Excerpt from the “Land of the Golden Grains” of Troy Alexander G. Miano, DPA
The EARLY SOCIO-ECONOMIC PROFILE
The early socio-economic status of Cabatuan was attributed to the diligence of the early pioneers composed of Ilocanos, Chinese, Pangasinense, Kapampangans, Tagalogs and the tabacalera management.
In 1932, the Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas or Tabacalera (founded in 1881) established office in barrio Cabatuan situated in what is now barangay San Andres. Since Cabatuan is originally a tobacco country, the tabacalera which was managed by Spaniard businessmen, one of which was Don Fernando Garcia y Garcia, was a great help in the economic boom of the young barrio.
In the late 1940s, the La Suerte Distillery was founded by Eusebio Tan and wife Eusenia Lomotan in what is now barangay Del Pilar. The town’s first brewery (gin) and softdrink maker had a great economic impact in the locality as it provided employment to many Cabatuanenses and prestige to the town as a gin maker of olden days.
In the field of transportation, Pablo C. Marcelo and Demetrio Razon were the first public transport owners to ply the Cabatuan – Cauayan route while Anselmo Esmino and Emilio Mangulabnan were the pioneers in the calesa transport industry. Clemente Paggabao operated the first water transport over the Magat River by banca and by landing barge and the first amphibian was owned by Silvino G. Bonifacio. The first freight-trucking to Manila was also operated by Paggabao. In long distance travel, the pioneering bus companies in the locality were: Rural Transit, Luzon Bus Line, Red Line and the Rodan Bus Line.
In the agriculture-related industry, Carolino O. Munsayac was the first rice and corn mill (kiskisan) operator. While the first commercial rice mill and oldest in operation is the Cabatuan Rice Mill followed by the Three Star Rice Mill, Chuakay Rice Mill and Santiago Rice Mill. Wilfrido T. Dayrit was the owner of the first Agri-Chemical Farm, Poultry, School and Office Supply Store.
The Luzon Agricultural Development Corporation (LADECO) was the first mechanized farming in Cabatuan and the first noted agricultural dam was the LADECO Dam both owned by agricultural-entrepreneur Severo C. Macugay. The pioneer in the sugar and basi making industry were Ponciano Tumaneng and Teodoro Tejada. Marcelo Domingcil, on the other hand, was the first blacksmith, cart and agricultural equipment maker and repair shop owner.
Cabatuan’s first studio photographer and goldsmith was Nicolas Labayog. The first lumber in the locality, were: The Standard Lumber, Filipinas Lumber, Modern Lumber and Renew Lumber. While the first noted sawmill was the Eastern Sawmill.
Felimon D. Andres and Eustaquio Pascual owned the pioneering tailoring shops in the area. While the first motor welding and repair shop were the Munsayac Motor Welding and Vulcanizing Shop and Tamuyao Welding Shop. Simeon Agustin, on the other hand, was the prime initiator in the calesa making and funeral parlor business.
The first noted restaurant in Cabatuan was the Altoveros Restaurant while Zacarias P. Muñoz owned the first hotel, the Norma’s Inn. Recognized, as the first butchers were Simeon D. Ancheta and Benito Monte while the first bakery was the Toms Bakery (originally named Rex Bakery) owned by proprietress Nicanora B. Tomacruz.
Engr. Manuel Salanga erected the first television reception tower in Cabatuan and the first CATV Station, the Central Cable Systems, was owned by the Suguitan family. The first in the printing industry was the Master Printing Press and the first local newspaper was the Isabela Vanguard both owned by Herminio T. Domincil. Cabatuan Rural Bank was the first banking institution founded by Severo C. Macugay while Atanasio H. Dayrit owned the Farmacia Magat, the first drugstore. The Esso Gasoline Station, owned by Gregorio G. Isidro and the Mobil Gasoline Station managed by Juanita G. Muñoz, were the pioneers in the gasoline industry.
Ruperto Senad owned the first movie house in Cabatuan, which was located adjacent to the Garcia almasin. While the Gabriel family (Juanito, Segundina and Felino) runs the first bowling lanes located in the heart of the town. Proprietors Mariano Gumabao and Vicente Alvarez owned the first ice plant while Flor Nicolas managed the first electric company.
