SAGADA

"Ipeyas nan Gawis"

To wage war against the Americans, it was then easy for the Katipuneros to recruit deserters. In 1898, Aguinaldo’s men passed by Agawa and recruited folks from Sagada as delaying force or deserters as a strategy to win over the Americans. Those recruited from Sagada together with others from Besao were Cordero, Basco, Baldo, Sumangki, Rulite. These men were brave to go to Isabela for a fight as they were informed that Americans can not see at day time. They were told ‘nan Amelikano masili da no kag-aw et adida makaila’. When in Isabela, they all ran away from their supposed enemy at the sight of the tall Americans with their guns while they were only armed with short bolos referred as immoko. Their visit to Isabela influenced them to build houses out of wood. They were the first to build ‘tinabla’ houses in Sagada patterned from what they saw in Isabela.

In 1902, when John Early was governor, the Sagada folks resisted the entry of the Americans. Despite the peoples’ resistance, Governor Early found his way to Sagada with an interpreter referred as ‘Scribente’ from Banggar, La Union. The Scribente asked the people if they liked a priest after he heard folks singing a hymn. When an old man agreed, Early ordered Bishop Brent, Fr. Staunton and Fr. Barter who came via South Harbor, Tutuban. From John Hay, the three arrived in Sagada in horse back from Bangnen. Bangnen by then was the end of the Spanish trail from Salcedo to Concepcion to Tirad Pass. From Tirad Pass another trail was towards Besao.

Bishop Charles Brent was an unabashed imperialist. He was convinced that God had placed the destiny of the world at the hands of the Anglo-Saxon race. When Philippine territory was opened, Bishop Brent who at that time was directing missionary work for Shanghai, lost no time in getting the Episcopal Church of America established in the Philippines and appointed him as its Bishop. The pagan cultures of the Cordillera fascinated Bishop Brent so he decided to erect the fortress of his faith high up at Sagada and outstation in Besao.

Rev. Fr. John Staunton coming in 1904 founded the school referred as the mission school. By 1907, there were 17 pupils and the first school building completed in 1912. In 1921, two completed first year high school trained by Fr. Staunton on typing, short hand and mind training. These students were Tomas Galgala and Adela Maliaman. In 1929 was the screening of Grade 7 for entry to the full four years under Fr. Robin. On April 8, 1930, the Sagada School was registered with the colonial government.

With Staunton’s mission to Christianize and educate the people, it was timely that the huge church bell (kampana) was transferred from Vigan to Sagada in 1921, During this period, Sagada has developed to be the seat of the Anglican church in Mountain Province. As a result, Sagada has come to be known by several descriptions such as “Roof of Northern Luzon”, by Free Press; “Little American Town”. Earlier than 1921, the spread of Christianity was sporadic that on June 29, 1905, the first baptism in Suyo as a mission station was done with the baptism of Pedro Sibayan Degan. Earlier than the baptism were others Christianized during the Spanish times with the Sapilada doctrine. Side by side in 1918, the first school under the Americans was built in Suyo. Pupils came from Suyo, Ankileng, Taccong and Nacagang. The first teacher was Mr. Hugh Yoggaw of Bontoc.

As Staunton continued to serve as missionary, he brought workers to Vigan, Ilocos Sur or to Tagudin and Banggar. Some found good families and were adapted as their sons. Just as some were enticed in coming uphill and later got employed by the government. Enticed with the copper in Suyoc, some Igorots who they said were from Sagada and a certain Moreno was caught getting copper made into ammunition. Moreno was later put to prison. Others from Vigan and Tagudin in their visit to the missionaries soon found employment as teachers, clerks, or engineers scattered all over the province.

Staunton was not only a missionary who established the Sagada Mission but an engineer as well. He realized how important transportation was and made a survey of Dantay-Sagada road in 1920. He had the tunnel in Nangonogan blasted and made a notice “Open for the use of the public by the Mission of St. Mary the Virgin” The opening of the tunnel made possible the use of the first pick-up vehicle used by a District Engineer who arrived in 1929. On that same year was also the inauguration of the opening of the Sagada-Besao road.

The mention of Sagada Mission School, now St. Mary’s School was the coming of other American missionaries before 1958 as in the case of Mr. Randal Norton, Miss Tomlin, Mr. William Henry Scott who actually participated in WWII as an enlisted man. Others were Fr. Henton assigned in Besao, Miss Hazel Gozline, Fr. Diman, Fr. George Haris, Mr. William R. Hughes, etc. Later, there was Rev. Archie Stapleton who arrived in 1959. In Ross Tipon’s Manuscript, “The Dark History of the Church”, he states, “In the 60s, a denizen by the name William Henry Scott came to stay. He had spent sometime in China like the earlier missionaries as a scholar. He had to pack up when Mao’s armies overran China and went briefly to Harvard before joining the Episcopal mission, first at Laoag, eventually at Sagada”.

