In Ecija, town hall cries for recognition
CABIAO, Nueva Ecija—Local officials are pushing for the declaration of the town hall here as a heritage building and historical landmark.
In a letter, Mayor Gloria Crespo-Congco asked National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Chair Maria Serena Diokno to include the town hall on the list of most important historical landmarks in the country owing to the role Cabiao played in the emergence of homegrown heroes from the Spanish era to the Japanese occupation.
Congco said Cabiao had been a catalyst of revolutions and rebellions in Central Luzon and a witness to insurgencies during the Japanese occupation until the country’s liberation.
The town hall, largely made of wood, was inaugurated in 1920, during the incumbency of the late municipal president Gonzalo de Leon, and rehabilitated in 1931 by then municipal president Silvestre Borja.
It sits on a compound donated by Don Andres Romero to honor all heroes of the “Unang Sigaw ng Nueva Ecija” (The First Cry of Nueva Ecija), the revolt that started here under the leadership of Gen. Mariano Llanera on Sept. 2, 1896.
The “Unang Sigaw” was the Novo Ecijanos’ answer to Katipunan founder Andres Bonifacio’s call to revolt against Spain. This led to the assault on the Spanish garrison in the adjacent town of San Isidro.
The event marked the day when Llanera, a resident of Barangay San Roque, and Gen. Pantaleon Valmonte led revolutionaries in the attack on the Spanish garrison. Armed only with 100 guns, bolos and pointed bamboo sticks, the attack was concealed by a brass band that caught the Spanish guards by surprise.
For its role in the revolution, Nueva Ecija earned its place in the Philippine flag as one of the eight rays of the sun, each ray representing the province that revolted against Spain.
Congco said that while Llanera’s monument stands proudly inside the town hall compound along with the tablet of heroes of the “Unang Sigaw,” a shrine was never built to remember them.
She said the town was also where the Hukbalahap (Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon) launched its resistance against the Japanese on March 29, 1942.
“Yet, because there is no shrine or memorial to speak of, hardly anybody knows about it,” she said. Armand Galang, Inquirer Central Luzon
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