When the Ilocanos arrived, they also brought with them their religion, the Independent Church of Filipino Christians (Aglipayan). A lot owned by Feliciano A. Ramos, near the old market place, was donated to accommodate the church edifice and the local folks extended free labor to build the religious structure. The first parish priest assigned to Cabatuan was Father Felimon H. Ver followed by Father Pacifico H. Jamias. And honored as the first Cabatuan Aglipayan Bishop was Miguel A. Pascua. The Church structure was later transferred to Barangay Centro.
The missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette started their ministry in Cabatuan on September of 1949 headed by Father Paul Douillard, MS followed by Father André A. Lussier, MS. The first Holy Eucharistic Celebration was held at the residence of Damian S. Tomacruz. The private house was used as a temporary house of worship until a permanent Church was built in District Dos (now Barangay San Andres) in 1955. To spread the ministry and to spread more the Christian faith and because of the rapid growth of population and believers, additional churches and chapels were built in Barangays La Paz, Diamantina, Culing West and Rang-ay (Sitio San Carlos).
On March 20, 1948, the first worship of the Iglesia ni Cristo was held at the residence of Francisca R. Alivia in Barrio Magdalena and was officiated by Bro. Rolando Palting. The membership increased which paved way for the establishment of other places of worship (locale) in La Paz (1949), Paraiso (1951), Tandul (1986), Calaocan (1986), and Malasin (2015).
Other religions were also introduced in Cabatuan. Some of them were: Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), Seventh Day Adventists, Baptist, United Methodist Church, Jehovah’s Witness, Pentecost and Born Again Christians.
On March 2, 1916, the pioneers of Cabatuan established the first school, Cabatuan Primary School (now the Cabatuan West Central School). The lot was bought from the Bureau of Lands and the first teacher was Maria de Roca from Cabagan town. Other pioneering teachers were B. Allam (from Palattao, Reina Mercedes town) and Emilio Aggari. During those days, Cabatuan was a part of the Cauayan District and the school supervisor was Gaspar Suguitan. The school became a complete elementary in 1925. Soon, the population of Barrio Cabatuan increased rapidly which paved way for the creation of more school: Culing Elementary School (1934), Luzon Elementary School (1946), Namnama Elementary School (1946), S.G. Diamantina Elementary School (1947), La Paz Elementary School (1948), Macalaoat Elementary School (1950), Cabatuan East Central School (1951), Canan Elementary School (1955), L.B.G. Tandul Elementary School (1957), Calaocan Elementary School (1959), Rang-ay Elementary School (1970), D. Munsayac-Nueva Era Elementary School (1971), Ortiz-Saranay Elementary School (1978), Paraiso Elementary School (2000) and Del Corpuz Primary School (2004). In 2003, Cabatuan District was divided into two with Dr. Pacifico C. Lopez as Officer-in-Charge in Cabatuan East District while Renato L. Gozum remains the head in Cabatuan West District.
On September of 1946, the Chinese migrants established the first high school to provide their descendants a chance to learn the Chinese tradition and social values. One of the migrants, Lorenzo Uy supervised the school with Cu Cui Hong as the first principal. The new-born school was first located in a private residence in front of the present A. Bonifacio Park owned by Teodoro Padron, which was later transferred near the Garcia almasin. The Chinese school is now known as Philippine Yuh Chiau School.
In 1951, the Cabatuan High School was organized and administered by the Suguitan family with Andres Suguitan as president and Charlemagne G. Suguitan as principal. The new school was located in Barrio Magdalena and was later transferred to Barangay Saranay in 1968.
In 1952, Sofia Sebastian established the Cabatuan Fashion School to mold young artistic Cabatuanenses in the art of dress-making and fashion designing. The female dominated school lasted for more than half a decade.
In 1966, the Catholic parishioners clamored for a secondary school that would cater to the Catholic families in Cabatuan, thus, the La Salette of Cabatuan was born. On May 1967, Father André A. Lussier, MS, assisted Bishop Teodulfo Domingo, DD on the laying of the cornerstone of the new school with Father Rutillo B. Mallilin as the first rector. In 1989, the La Salette of Cabatuan expanded with the establishment of an elementary department with Editha B. Subillaga as the first school head.
