"Ipeyas nan Gawis"
The Spaniards first came in contact with the people of Sagada in 1625. Spanish expeditions came about and among the many villages in the north that paid tribute to the first two major Igorot settlements in Kayan and Lubon included Antadao, Balugan and Fedilisan. This was in early 1667 when Admiral de Monforte Pedro Duran under the command of Governor General Salcedo reached the two settlements and found them abandoned so his men built their fort. This lasted up to 1674. Spanish missionaries who reached Sagada experienced the extremely cold weather during December, January and February. Then in 1897 was the so-called Ragtag Army. As chronicled in the ‘Candon Ita ken Idi’, (Jose P. Acance,1997, page iii), on December 15, 1897, Isabelo Abaya in his Ragtag Army composed of Igorots included the g-string men from Sagada. To name some were a certain Laygan, Bugkaw and Dakwag who surrendered their firearms after the Pack of Biak-na-Bato. Isabelo who was sometimes referred as Don Abaya took these Igorots to San Juan del Monte and enrolled them in a secret society called ‘Iglesia Monastica Pilipinas’, a movement of more than a thousand members to fight against the abuses of the Spaniards. Don Abaya and his men served under General Artemio Ricarte. Gen. Ricarte died later in Tinglayan, Kalinga in the early 1940s. During the days of armed uprising to fight atrocities, inequalities and inequities suffered from Spanish rule, most of the leaders from Candon took refuge in Sagada. Under Lt. Col. Joaquin Alejandrino, Isabelo Abaya while seeking refuge in Sagada was ordered to report for the capture of Bontoc. On December 10, 1898, Isabelo Abaya again led the 225 Igorots to Malolos for the opening of the Philippine-American War that took place in February 1899. The 225 Igorots included men from Sagada. At that time (Scott, p.298), Sagada, Ankileng Balugan,and the neighboring villages, Bagnen and Data were where most inhabitants settled with about 1000 each. This was observed by Dr. Alex Schadenberg, a German pharmacist living in Vigan who in 1885 came to visit Commandancia Politico Militar de Bontoc. The difficulty of the Spanish soldiers to reach the places to get food convinced Fray Gonzales to construct an eight-kilometer horse trail from Sagada to Taccong and from Sagada to Besao. In the so called Reduction from the West in the 18th century, Sagada, Tetep-an and Besao used the direct westward passage through Tirad Pass to reach Vigan and Candon where they traded their goods and transacted business along with others. Likewise, most tenientes or Spanish officials pass through Bessang Pass. In 1898, since there were no bridges those times, crossing a river was a predicament. At one time in Cervantes, Biag Bosaing who was a strong, tall and sturdy man had to carry a Spanish teniente on his back in crossing the river. Thus, by acting as a horse (kabayo), he was named Kabayo.
Special Events Unforgettable among the living elders of Sagada was the massacre in Demang and Dagdag with considerable loss of life. On May 11, 1898, Commandant Eduardo Xandaro, upon hearing that there were Katipunero sympathizers in Sagada, immediately organized auxillary forces from nine Bontoc satellite villages and attacked Sagada resulting in the beheading of more than 80 residents. The heads were brought home to Bontoc as a show of victory and only to claim their prize of free meal from the Spaniards.
Most vivid in the massacre event was how a child-survivor named Bangiyad survived the time of being orphaned with no food and shelter. Bangiyad was later renamed Pukol to describe her physical disability of amputated hands. While the Spanish priests came to Christianize the people, the massacre as related by Justin Daoas was due to the resistance of the people to pay the exorbitant fee of P200.00 cedula as demanded by the Spanish soldiers. Another reason was due to the suspicion that the people of Sagada supported the Philippine Revolution in 1898. For the Spanish soldiers not to be reported to higher authorities of their atrocities, they approached leaders of satellite villages in Bontoc who consented to do the actual beheading of anyone in the village, young and old. These men from the 9 satellite villages strategically positioned themselves silently in every house such that early at dawn when any of the household comes out to fetch water or to build fire, they were beheaded. The presence of a certain Tacyaya from Bontoc who was married in Sagada, saved the lives of many.
