A Religio-Historical and Literary-Critical Once-Over
at the Padul-ong "Tradition"
(or, A Theory on the Padul-ong)
(A paper read by the author during the "Padul-ong
Conference" at the Provincial Governor's Office Conference Hall, Provincial Capitol, Borongan, Eastern Samar, on June 23, 2002)
by Dr Lope Coles Robredillo
IT IS THE purpose of this paper to examine the story of the so-called Padul-ong tradition from a religio-historical and literary-critical point of view. This is to distinguish it from other approaches that one may use in studying this tradition, e.g., a psychological—particularly Freudian—approach, or a structuralist one using the work of Levi-Strauss. How the story is expressed in performing arts is beyond the purpose of this work, though I will certainly make an aside. My purpose is much more modest. I simply aim to take a once-over at the Padul-ong story, as a student of Eastern-Samar history and as scholar of biblical studies. Toward this end, I will first present the most recent version of the story. Then, I will examine it closely in the light of history and religion as well as of literary criticism, and wind up with some tentative conclusions and recommendations.
I. THE MOST RECENT VERSION OF THE PADUL-ONG ACCOUNT
Let me begin by quoting a contemporary retelling of the story at length, without corrections or parenthetical remarks.
A woman in Portugal requested the captain of a ship to board the vessel as she was bound for the Philippines. The Captain, thinking that his crew members were all men, denied the request of the woman. He thought that it was improper to take in one single woman on board a vessel with all men around and considering the month-long journey to Asia, to let her in was unfitting. For a time the vessel remained by the Port of Portugal since it could not sail-off due to bad weather. The captain relaxed and fall asleep in his cabin. Later he was getting impatient for the delay and when he happened to open a window to check the weather outside, he was surprised to see the woman sitting on her baggage—her dress and entire body wet all over—she was trembling. Because of that sight, which appeared before the eyes of the captain, his heart was pinched with guilt and pity that he himself went down the ship and helped conduct the woman up and inside the vessel. His conservative thoughts placed the woman locked behind a separate cabin for fear that some crew members might disgrace the naiveness of his guest.
All of a sudden the weather turned clear and the sea calm and cool. They were then ready to sail-off to the Philippines. The journey was fast and smooth but it took a month-time to reach the shores of the Philippines. Approaching the area, the captain realized that he had a lady-visitor locked inside a cabin and that he forgot to serve his guest a single meal in their entire trip. Realizing, he ran in haste to the cabin of the woman but his visitor was fallen to the floor, dead. The captain noticed the baggage of the woman—a rectangular wooden box that bear letters which he believed to have been the woman’s address that would somehow guide them where to take the woman and the baggage. However, the letters inscribed on the box were blurred that they could hardly read: Nuestra Señora de Br…
As they entered the area of the Philippines, the vessel could not point at whichever direction. They tried so many targets headlong but could not pursue farther because the sailing was very hard and difficult. When they finally face eastward of the archiphelago targeting the island of Samar—the sailing was different—it was very smoothly flowing as if they found themselves docked in the silent shore of (now) Punta Maria. The inscription is now very clear: “Nuestra Señora de Borongan.” When the captain asked what’s the name of the place, the native who met them answered, “Borongan.” By that answer the problem of the captain was solved so, he told his men to carry down the baggage. The natives were all anticipating the content of the rectangular box—thrill, anticipation, excitement prevailed in their hearts. When the box was fully opened—there appeared before their eyes a beautiful image of the Virgin. The natives were happy and gathered in jubilation for having received such a beautiful and rare gift.
The news spread to the entire municipality of Borongan but the image was placed in strategic place of Punta Maria for anyone to see. After a time, rumors have reached the parish that a beautifully scented lady frequents the Hamorawon Spring on evenings, taking a bath and leaving behind a convincing scent that is beyond description. The old ones predicted that it could be a miracle because witnesses say that she easily vanishes when she is through taking a bath. It was proven when a certain woman who had a skin disease got well after dipping her arms in the waters of Hamorawon Spring. After a consensus made by the parishioners, some credible members of the community together with some town officials—the image was transferred to the town of Borongan through a “bilos”(a beat with flag) from Punta Maria.
