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Municipality of Rosario Batangas

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Rosario Batangas Philippines

Friday, November 11, 2011

Brief History of Rosario

ALONG THE COAST LOBO WERE EXISTING VILLAGES at the time of the arrival of the Spaniards in the area of Batangas in 1572. Many years later, after Batangas was created as a province in 1851, Augustinian missionaries began the Christianizing of the villagers.

Accounts appeared to show that as early as 1687 a pueblo was formed in this coastal area. Don Nicolas Morales was its first gobernadorcillo. A church was later founded in this Lobo area in 1689. Still another, the convent of Nuestra Señora del Rosario, was founded in 1698 – the origin of a Christian town.

This coastal town became a frequent target of the Moro raids during the early years of the Moro wars in the 18th century. Its inhabitants fled north to Kansahayan River in Hilerang Kawayan of Taysan. They stayed here for sometime until the second half of the 18th century.

The more vicious Moro raids reached their new settlement. Their priest was slain. En masse, the inhabitants hurriedly left Hilerang Kawayan. They went further north until they reached Tubig ng Bayan in what is now the Municipality of Padre Garcia. During their flight they were praying the rosary.

On the southern bank of the river these people built a new town. The town was named Rosario in honor of the Nuestra Señora del Rosario, their patroness. The town’s former location in Hilerang Kawayan later became known as Pinagbayanan.

Rosario prospered and became a parish in 1776. The Augustinian turned over the parishes in Batangas to the Recollect Order.

In 1871 Fray Santiago Benito de la Cinco Llagas was the first Recollect priest to handle the parish of Rosario. Rosario became a vicariate center under the Reverend Father Fray Mariano Peña. He was the provincial vicar. Much improvement in the town and the parish church was made during his term. The courthouse was reconstructed. The existing secondary school was rehabilitated. Roads and bridges were repaired.

Rosario was a vast territory then. Its jurisdictions covered the present municipalities of Lobo, San Juan, and Taysan. The Spanish authorities had to create these as separate towns. San Juan was officially separated from Rosario in 1848, Taysan in 1850 and Lobo in about 1871. Rosario was divided into 35 Barrios.

Such was the grandeur of Rosario during the Spanish period.

In the last decade of the Spanish rule, the illustrados of Rosario were not left behind in the nationalist aspiration of the Filipinos. Its famous son, the Reverend Father Vicente Garcia, made a brave defense of the Filipinos and of Dr. Jose Rizal and his Noli Me Tangere.

At the outbreak of the Revolution against Spain, Don Melecio Bolaños and Capitan Evaristo Zuño, under General Cailles, led the uprising and took possession of the town. They held on to the town until the outbreak of the Filipino- American War.

The Americans overtook the revolutionary force in Rosario and confiscated their remaining funds of some 22,000 Mexican Pesos. The town was burned. General Miguel Malvar and his remaining army were given refuge in Barrio Baybayin of Rosario. He surrendered to General Franklin Bell in the town on April 19, 1902.

In the early American military occupation of Rosario a cavalry officer, Captain Ed H. Boughton, came upon the springs at the foot of Tombol Hill. He found the place in Tombol an ideal site to relocate the burnt town. With the help of his fellow American soldiers and the inhabitants of the town, the planning of Rosario in Tombol was blue printed.

On June 9, 1902, a council of the town’s prominent citizens met beside Tombol Springs to formally recognizes the municipal government. Chosen were Don Diego Rosales as bise-presidente, Don Luis Greñas as secretario and Don Leon Magtibay as tesorero. Don Antonino Luancing and others donated the sites for the town’s public building.

The former town site later became known as Lumang Bayan. It remained the seat of the church administration. The new town did not have its own parish nor priest until 1910. This situation paved the way for many prominent families of the town to join the church nationalist movement of Bishop Gregorio Aglipay. In 1908 Bishop Aglipay himself said the first mass of the Aglipayan Church in Rosario.

Two years later, the Roman Catholic Church founded its own parish in Rosario. Father Eulalio Mea was the first priest assigned to the new parish. The town fiesta, which used to be celebrated on February 12, was changed to April 22 at the instance of Don Melecio Bolaños in 1910.

Rosario was a premier town in south eastern Batangas before the war. It was the rice granary of the province. The progress of the town, however, was interrupted by the Japanese occupation of the country. Its people suffered the same sad experience as other Filipinos did.

Jorge Espina and Maximo Bool of the Filipino-American Irregular Troops introduced the underground movement against the Japanese in Rosario. Guerrilla units were organized and led by the Farol's of Macalamcam and by the town's Bataan survivors.

Lives and properties were lost during this war. The town was burned in March 1945. It was liberated by the elements of the 1855th Signal Corps, 11th Airborne Division of the US Army in April 1945.

Upon the restoration of the civil government, Jose B. Zuño was appointed mayor. In the election of 1947 the wartime mayor, Dr. Crisanto A. Gualberto, ran against guerilla leader Isaac Farol. Farol was elected mayor. In 1949 during his administration, Lumang Bayan with several other barrios separated as an independent municipality. It was renamed after its famous son, Padre Garcia.

The next election was the darkest in the political history of Rosario. The loser, Teodoro Cuartero, was slain later after the election. The mayor-elect, Angel Arias, was gunned down on the eve of December 23, 1951. Vice-Mayor Elect, Jose E. Agoncillo, and a ruling party appointee, Fortunato Inandan, both claimed to be the mayor in 1957. Agoncillo prevailed. In 1960 Mayor Felicisimo H. Luna was elected mayor. He was successively reelected. He was still mayor until his death on November 14, 1982.

The rich natural resources of the town and the inherent industry of its people made Rosario what it is today. Currently a 2nd Class Municipality in terms of income [Note: Rosario is now a 1st Class Municipality], it has the potentials to become among the premier towns of the province. Its has areas suspected to contain uranium.

The provincial government has identified large areas of land as a special growth zones under the CALABARZON Project. Under this project, Rosario is envisioned to be the Center of Agro-Industrial Development in southeastern Batangas.

The administrations under the towns 226th and present chief executive, Mayor Rodolfo Guerra Villar, has laid down the foundations of development to realize this vision for Rosario by the advent of the year 2000. [Note: Presently, Mayor Manuel B. Alvarez took over the remaining term of Mayor Felipe A. Marquez who passed away October 2011]

Reference:
This Brief History of Rosario, Batangas was lifted from the Comprehensive Land Use Plan of Rosario, Batangas for Planning Period: 2000-2010 which adapted this English Version from the book authored by Mr. Conrado (Ka Rading) Reyes, who was a department head when he left the Municipal Government of Rosario upon his retirement. Mr. Reyes's last official position was the HRMO V of the Office for Human Resource Management (OHRM).

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