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HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF SAN JOSE

By Rudy Candelario
Translated in English by Benjamin Walata

I. PRE-SPANISH & SPANISH TIMES



The history of San Jose had started even before the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines. The inhabitants of the two old barrios of this town, Iling and Mangarin were already trading with the Chinese merchants as early as the 14th century. This is proved by the various kinds of jars, figurines and artifacts of the Yuan or Ming dynasty excavated and found in different sitios and in a cave in the middle of Iling Island. It can be added that one other proof is that two places in the southern part of San Jose are of Chinese names: Kuomintang which is near the sitio of Cusol, Brgy. Mapaya; and Mandarin which is now Brgy. Mangarin.

An old Spanish document of 1572 stated that an expedition composed of fifteen boats loaded with Filipino and Spanish warriors led by Captain Juan de Salcedo reached the Island of Iling or Elem. The people, according to the record, were quiet and kind and believed to belong to the Ratagnon tribe. .

In the early months of the 17th century, several Chinese records mentioned one special kind of tree (brazil-wood) which was a source of dye for cloths. This and other things which attracted the Chinese to go to Iling were exchanged for the Chinese jars, utensils and figurines. .

Also mentioned in an old Spanish document was that in 1666, a group of Jesuit priests baptized some people in Iling. In 1683, Mangarin became the center of religious activities when the Order of Augustinian Recollects established a parish there. .

The old settlements of Iling and Mangarin were then very slow in progress because of the frequent Moro attacks. The results of the Mindoro census of 1749 showed that two hundred eighty five people only lived in Mangarin and its sitios.

In a report of Mindoro Provincial Governor Francisco Fernandez in 1871, mention was made that he visited the Island of Iling and discovered that there were only four houses there. The people even left their houses because when they saw the boat of the governor approaching, they ran to the mountains. They thought that the Moro pirates had come.

In 1765, the Order of Augustinian Recollects left Mindoro because of the lack of missionaries, difficulty of the work and the fear of Moro attacks. The people of Iling and Mangarin then sent a petition to the Spanish government to send them a priest and some weapons, that they may be able to defend themselves against the pirates. It was possible that their petition was granted because in 1829, an old document of the Spaniards recorded that Iling had already two cannons and Mangarin had one and another weapon used to hurl stones.

An old map of the Island of Mindoro in 1800 clearly indicated where to find the locations of Iling and Mangarin. This clearly proved that it was only in these two places where the people had settled.

In 1804, the governor of Mindoro, Nicolas de Torres together with Fr. Fabian Macapagal, went to Mangarin and convinced the twenty three Mangyan families who lived separately from the Christians, to transfer to the lowlands within the barrio. The following year, Governor Torres returned and persuaded the Mangyans of Mangarin and Iling to join his soldiers to search for the Moro pirates. One hundred sixty (160) Mangyan armed with arrows, then joined the governor’s soldiers. They went to Sta. Cruz and in the river there, found the pirates. In a bloody encounter, they eventually defeated the Moros.

During those times, aside from the Moro pirates, there were also groups of bandits molesting and killing people in different places in Mindoro, including Mangarin. One of these groups was that led by Agustin Tilano. It took many years of searching by a Spanish captain and his Filipino soldiers before they were able to find and kill Agustin Tilano.

According to a census conducted by the Spanish government in 1829, Mangarin had a population of one hundred seventy five, while Iling had three hundred fifty.

On January 12, 1843 four boatloads of Moro pirates invaded Mangarin. Nevertheless, with their four cannons provided by the government, the people of Mangarin fought with all courage and might. When the pirates saw that two of them were killed, they retreated back to sea.

The Augustinian Recollect missionaries returned to Mindoro on August 23, 1843 and assigned one priest in Mangarin. On February 12, 1844 Fr. Pedro Soto de San Juan Bautista arrived. He urged the people to construct a fort. When the fort was finished, a guard was assigned there to watch day and night and announce if some pirates were sighted. The remains and ruins of that old fort could still be seen today in the old barrio site of Mangarin.