II. A RELIGIO-HISTORICAL CRITICISM OF PADUL-ONG
Such is the Padul-ong story. But—the question may be asked—how are we to consider this account? I have not heard a native of Borongan question the authenticity of the narrative. Most Boronganons, I think, assume that it preserves an actual event that happened in a specific period and place. I am not an iconoclast, but such an assumption raises questions that cast doubts on its historicity.
A. Internal Evidence
Let me begin with the internal evidence. Sad to say, the story is replete with inconsistencies and improbabilities. A few examples may be cited from the details. (1) Is there really such a place as port of Portugal? There is certainly a port of Lisbon, but to say port of Portugal is like saying that there is such a place of port of the Philippines. (2) Was there really a ship that sailed from Portugal and came to Borongan, when the bungto was already a parish? Though the bull of Pope Alexander VI, Inter caetera, issued in 1493 and the treaty of Tordesillas in 1494 between Spain and Portugal theoretically make it a possibility, the fact that the Philippines was under Spain make it an improbability. (3) What type was the vessel? The account does not tell us; but Ladera’s recounting of the story describes it as a galleon. But this is improbable, because the Philippines had no galleon trade with Portugal! (4) However, assuming for the sake of argument that, since our version says that all those on board—except the woman—were men, the ship was not a galleon, but could have been something like a cargo ship, still, one wonders whether such a vessel ever plied between Philippines and Portugal. Was it a pirate ship? It is most likely, but the way its journey to the Philippines is described rules it out. In other words, there seems to be no ship that fits its description.
(5) Moreover, where was the ship really going? If indeed it went from one port to another just to unload the cargo, did it have a destination? Even that of a buccaneer does not make such erratic voyage. (6) What makes the lady’s luggage so unusual that the moment the ship reaches a port, the crew could only try to unload it without success? (7) If the ship were as big as, say, the Doña Angelina of the Carlos Go Thong Company in the l970s, it is possible that the captain might not have minded about the woman. But in a ship so small like the flagship of Magellan, would a captain ever forget his passenger—considering that it took months to cross the Pacific Ocean? (8) Moreover, in an all-male ship, could any man forget a woman? In an age of chivalry, would the crew missed to feed her? (9) If indeed the woman had a box that contained the image of the Virgin, would the custom have allowed its loading without inspection? It should be noted that cargoes had to be accounted for. In the natural course of things, it would be unlikely that no one from the staff of the captain knew anything about its content.. (9) Also, would the captain allow a woman to board his ship without knowing her identity and destination? (10) Other questions may be asked. It is alleged that the captain asked about the name of the place upon landing on Punta Maria. But why did the people reply “Borongan”, and not “Guintaguican,” which should have been the most logical answer? (11) If it were true that the image was unloaded in Guintaguican, why did the people allow it to be transferred to Borongan? In those days, and probably today, the transfer of an image venerated in a particular place is not an easy matter to do.
B. External Evidence
If we now turn our inquiry to the external evidence, we encounter various questions. (1) The main problem about the historicity of the account is that, even if it were internally consistent, there is no document to corroborate it. I have read the references to Borongan in the 55-volume work of Blair and Robertson, and in the multi-volume collection of primary documents of S. Zaide, but I could not find any single reference to it. (2) Also, in an age when people considered miraculous something that is perceived to be extraordinary, the first missionaries usually wrote about almost anything that seemed beyond human control or natural explanation. In an article I wrote on the Jesuit mission in Guiuan, I mentioned two “miraculous” events that people attributed to the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, the patroness of Guiuan. And these were recorded. If indeed, the story of the shipment of the image was miraculous, how come none of the Jesuit reports, or the Franciscan reports for that matter, mentioned it? (3) Equally important, it is strange that the Church, if the story were a factual historical account, did not give importance to it, for all its popularity among Boronganons, nor, to my recollection, acknowledged its miraculous origins in document. Does this not indicate that the Church considered it as something other than historical?