By human nature, the Sagada folks so confused of being innocent victims of beheading made an immediate reaction. They tried to make revenge so people flocked to the convent where there were priest to attack. During those times of unrest, there was Agustin Dawaten who stayed atop their roof shouting to warn the folks upon spotting some attackers coming. On account of Diyaw Domingo Degawan and Soledad Killip in an interview, Bangiyad at nine months old was orphaned by his massacred parents. Inan Bakyot took Bangiyad and gave her to Onnada, her aunt, who was then capable to nurse her with the assistance of her sister Dangonay. Then after a year, Bangiyad was passed to her other aunt Bistanga who had other children Emilia and Manengba Makellay, the forebears of Bishop Edward P. Malecdan. Bangiyad later married Dawas, another orphan from Besao who came to Sagada to stay with their uncle Bagtang. They had children of whom one of them was Pascuala Cadiogan. Dawas influenced his brother Bantiag to come to Sagada who soon married and had children of whom one of them was Vicente Andawi. Likewise Dangonay, the aunt of Bangiyad, married Bantiag’s brother and stayed in Besao together with other three siblings.
Among the descendants of Dangonay is Roman Bomas-ang born January 2, 1912, who settled in Besao. Another survivor of the 1898 massacre was Kibad who happened to be in an ebgan to maki-anag (prospect for a love one). Kibad hid under the fireplace of an ebgan (ladies dormitory) when the attackers entered and killed all others inside. The attackers believe that an ebgan is for girls only so they left without looking into the corners. Because Kibad was already getting suffocated, he jump out from the fireplace and that’s when the attackers threw the bolo on him that injured his buttocks. The name Kibad was given to describe his physical deformity with a scar mark. At times he is referred as the Betbet Obet synonymous to Kibad. In another attack of Spanish soldiers, it was in Nangonogan where attackers had been killed single-handedly by a sugar cane miller in a cave in Nangonogan. A miller was cooking sugar one day with the aid of his son when seven enemies happened to pass by and attempted to kill them.
The miller offered them mascovado sugar and pleaded that they be spared from the killing. The enemies agreed to the miller’s pleadings so they went to sleep in the corner of the cave as the miller continued boiling the sugar juice. When the tired enemies were fast asleep, the miller took a pail of the boiling sugar cane juice and with a big wooden dipper he flashed the boiling hot sugar fluid over the eyes of the enemies. All of the seven got scalded and died. Sometime in the 1880s was a famine, due to continuing catastrophes that resulted in the death of many. Among the orphaned were four sisters left by their father Ganga and mother Labanet who died during the days of famine.
These four sisters were Bistanga (15 years old) as the eldest, Kalogidan, Kangkangan and Masinnay (10months old) as the youngest. As orphans, the imposition of taboos exacerbated their distress and prevented them from leading normal lives. The marriage of Bistanga and Longid made them surrogate parents to the three younger sisters that paved the way to normalizing their status in the ili and helped them gain acceptance in a patriarchal society where there were structured forms of gender categorization. Later, Kalogidan got married to Mario “Duagan” Abeya; Kangkangan married to Ag-agwa now identified with the Gayagay, Cacay, Tengdan Clan; Masinnay married to Pacyaya now identified with the Doyayag, Likigan, Calpi, Malecdan clans. The 96-year old Flora Bondad Abeya born April 9, 1913, is a third generation matriarch of the Abeya clan. (Source: Sagada Four Sister Descendants by Benjamin Longid, SMS Souvenir Program, Vancouver, Canada)
As a whole, during the Spanish time, all that was heard were the conquestadores, adventurers, friars, Dons, Donyas, Senyoras, mestizos, mestizas, masters, madres, padres as the daughters and sons of God and in no time were the wicked with queer and inhuman characters to advance their whims and caprices. However, in Sagada, the famous Eduardo Masferre, a Spanish descent has much legacy to speak off when he taught the people of Sagada agriculture and other technologies that contributed in the upliftment of their lives. In fact, as per record, in 1922, Eduardo Masferre visited his brother who died in Spain and upon his return to Sagada he passed by Mexico in the Carribeans where he bought three pieces of Sayote. One of the three pieces was propagated in Sagada which was later spread all over the country. This is confirmed in an interview with Nena Masferre who narrated that one of the three pieces of sayote brought by the elder Masferre was shared to Los Banos but it did not thrive. The famous Masferre photography is likewise his legacy to the Sagada people that now remains as documents found in libraries and cyberspace in terms of Sagada’s early people, culture and the environment.
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