In 1850, Fr. Pablo Bienzobas de San Antonio de Padua was assigned as parish priest of Mangarin. With the help of the people, he built a stronghold near the river of Palanghiran, particularly on the spot that at that time was called Kuomintang by the residents of Mangarin. Up to the present, the remnants of that structure and the place where it used to stand are now a part of Brgy. Mapaya.

Mangarin was a busy port for merchant ships by 1860. Even General Emilio Aguinaldo who at that time was but a young merchant, came to trade in Mangarin. Beforehand, his large sailboat named San Bartolome, loaded with such merchandise as salt and bolos made in Kawit, would sail from Cavite to Mindoro and sold his goods to the people of Mangarin. In return, he would buy cattle and carabaos, nigeng pandampol (used for dyeing fishnets), rattan and diliman (a vine like product used in tying together the bamboo pieces of the fish trap and pagkit that is used to light the images of saints in the towns.

In May of 1866, Fr. Valentin Diaz delos Sagrados Corazones de Jesus y Maria was assigned in Mangarin. After seeing the situation of the settlement and knowing the problem of the people, he, together with the people requested the Spanish government for permission to transfer Mangarin to a better site because it was between two rivers that often flooded their place. Their request was granted by the government, hence, Mangarin was relocated on the site where it is at present.

In 1886, the Order of the Augustinian Recollects asked the government that the vast tract of land between Mangarin and Iriron be entrusted to their management. This area was composed of twenty three thousand, two hundred sixty six (23,266) hectares. They then named this La Hacienda or Hacienda de San Jose. Migrants from Luzon and the Visayas began to settle here and the settlements of Bubog and San Agustin came about.

When the Filipinos rose in arms in a revolution against the Spaniards in the Philippines in 1898, all Spanish priests in Mindoro, including Bernardino Vasquez del Rosario who was assigned in Mangarin; Father Crisanto Azpilcueta dela Santisima Trinidad who was assigned in San Jose but lived in Bubog; and Fr. Isidro Sanz de San Jose, the spiritual caretaker of the workers in the ranch of the friars in Magarang, were arrested by the revolutionaries from Sablayan and Calintaan. They were affiliated with the group led by Captain Mariano Abeleda and Captain Agustin Liboro. The priests were imprisoned in Taysan, Batangas and were released only in 1900.

II. DURING THE AMERICAN REGIME


In the later part of 1901, after the Americans had conquered Eastern Mindoro, they proceeded to invade Western Mindoro where they burned Mangarin and placed all settlements in this part of Mindoro under their control.

The Filipinos under the Americans by 1904, had to abide by a new land regulation imposed on them. The La Hacienda de San Jose was bought by the Spanish government from the Archdiocese of Manila and called it the San Jose Estate. After the ownership of this land was transferred to the Americans, a group of capitalists organized the Mindoro Development Company. They bought a portion of San Jose Estate and made it a sugarcane plantation. They constructed an irrigation system with Busuanga River as the source of water. They then built a sugar mill and a railroad track that ran between the sugar central and Caminawit. They purchased trains that transported workers and supplies from their wharf in Caminawit to Central.

Near the wharf at Caminawit, the company built a canteen and storehouse for sugar. Sugar was shipped out whenever the ships anchored at the wharf. To facilitate matters, the company expanded the railroads, reaching plantations where sugarcane had to be loaded and brought to the sugar mill in Central. Aside from the trains, the company also owned trolleys for the transportation of employees from Central to Caminawit.

When the Mindoro Development Company which was later on renamed Mindoro Sugar Company or Philippine Milling Company was established, many seasonal workers known as sacadas, from different places came to Mindoro to work in the haciendas. The areas planted to sugarcane by that time were what is now Adela, San Pedro, Sto. Niño, Pitogo and Aguas in the town of Rizal. In the south, the plantations were in such places now as San Agustin, Bubog, Bagong Sikat and San Isidro in the town of San Jose. Added to these, there were landowners who were sugarcane producers. They supplied the sugar mill with sugarcane; hence, the railroads had to be extended to reach these places, such as: what is now Murtha, Magbay, La Curva and Mabini. That time, Central, the center of the company was the most progressive barrio in San Jose.