(4) In 1951, President Quirino issued Executive Order No. 486, instructing teachers of compile historical and cultural data of the towns in the country, and those in Eastern Samar complied with it. The collection is called Historical Data Papers, kept at the National Library. For Borongan, for example, Fidel Anacta wrote that included in the compilation are “historical and cultural data of the municipality of Borongan and its barrios [that] may serve to perpetuate the social and cultural heritage of the place,” but if the story of the Virgin were historical, why did Anacta and his co-teachers not include it in the historical part? (5) In my conversation with some Boronganons, I was told that the Natividad became the patroness of the town precisely because of its miraculous journey to the pueblo. This idea, however, runs counter to the manner in which a patron/ess is selected at the time of the Jesuit missionaries, and it was ordinarily something like this: having gathered the people, the Jesuit asked them to choose an advocate before God who would protect them from natural and supernatural calamities. They were instructed to consider several names of saints, write them on paper, fold them, and place them into an urn. Then, the one whose name had been drawn by lot was named their patron.
Thus, both internal and external facts demonstrate that there is a wide gulf between the Padul-ong account and actual historical experience. But if they show that the story cannot be regarded as historical, how are we to treat it? I suggest that the best way is to look at it from the point of view of literary criticism; after all, the account is clearly an oral tradition.
III. A LITERARY-CRITICAL VIEW OF THE PADUL-ONG “TRA-DITION”
From a literary standpoint, how are we to understanding the padul-ong story? It is instructive that the brochure on the “tradition”, “Padul-ong Festival,” uses various words to describe it: myth, legend, and tale. Actually, these terms, as far as I am concerned, are legitimate. After all, there is no agreed definition on these literary genres. Besides, the differences between these terms are so fluid that each author has almost a different way of using these terms. But as a biblical scholar who has been engaged in the study of the literary genres of the Bible, I would like to treat the padul-ong narrative as an aetiology, though I would not cavil with someone who would consider it as a legend or myth. But for my purpose, I would prefer to place it under the rubric of aetiology, following the great literary critic, Herman Gunkel, a German scholar, whose study of legends remains influential.
A. The Padul-ong Story: A Cultic Aetiology
What is aetiology? Aetiology is a term used to designate a story that is designed to explain how an existing phenomenon in nature, custom or institution came into being by recounting a past event which is taken to be the effective cause of that phenomenon. As a starting point, Gunkel asserts that aetiological stories are answers to questions—man looks at things and ask why. Thus, he classifies these stories in terms of the kind of questions that he assumes to lie behind the answers embodied in the narrative. Gunkel gives four types: (1) ethnological aetiology, which gives reasons for relations among tribal groups; (2) etymological aetiology, which explains the names of persons and places; (3) cultic aetiology, which accounts for the origin of religious rites and customs; and (4) geological aetiology, which explains the origin of a particular locality or geological formation.  In Eastern Samar history and culture, one (1) and four (4) are not common, but the second is recurrent. The story that the town of Oras was so named when the Spanish cura gave that name after the place experienced 8 consecutive days of storm and rain is obviously an etymological aetiology. The same may be said of the explanation that the word Guiuan comes from guibang, or that Sulat originates from suslatan or that Borongan is derived from borong—these are aetiologies which are difficult to verify. Some of these, etymologically erroneous as they are, in fact contradict older aetiologies. My theory is that the Padul-ong story is a cultic aetiology that legitimizes the devotion to the Patroness. Thus, we can make sense out of the historical inconsistencies and improbabilities of the story by utilizing an aetiological motif to interpret its various elements.
B. The Three Original Aetiologies in the Padul-ong Story
If it is a cultic aetiology, the question may be raised: how did the story originate? I propose that the story developed this way. At the first stage of the tradition, there were three separate aetiologies. Later, these aetiologies were conflated, giving rise to (a) variation(s) of the present version of the narrative. Let me first describe the first stage. At this stage, there were three (3) originally distinct aetiologies that answer three questions: (1) Why is Guintaguican called Punta Maria? (2) Why does the water of Hamorawon Spring have healing powers? (3) Why is the Natividad the Patroness of Borongan? In the same way that the people of Oras, not knowing why the town was called by that name, told the story of the eight days of storm and darkness, so the people in these parts, who were ignorant of the answers to these questions, created an aetiology or myth, if you please. To facilitate navigation, the early Spanish sailors named a body of land that sticks out as punta (reference point), but the inhabitants of Guintaguican did not know why it was so called, so they began explaining that it was called Punta Maria because it was at this place that the image of Maria was unloaded from the Spanish galleon. The water from the spring of Hamorawon had curative powers not because a good spirit (cahoynon) lived there—which was probably the answer of the pre-Hispanic Boronganon—but because—and this is the reply of the baptized Boronganon—the Blessed Virgin frequently bathed there. The Virgin Mary became the patroness of the town because it was to this place that the Galleon miraculously brought her image.
