of Paminguitan(Cortes), Maribojoc, Loon, Calape, and Balilihan met to finalize the boundaries of the new town. On July 14, 1876, Governor Joaquin Bengoechia signed, sealed and published the testament entitled “ACTA DEL MOJON” that identified the boundaries of the new town.
The former barangay of Agad became a new town and she was christened with the name “ANTEQUERA” in honor to the city in Spain with the same name of the hometown of then Governor of the District of Bohol, Don Joaquin Bengoechia and the Governor General of the Philippines, Don Romualdo Crespo. In remembrance of the former AGAD, there is a place in Poblacion nowadays wherein it is neither a sitio nor a barrio but just an area located on the eastern side of the road going to Tagbilaran adjacent to the present tennis court up to the boundary of barangay Villa Aurora.
The first town Cabeza appointed by the district governor was Simeon Villas, a statesman from the town of Maribojoc. He made the first town hall called Tribunal which was located on the rightmost side of the present day public market and the first church which was located on the site of the present day tennis court; all were made of wood and hard bamboos, seasoned and coated with ground lime. The cemetery, which was located on the site of the present day town plaza, was transferred as ordered by Cabeza Villas to the present day location of the Ditta Memorial Park with all the remains including the bones of the patrons buried there.
The Creation of the New Parish
On August 13, 1880, the parish of Antequera with the patron saint “Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary” was organized. The first parish priest appointed was Father Casto Sesma. Father Sesma did not assume right away to the parish of Antequera since his former parish in Maribojoc had no new appointed priest. On September 30, 1880, Her Majesty Regina Isabel of Spain signed the Royal Decree No. 797 that declares the creation of Antequera as a new town in Madrid, Spain. That was the time when the appointment of the new parish priest of Maribojoc was made. Not until June 9, 1881 did Father Casto Sesma began to serve the new parish of Antequera.
When Father Sesma arrived here, he saw that all the public buildings including the church were all made temporary so he added wings to the church building and he repaired the Tribunal and added rooms to it and made it his convent. He also made two school buildings made of stone, one for girls and the other for boys. On August 13, 1885 Father Demetrio Navascues took over as parish priest of Antequera. He found out all the edifices built here were temporary so he encouraged all the town folks to help him build a big parochial building. He divided the people into two to go to the forests to cut lumber for the project. One group was assigned for the forest in Maitum, a place now in the town of Catigbi-an. The other group he assigned for the forest in Can-ogong now named the town of Clarin, which was at that time under the municipality of Tubigon. The timbers, as record said were so large that two persons cannot hold some of them around. So it was that voluntary labor, which they called “TABO” or “PENTEKASI” which made the original building of Christ the King Academy, the former convent house, now the town’s private High School.
The Present Day Church Building of Antequera
(The first church building in Bohol made of cement)
Since 1876 and the proceeding years, the church buildings made were not long lasting, not until 1896 when Father Francisco Vega ordered for the construction of the foundation of the present day church made of sea stones cut into tablets. It was not finished due to the 1898 revolution and the fall of the Spanish government. The construction continued by 1908 and the church building, which was laid on with stone, was reinforced now with cement direct from Rome. By 1914, the church building was finally completed. Indeed, it was the first church in Bohol to be made up of cement and it was inaugurated on December of the same year. Until now, the 1914 church still stand nowadays with only a little renovation and with some improvements. But until now, the traces of the 1896 church foundation is still seen even as you watch it today on some unfinished plaster on the lower ends of the church outer walls.
Antequera During the American Regime
When the Americans took over the reign of government in the Philippines, the people of Antequera had to adjust to the drastic change in the system of government. At first they were hesitant to the Americans after the more than three hundred years being ruled by Spaniards. They thought that the Americans would incur some kind of cruelty on them. But in due time, they were getting even with the G. I. Joes as they called them. The Americans were lenient and very respectful and town folks were happy about that. All the town folks were starting to be Americanized even the time when the Americans gave the Philippines the Commonwealth Government in preparation for the Philippines to be independent. Just in time before the commonwealth ended, the Japanese came to invade our shores.
Antequera During the Japanese Regime
The Japanese Imperial Army attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the largest Military Base and Logistics of the Americans, on December 8, 1941 and thus kindled the beginning of the destructive World War II in the Far East. The Philippines was not exempted of that war because the second largest Military Base of the Americans was situated in our country. The Japanese arrived in Antequera in May of 1942. Their first garrison was located beside the present market building in a big house owned by the Napitan family. Although they were only more or less than twenty soldiers, they got almost a fifty Filipino allies. Not long after their arrival, they started searching for information about the guerillas or their relatives or any soldiers of the USAFFE who were Antequeranhons. Their search made way for the most unforgettable incident that happened to some six innocent civilians who were killed through bayonets by the Japanese soldiers in that tragic incident they called “Bicahan Cave Massacre”. These men have relatives who were soldiers and they were forced by the Japanese to tell them the whereabouts of their relatives. Since no one could give the Japanese the information needed, these six innocent civilians were all tied up and were massacred. The guerillas are the ones doing their very best to liberate our province as well as our town from the invading aliens. They made series of attacks to the Japanese camps. In Antequera, the new Japanese garrison was the Central School and up to now, the school building still has the traces of the war and it is the Remaining Memorial of World War II in Antequera. Many times they tried offences for the garrison but many times they failed due to lack of logistics. Many hardships were suffered by the guerillas until the war ended and independence was declared on the 4th of July 1946.
— From the authors of this website —
Upon the organization of barrio Agad into the town of Antequera on March 17, 1876, the new town was bounded by Maribojoc and Paminguitan (Cortes), in the south; Balilihan, in the east; Catigbian, in the north; and Calape and Loon in the west. The distance from Poblacion to the southern boundary was about 12 kilometers to the south; six kilometers to the east; about 12 kilometers to the north; and four kilometers to the west. The northernmost barrio was Campagao, now the barrio of Cambansag. As a result of the Filipino-American war on March 17, 1899, the town of Catigbian was abolished. The barrio under its jurisdiction were ceded to the adjoining towns, and to Antequera went the following barrios; Caimbang, San Isidro and Kauswagan. Kauswagan became the northernmost barrio of Antequera with a distance of eighteen kilometers from Poblacion. On June 17, 1949, and pursuant to Executive Order No. 229, the town of Catigbian was recreated. With the reorganization of the town, Antequera ceded to it the following barrios: one-half of the barrio of Cansague, now known as Cansague Norte; San Isidro; Caimbang and Kauswagan. With this act, Antequera was restored to its size and area. Then, pursuant to Republic Act. No. 5662, dated July 21, 1969, the barrio of San Isidro was created into a town and was inaugurated on January 10, 1970. With this new political subdivision, Antequera again parted with the following barrios: Cambansag, Abehilan; and Baunos. With this new change, Tabu-an became the northernmost barrio of Antequera which is only five kilometers from Poblacion. Again, Antequera was reduced in size and area. In spite of the reduction of its area, the town has continued to grow and progress through the development of its agriculture; growth of cottage industry; and increase in the volume of business. Presently, the town is composed of the following barangays (barrios): Poblacion, Can-omay, Bicahan, Bantolinao, Angilan, Bungahan, Viga, Mag-aso, Tupas, Sto. Rosario, Bitaugan, Villa Aurora, Celing, Obujan, Tagubaas, Casibuan, Canla-as, Quinapon-an, Tabuan, Danicop and Danao.
Researcher: Russell Glenn L. Lomotos