This blog features some of the author's lengthy essays on sacred scriptures, theology and history.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


by Lope Coles Robredillo, SThD

(Pre-Note: The data used in the writing of this essay were taken from rare books and archival documents found at the Philippine National Archives [Manila], Philippine National Library [Manila] Archivo-Franciscano Ibero Oriental [Madrid, Spain], Cebuano Studies Center [Cebu], Divine Word University Museum and Library [Tacloban], Lopez Memorial Museum [Pasig] and University of Santo Tomas Library [Manila]. Other sources were provided by Dr Bruce Cruikshank, sometime Visiting Professor of Georgetown University, Washington DC, the late Rev Dr Pablo Fernandez, Professor of Church History at the University of Santo Tomas, and the late Rev Cantius Kobak of the Franciscan Friary [Manila].)

THE BEGINNINGS OF the pueblo (township) of Can-avid may be traced to as far back as 1604 when the Jesuit missionaries who farmed out from the Residencia de Palapag (Palapag Residence) started evangelizing the various pre-Hispanic hamlets on the eastern littorals of Ibabao (pre-Hispanic term for Eastern Samar).  In order to introduce the faith and make it grow, and to facilitate social intercourse, the early missionaries embarked on a process called reduccion, by means of which the infinitely scattered hamlets were organized into larger villages, called bungtos.

            Jubasan: A Pre-Hispanic Settlement. Among the bungtos which the missionaries consolidated was Jubasan, nestled a few kilometers from the mouth of Can-avid (formerly known as Ulot or Loquilocon) river, on its southern bank. The scattered gamoros (by gamoro is meant a cluster of houses, headed by a datu) along Ulot river were organized into a large village called Jubasan.  It became an important village because Jubasan river was the normal passage-way if one had to cross from Ibabao to Samar (Western Samar): “este es el paso ordinario en tiempo de brisas para ir desde Samar a Ibabao.”  In 1616, Jubasan had around 600 population.  Admittedly, it was not easy for the missionaries to congregate the people in the bungto not only because of the frequent Moro raids which drove people deeper into the hills, the raiders devastating their houses and crops, but also because of the frequent cholera epidemics, as in 1608-1609.  Even more significant, the people, as they have been used to since time immemorial, wanted to live near to their fields.

            The Sumuroy Rebellion.  As center of the scattered tiny settlements along the Ulot river, the bungto of Jubasan, did not last long, however.  When Agustin Sumoroy, the castellan at the Palapag fort, began a revolt against the Spaniards on June 1, 1649 in Palapag, the first bungto to join the rebels was Bacod (now submerged in Dolores river), where the inhabitants burnt the church and the convento (rectory).  The Jubasanons also joined them.  Because the rebellion assumed an almost unmanageable proportion, a huge military force was assembled under Don Gines de Rojas.  In Jubasan river, Capt. Juan Fernandez de Leon, who just came from the cotta of Guiuan to beef up the forces under de Rojas, was ambushed, although the rebels failed to kill him.  When the rebellion was quelled, the people paid dearly.  In Bacod, the gobernador del pueblo, the fiscal mayor del padre and the mayor principal were executed.  As a punishment, the bungto of Jubasan, like Bacod, was suppressed and became almost deserted.  Later on, however, people started settling again on the place, which, after the Spanish-American War, came to be known as the rancheria [sitio] of Giboangan

            The Rise of Paric. With the suppression of their bungto, most Jubasanons who survived the rebellion started gathering on a smaller settlement east of Jubasan, called Paric. In the 1720s, years before the Jesuits were expelled from Samar, Paric was already a big visita of Tubig.  Under the political jurisdiction of Paric, which was ecclesiastically dependent on Tubig, were the visitas of Carolina, Bacod, Dapdap and Oras.  When the Franciscans came in 1768, one of the first things they did was to propose the separation Paric from the mother bungto of Tubig.  Toward this end, Fr Manuel Valverde, OFM, in 1839, directed the construction of a convento, a escuela de instruccion primaria (parochial school), and a church of mamposteria (rubblework).

            Creation of Paric as Pueblo and Parish.  In the 1860s, the visita of Paric already had what were required for the creation of a pueblo (township), namely, a church, a convento, and a tribunal (roughly, municipal building).  It also had enough population, as the law so required, to support a parish priest.  As early as 1858, it had around 2,300, according to the German naturalist, Feodor Jagor, who visited Paric that year.  So, when the parish priest of Tubig and the town officials petitioned for the creation of Paric into a pueblo, through an expediente of August 31, 1863 written by the Franciscan Provincial, their petition was granted by the King, who decreed its creation on April 5, 1864.  The decree was communicated to Don Rafael Echague, Governor-General of the Philippines, through the Overseas Ministry.