C. The Conflation of Aetiologies
At the second stage, these aetiologies were conflated. The Guintaguican aetiology was in time joined with the third aetiology. Thus, we have the story as recollected, for example, by the late Conrado Balagapo, which I reproduce without comment or correction: Tradition has it that the Image of the Blessed Virgin of the Nativity first landed in Gintagikan or Punta Maria. It seemed that weather was always foul while there; the rearly Boronganons thought that the Blessed Mother wished to be enshrined a bit to the south; so they sought for the place wrapped in mist or “borong”, since then Borongan had enshrined the image we have in its altar, as the beloved Patroness. Obviously, the common people had no longer any recollection as to how the Virgin of the Nativity was chosen as their patron. Also, it is to be noted that the belief in the curative power of the water from Hamorawon spring is no doubt pre-Hispanic. But a Christian explanation had supplanted the pre-Hispanic credence, and so the belief arose if the image of the Virgin at the parish church could not be found from time to time, it was because she was bathing at the Hamorawon spring. Hence, its healing powers.
But this story was applied later to the box that was unloaded at Guintaguican. Hence the following account—I reproduce without correction or comment—which says that the image was missing in Punta Maria, only to be found in Borongan: On the course of their trip along Ibabao (Eastern Coast of Samar) and dropped anchor at a certain shore, much to the crew’s surprise, they found it easy to unload. The natives were happy to receive the image. But the captain asked for the name of the nearest biggest settlement, the villagers answered: Borongan. They built huts and placed the image in a strategic place for everybody to adore. However, news would spread in the entire village that the image was missing. Sometimes, it could be found in the nearest biggest settlement which is now Borongan poblacion. The conflation of these three aetiologies gave rise to a form of the current version of the Padul-ong story, like that one which I quoted at the beginning of this talk. In this version, the image of the Virgin had to be delivered by the people of Punta Maria to the Borongan port—which I will advert to in a moment— by means of a boat. In the process of conflation, of course, various elements of the different stories were ignored, while others were at the same time added, to the effect that the resulting version became laden with historical improbabilities and inconsistencies which people overlook.
D. The Historical Core of the Padul-ong Aetiologies
But the question may be raised. In regarding the stories behind the Padul-ong as aetiologies, does this mean that these stories are not true? Obviously, as I already commented, these stories contain a number of improbabilities so that they could not be entirely considered as historical. But as in legends and myths, some historical factors shaped these aetiologies. I have already noted that before the Spaniards came to Borongan, the natives must have experienced some forms of healing, after having bathed in the spring of Hamorawon. And of course, the Natividad is the patroness of Borongan, even though the Boronganons could not explain the process involved in the choice of the Virgin. What about the unloading of the woman’s luggage? I theorize that Boronganons have a recollection of an unloading of cargoes from a ship. Historically, this is true, and one easily recalls here what happened in the 1600s. It may be recalled that at this time, the Dutch and the Spaniards were enemies, and from time to time, the former would come to Manila, blockading the city and seizing the galleons and their priced cargoes.
In 1620, however, the Dutch, instead of blockading Manila, went to San Bernardino Strait near Laoang, Northern Samar, in three ships to waylay the galleons coming from Acapulco, Mexico. That year, two galleons, San Nicolas (the flagship) and a patache (her escort), were making a voyage to the Philippines under the command of Don Fernando de Ayala. When Ayala saw the Dutch ships, he fired the gun of the flagship and disabled one of them. When the other two Dutch ships maneuvered for firing position, night fell and a commotion arose. Under cover of darkness, de Ayala raced southward along the Eastern Samar coast, and landed in the port of Borongan where he discharged his precious cargo before the Dutch could get hold of them. . Of course, the galleon did not land in Guintaguican, but to me, this is the historical event that helped shape the tradition of the landing of the Spanish ship that unloaded the luggage, supposedly containing the image of the Virgin.