In the 1920s, trading with the Ilocos continued. As recalled by Justin Daoas at age 89, the trading continued even during the American time. Daoas was about 9 years old, and he could remember traders with their bagon-like double-deck pushcart with flickering light underneath. The traders traveled even at night time to bring their stuff for commerce. It has all kinds of stuff like salt, lakem and other farm implements, woven materials for barter or for sale. They bartered with coffee or any other thing. The Ilocos learned to drink kape from Pidlisan. In the 1920s in the absence of electricity, the saleng was used in place of flashlights and kingki was used to light up the dark then later was the panol lamp. Both are kerosene-wicked.

American Time: Human Feature Stories.

An account of the Igorots in the 1904 – 1909 America’s Expositions included about three from Sagada. Amongst Sagada folks who described how they were flown to America and were made to perform gongs, eat with their hands, build huts, pound rice were Simon ‘Lambongi’ Masliyan, Lomas-e, Dagag and a woman Baket Merced Gewan. This dates back in 1904 and 1909 that coincides with the  1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. Missouri, USA and that of the Alaska-Yukon Pacific Exposition in Seattle in 1909. Their entry was at Portland and through the Puget Sound water ways. These folks were then among the thousands of Filipinos including more than a hundred Igorots recruited for that the American Expositions.

Sometime within these years, an actual attack among villages was when the Sagada people attacked Dalican during the American time in revenge of the massacre in Sagada during the Spanish times where they participated. No record of how many were killed. The conflict had hold on for years that again in the 1990s was the Dalican-Fedilisan conflict over the water rights when a multi-million project was to be implemented from the ‘pork barrel’ fund of the former Congressman Victor S. Dominguez.

            From 1910 – 1934, just as there were Sagada-Igorots who were recruited to America, others recruited to join militant groups, there were a few Japanese civilians who came to Sagada and were hired as carpenters or builder of buildings established by the Americans as in the case of Yoshikawa, Yamashita, Yamani, Deki, Takahashi, Aihara. Yoshikawa helped the Americans in building the St. Benedicts Church in Besao. Aside from carpentry, Yoshikawa baked ground black rice and sold to others. He died in 1934. Dr. Leoncio Carlin and Melecia Y. Segwaben are the living heirs of Yoshikawa.  A certain Yamani, a photographer, Yamashita and Deki married  in Sagada. Takahashi and Aihara married in Balili and Bontoc. These Japanese carpenters were hired to build and rebuild buildings as in the garrisons and other missionary buildings. The Reyes siblings are the descendants of Deki who married Elena Baldo of Sagada.    Melecia Yoshikawa Segwaben, born in November 1918 recalled  her father Yoshikawa who was then a carpenter, used to work with Bishop Brent.

Other events from 1903 to 1929 was the outbreak of the epidemic that is usually referred as ‘timpon di trangkaso’.  Flora Bondad Abeya, (96 years old) says during the outbreak of epidemic, she was barely a young girl but could vividly remember an American, who she knew later as Mrs. Staunton, who visited the sick from house to house with a pot of rice forage (linugaw) to feed the sick. The indefatigable Reverend and Mrs. Staunton were very much loved by the Sagada people. Mrs. Staunton who was trained as a nurse also taught the people home crafts. In 1924, the Stauntons were accompanied by the villagers via Bagnen when they had to go back to their homeland.

As documented by Bartolome Daoas, in between the seasonal traditional socio-economic activities are some sort of play like sanggol (hand duel with two individuals), gabbu (kind of wrestling). Incidentally, as documented in the book ‘Candon Idi ken Ita’  by Jose Avance, gabbu was a strategy used to select the most fit to marry an Igorot lady named Ineng among the early settlers of Candon. In the 1920s, the war and conflicts were influences of the activities of the people like the Sagada ‘rock fight’. This was soon related by Dalmacio Maliaman, an eye witness when he was student in the Sagada Mission school in the late 1920s. Additional detail and local color was accounted by Alfredo Pacyaya, based on actual participation. As narrated by Pacyaya, the rock fight simulated actual battle conditions that would lead to injuries when hit by the stones.

On account of catastrophe, the worst that ever happened in Sagada during the American time was that in Balugan in 1935 when the mountain in Dapeng eroded and buried about 160 people. Houses and animals were buried. Due to famine the most of the remaining survivors migrated to Poblacion Sagada and composed a dap-ay Namsong and Dampalig in 1936. Some migrated elsewhere.  On issues of warring tribes, during the American  regime, headhunters from villages of Bontoc, sweeped down the hills of Balugan under cover of darkness and killed several settlers. They brought with them the heads of those they killed and played gongs as a sign of victory. This was a repetition of the Dagdag massacre in 1898 under the Spanish regime.

Pre-Spanish Time Spanish Period Japanese Occupation Peace Accounts