Aerial view of Ilawod Caraycaray, Naval, Biliran. Photo by Jalmz


ONCE UPON A PUEBLO. Tropical Storm “Urduja” had inflicted the most number of casualties (26 dead and 7 still missing, due to drowning from the flash floods or multiple injuries from landslides) from any natural disaster in the known history of the town.

But this was not the greatest human loss we have incurred in our immediate geography. The record was set by a devastating Moro raid on May 26, 1754 (or 263 years ago) on the ancient poblacion of Biliran pueblo, located in the present Urduja-destroyed Sitio Ilawod of Brgy. Caraycaray in Naval (shown in the drone photo of

The year 1754 was the worst year of the Moro raids in Philippine history, and the raid on Biliran pueblo was given headline treatment and prominence by then Spanish Gov.-Gen. Pedro Manuel de Arandia y Santestevan in the report he submitted to the King. In much the same way that Pres. Duterte gave prominence to the recent Urduja disaster in our province.

The following was the (redundant) report of the governor-general on the Moro raid in Biliran in 1754 (which I had translated to English):

“On the twenty-sixth of May of this year [1754] there entered in the pueblo of Biliran of this Province of Leyte and Catbalonga [i.e. Samar] numerous Moros who went by land along the little river of Anas, a distance of one league and a half or two away from it. Thus, having reached the interior part of the mountain, they plundered the dwellings and wrought great devastation. They seized or captured many inhabitants with the exception of the gobernadorcillo [native mayor] who managed to escape. They plundered and stole all the jewels [alhajas, i.e., the sacred vessels such as chalices, ciboria, pyxes, monstrance, vestments, etc.] and the church furnishings. They razed and destroyed all the planted fields along with all the houses, so much so that there was no place to live or any plantations left to survive on.

“In this year and through the month of May, the Moros destroyed the Pueblo of Biliran in this jurisdiction and burned its church. They captured many inhabitants and took away the vestments and sacred vessels. Stubbornly they stayed and tarried there, creating thousands of hostilities, by which reason the natives all the more were scattered in all their deprivation …

“… (T)he Moros have caused this ‘miscarriage’ [i.e. devastation] on the twenty-six of May in this year of ‘54 [1754] in the pueblo of Biliran on the Island of Panamao, in the jurisdiction of Leyte. They razed this town and all the visitas [outlying settlements with chapels visited by a non-resident priest] and took along with them the precious jewels [i.e., sacred vessels, etc.] and ornaments of the church and all those of the priest. They took with them a portion of captives but with some fortune there escaped the Capitan [mayor] and the fiscal [treasurer] of the same pueblo. They also burned all the houses and destroyed the towns of this region and especially those of Biliran, Caybiran, Mapuyo and Maripipi.”

In 1754, Anas River still cut across the landscape and its mouth was in the present Brgy. San Pablo. By apparently sailing from the east and south and landing on this area, the Moro boats were sufficiently blocked by a low hilltop from the view of the local sentinels on the mountain (who were monitoring the open sea on the west) at the time of the raid.

Two local place-names in the area can be dated back to May 26, 1754. One is Inagawan (place of abduction or grabbing). This was apparently the place where most residents of Biliran pueblo were captured by the Moro raiders, trapped as they were while seeking refuge in the baluarte (watch tower), the church, and the casa-real (government house) here. The other is Macababalo (something that can create widows), apparently an indictment against the assigned sentinels on the present Brgy. San Pablo (the new name), who failed to detect the Moro raiders in the vicinity and to alert the residents about them.

Padre Gaspar de Guevara, the first Secular parish priest of Biliran, pulled out the Biliran poblacion from the present Sitio Ilawod and transferred this to the forest on the present Brgy. Hugpa in Biliran town. The move was apparently in protest against the expulsion of the Jesuits from Leyte-Samar and the Philippines in 1768 or 250 years ago. But this is another story.

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.