Meanwhile, as written in a book authored by Professor Macario Landicho, when San Jose was still only apresidencia, Agustin Quijano was designated president. The presidencia or government building that was located in Mangarin during the Spanish times, was transferred to Sta. Teresa. This happened in 1908 during the American occupation. The following year, the presidencia was transferred to Caminawit. According to some elderly, at the time when the government under the Americans was still not yet fully organized, Narciso Salazar was appointed president of San Jose. He was one of the acknowledged leaders of a group of migrants from Antique who settled in Brgy. Caguray during the last years of the Spanish times.

In 1910, Pandurucan which was only a sitio was made the seat of the municipal government. (Pandurucan is a Mangyan word that means a place where felled trees including their stumps are gathered and piled up prior to their burning as in a kaingin.) Don German Ramirez was designated as the first alcalde of San Jose under the Americans. One memorable achievement of the alcalde was the preservation and maintenance of peace and order. He however found so much difficulty in improving the town because of the lack of sufficient income.

At about this time, the term alcalde was replaced by the term mayor. When Mayor Ramirez term ended in 1919, Juan Abique became tha mayor. Mayor Abique endeavored to establish a primary school in Pandurucan, hence, Grade I and Grade II were opened.

During Mayor Abique’s time, the municipal cemetery was located on the spot where now stand the San Jose Gymnasium, the swimming pool, the tennis court, the office of the Department of Agriculture, the Multi-Purpose Hall and the station of the fire department.

The succeeding mayor of San Jose was Lino Macalalad. During his term, the road between Pandurucan and Caminawit was proposed. He did not succeed in its construction, however, for lack of funds. He transferred the post office from Central to Pandurucan. One big achievement attributed to him was the construction of the municipal building.

In 1929, Maximino Papa was elected for a four year term. His term being over in 1933, he transferred to Sablayan where, again, he became mayor. Sad to say, however, since Mayor Papa had a Japanese friend, he was assassinated by a Filipino guerrilla.

The next mayor of San Jose was Mayor Bonifacio Gomez of Caminawit. His one great concern was helping poor inhabitants. He is well remembered for his dedication to service and for being a hard working mayor.

Mayor Fermin Barretto succeeded Gomez. He lived in Pandurucan and was well loved by the people specially the Visayans who came from the region where he came from. He managed to construct an imposing municipal hall.

San Jose used to be a vast municipality. It encompassed the present towns of Magsaysay and Rizal. Travel was difficult and was to be by boat, horses or by walking. The only barrios with schools were Iling Proper, Caminawit, Sta. Teresa, Caguray and Central. Central was the most developed, it being managed by the Philippine Milling Company. It boasted of its hospital, movie house, chapel, electric plant, swimming pool, bowling house, tennis courts, cockpits and schools. Prior to its transfer to Pandurucan, the Post Office was in Central in 1911 and stayed there for fifteen years. The company, also, had an airstrip where small airplanes were used by high ranking employees in going to and from Manila.

Part of the policy of attraction used by the company was the frequent holding of dances, cockfighting, athletic competitions and film showing. To top them all was the Annual Harvest Festival, which amidst its pomp, visitors from Negros and Iloilo enjoyed. It was observed that more and more sacadas flocked to Central. They worked as sugarcane planters and, later on, cutters.

It was noted that the trains used by the company to transport people, sugarcane, sugar and others, were ran by carbon. The means of passenger transportation was called diesel. It was probably because, by some later time, diesel was already used to run the engine. On the other hand, it was the kalamazoo that was used by the high officials of the company like the manager. Unlike the diesel, this was smaller but quite fast. If the officials or visitors did not exceed four, it was the booda that was used. This was the fastest means of transportation then, although it was topless.

From various different places in San Jose, horses, carabaos and cows were used to transport products to Central. On land, when one had nothing heavy to carry, people traveled by foot. They used small boats when traveling by sea. Usually they landed at San Agustin and traveled by land to Central.

