History of Aguilar, Pangasinan
Posted May 28, 2010on:
What one can find after a day visit in our town is not just the amiable smiles but the simplicity and clean surroundings, when you stroll around the plaza you will feel tranquility beneath the luxuriant leaves of old Acacia trees.
I found this descriptive short history of our town from Atty. Leonardo Jimenez, also published in the 2007 Aguilar Town Fiesta program.
THE TOWN OF AGUILAR, PANGASINAN had its early beginnings as cattle ranch founded by the Spaniards. The place was known then as Sitio Balubad, which was then still part of the town of Binalatongan (now San Carlos). On the western part were the Zambales Mountains with thick forests and verdant foliage. It was hunter’s paradise with deer roaming here and there with an occasional wild boar making an appearance. The grass in the plains were succulent fare for fattening cattle and the water from the brooks and streams clear and sparkling.
On the eastern part was the Agno River. At that time, there were no roads as we know today. There were footpaths which eventually roads providing access from one place to another. The river arteries constituted the main mode of transportation in the interior towns. Through these river systems, boats sailed from the Ilocos provinces in the North southwards to Dagupan, Calasiao, Lingayen and sometimes even as far as San Isidro De Labrador, Salasa, Aguilar and Camiling. Worth noting was the fossiliferous river bank in Camiling useful in making lime, while mineral waters consisting of ferruginous and alkaline waters were and are still found in Aguilar and Mangatarem.
As a thriving place for cattle and bountiful rice harvests, it was natural for Aguilar to attract people from other towns to stay and settle in the place.
The early settlers prospered and lived in peace and contentment. When the Spaniards in Lingayen heard of this flourishing village, they sent Spanish explorers through the town of Salasa to visit the place. Some Spanish soldiers and priest were left to organize a pueblo. In time, the clamor to convert the settlement into a town became popular. A petition was therefore, filed with the principales or municipal officials of Binalatongan to convert the village into a town. The petition was finally favorably endorsed.
The decree establishing Aguilar as an independent civil political unit was issued on 16 July 1805 by Governor General Rafael Maria de Aguilar, after whom the town was named. The decree in Lingayen on 1 August 1805. However, it was not until 19 January 1806 that the Provincial Governor of Pangasinan was able to make the trip to the sitio of Balubad, the site of the Poblacion, to carry out the provisions of the decree.
The Governor inspected the area, chose the most appropriate site on which to erect the town center and listed the people who wishes to settle in the new town, together with their places of origin. The greatest number came from Lingayen, made up of 210 couples and 60 individuals from the “gremio de naturals” (native community) and 10 couples and 11 individuals from the “gremio de mestizos” (mestizo community). From the town of Salasa, there were 56 couples and 21 bachelors all of the rank of “Caylianes” (commoners), while from the town of San Carlos, there were 32 couples and 19 individuals, all “Caylianes”. There were also Ilocano migrants consisting of 6 couples and 24 bachelors. Finally, there were some Negritos, consisting of both baptized Christians and Ynfieles (Non-Christians). All in all, the total number of inhabitants composed 401 tributes, for bachelors and unmarried women paid only half a tribute each. These excluded the unbaptized negritos.
The town was formally inaugurated on 9 May 1806 when the first officials were elected and given their appointments by the Alcalde Mayor. The officials were headed by Don Francisco Zamuco as Gobernadorcillo and Don Juan Manguino as “Teniente Primero” (first lieutenant). The Alcalde Mayor then proceeded to mark the jurisdictional limits of the new town. With the town of Salasa, the boundary was the river Balubad (now Sobol) from the mountain where the river originated to the river Agno, running a direct line from west to east. With the town of San Carlos, the boundary was the Agno River in the east and the Bunlalacao River in the south. The necessary boundary markers were placed and operations were witnessed by the town officials of Salasa and San Carlos. Mangatarem as a town did not yet exist, having been founded only in 1837.
LEADERSHIP BY THE PRINCIPALES
Although the population of Aguilar was drawn from different places, the leadership of the town was furnished by the elite families, the principales who had moved from Lingayen to Aguilar in 1805. Aguilar also had a large number of Ilocano migrants among the population. Their tributes in fact contributed to the political viability of the new town. But in all these new towns, the initiative for and leadership in building the new town came from the Pangasinan native-born elite.
“POLOS” OR FORCED LABOR IN INFRASTRUCTURES
The Gobernadorcillo usually took charge of public works and improvements in the town. This included the building and repair of public structures, including churches and convents, as well as construction and repair of roads and bridges under the parish curate’s supervision. For this purpose, the services of Caylianes were utilized. They were required to render 40 days of labor or Polos a year.
The Gobernadorcillo also had to procure building materials from the town if possible; if not he had to send a request for approval to the Superior Government in Manila through Alcalde Mayor. He must also keep clean and sanitary the casa tribunal and the public jail.