            The Governor-General issued his Superior Conformity Decree on June 16, 1864.  Although Paric was created a pueblo and parish simultaneously, its ecclesiastical independence actually came only on April 20, 1878 when the Bishop of Cebu, Bp. Benito de Madridejos (1867-1886) issued the decree of the erection of the parish, placing it under the patronage of St Joachim, Jesus’ grandfather.  The bishop appointed Fr. Jose del Olmo, OFM, as its first parish priest.  Under the jurisdiction of the new township and parish were the visitas (barrios) of Bacod, Dapdap, Carolina, and the rancherias (sitios) of Dolores, Jinolaso, Tubabao and Balagon. (Oras was no longer under its jurisdiction because it was made into a separate pueblo in 1850.)  Of course, the poblacion (town proper or central village) of the municipality, needless to state, was located in Paric.
         The Relinquishment of Paric as Poblacion.  A problem, most likely more pressing than anything else, with which the Paricnons were confronted, was the eating up of the poblacion by the Ulot (or Loquilocon) river.  The constant erosion of the river bank on the northern part of the poblacion, caused by the big and frequent floods, has so took its toll that the portion on which a cluster of houses stood became part of the Ulot river.  At this time, the parish priest of Paric was Fr Juan Vicente Carmona. OFM (who was born on May 6, 1862 in Campo de Criptana, Spain).  The municipal officials (1885-1887), as recorded in the Relacion de los nombramientos hechos para constitutivo los tribunales municipales, Provincia de Samar, were as follows:

            Gobernadorcillo: Carlos Robredillo
            Teniente Primero: Leoperto Planesniles
            Teniente Segundo: Martin Irasga
            Juez Primero:  Pedro Esido [Hesido]
            Juez Segundo: Martines Geroy
            Alguacil: Fernando Bongon
            Alguacil: Joaquin Cebrero

The Growth of Barrio Maria Angeles.  In 1886, after much deliberation, the parish priest, together with the municipal authorities, formally petitioned the Governor-General of the Philippines for the transfer of the poblacion to a growing visita, known for many years as Dolores, a kilometer from the mouth of Bacod (later on, Dolores) river, thinking that the new poblacion would be safe from floods and erosion.  The petition having been approved, they effected the transfer in 1887, and the visita of Dolores became the poblacion of Paric.  However, not all the residents of Paric went to the new poblacion of Dolores.  A few remained (it may be noted that in 1912, the church and the convento were still there, and today, a part of old poblacion of Paric constitutes barangay Canteros); but others transferred to a small settlement near the mouth of the Ulot river.  This already existing settlement, known for many years as Maria Angeles, eventually became the largest visita of the poblacion of Dolores. 

Although they sometimes engaged in fishing, the inhabitants of Maria Angeles were basically farmers who planted rice, gabi and coconut.  In 1891, it was already connected to the poblacion by a road whose construction was started in 1887 under the direction of the friars Vicente Carmona, Vicente Millan, Pedro Calvo, Antonio Rodriguez and Gil Martinez. (May I suggest to the present municipal officials of Can-avid not to change the name of Real Street, because it is the original or “royal” street of Maria Angeles, connecting the visita to Dolores.)  The visita was placed under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin, Queen of Angels.  Politically, it was large enough to warrant the election of two tenientes to head the visita or barrio.  During the elections for the municipal and barrio officials on March 19, 1893, the following were elected to administer the visita de Maria Angeles:
            Teniente Primero: Mariano Lazarra
            Teniente Segundo: Alejandro Godian [Gudian?]
            Juez Primero: Ventura Gele [Buenaventura Geli?]
            Juez Segundo: Braulio Obayan [Hobayan?]
            Alguacil Primero: Onato [Donato?] Obleñana
            Alguacil Segundo: Pablo Gerces [Gercen?]

(In passing it may be mentioned that in the same elections, the visita of Carolina had the following officials: teniente primero: Gabriel Robeños; teniente segundo, Felipe Rebato; juez primero, Oliva Lazarra; juez segundo, Martino Robes [Robis, Robin?]; alguacil primero, Ceriaco Lazarra; alguacil segundo, Esrael Gele [Israel Geli?].  The visita of Balagon had Alfonso Goldara as teniente, and Timoteo Jucusol as alguacil.)  They held their post from 1893 to 1895.

