Recent Accomplishments in the History and Culture Scene of Naval

Dr. Rolando O. Borrinaga

(Speech at the 155th Naval Pueblo Day Program on September 26, 2015, held at the Municipal Grounds in Naval, Biliran.)

It is my great honor and pleasure to be with all of you again for the 155th anniversary of Naval Pueblo Day. Except for last year, when I could not come here because of a conflict in schedule to speak at a conference that launched a new regional history group in Tacloban, I always came here for this celebration since the year 2007. But although absent, I still had my speech on the history of disasters in our town read to you by Vice-Mayor Redy Villordon. This is my small symbolic way of giving importance to and supporting a mayor who is a native of and had grown up in Naval. Kanang mayor nga lumad ug nagtubu dinhi sa Naval.

We have accomplished much in the history and culture scene of Naval since Mayor Susan Parilla was voted into office in 2007. That year, we corrected the date of the founding of Naval pueblo based on updated information from my research. We also returned the commemoration of the town fiesta from January to its original October schedule. A unique component of our celebrations that started in 2007 is the Tsinelas Party on the evening of our fiesta, which has become a magnet of its own for people to join our affair.

I must emphasize here that by the time the late DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo popularized his Tsinelas brand of leadership and governance under the Aquino Administration in 2010, our Tsinelas Party in Naval was already four years old. Naunahan natu silang tanan.

Our Tsinelas Party has replaced the annual Grand March to welcome the New Year at midnight every December 31. One non-native past leader suppressed the previous unifying cultural and democratic ritual years ago, and in the process also caused the demolition of our iconic old Town Hall and Municipal Quadrangle, on the place now occupied by the Naval Gymnasium.

This can also be done again for the democratic Tsinelas Party and its underlying message of protest. But fortunately, our people will never run out of creative alternatives to subvert suppressive acts that are intended to divide and control us – ang mga lumad nga taga Naval.

In 2008, I launched my third history book titled Leyte-Samar Shadows: Essays on the History of Eastern Visayas here in Naval, as a component of the Pueblo Day and Naval Town Fiesta activities that year. This book includes a number of chapters I had researched and written that shed light on the history of our hometown.

In 2010, we had a grandiose celebration to commemorate the 150th or Sesquicentennial Anniversary of the Founding of Naval as Pueblo and Parish. Many of you still hold fond memories of the events of that year, which were documented and published in a hard-cover edition of a commemorative book with limited circulation, but which has a digital edition that I think can still be accessed in the Internet.

In 2011, aspects of Naval’s ancient history made it to primetime television, dramatized in the epic-series titled “INDIO” that was serialized by GMA-7 TV Channel over a period of several months, for which I served as History Consultant. For some time, the Bisayan words “Ilawod” and “Ilaya,” which are still place-names in our town, as well as the construction of galleon boats, which is represented on our municipal seal, were frequently mentioned in this historical fiction series.

In the same year, I discovered the original petition papers for the creation of Naval pueblo at the Philippine National Archives in Manila. I had the documents photo-copied and, after returning home to my Tacloban residence, I took time to flesh out the handwritten texts in Spanish, and had this translated to English and to Cebuano-Binisaya. I read my Cebuano translation of the original petition document during my speech here in 2012.

From this document we can infer that Bagasumbul, the old name of Naval that was handed to us by our forefathers, came from the abbreviated fusion of the names of Bagombong and Nasombol, the two visitas or large villages that proposed the creation of a new pueblo separate from the mother town of Biliran, which would be named Naval when approved. Thus, Bagasumbul was a transitional name that lasted about three years, from the signing of the petition in January 1857 until the erection of the Naval parish on September 26, 1860, which completed the pueblo creation process.

I turned over a framed set of the photo-copied petition document to Mayor Parilla in 2012, and I saw this hung on the display board of the Old SB Hall in the Municipal Building. I hope the corresponding transcriptions of its Spanish text and its translations to English and Binisaya would be displayed beside this important document.

Mayor Parilla will end her three terms as Naval mayor next year. As a concluding project, I hope she will allocate some funds for a magazine-type publication that would include my speeches, papers, the Naval pueblo petition, and other documents related to our Pueblo Day commemorations that came up during the nine years of her administration.

This publication will have an educational value for instilling pride of place and of heritage, and it will be useful to our teachers and students at all levels of the academe in Naval. They will then have some ready reference materials at hand about the history and culture of our town. And this is something that can be handed down to the next and future generations of Navaleños.

Salamat ug maayong buntag sa atong tanan.

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