A very significant event took place in 1934 because of the visit in Central of Bishop William Finnemann, SVD, DD then the Auxiliary Bishop of Manila. He was warmly received by the more than seven thousand laborers of the company. Within three days, His Excellency, together with Father Roos and Fr. Beck, busied himself by celebrating holy masses, hearing confessions and administering the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Malaria, the scourge of the migrants from other places, were in most cases the reason why many sacadas left Central and found new homes along the coast of San Jose. Here, they either worked as fishermen, farmers or loggers. Railroad ties (traviesa) were a good source of income, specially by concessionaires like Pedro Cuden, Isabelo Abeleda and Vivencio Ronquillo. These businessmen had their logging concessions in the island of Iling.

Those laborers who suffered from malaria in Central and who, with their families found new homes near the shores, constituted largely the population of the sitios of Bubog, Caminawit, Labangan Iling, Ambulong, Adela and Sta. Teresa.

III. DURING WORLD WAR II


On December 7, 1941 Japanese planes bombed the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The United States immediately declared war against Japan and the Philippines being a U.S. colony was involved. The horror of World War II had started. Barely three months after Pearl Harbor, on April 16, 1942 Japanese soldiers landed in Caminawit and San Agustin. They imprisoned the Filipinos whom they suspected as guerrillas or those whom collaborators or makapilis pointed. They made the Caminawit Elementary School their garrison. They converted Siete Central Farm School not only as their second garrison but also a prison.

The Philippine Milling Company was ordered to stop operation in April 1942, so much so that all the people of Central, employees and laborers alike, were rendered helpless and jobless. Life for them and for all people in San Jose for that matter became miserable and under constant fear. All houses in Pandurucan were set on fire. It is a mystery up to now that the Japanese did not burn the two room schoolhouse and the beautiful municipal hall.

Mayor Fermin Barretto were among those whom the Japanese imprisoned in Central. He was maltreated and forced to reveal the whereabouts of his four sons and other guerrillas he knew. Despite the threat and the torture, he remained steadfast in his silence and not betraying his sons’ and his countrymen’s cause. This being so, Mayor Barretto and his fellow prisoners whom the collaborators and makapilis had betrayed, were herded towards the bank of the Busuanga River and ordered to dig a large grave, ordered to stand beside that hole and were all shot to death. This was on the fateful day of April 29, 1942.

Later on, the Japanese assigned as temporary mayors Celso Lobregat, the manager of the Philippine Milling Company. His assistant manager was Cecilio Jimenez. Both served for only a few months and former Mayor Bonifacio Gomez was designated mayor. He had the very difficult task of governing because he was caught between the will of the Japanese and the suspicion of the guerrillas in the mountains.

It being wartime and even before the coming of the Japanese in San Jose, several guerrilla groups were already organized. Three of the guerrilla organizations were led by Flaviano Ramirez of Pandurucan, Vincent Fortune of Bubog and Lawrence Cooper of Central. When Fortune was assassinated, Jose Garcia of Caguray took over and continued their cause in Oriental Mindoro. All three groups had their camps in the hills and mountains.

Of the three groups, it was Fortune’s guerrillas who were aggressive in the fight against the enemies. It was the Fortune guerrillas who attacked the Japanese garrison in Caminawit and they also tried to ambush a supply train plying its route from Caminawit to Central. However, not much had been said about those two sorties. It was said that they sank a Japanese motorboat in the Caguray River. This boat was supposed to load some vegetables from the hacienda of Yutivo & Sons Corporation in the place now called Sitio Toong of Magsaysay. This ambush killed the machinist of the boat and blinded one eye of his companion – a certain officer named Captain Kimar.

In retaliation, the Japanese soldiers in Caminawit rushed to Caguray and burned all the houses there. Then, they proceeded to Pandurucan and burned all the houses.

It is sad to note that while all three guerrilla organizations were one in their goal, they were jealous of each other, if not having some misunderstanding among themselves. As a result, Captain Vincent Fortune was treacherously shot while bathing in a river near Sitio Nalwak which is now under Brgy. Purnaga, Magsaysay. August 15, 1943 marked the end of the courageous guerrilla leader, Captain Vincent Fortune.