Hometown Naval

HOMETOWN NAVAL. My hometown of Naval, Biliran Province will commemorate the 155th Naval Pueblo Day on September 26, 2015. In May 2012, I found the original petition and paper trail for Naval’s pueblo creation while doing research at the Philippine National Archives. I had it photo-copied and later transcribed its text written in Spanish, which I translated to both English and Cebuano-Bisaya. I had the petition paper copied and framed and turned over to the municipal government thru Mayor Susan V. Parilla during the 112th Pueblo Day rites in September 2012. Here is the Cebuano translation of the petition:

“Pinakahalangdon nga Senyor:

“Ang teniente ug mga principales sa visita sa Nasombol, nga sakop sa pueblo sa Biliran sa Provincia sa Leyte, atubangan sa Imong Excelencia sa pamaagi nga labing maayong ipadayon ug ipaabot sa diretsuhay, nagpakita nga puno sa pagka mainalagdon ug pagtahud nga magpahayag: nga kini nga visita makita nga duol kaayo ug hapit makanit sa usa pa nga ginganlan ug Bagombong, ug ang duha [ka visita] nagmugna sumala sa ilang kahimtang nga himoon nga usa ka poblacion o lungsod. Kung itampo, aduna silay sobra upat ka gatos (400) ka tributos, o magbarayad sa buhis, lakip ang walo (8) ka Cabezas de Barangay, upat (4) niini gikan sa Nasombol ug ang laing upat (4) gikan sa Bagombong. Ug nagpuyo kini sila sa habagatan sa ilang sabakan sa Biliran, gikan diin layo sila ug bali upat (4) ka oras pinaagi sa baktasan sa yuta, ug molabang pa sa ubay-ubay nga mga bukid ug muubog sa pila ka mga salug nga lagmit makahatag ug kalisod ug kahadlok sa panahon sa uwan ug baha. Ug bahin sa paglayag sa samang distansiya, nanginahanglan kini ug pagbugsay nga moagi sa usa ka tinuod nga lisod nga agianan [sa dagat] nga makapabalaka sa panahon sa callar [diin linaw kaayo ang dagat ug walay hangin nga muhuyop sa layag sa sakayan], ug diin klaro ang peligro nga masikop sa mga Moros, nga tungod sa ilang nabatasanan nga pamirata kanunay mo-atake sa mga kabaybayonan, ug nga ang mga nabiktima nila dili lamang pipila nga puyde mahitala dinhi niini nga dokumento. Tungod niini nga rason, namiling sila ug paagi nga mahiuna sa pagpamati sa administrasyon sa Hustisya sa Nasud ug nagtudlo ngadto sa pagpalabi sa sagdon ug direksiyon gikan sa [kaugalingon nga] Gobernadorcillo, usa nga puyde o kinahanglan malauman para niini; mao ni ang gilauman. O manligwat sila ug utang nga buot gikan sa sawug [sa imong korte]. Ug sa laktud pa, nangita sila ug kaugalingnan sa pagpahimulos sa tanan mga bintaha ug kahimyang nga, sa tanan nga katarungan, kaangayan lang matagamtaman [dinhi] sa ilang mga visita [nga gipuy-an].

“Ubos sa mao nga panghunahuna, ug sa walay pagtago gikan sa superyor nga paghusay sa Imong Excelencia, ang pagbulag niining visita sa Nasombol gikan sa iyang kaulohan, ang Biliran, ug ang pakighiusa sa Bagombong ug ang pagtiros sa duha ngadto sa usa ka pormal nga pueblo nga adunay Gobernadorcillo nga mangulo niini gawas sa Biliran, magresulta sa paghatag ug dako nga mga bintaha ug labihan nga pag-usbaw sa mga tributos [o buhis] ug sa kinamaayohan nga pagdumala sa ilang lumulupyo, sama sa panguma ug pananom sa kadam-an. Ug ang mga pamalaud alang sa kaayohan sa mga lumad, nga nagagikan sa pangarit ug pag-agma sa usa ka Gobernadorcillo nga naa sa duol, puyde mamugna, nga angay sa napanahon na nga pagbulag gikan sa Biliran ug sa musunod nga pagtukod sa pueblo nga, engkaso ang hangyo sa mga tigpasiugda mahatagan ug labaw nga pagtahud, tawgon kini nga pueblo sa Naval.

