Monday, August 02, 2010

A Brief History of Bacon Part III



The Economic, Social, Political, Religious and Education Life of the Bacongnons During the Spanish Regime

Economically, the town of Bacon progressed under the Spanish rule, especially with the development of abaca and coal mining * industries. The people were ignorant of almost any form of luxury extravagance. Their only extravagance was for the church & religious celebrations, and in the reception of visitors, especially during the town fiesta. Kept in illiteracy and ignorance, the people lived with few necessities in life. They knew almost no other forms of gambling existed, they were kept in deep secrecy for fear of severe punishments.

The people could not remain idle. Anybody caught doing nothing productive was severely punished. The cuadrilleros saw that. Land was plentiful. One could have any piece of land that was not yet claimed by another; cultivate it and claim it for his own. Thus, more land was made productive which enhance immensely the economic progress of the town. However, the people were not made to understand the true meaning of the “dignity of labor”. Most of the natives worked because they had to obey the order or get punished if they disregarded it. Even the invalids had to do their share to help improve the economic status of this municipality.

The industry, courtesy, spirit of cooperation, apparent fervor in religion, simplicity in dress, and behavior, even being civic conscious and law-abiding of the people were forced from them by fear, rather than being really conscious of the value of these virtues.

Town officials were obliged to wear coats. The others who held no public office were strictly prohibited from wearing the same, or being luxurious in anyway. Some old natives recall how awkwardly funny these officials looked in their foreign attire. Perhaps, even without the strict prohibition, the civilians would not to wear them.

In preparation for church festivities and religious celebrations, men of working age were required to help in the construction of whatever is needed; such as the kinorobong for the Via Crucis when held outside the church during the first five Sundays of Lent; the Castillo on every corner of the patio during the Palm Sunday where the children (dressed as angels) sin, Hossana, Filio David; the Castillo on Resurrection Day (Easter Sunday) and the trellises where all sorts of farm products (supposed to be the best prodice) are hung on Corpus Cristi Day. These farm products are given as an offering, a sign of gratitude to God who gave us the land, and who makes our plants grow. These religious observances are still practiced up to the present time; but the men need not be required anymore to work. Members of religious organizations especially the Centro Catolico undertake the preparations voluntarily.

At dawn, families were required to pray the Holy Rosary. Cuadrilleros (now policemen) roamed around. They would stop beside homes to listen. When, in a certain home, the family did not pray, the father and/or the mother would be taken to the Casa Tribunal (Municipal Building) for punishment. In like manner, they were required to keep their surroundings clean. They would be punished if they did not comply.

There was a curfew hour. At 10:00 PM everybody had to be home. Anybody caught roaming around the town after 10 o’ clock was severely punished unless he could give a very reasonable reason for his being outside his being outside his home; but often times a person was not given a chance to explain.

There were all sorts of orders, some of which were born out of the whims and caprices of the governing officials-Spaniards and Filipinos alike. And the people had to obey. Severe punishments awaited the law-breakers and wrong-doers; a severer one to criminals.

If someone was found guilty of any offense, he was arrested and punished publicly. There were different kinds of punishments given, such as: beating a person with a rod, twenty –five times (termed cabanan). When the offense was grave, the offender was beaten until blood oozed out. A drunkard would make to drink wine where in was mixed the manure of a pig. He could not refuse or else a more severe punishment would be meted out to him.

When there were offenders to be punished, the public would be summoned to the Casa Tribunal by means of pustuhan like those hung in the baluartes. The Municipal Building (Casa Tribunal) was also supplied with this hollow trunk of a tree which, when pounded, emitted a loud, booming sound. When the people heard this; they gathered at the Casa Tribunal. Sometimes the people would be summoned not to witness punishment, but to hear the announcements.

In the Poblacion, there were only two teachers: a male teacher for the boys, and a female one for the girls. The number of pupils coming under each had no limit. Sometimes there would be two hundred children in a class under one teacher. The problem of supervising them in their studies was solved by means of cabecillas. A cabecilla was more advanced in her studies than the rest of the pupils. Usually, a cabecilla would take charge of at most ten beginners. The teacher would not be bothered giving lessons to all except in Religion (under the Roman Catholic Church) which was the major concern in all schools during this period. Only the cabecillas got their instructions in all other subjects directly from the teacher. The pupils were taught the rudiments of reading, writing, arithmetic and Spanish as well as instruction in Work Education. The elder and more advanced pupils were given further training in oral conversation in Spanish as well as instruction in Work Education. The girls, for example learned to sew, embroider and to make artificial flowers.

In the school, the maxim, “Spare the rod, spoil the child,” prevailed. Sometimes, the punishments given to pupils were very impractical, some of which were rather inhuman.
“Sitting on the air,” for example for an hour, was beyond a child could bear.

Author: Cristina D. Jose

To be continued