IV. AFTER WORLD WAR II


Liberation Day came on December 15, 1944. The long awaited Allied Armed Forces under Brigadier General William C. Dunckel landed in San Jose from Leyte. There were about one hundred twenty (120) warships involved. Along the shores of Caminawit, Pandurucan, Bubog and San Agustin were lined the landing crafts or LSTs. All other warships anchored nearby, while the large aircraft carriers loomed in the distance. Before the actual landing of men and supplies, the bombardment took place. The warships directed their guns towards Caminawit, Pandurucan, Bubog and San Agustin and started strafing these places to kill the Japanese. The Japanese garrison which was the Caminawit Elementary School was demolished almost entirely. The San Jose Municipal Hall and the primary school in Pandurucan were also demolished. The Japanese soldier numbering about two hundred (200), including those in Central, ran for their lives in the mountains, only to surrender or be captured later on. Only two of them were killed in Caminawit.

In the almost eight month stay of the Allied Forces in San Jose, they constructed many roads and bridges. The longest road they built was between Caminawit and Central. Next to this was the road leading to Murtha. Pandurucan was crisscrossed with roads that was never there before. The airbases built in San Jose served as the launching area of warplanes that bombed Iwo Jima and Okinawa, Japan. There had been a time that the men of the Allied Forces in San Jose numbered about seventy five thousand (75,000). What constituted this big number of men were those of the marines, navy, infantry, army, air force and health care.

At this time that the Americans were in San Jose, the local government which totally died during the American occupation was restored and was temporarily aided by the Philippine Civilian Affairs Unit of PCAU. There was a time when this unit was chaired by the late Sgt. Reynaldo Curva.

Meantime that the Philippines was not yet entirely liberated, the Americans designated some temporary mayors in San Jose in the persons of former Mayors Bonifacio Gomez, Isabelo Abeleda and Pedro Cuden, Sr.

The Allied Armed Forces put up a supply base and airstrips in San Jose. Two small airfields were constructed for light planes at Sitio Sta. Fe of Brgy. Central and Little Baguio on a plateau southeast of Lower Mangyan or Canwaling which is now Brgy. San Isidro.

The present San Jose Airport, a little north of San Roque, used to be the McGuire Airstrip which was primarily the base for four engine heavy bombers or B-24’s. The airbase for the two engine bombers was built near Upper Mangyan, now Brgy. Murtha, while that of the fast pursuits like the P-51’s and P-47’s was the strip between Sta. Monica and El Progresso.

The Japanese air raids early in the liberation of San Jose caused very little damage to the Allied Forces. The construction of airports, roads and bridges and other infrastructures continued unhampered. Military camps with tents and quonset huts for shelter filled San Jose – from Caminawit, Pandurucan, Magbay, Murtha, La Curva, San Roque, Bagong Sikat, Bubog, San Isidro, Central and San Agustin. These places nurtured the seventy five thousand (75,000) servicemen of the Allies.

As a significant help in the complete liberation of Occidental Mindoro and other provinces still under the Japanese, the guerrillas led by Captain Lawrence Cooper were formally trained for combat by Captain Chiongco, one of the officers of the Allied Forces. The Cooper guerrillas became the "A" Company of the Romblon Special.

Liberation Forces. They joined in the liberation of Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro; Coron, Palawan; and the islands of Sibuyan and Tablas in Romblon. Unfortunately, on March 23, 1945 Capt. Cooper was killed when he tried to save his men from a Japanese grenade. This was in a bloody encounter near Sitio Cogon and Sawang, Romblon.

In the middle of 1945, a group of educators led by Gabriel Fabella, Sr., Felix Gabriel and Federico Castillo founded a high school at Central. They named it the Southern Mindoro Academy (SMA), the first high school in Western Mindoro. World War II being over, the Allied Forces left San Jose and the founders of SMA bought a lot and a large quonset building in Pandurucan. The new high school was then transferred. Students delayed by the war and new elementary graduates had their chance to acquire secondary education without going to Manila or elsewhere.

Before the Allied Forces eventually departed from San Jose, they sold their buildings, machineries and other materials. The several quonset huts, sold or donated, were afterwards used as chapel, municipal building, schoolhouses, hotel and residences. An electric generator was donated to the municipality of San Jose.