IV. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The Padul-ong, or rather, the story behind it—it appears from our inquiry—can in now way be treated as history, even if there are historical events that lie behind it, though already beyond recovery. It is, however, safe to say that the story behind the Padul-ong is an aetiology, or more precisely, are three aetiologies that were later conflated. These aetiologies arose because of the need to satisfy questions that obtain in a community that searches for its own identity. The answers, as in myths and legends, are shaped by historical factors and by the creativity of the people themselves who make what later on becomes tradition. In the present tradition in question, the historical core was in the process embellished, with the addition of other details that come from the three aetiologies, winding up with a new form of the story, like the present version to which some people have given the term Padul-ong.
The Padul-ong story (or any of its variations), like the aetiologies behind it, legitimates the cult of the Patroness of Borongan. This explains why people from all over the island of Samar (as well as from other places outside it) would come to Borongan, especially during fiesta, to fulfill a vow or a promise they had made to the Patroness, usually in thanksgiving for the favor they had received through her powerful intercession. Because of the image of the Patroness, the Borongan parish church has virtually become a shrine for pilgrims. It is therefore understandable that the story focuses on the luggage of the woman that contained the image. Indeed, every detail embellishment in the story—whether the old or the new version—is told with the intention of enhancing the miraculous character of the image. The miraculous circumstances in the story are clearly told in the service of it. And that, obviously, legitimizes the miraculous character of the image which people attribute to it.
As for the newest version of the story that I quoted at length at the beginning of this talk, one, of course, is not mistaken in concluding that its details were meant to justify the ritual that is being observed in the celebration during the town fiesta of Borongan—they do not appear in the earlier account of the tradition. The ritual or the re-enactment of the story was, in other words, first conceived, and the embellishment came later on to validate it.
1. Must the Padul-ong celebration go on?
Since it is not an historical but evidently an aetiological legend, though with something historical behind it, shall we cease celebrating the Padul-ong Festival? The lack of verifiable historical notes does not, of course, invalidate the legitimacy of its celebration. For one thing, the Padul-ong somehow answers our need for rootedness, our search for identity as Estehanons. It contributes to the wholeness of our culture, giving a cultural support to what it means to be an Estehanon. So, if the Padul-ong has to be of any use to the Estenanons, it should be seen along this gamut of thought. I do believe that these aetiologies easily related to the life of the people in Borongan during the Spanish era. The people of Guintaguican could easily appeal to the Virgin not only at the time when the sea was rough, but also during typhoons and other natural calamities. The Hamorawon tradition must have been meaningful to the Boronganons who from time to time suffered from the cholera epidemic. And I see no reason why the aetiologies would not make sense today. However—and this I would like to emphasize—it would be a disservice to these aetiologies or the “tradition” if today we will only look at it as nothing more than an event that we have to celebrate for tourism purposes. It will lose its meaning and people will be alienated from it. Its survival can be assured only if it is rooted in the culture and well-being of our people. Commercialism will destroy it.
2. Shall we limit ourselves to the Padul-ong celebration?
For all its advantages, however, I see two major drawbacks in the Padul-ong celebration. Here, I shall not mention some minor problems that I find in the way it is observed, as, for instance, in the matter of consistency. For example: if the Padul-ong is a re-enactment, why do the participants use a modern motor boat? Why do they use the 19th century Filipina dress, instead of the 17th or 18th century-attire? These are quibbles that are better addressed in performing arts rather than in history and religion. So, let me go back to my two major questions. First, the Padul-ong is a Borongan tradition. Definitely, the whole people of Eastern Samar do not own it. So, the question is: is there any other tradition that all Estehanons can easily identify themselves with? Right now, I have in mind two events. The first is, the story of the landing of Ferdinand Magellan in Homonhon on March 16, 1521. The second is the landing of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi in Tubabao island, Oras, Eastern Samar, on February 13, 1565. This is also the date when Eastern Samar was declared a Spanish encomienda. Both of these events can be historically verified and provide much material to the portrayal of the encounter between the native and Spanish culture. Second, the Padul-ong reflects an animist religion. . It does not dovetail with the Virgin in whose honor it is celebrated. In fact, Christianity is not yet there. The theology is still pre-Hispanic. It does not yet have the Christian value system, and all that is dear to Christianity.*
24 June 2002
Feast of John the Baptist
A talk delivered by Rev Msgr Dr Lope C. Robredillo during the “Padul-ong Conference” at Provincial Governor’s Office (PGO) Conference Hall, Provincial Capitol, Borongan, Eastern Samar, June 23, 2002.
