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

THE PARISH/TOWNSHIP of San Julian owes its origin to the pre-Spanish settlement of Libas.  When the Jesuits started evangelizing the inhabitants on the eastern  littorals of Samar island in early 17th century, Libas was already a small settlement, although the term village could not be applied to it.  The houses were far removed from each other, and the place was without streets.  It was simply a group of houses that dotted near the mouth of Libas river.  The inhabitants, whom from time to time the Jesuits from Sulat gathered at a makeshift chapel for worship and the doctrina, were engaged in farming and fishing.
      The establishment of Libas in 1781 as a village was largely the work of a Franciscan parish priest of Sulat, Fr Melchor Claver.  Through his efforts, a church was constructed, and houses were gathered around it. He directed the construction of a casa tribunal, a cemetery, and a rectory (convento).  On July 4, 1863, Libas was separated from Sulat politically and ecclesiastically, and as it already had enough population and revenues to support a priest, was erected into a diocesan parish on August 25, 1871   
      The new parish included the visitas (barrios) of Nonoc, the patron of which was St Pascual Baylon, Simangan, dedicated to St John the Baptist, and Pagbangbanan, placed under the protection of St Francis of Assisi .  The first parish priest was a diocesan, Fr Pedro Badul, who was assigned in Guiuan from 1865 to 1866.  Tradition has it that he was pastor of Libas from 1871 to 1874. The seat of the parish was, of course, Libas, with a wooden church dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows. In 1865, the whole parish and town had a population of 2,940, and a total of 835 tributes.  It also had a escuela de primer enseñanza (roughly, a primary school) located at the parish seat.  Its big church bell was acquired in 1885.
      When commerce in Samar island improved in the late 19th century, the priest and the people recognized that the location of the town placed it at an economic disadvantage.  In
1886, during the incumbency of Don Granizo Calim as gobernadorcillo, when the town had a total of 3,645 population, and the people were already part of the inter-town commerce, Fr Julian Diaz, the parish priest, proposed that the poblacion be transferred to the visita of Nonoc largely for economic reasons.  Reads a document:
R.C.P. Fr. Julian Diaz propuso que el pueblo se trasladase al sitio se encontraba la Visita de Nonoc, como asi se hizo por las siguentes razones:

                1. Que “Libas” era y es un lugar bastante apartado del transito para los pueblos inmediatos de Borongan y Sulat, mientras que trasladando al lugar antes mentionado de Nonoc, tendria facil y rapida comunicacion son los mismos, y tendria ademas un aumento notable de negocios debido por frecuentes viajeros que van y vienen de pueblos inmediatos.

                2. Que los que tienen todos sus intereses en Libas no podian ser perjudicados el que los mismos trasladaron al lugar antes mentionado, puesto que se pasa per via maritima y no dista mas que dos millas poco o menos.

Having been seconded by the majority of the principales (town’s leading men), the proposition for the transfer of the poblacion, after much deliberation, was locally approved on April 7. 1886.   With the stamp of approval by the governor general in Manila , with the assistance of the Gobernador Politico-Militar Don Pelayo Echacon y Lopez, the transfer became effective on August 14, 1887 .  
       Nonoc, the new poblacion, was renamed San Julian, after the friar, Fr Julian Diaz, the last resident priest of Libas and the first resident one in Nonoc.  Its first gobernardocillo was Don Francisco Villarazo.  Since Nonoc had not a single street, one of the first projects of the parishioners was the opening of streets   And in compliance with the usual requirements of a poblacion, Fr Diaz led in the construction of a parish church of stone (traditionally dated 1890), a church plaza, a casa tribunal (roughly, municipal building), a convento, a cemetery (1888), and a primary school (escuela de primer enseñanza).   
      Meanwhile, Libas reverted to the status of visita, populated by those Libasnons who chose to remain in the settlement. Before the end of the Spanish regime, one more visita was added to the pueblo (township) San Julian, namely, Nena, which was already known for its agricultural products.   Originally known as Bulauan, its creation into a visita in 1893 was recommended by the Gobernardor Politico-Militar, Don Ricardo Nouvilas, who named it after his beloved daughter Nena.  (Simangan became part of Sulat.)    
      At the same time, another barrio (probably Lunang) was made, and re-named San Antonio, after the name of a well-loved pastor of San Julian, but its existence was short-lived, not only because the place was sparsely populated, but also because many of its inhabitants transferred to the poblacion.  In 1909, San Isidro was separated from Pagbabangnan, and became and independent visita.*

1 comment:

  1. I read in a town fiesta flyer for San Julian (unfortunately I do not remember what year,) that one of the town leaders of Libas was Sulpicio Pinguel. Do you have more information about him? Also I am surprised by the fact that the Pinguel surname abounds in Libas, San Julian and Nena but not in other Eastern Samar towns. Am I correct in saying so?
    Thanks for your very scholarly work on the history of Eastern Samar. thanks.
    Baltazar A. Pinguel -