Flashbacks On Capiz
(An excerpts from A HISTORICAL BROCHURE ON CAPIZ written by Atty. Juan L. Pastrana on the occasion of the inauguration of the City of Roxas on May 12,1951 as reprinted in the Inaugural Program entitled, “Some Historical Notes About Capiz”)
The beginnings of the history of Capiz are lost in the dim and hazy past. To discover that past and reclaim facts that would serve the historian’s purpose he has to indulge in a lot of a posteriori reasoning.
Where the town is now located used to be mangrove and swamp. How Capiz came to be so named nobody is certain. There are extant several versions on this point, among which are the following: 1) When the Spaniards came to Capiz, they saw plenty of fish in the place. Asked as to the name of the fish, a native answered “lapis”. It is claimed that the conquerors heard “Kapiz” and so the town was named. (2) When the Spaniards settled Capiz, they found here an abundance of that mollusk known in the dialect as “pios”, otherwise called “kapiz”, which is the old local name, the shells of which were then, as they are now utilized for windows of houses. And so the town was named by the alien invaders.
Capiz at the start was not the capital of the province. The honor belonged to Panay, perhaps because the Spaniards settled in that place first. It was not long after, however, that they moved the capital to its present site upon discovering that Capiz is near the sea where their boats could have better docking facilities.
When was Capiz founded? It is a matter of record that in 1567, Legaspi came to Iloilo and settled in Arevalo. And in Aklan, some historical notes attest that the town of Kalibo was founded in 1566 by a companion-priest of Legaspi. While no positive record exists on the precise date of the founding of Capiz now City of Roxas, considering that Capiz is near and on terra firme with Iloilo and Aklan, one may safely conclude that the town must have been settled not long after those dates.
The church of Capiz now being reconstructed, before its insane destruction, was one of the most imposing in this land. The foundation was laid in 1870 and the construction was completed in 1877 under the direction of the Spanish priest, Rev. Father Apolinar Alvarez. How it has withstood the vicissitudes of time is a tribute to his skill. During the early years of the Spanish rule, Capiz was included in the diocese of Cabu. In1867, during the rein of Queen Isabel, the diocese of Jaro was erected and Capiz came under its jurisdiction. In February of that year, the erection of Capiz into an independent and separate diocese was announced, as well as the nomination of Msgr. Manuel Yap of Cebu as its first pastor.
There is no way to trace definitely the early form of government of Capiz. But it is safe to assume it was the same as the one in other parts of the conquered territory. As far back as 1568, in compliance with a royal decree, Legaspi divided the country into “encomiendas” and apportioned among deserving Spaniards who were called “encomienderos”. The earliest “encomiendas” were granted by Legaspi in1570 in Cebu. After the encomienda system which was ordered abolished in 1574 due to the intolerable abuses of the encomienderos, the “alcaldia” was introduced, giving way, in a more or less definte form, to provincial and local governments.
Each province called an “alcaldia was headed by an alcaldia mayor”, and the towns into which the alcaldia was divided were called “municipios” or “pueblos”, each headed by a “governadorcillo”. The “alcalde mayor” exercised executive, administrative, judicial and military functions. While the governadorcillo was the petty governor in the town, his principal duties were the enforcement of the laws and the collection of taxes. This form of government continued until 1866 when by two royal decrees the new office of civil governor was created.
The alcalde mayor retained only the judicial powers and was thenceforth called “juez de primera instancia”. His other functions were transferred to the civil governor. In 1893, another change in the provincial and local governments was decreed, increasing their autonomy, by virtue of the liberal Maura Law promulgated on May 19 of that year. The governadorcillo became “capitan municipal” and a municipal councilor the power to legislate on purely local matters was created. A provincial board was also established in the capital of each province. Previous to 1885, the governadorcillo was at the same time the town judge. In that year, justices of the peace courts were established in the municipalities, with the commendation of the president of the Royal Audiencia.
The Maura Law reforms came rather too late. For two years after their taking effect, Andres Bonifacio had raised the Cry of Balintawak, epitomizing his indomitable spirit and the firm determination of this people to be free from the shackles of tyranny. Capiz was surrendered without a fight by Governor Herrero to Gen.
Ananias Diokno accompanied by Macario Adriatico, his Chief of Staff, who was later to distinguish himself as an orator and a parliamentarian. The day has been won for the Revolution but only for a passing interregnum. For on December 8 1899, the Americans landed in Capiz, and wrested sovereignty from the Filipinos. The United States Army put up its own administration but allowed Joe M. Awhowas then the capital municipal to continue as head of the municipal government until the coming of Governor Taft early in 1901. The arrival of Governor Taft was the occasion for the inauguration of the civil government. He appointed Dr. Simplicio Jugo Vidal as the first governor of Capiz under the American regime and Mariano Chiyuto become the first municipal president of the town.
Who were those who had held the position of Gobernadorcillo of Capiz? Few names could now be remembered. They are Isidro Azarraga, Juan Albar, Dionisio Barrios, Manuel Barrios, and Lino Villaruz. When the Maura Law was made effective in Capiz, LinoVillaruz was the Gobernadorcillo and became under the new law the capitan municipal. He was succeeded by Jose M. Albar who held the position until the establishment of the civil government under the American regime, when Mariano Chiyuto became the first municipal president. He was followed in office by Vivencio Villaruz, Pastor Alcazar, Antonio Laserna, Manuel Arnaldo, Santiago Andrada, Calixto Alvarez, Eduardo Abalos, and Eduardo Pardo. The last was the chief executive of the town when the war broke out. After liberation, Eduardo Pardo having previously died, Vice Mayor Libertad A. Conlu became the town executive and was later succeeded by Arturo A. Jugo.
During the Spanish rule Loctugan was an independent municipality but on April 4, 1903, it was annexed to Capiz by virtue of the provisions of Act No. 720 of the Philippine Commission.
The time was when this town enjoyed no little prosperity. That was when the Ayala interests of Manila put up in 1835 a distillery in Kawayan, Panay, which was later moved to Capiz, buying nipa tuba from the people, distilling it, and sending the distilled wine to Manila for the refinery. Owners of extensive swamplands became very prosperous. This period of plenty lasted until 1914 when the new Internal Revenue laws drove the distillery out of business.
The town of Capiz is ideally situated, with a pristine beauty all its own. It has a beach the like of which is rarely found in the Philippines. A river meanders across the town, cuts it at the heart, and divides it almost equally into two. The Southern half is new and hums with activity because of the happy accident that all arteries of commerce converge in that area. The Northern half is the old, original site. The expansion of the town seems to follow a southward direction. That the town should likewise grow towards its incomparable beach is a view cherished by many. Two bridges now span it but many feels that another one to the west must be built to relieve the congestion on the two bridges, improve and expand further the town.
As the new city is born, with the approval of its charter by the President of the Philippines, not a few entertain a feeling of sadness, for the loss of Capiz. But is it realized that Capiz at this historic moment plays the role of a mother? Who is the mother who will hesitate to pay the supreme sacrifice that her son may live? Let it then go down in history that Capiz, the mother, is today paying the supreme sacrifice that she is gladly giving way to Roxas, the son of her predilection. At any rate, as long as Roxas lives, Capiz, for having given flesh and blood to that great name, will also live. Compiled by Bienvenido P. Cortes, May 7, 2012