Padul-ong is the term used only lately to describe the reenactment of the so-called conduction of the image of the Virgin from Punta Maria to the Borongan port in Rawis. Its root word is dul-ong, which means to conduct, accompany, deliver, escort someone or something. See V. Unruh, Speak Waray [np, nd]. 96; E. Macabenta, Binisaya-English/English-Binisaya Dictionary (Quezon City: Emansonz, 1979), 67; T. Abuyen, Diksyonaryo Waray-Waray (Visaya) (np: Tomas Abuyen, 1992), 84. Padul-ong, a noun, literally refers to a celebration held on the occasion of receiving something that has been delivered. It is not derived from the term padul-onga, contrary to the claims of the Philippine Information Agency, Borongan. The oral tradition never calls the transfer of the image padul-ong.
Although many would describe the cultural re-enactment of Padul-ong as tradition, its history is actually very recent. There is no doubt, however, that the story behind it can be called a tradition, if the word is used to refer to a story that has been handed down orally, with variations, different forms, and recompositions.
Anonymous, “The Legendary and Historic Borongan Tale,” Souvenir Program, 1995 Borongan Town Fiesta (Borongan: Committee on Souvenir Program [Fe Gerodias, Antonio Moralita, Alice Nicart, Merlita Sabate, Lida Pagulayan], 1995), unpaginated. Of course, I know of other accounts, and there are discrepancies. See, for example, Conrado Balagapo, “Short Historical Account of Borongan” (MS, typewritten, 2 pages; 1983), 1; Jose Ladera, “Borongan Vignettes,” Souvenir Program, 1989 Borongan Town Fiesta, unpaginated; and “Padul-ong Festival,” (pamphlet), Philippine Information Agency, Borongan, Eastern Samar, no author, but with acknowledgment to the masteral thesis of Pacil Ramirez. No date. For the present purpose, however, I chose to reprint the 1995 version because it seems to be the basis of the current presentation of the Padul-ong Festival.
The treaty of Tordesillas between Spain and Portugal provided for the drawing of the line of demarcation between their respective spheres of influence, trade and conquest 170 leagues west of the Azores. It was the claim of Portugal that the Philippines was within the Portuguese sphere of influence if this line were produced into the eastern hemisphere. See H. de la Costa, Readings in Philippine History (Manila: Bookmark, 1967), 16.
See, for example, B. Cruickshank, “The Dapdap Incident,” Leyte-Samar Studies 9 (1975) 1, 32-58.
E. Blair and J. Robertson, eds. The Philippine Islands, 55 vols. (Cleveland: Arthur H Clark, 1903-1909.
L. Robredillo, “The Jesuit Mission of Guiuan: An Historical Essay on the Beginnings of the Evangelization of Guiuan, Eastern Samar.,” 400 Years of Evangelization, Quadricentennial Celebration, 1995, 2-18; see also “A History of Guiuan (Eastern Samar),” www.msgrlope.multiply.com.
Fidel Anacta et al, “History and Cultural Life of the Municipality of Borongan,” Historical Data Papers, Samar, 1952-1953.
 See, for example, F. Alzina, Historia de las islas y indios de Bisayas… 1668, II, Bk 3, Ch. 24.
For a literary study of the Sinulog of Cebu, see Quijano de Manila [Nick Joaquin], Discourses of the Devil’s Advocate and Other Controversies (Manila: Nick Joaquin, 1983), 141-152.
“Padul-ong Festival,” produced by the Philippine Information Agency in Borongan for the Borongan Town Fiesta Executive Committee and the Provincial Tourism Council of Eastern Samar
For a general knowledge of these literary genres, see K. W. Balle, “Myth and Mythology,” The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 24 (1991) 712-727.
The influential work of H. Gunkel is The Legends of Genesis (New York: W. H. Carruth, 1964).
J. Priest, “Etiology,” The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Supplementary Volume (ed.K. Crim; Nashville: Abingdon, 1976), 293.
