62nd Courier Anniversary Issue
Mt. Province

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Kabugao towards its centennial year
by Teodoro Tapiru

When this Apayao municipality reaches its centennial in 2013, local historians will need to brush up on the town’s beginnings. Reliable historical data will be useful for the focus of the celebration.

Also, a tribute to every local government leader- the prime agents of change who took turns in doing their share in the growth and development of Kabugao through the years, bringing it to where it is today - should be in order.

Kabugao was organized into a township under the American colonial regime in 1913. The place was the seat of a military government during the American pacification campaign among the Apayao natives of Northern Luzon who were opposed to organized living. These natives were eventually subdued sometime in 1916 after the so-called “Decisive Battle of Waga.”

The first presidente or mayor of Kabugao appointed by the American military government was Manuel Rugrug, a native of Bulu, a riverside barrio located downstream from Kabugao Poblacion. Rugrug served as mayor from 1914 until 1933. Since 1933, 15 people served one after the other, either as mayor, acting mayor, or officer-in-charge in meeting the exigencies of the local leadership through the years up to the present. For the purpose of this brief write-up, here is the complete roster of these officials:

Kabugao mayors   Inclusive years
Manuel Rugrug 1914 to 1933
Vicente Dawan 1933 to 1934
Conrado Batlong 1934 to 1947
Ramon Basan 1947 to 1950
Ducusin Awisi  1950 to 1953
Rufino Ducrao  1954 to 1956
Jose Enciso 1957 to 1963
Florentino Tapiru  1963 to 1964
Jose Agcon  1964 to 1967
Manuel Era 1968 to 1979
Bartolome Serut  1979 to 1986
Ramon Basan 1987 to 1988
Salcedo Agunos  1988 to 1989
Martin Ligwang  1989 to 1992
Dionisio Agudelo  1992 to 2001
Reynald Talimbatog 2001 to present

These leaders of Kabugao showed that nothing can really be permanent except change. Under motivated leadership, therefore, the Kabugao centennial is seen as another great change—a fresh challenge to meet. However, it must initially give tribute to these local leaders for what they have done to make Kabugao what it is today. Every growth and development credited under their respective terms of office roughly fills up three periods: pre-Liberation, post war, and modernization periods.

The Pre-Liberation
The first period covers the years from Rugrug’s time up to the end of Conrado Batlong’s tenure in 1947. Rugrug chiefly devoted his time to extensive campaigns of bringing wild and hostile Apayao natives or Isnags into the fold of the law and mediating peace pacts among warring tribes in the region.

Vicente Dawan continued this process of forging peace treaties among the natives. Dawan also intensified the implementation of compulsory education in the primary and elementary grades in the locality. Batlong further promoted compulsory education among all the barrios and initiated the enforcement of the Land Registration Act of 1936 and the road tax.

Post War
After the Pacific War, Batlong established farm settlement schools and began the rehabilitation of the locality from the ravages of the Japanese occupation.
The post-war period covers Ramon Basan’s term from 1947 up to the start of Jose Agcon’s tenure in 1964. Basan worked for the installation of a telegraph office in the municipality and the recruitment of teachers from the lowlands to teach in newly opened elementary schools. He constructed a municipal auditorium with the help of World War II AUS veterans. He got funds from the War Damage Commission for the construction of school buildings in the Poblacion. He also instituted the celebration of an annual town fiesta in honor of the parish’s patron saint.

Ducusin Awisi chiefly devoted his efforts in the encouragement of every barrio household to plant coffee and other fruit trees, enforced free labor in the building of school houses and facilities, and established a welfare fund for bereaved and indigent families.
Rufino Ducrao simply continued the programs of Awisi.

Jose Enciso took over in 1957. During his term, he initiated the work of creating Kabugao as a regular municipality, undertook great improvements of the town plaza and extensive construction of foot trails in all the barangays of the locality.

