Skip to main content

Corpulent People - BWO

"Try to spot that beautiful perfect cone," pilots of the Spanish galleons used to caution novice steersmen.

"That is Mayon Volcano. A little to the left as we sail in from the open sea is the Embocadero ["mouth"] between Samar and Sorsogon. Direct the boat through, then turn right to sail north to Cavite and Manila."

That used to be the directive for first-time navigators from Mexico. Of course, it did not always help. Once in 1576, the pilot could not find the perfect cone, for storm clouds had covered it. And mistaking the northern tip of Catanduanes Island for Cabo del Espiritu Santo at the mouth of the Embocadero in northern Samar, the galleon San Jeronimo ran aground. The natives massacred and ate all the hapless passengers and crew, except one who had lived in the Visayas, and knew the local dialect.

In 1588, the natives of Catanduanes had not yet received the Gospel message. There were not enough missionaries, although the island had already been divided into four encomiendas.

An encomendero reported that the people were "corpulent"; today we would perhaps say strong and healthy. Tattooed like the Visayans, the men wore only a loin cloth, while the women dressed like the Visayans, were "virile." They tilled and planted their crops, fished with nets they had woven.

Unprotected from the frequent typhoons blowing in from the Pacific, the island was rich in wax and honey, and there was gold in the rivers. The biggest of these was Catandungan, whence came the island’s name. The first Spaniards there counted about 2,000 households along its banks, most of whom earned their keep by building ships.

These boats never ceased to amaze observers. Built like the cargo ships of Belgium, they were ordinarily big, had no decks, no nails (the people had no iron), not even futtocks, or curving cross-beams that served as ribs on which the side planks were firmly tied. Inside this big vessel were smaller boats, which in turn contained even smaller boats, and so on. From the outside it looked like an ordinarily big boat, but once it reached ports, like Marinduque, Cebu, or Batangas, the smaller boats were lifted out and sold one by one. A missionary once reported that the big boat, with its smaller craft coming out, resembled a mother hen hatching her chicks.

Have the people of Catanduanes today preserved their traditional culture, and are still "corpulent"? There must have been enough food, otherwise, they would not be as healthy as when first discovered. And where is the gold that people placer-mined from the rivers? Does the island still boast thick forests for boat-building?

Except for the cannibalism that victimized the Spaniards shipwrecked in 1576, early Spanish documents seldom mention tribal fighting in the island. But outsiders, like Moros from the south attacked. But one hardly comes across stories of a datu fighting another datu. Peaceful coexistences characterized the islanders of Catanduanes.

One prays they remain that way.

Posted on 09:02 PM, July 11, 2010
Roots -- By José S. Arcilla S.J.
Source: Business World Online

Popular posts from this blog

An Urban Legend

Reading online threads, blogs, testimonials, analysis and historical accounts about the fate of Fray Diego de Herrera and the crew of galleon Espiritu Santo leads me to conclude it as an urban legend. The characters are factual but the story was distorted, exaggerated and sensationalized. Here is another version about the fate of Fray Diego de Herrera written by Fray Juan de Medina, O.S.A. in 1630 but printed in Manila in 1983. Please read... "In these early years a disaster befalls the Augustinians, and somewhat dashes their hopes. This is the death of Diego de Herrera with ten priests who are coming, six from Spain and four from Mexico, to augment the missionary efforts. Of the thirty-six priests obtained by Herrera on his mission to Spain, but six set sail for the Philippines. The four from Mexico who join them are: Francisco Martinez, of the chair of writing in the University of Mexico, an excellent Greek and Latin student, who had been prior of the Augustinian convent in …

Bicol Eyes Tilapia Production for Export Market

PILI, Camarines Sur, Nov. 8 (PNA) -- Bicol is taking the challenge of producing tilapia for both the domestic and export markets. Local fishery authorities say there is a big area for growth in the production in Bicol of both the small-sized tilapia which is a hit in the local market and the big-sized that is consistently gaining popularity abroad. The region had vast freshwater resources that are highly suitable for large-scale production. Among these are the Bato and Buhi Lakes in Camarines Sur, Danao Lake in Polangui, Albay, Bulusan Lake in Sorsogon and several other smaller sites sporadically distributed among the six provinces of the region. All in all, the region’s inland water resources capable of tilapia production are measured at 246,063 hectares of swamplands, 253,854 hectares of brackish water fishponds, 200,000 hectares of lakes, 31,000 hectares of rivers and 19,000 hectares of reservoir, according to data obtained from the Bureau of fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BF…

Pantomina Lyrics And Music

Pantomina is Spanish for pantomime, movements imitating the courtship movements of the rooster and the hen. Ang mga babaye
Kung mayo pa nin agom
Maugay nin aga maugay nin hapon
Alagad kung sinda igua na nin agom
Maugay Octobre, Disyembreng sunudon. Ica palan, Nenang ang pinagsasabi
Magayon na burac sa lugar na ini
Magayon ang tindog malinig ang pisngi
Arin pa daw ang puso ang dai mawili. Can ica sadit pa sadit pa man aco
Si satuyang cawat magkudot-kudotan
Kinudot mo aco kinudot ta ca man
Sabi mo sa saco luhayluhaya man. Ang mga lalake
Hudyan sisaboot
Ang pinagsasabing ngarang pagcamoot
Kundi ang babayeng iyo minahilod
Akong minahiling can mga pangguyod.