“Ang mga naghangyo aduna’y dungog nga ipadayag sa Imong Excelencia ang igo nga legal nga pundasyon nga makasuporta niini nga aplikasyon. Dili kini momenos sa paghangyo, inubanan sa tim-us nga pagpahiubos, nga ang gihinabihan nga visita sa Nasombol, isip nahimutang sa usa ka lapad kaayo ug maanindot nga patag nga duol sa dagat ug igo-igo ang katambok sa yuta, ug anaa na karon sa positibo nga kabuot nga muuswag inubanan sa panahon ngadto sa pagka pueblo nga halangdon [sa uban]. Wala nay lain nga makatarunganon pa niini, ang pagka angayan (sa panahon nga makab-ot ang katuyuan) nga ania dinhi nagpuyo ang Gobernadorcillo, tungod sa bintaha niini nga sitwasyon ug sa uban pang kahimtang nga nakapalibot niini. Labihan lang kini kaangayan ug kamatarung tungod kay ang gitala nga visita aduna nay igo-igo kalu-ag nga simbahan ug inubanan sa Casa Real (o balay sa gobyerno) ug tribunal (o munisipyo), nga adunay balwarte nga hinimo sa kahoy ug igo ang konstruksiyon didto sa baybayon sa maong visita.

“Ang mga tigpasiugda matinuuron sa tanan nga ebidensiya nga ilang gibungat ug wala itago gikan sa makinaadmanon ug labaw nga pagsantop sa Imong Excelencia, ang posible ug napanahon nga kaayuhan nga isumat diha sa sawug [sa korte] sa mga moatubang bahin sa pagbulag nga gihangyo sa Imong Excelencia. Molakat sila puno sa pagsalig nga makapadasig sa kalag sa mga ginsakupan, [nga mao] ang kaluoy sa Imong Excelencia nga kanunay itugot aron maminaw sa mga pangamuyo niadtong mga nagsalig sa katarong sa [ilang] mga katuyuan. Moabot sila nga mapinaubsanon mopahayag sa ilang hangyo atubangan sa bantugan nga kaluoy sa Imong Excelencia, makimaluoy uban sa tanang pagtahud nga ang [hukom] nga itugyan nagtimbangtimbang sa tanan nga gipahayag, ug gipaagi sa katarungan nga kanunay gitugot ug nagagikan sa Imong Excelencia; ug itugyan ang pagtugot niini nga petisyon karon, nga nag-inusara nga ipasunod alang sa pinakamahapsay nga pagdumala ug kaayuhan sa mga lumulupyo niining [duha] ka mga visita, ug sa posible nga pag-usbaw sa interes sa kaharian gikan niining dapita.

“Imong Excelencia, uban ang pagpahiubos ug tim-us nga pagtahud, naghangyo sila ug naghingyap nga matugyan ug gasa nga pagtugot kini nga aplikasyon, nga mao ang grasya ug tinigamnan nga pabor nga ilang gilauman gikan sa maluluy-on nga kasingkasing sa Imong Excelencia, kinsang kinabuhi gipanalipdan sa Ginoo pinaagi sa hilawig ug malipayon nga mga katuigan alang sa kaayuhan ug kalipayan niining mga Isla [sa Pilipinas]. Ug nanumpa sila nga dili manukad gikan sa malisya o maut nga katuyuan.”

Mao kini ang gisulat sa petisyon nga gipirmahan sa Nasombol niadtong petsa 28 sa Enero, 1857.
Ang tigpasiugda nga mga principales gikan sa visita sa Nasombol mao sila Narciso Napulis, ang teniente sa Nasombol; Seberino Saberon, nga usa ka Cabeza sa Barangay; Pedro de la Torre; Francisco Corpin; Trocio Sancap; Pablo Sabonido; Luciano Sabondo; ug Miano Morron.

Ang tigpasiugda nga mga principales gikan sa visita sa Bagombong mao sila Carlos Taburo Caparo; Antonio Abigas; Ygnacio Sabenay; Angelio Sandigan; Esteban Ebajo; Domingo Dopal, nga usa ka Cabeza de Barangay; ug Bernardino Lavete.

Ang naghatag sa visto bueno o katugutan mao si Padre Juan Garcia Inocentes, kura parroco sa Parokya sa Biliran gikan sa 1839 ngadto sa 1861.

154th Naval Pueblo Day Part 3

A portion of the 154th Naval Pueblo Day parade yesterday

154th Naval Pueblo Day Part 2

Many contingents are joining the public parade.

154th Naval Pueblo Day Part 1

A very long parade for Naval Pueblo Day 2014.

Biliran Festival – 302nd Biliran Founding Anniversary

302nd Biliran Founding Anniversary Parade

The town of Biliran commemorates today September 10, 2014 the 302nd anniversary of its founding as a pueblo on Sept. 10, 1712. Read more


CosPlay Competition Naval

COSPLAY competition

Catch the ever 1st COSPLAY competition to spice up Naval fiesta celebration 2016…Read below for the details.