            Changes in Name: From Maria Angeles to Victoria and to Canabid.  At the end of the Spanish regime, Maria Angeles was already a flourishing visita, the biggest of all the visitas of Dolores.  In 1896, it had a population of 913, half of the total population of Dolores.  Carolina had only 322, while Balagon had 170.  Its principal products were abaca, copra, gabi, palay and palawan. When the war between the Filipinos and the Spanish government broke out, Maria Angeles supported Gen.Vicente Lukban, who represented Aguinaldo’s revolutionary government in Samar.  And one of the symbolic gestures the barrio officials made to support the movement was to change the name of the visita from Maria Angeles to Victoria.  When the Filipino revolution was crushed, the officials again altered the name of the barrio, and called it Canabid (note the spelling: Canabid, not Can-avid.)  According to the 1903 census, it had a population of 1,107, whereas Balagon had 192. 

            Canabid Becomes a Municipality.  Canabid remained a barrio of Dolores until June 15, 1948, when it became a municipality under Republic Act No. 264, through the presentation of Congressman Adriano Lomuntad, to the Philippine Congress on February 14.  Its first mayor was Lucendo Benitez, then vice-mayor of Dolores. On June 9, 1954, the people of Can-abid, through their mayor, Julio F Irasga, and supported by the parish priest of Dolores, Fr Rufo Castro, expressed their desire to Msgr Federico Moreno, Apostolic Administrator of Calbayog, to have a permanent pastor.  It became a parish, separate from Dolores, only on July 10, 1956 when Bp. Miguel Acebedo, bishop of Calbayog, issued the decree erecting it.  The decree stipulated that the jurisdiction of the new parish, canonically dedicated to Our Lady, Queen of Angels, coincided with the civil jurisdiction of the municipal government.  Tasked to build up the parish was Fr. Clodualdo Arcales, whom the Bishop appointed as its first pastor.  He took position of the parish on July 26, with Fr Bernardino Baxal, Vicar Forane, as installing prelate.*


I WOULD LIKE make a short comment on the changes of the name of Canabid.  As I noted previously, the earliest name of Can-avid was Maria Angeles.  During the Filipino-American war, it was changed to Victoria, no doubt to signify the victory of the revolution.  Because Lukban’s war never succeeded, Victoria became Canabid.  I suspect that the barrio officials changed the name to Canabid, instead of reusing the old one--Maria Angeles--to create the impression that the barrio has severed itself from its historical past, specifically its ties with Spain.  It is probably for the same reason why Jubasan was changed to Guiboangan and Paric to Canteros. These names--Canabid, Canteros, and Giboangan--were given after the fall of the Spanish regime.  That these are new names is evidenced by the fact that the map of Jose Algue, published at Manila in 1899, still have the names of Maria Angeles, Paric and Jubasan. (One can take a look at this map in the rare books section at the mezzanine, Philippine National Library. However, Commissioner Marcelino Libanan also possesses a copy of this rare map; he showed it to me last July 25, 2010.)

            But whatever value there is to the changes in names, I have not found any documentary evidence on what is so meaningful and valuable in the term Canabid that it was chosen to be the name of the settlement.  As a student of Eastern Samar history, I consider the derivation from “nahabid” as a pure aetiological legend. Incidentally, the word “habid or habed” does not appear in the authoritative 1814 Spanish-Bisaya dictionary of Mateo Sanchez de la Rosa; abid does occur, but has no meaning that relates to a formation of houses, which habid is supposed to mean.  The word is neither found in modern Samarenyo dictionaries. What can be encountered in the old lexicon is abid, derramar in Spanish, which in English means to pour, to let out of a vessel, to leak, to disembogue. Also, it may be noted that, later on, the spelling was changed to Can-avid. Why letter “v” replaced “b” is not clear.  One possibility is that it was intended to create the impression that the name is old, because it uses letters of the Spanish alphabet (“c” and “v”), and therefore can claim a long tradition.  Still, this modern spelling, Can-avid, does not appear in the documents even in the early 1900s.  At any rate, I would not object of the Congressman of Eastern Samar, through a resolution by the Can-avid Municipal Council, would file a bill changing the name of Can-avid to its original name, Maria Angeles.  There is no doubt that the original name of the town is more meaningful.*


  1. very interesting piece of history

  2. enlightening. this is by far the best piece of historical document ever written on the history of can-avid. thank you Monsignor.

  3. Thank you so much for this. I'm very surprised with the facts. All my life I've been wondering how Can-avid became Can-avid. This is very useful especially for my profession since I am teaching Araling Panlipunan for our young Can-avidnons. 😇
    Historian's hungry mind is still looking forward for a deeper research. 😊👍

  4. Hello, is Loquilocon, Samar the same as Can-avid?