See Souvenir Program, 1984 Oras Town Fiesta; Souvenir Program, 1961 Guiuan Town Fiesta; Souvenir Program, 1956 Borongan Town Fiesta.
See F. Alzina, Historia de las islas y indios de Bisayas… 1668. See also L Robredillo, “A Brief Church History of Sulat Under Spain, 1603-1898,” Souvenir Program, 1987 Sulat Town Fiesta; L. Robredillo, “The Jesuit Mission of Guiuan: An Historical Essay on the Beginnings of the Evangelization of Guiuan, Eastern Samar.,” 400 Years of Evangelization, Quadricentennial Celebration, 1995, 2-18.
When I was still in the grades, I happened to attend the fiesta in Dampigan, Dolores, Eastern Samar. Curious as I was, I asked someone from the barrio why was the place known as Dampigan. I was told that it was so called because a white bell was “pushed ashore” (the Bisayan word for this is dampig); but the people pushed it back to the river, and the bell drifted to Manila. Which is why Manila became a big city; had the people of Dampigan or Malabon accepted the bell and placed it in their chapel, their barrio would have been the great Manila.
Redolent of this aetiology is the tradition known, for example, to J. Ladera: “The place where [the image of the Blessed Virgin] was named Punta Maria which to this day still bears the name,” J. Ladera, “Borongan Vignettes,” Souvenir Program, 1989 Borongan Town Fiesta.
C. Balagapo, “Short Historical Account of Borongan,” Typewritten, MS (October 1983) 1.
“Padul-ong Festival,” produced by the Philippine Information Agency in Borongan for the Borongan Town Fiesta Executive Committee and the Provincial Tourism Council of Eastern Samar.
For the Spanish account, see F. Colin-P. Pastells, Labor evangelica: Ministerios Apostolicos de los Obreros de la Compania de Jesus, fundacion y progressos de us provincia en las Islas Filipinas 3 vols (Barcelona: Henrich, [first edition 1663] 1900-1902), 1.223 and P. Murillo Velarde, Historia de la provincia de Filipinas de la Compañia de Jesus (Manila: Imp. de Compañia de Jesus, 1749) 27. For the English retelling, see H. de la Costa, The Jesuits in the Philippines, 1581-1768 (Cambridge: Harvard University, 1961) 340-341. One may argue, of course, that one of the passengers of the galleon or the captain himself could have gifted the people with the image of the Virgin, but the main problem is that, there is no evidence for that. It remains within the realm of possibility and conjecture.
Kindly read note 2 above.
As a former pastor of the Borongan parish, I can testify to this. In evidence of the huge number of devotees to the Patroness are not only the coins that are dropped at the collection box near the image of the Patroness, but also the candles that are lighted during the fiesta of Borongan on September 8. Indeed, the candles are so numerous that they pose a danger to the church building itself and the people. On September 8, 1999, for instance, there was a commotion at the near the entrance of the church before the Pontifical Mass was celebrated because the lighting of the candles caused fire that spread near the entrance of the Hall of Saints.
For the record on cholera epidemics, see Philippine National Archives (PNA), Estadistica, Samar, 1896.
Parao is most likely the fitting vessel that should be used; see in this connection the letter of P. Klein, “The Discovery of the Palao Island,” in Blair and Robertson, The Philippines Islands, 41.40.
 On the attire, see W. H. Scott, Barangay: Sixteenth-Century Philippine Culture and Society (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila Univesity, 1994), 28-31.
However, with regard to history, I suggest that those who write the brochure should be a little bit careful with the data they publish. Let me cite two examples. (1) In the brochure of the PIA on the Padul-ong Festival, it is asserted that the pueblo of Borongan was established on September 8, 1619 by the commandancia [sic] and the Rev Fr Superior of the Jesuit Mission. As far as I know, even in 1620, there was no parish priest yet in Borongan, because the Jesuits worked under the cabecera-visita complex. Comandancia is not a person, and the right person to establish a pueblo is not the Superior of the Jesuits. (2) Also in the history of the province, it seems to me that brochure has been dependent on Jose Ladera, without making a research, and Ladera seems to have merely read the article of Fr Cantius Kobak in the Leyte-Samar Studies.