In 1993, through the joint efforts of the DECS leadership, Renato L. Gozum, PTCA led by Sangguniang Bayan Member Edwin S. Santos and the municipal officials headed by Mayor Atanasio T. Dayrit, Jr., the Cabatuan National High School was created. They were able to acquire a land to accommodate Cabatuan’s first public high school in Barangay Del Pilar with Eliseo D. Vea as the first school head. In the effort to offer affordable education to the growing public, the La Paz and Diamantina campuses were opened during Mayor Alma A. Dayrit’s term. In 2006, another extension of the public national high school established the Culing campus but due to the small enrollment, it was temporarily closed in 2008.
In 1995, a private primary and intermediate school was established by Dr. Gertrudes T. Acosta. The school was named Nazareth School of Cabatuan. It was first stationed in Barangay Centro within the Angco compound and was later transferred to Barangay Magdalena.
Cabatuan was not spared from natural calamities that struck the country. Significant catastrophes and natural disasters include: the Great Flood of 1936, Earthquake of 1949 and the Super Typhoons of 1993, 1998 and 2003.
In 1936, the Magat and Cagayan Rivers overflowed after continuous heavy rains and flooded the riverbanks of the river-barangays along their courses. One of the greatly affected villages was the Barrio of San Lucas located adjacent Barrio Sarrateña (now Barangay Luzon) near the municipal district of Antatet (now Luna town). The grand overflow submerged the community, which prompted the residence to seek shelter in the neighboring Barrio of Sarrateña. The great flood subsided except in some areas like San Lucas, which remained underwater for a long time. This made the evacuees decide to remain in Sarrateña. The great flood of 1936 left Barrio San Lucas abandoned and ceased to exist as a community. The 1936 flood also submerged the barrios of Buenavista, Caggong, Diamantina, Culing, Macalaoat, and Cabatuan (poblacion). The subsequent overflow of the Macañao creek, a tributary of the Magat, also flooded the barrios of Canan, Namnama and Tandul Viejo.
On December 29, 1949, the new-born town of Cabatuan and the rest of Luzon experienced one of the greatest earthquakes remembered in the history of the region. The terrain in the poblacion and the adjacent barrios opened up and created big ditches swallowing everything on its path. Deep wells crumbled and the water from within sprung like fountains high in the air. Recorded at intensity VII, the epicenter of the earthquake was located instrumentally in the vicinity of 17°00’N latitude and 121°38’E longitude in Isabela province west of the Cagayan River. The first major shock occurred at 11:05 in the morning. Over 50 aftershocks were felt in the vicinity of the epicenter the following week. The earthquake was decidedly of tectonic origin due to readjustments of the rock strata within the earth’s crust. Water and sand came out of fissures in the ground and gave off a sulphurous odor due to rotting vegetation in the lower deposits. Other strong earthquakes, which were felt in Cabatuan were: the Great Earthquakes of August 2, 1968 (Ruby Tower) and July 16, 1990 (Baguio and Cabanatuan City).
Supertyphoons did not spare Cabatuan. The most recent and most significant disastrous (signal No. 4) typhoons were: Goring, Iliang and Harurot. Goring (June 23-27, 1993), international code named Koryn 9302, was spotted near Truk Island in the Pacific on June 23 in the morning with a climatological speed of 20 kilometers per hour (kph) and by the afternoon of June 25, its winds peaked to 220 kph and reached Isabela with sustained winds of 150 kph towards Mountain Province. Goring downed numerous houses in Cabatuan, others were stripped off their roofs and millions of agricultural products were damaged.
Iliang (October 11-16, 1998), international code name Zeb 9810, originated in an area north of Caroline Islands and with central winds of 240 (kph). By eight in the morning of October 14, it slowly crossed over Cagayan Valley to Balintang-Bashi channel. Iliang caused numerous trees uprooted in the national highway of Cabatuan and damage to millions worth of palay and other crops. Electric poles and lines were down and the Magat River reached the level of the dikes at its banks.
Harurot (July 19-23, 2003), international codenamed Imbudo 0307, developed east of Guam and with maximum winds of 190 to 230 kph. It reached Palanan, Isabela on July 21 and brought very severe damage to crops and property. Cabatuan was in darkness for over a month due to the destruction of main lines and post and other ISELCO facilities.
Juan (October 18-20, 2010), international codenamed Megi, was one of the most intense tropical cyclones on record. Juan made its first landfall in Isabela, its second landfall over Zhangpu in Fujian, China and killed 31 people and caused $255.1 million in damage over Luzon, making it one of the costliest typhoons in the Philippines.