A Cebu Provincial Government legacy

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Monday, August 11, 2014

IT has been seven years since Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the University of San Carlos (USC) for a multi-million-peso book project.

What USC, using Provincial Government funds, was asked to come up wasn’t just an ordinary book. The project involves the writing of the histories of each of the province’s 45 municipalities and eight component cities, plus those of Cebu province itself and Cebu City.

I didn’t know such a MOA would lead to my realizing a goal when I was in high school: that of writing my own book. But no, this isn’t full realization as yet, as my goal then was to write a novel. What I ended up writing with this project was a history book.


I could not recall the exact date now, but it was months after the Capitol-USC book project MOA was signed in 2007 that I received a call from then USC Cebuano Studies Center head Erlinda Alburo asking me if I was available for a writing project. I told her I was, as long as it wouldn’t pull me away from my work place.

I preferred to be assigned to a town in the Cebu mainland. But the USC book project team eventually convinced me to write the history of Tudela, one of the four towns in the Camotes group of islands. Incidentally, the same town was the birth place of my late father.

I realized how massive this project was when I attended the first assembly of writers that USC gathered for the purpose.

Among the most senior was Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy. I also saw fellow Sun.Star columnists Godofredo Roperos, Emmanuel “Anol” Mongaya, Januar Yap and Ernesto Lariosa. There was Ahmed Cuizon, now Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) 7 chief, and Vince Isles, now a lawyer.

It was then that I realized that the challenge was not only the writing and researching efforts but more so the patience. I had written a pamphlet for the now defunct Barefoot Media Initiatives. But this was a full-length book with a manuscript that eventually took us two to three years to finish. The not-so-patient either gave up or were replaced.

But I knew this was a worthwhile undertaking. When I got a chance to see Gwen in person, I told her that her other achievements may end up being forgotten but this book project is one legacy that will be remembered for long. Little did I know that the project would outlive her at the Capitol and that it would be her former ally, Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale, who would steer its completion under Gov. Hilario Davide III.

My USC editors’ decision to assign me to Tudela did serve me well. I learned more not only about Tudela but also neighboring Poro, the Camotes town where my mother was born. I was able to understand better why they left the islands and transferred to the city, and why my father’s two brothers transplanted themselves to Mindanao.

When you understand a place’s past, you appreciate it better. I now know that Poro was the mother town that gave birth to Tudela. I now have an inkling of why Porohanons speak a distinct language. I now know the kind of violence that was inflicted by Moro pirates of old on Poro and how the Japanese treated residents of Poro and Tudela.

Deep into the writing of the book I realized how I missed my father. He would have provided me with the bulk of the information I needed about his town. I heard him talk often about his World War II experience but dismissed this because he did it when he had a drink to many. But what floored me was the information provided to me by his elementary school classmate: that my father was their valedictorian.

The printing of the history books, Magpale said, may be completed within this month. I am ecstatic.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 12, 2014.


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