When Jose Agcon began to serve in 1964, Kabugao  made a great leap forward. His time ushered in the completion of the vehicular road from the Cagayan Valley up to the Poblacion and “modern times” began to quicken the life of the townspeople.

President Diosdado Macapagal visited Kabugao in 1965 and it was Agcon who piloted a 40-HP motorboat that ferried the presidential party from Lucban, Cagayan up to the town. With some financial dole-out from the Commission on National Integration, Agcon cleared the Apayao River of protruding rocks and lessened the hazards of travel along the river. The river was still the main means of transportation to the lowlands at the time. He renovated the Basan auditorium and erected many Marcos-type school buildings in the barangays.

Manuel Era’s term actually launched the modernization in the life of the people in the locality. The arrival of jeeps, fieras, and weapon carriers inspired the inhabitants into dreams of better lifestyles. The municipal leadership planned for great changes. Era focused on the massive employment of qualified individuals in the local government unit; speedy improvement of the national road from Conner to Kabugao; establishment of Kabugao District Hospital and barangay health centers; formulation of the Five-Year Municipal Deve-lopment Plan; acquisition of a regular Bureau of Internal Revenue allotment; preparation of a blueprint and the subsequent start of the construction of the two-story municipal hall; and conversion of foot trails into barangay roads all over the locality.
Bartolome Serut followed Era. He initiated the construction of the basketball complex under Era’s Five-Year Development Plan, the building complex of Kabugao District Hospital, including the construction of the main health unit in Poblacion.

Salcedo Agunos, who followed Serut, hastened the completion of the concrete municipal hall and the start of the Tammang overflow bridge across the Binuan River.

 When Martin Ligwang took over, he completed the Tammang Bridge, approved the program of Kabugao electrification by the Natio-nal Power Corporation; and worked for the installation of ferries across strategic points of the Apayao and Binuan rivers.

When Dionisio Agudelo began his term in 1992, news making events appeared to make the memory of his administration long-lasting. The devolution of vital line agencies in 1993 to LGUs gave impetus to his programs along infrastructure deve-lopment; social, economic and health services; land reforms including expansion and improvement of public services. His term also saw the creation as a distinct province under Republic Act 7878 with Kabugao as the capital and seat of the provincial government. This political and historic development during Agudelo’s administration was seen fit for no less than former president Fidel V. Ramos to fly to the capital town on Aug. 1, 1995 to install the officials of the newly created province in awe-inspiring ceremonies held at the Kabugao gymnasium.

Looking forward to 2013
Incumbent mayor Reynald Talimbatog is now in the last year of his third term. Since he became town executive in 2001, Talimbatog has been implementing a program of government focused on reaching out to every barangay. His emphasis is the improvement of the socio-economic life of every family by bringing development to the doorsteps of every barrio household.

Among the most vital of these “doorstep” projects are: farm-to-market roads linking the barangays to Poblacion; multi-purpose pavements; barangay health centers and day care centers; standard schoolhouses; agricultural machineries, including post-harvest facilities; provisions of outboard motorboats for barangays along the Apayao River; lighting system for remote barangays; including recreational centers like concrete basketball courts and community stages; barangay halls and community shelter projects.

To promote a strong sense of togetherness and unity among the barrio people, he initiated and institutionalized the celebration of annual barangay fiestas which are periodically highlighted with LGU caravans rendering front-line office services, and medical and dental missions.

When Talimbatog bows out of office after the 2010 elections, his successor faces a veritable challenge in preparing for the three-year countdown to the town’s centennial.

The forthcoming “centennial mayor,” undoubtedly, will not be simply contented with what Kabugao has become in a span of 96 years. Like Bernard Shaw, he will have to “Dream of things that never were and ask, why not?” He must continue improving the locality and the life of the people.

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:: SLU centennial: Wishfully looking forward, reverently looking back
:: Mayoyao's thanksgiving festival: Beyond a hundred years
:: Strawberry farms: Juicy future in doubt
:: A collation of other centenarians in Baguio
:: From ‘warriors’ to educators and missionaries
:: English after a century or so

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