>> Barangay Quirino: A Sketch of Its Origin, Identity, and Existence
It was 1949, a Sunday morning and the beginning of the Holy Week which fell on April 8 of that year. Gathered together in the residence and its premises of host Faustino Dacumos, a young man of 26 years and married, were the guests composing of seventeen family heads and some members of their respective families. The setting was amidst a sparsely populated land about two kilometers east of Barrio Debucao, the earliest settlement of Ilocanos in a portion of the valley of Baler, a costal plain situated on the middle and eastern side of Luzon adjacent to the Pacific Ocean where ten Ilocano families led by the family of Andres Ronquillo, coming from the province of La Union in the Ilocos Region, settled in 1916. No road then connected the various settlements in the valley but were connected to each other instead by muddy trails passing through primeval rainforests and partly cultivated tracts of land. The only sign or sound of modernity in this primitive setting was an airplane and the sounds made by its engines when passing low overhead twice weekly of the Philippine Airlines ferrying passengers from the valley of Baler to Manila or back ascending and descending in the skies above or near the place to land or take-off from the Baler Airport, some seven kilometers away to the south. The sounds produced by the airplanes were the most dominant then, but lesser sounds were also being made by wild fowls, birds, and animals, such as that of the hornbill which can be heard several kilometers away, sounds that cannot be heard anymore now as they were replaced by today’s sounds of various kinds of vehicles or machines. The guests and hosts lived far apart from each other in their houses built on their homesteads, or built on that of others for convenience sake, but now were gathered together for a particular occasion.
One of the guests was Jorge Ronquillo, then 38 years old, a former municipal secretary of the town of Baler and one of the sons of Andres Ronquillo. The latter became the first Ilocano town councilor of Baler, a town and its barrios which had residents mostly Tagalog. A movement was in progress and this was the creation of a new town with Jorge Ronquillo as prospective vice mayor and Pedro Montero as mayor. Being so, Jorge Ronquillo was conversant about matters pertaining to the creation of the new town, a topic that was most popular among the Ilocano settlers because concomitant to the creation would be the building of roads connecting the various settlements in the valley. Life then in the region was so hard because of lack of roads. From him was elicited the information that the biggest problem to overcome when the town was created would be where to build the municipal town hall or building because no one yet was willing to sell private land for the purpose. While dwelling on the topic, the family heads came to realize that the problem of the about-to-be-created town was very similar to that of their own who wanted to come together and live near each other but could not because of no available place or public land. The conversation turned to the tract of land immediately north of where the settlers were now gathered, a tract of land that seemed to be abandoned because no improvement on it was being introduced for a considerable period of time and it occurred to the heads of the families gathered at this particular occasion that the tract of land could be bought or be reverted to public land and subdivided for residential purposes with plaza, market place, and school grounds. The day had not yet ended or the guests and hosts parted and already the decision was made by the heads of families to organize and form an association named Union Aurora, with Jorge Ronquillo as president for the expressed purpose of setting into motion a train of activities for the laying down of the foundation of a new community. Florencio Magdirila was chosen as vice president, Daniel Ronquillo as secretary, treasurer was Eliseo Ronquillo, while host Faustino Dacumos was elected auditor. An advisory council was formed composing of Josue Ronquillo, Juan Pio, Valentin Dulatre, Gerardo Ancheta, Simplicio Quiben, Eusebio de Guzman, and Esteban Galande, as members.
The next day, or on Monday, contact in Baler was made with original claimant to the land, Cayetano Donato, who was willing eough to sell whatever rights he had over the tract of land composed of thirteen and a half hectares provided paid within two months from the day of contact and his written permission was granted for the Union Aurora members to enter the land largely composed of primeval forest and explore possibilities or its potentials for conversion into a community. The chain of events for the settling of the prospective community for further development and progress or growth began. The next significant event occurred with the payment on June 1, 1949, of 1,500 pesos for whatever right Cayetano Donato had on the property but continuous clearing of the land for subsistent agriculture had been going on since April 9, 1949, and was still in progress while the significant events were occurring. On September 14 1955, the order was given by the Bureau of Land for formal inspection of the place by one of its personnel to find out wheter the place was fit for a prospective community though it already was so at this period. The health department of the national government was contacted in November 2, 1956, and gave its approval for the conversion into a community on November 8, 1956. Finally, on February 16, 1957, the survey for the subdivision of the land was instituted. Thus, the infrasctructure or foundation of the new community was done for further growth and development, and this time, the bid of becoming a new municipality was launched. The effort somewhat culminated during the last days in office of President Diosdado Macapagal who created by executive order the place together with others elsewhere in the country as new municipalities. But this act was declared illegal later by the Supreme Court. And so this community was reverted to its status as a barrio, which has remained up to the dawning of the twenty-first century.
Originally written by George Ronquillo
Compiled by Silver Marzan