San Jose progressed rapidly since Liberation Day specially because farm families flocked to this town from various provinces. Ilocano families with their carabaos, carts and farm implements came for good. The Visayans from Panay, Negros and Iloilo arrived in droves too. They applied for homesteads. In addition, they petitioned the government to award to them the lands abandoned by Sebastian Dylo, and Yu Kee Tay which is now Magsaysay and Hacienda Waterous in Brgy. Mapaya. Not long after, in granting the petitions of various farmer groups’ desire to own land they could call their own, and in keeping with the land for the landless program of the government, said lands were purchased by the government and subsequently allotted to the settlers.

In 1946, in the very first election held after the war, Isabelo Abeleda, Sr. was elected as the mayor of San Jose. One of his accomplishments was the improvement of the pier at Caminawit and the municipal plaza. He also helped the migrants in their problems regarding lands to own and attracted more settlers. His term lasted up to 1951.

As regards the propagation of the Catholic religion, the church leaders decided to divide into two the vast territory within the scope of the San Jose-Central Parish – in the north, the Parish of San Jose-Central; and in the south, the San Jose-Pandurucan. This was in 1950 and the first parish priest of San Jose-Pandurucan was the German missionary, Fr. Carlos Brendel, SVD.

The Philippine Milling Company reopened its sugar central in 1950. The new managers were Francisco Gomez and Hector Torres. In order to have ample capital to finance the operation, the two acquired a loan from the Philippine National Bank. Nevertheless, the hacienda planted to sugarcane was no longer as wide as before. The holding of parties and expensive fiestas were regulated. What continued was the hiring of sacadas from Palawan and Panay during harvest season.

V. AFTER THE CREATION OF THE PROVINCE OF OCCIDENTAL MINDORO


On June 13, 1950 President Elpidio Quirino signed the bill that divided Mindoro into two provinces – Occidental Mindoro and Oriental Mindoro. Thereafter, the headquarters of the Philippine Constabulary (PC) was allocated a seven hectare lot near the shore of Brgy. San Roque. Major Olegario de Joya was the first commander of the PC in San Jose.

In the election of 1950, a citizen of San Jose, Federico Castillo, emerged winner for the governorship of Occidental Mindoro. In the first months of his term, San Jose was the temporary capital of the province. After a few months or in January 1951, due to its strategic location, Mamburao was chosen capital of Occidental Mindoro.

The erstwhile McGuire Airstrip was made into the San Jose Airport. The national government renovated it and was inaugurated by President Quirino in 1951.

Another high school in San Jose was opened by Fr. Carlos Brendel, SVD in July 1951. Named St. Joseph School, its mission was the teaching of Christian education, good moral conduct and the giving of a high level education to the students.

1951 also was the year when Bibiano Gaudiano Gaudiel was elected mayor of San Jose. Mayor Gaudiel was subsequently chosen president of the Mayors’ League of Occidental Mindoro. Unfortunately, however, hardly had he served for five months when he died of heart failure. His vice mayor, Ricardo Pascasio, Sr., succeeded and within the two years of his term, the health welfare of the people had been his primary concern.

1955 saw Mayor Isabelo Abeleda, Sr. back to office, serving his second term. One of his achievements was the construction of a new municipal building, although it was not finished up to the end of his term.

The Salt Industry of the Philippines or Salt Phil. Inc. was established on April 27, 1955. It rented the eight hundred hectares land of the Philippine Milling Company. It was situated between Bubog and San Agustin. Aside from refined salt, Salt Phil. also produced milkfishes and prawns. It built a factory for industrial vacuum pan salt. By 1958, Salt Phil. had produced and exported to Manila nineteen thousand (19,000) metric tons of refined salt.

A market building was built in the early part of 1956. After two years of its existence, it was gutted by fire. Meantime, the market vendors used the papag temporarily to sell their goods. The third high school in San Jose was founded by Fr. Tomas Pacano, SVD and he named it Holy Family Academy (HFA). This is a Catholic school in Central. Students in Central and nearby barrios had an opportunity to study here. Unlike the Southern Mindoro Academy and the St. Joseph School, the HFA still exists and continue giving secondary education in Central.

Dr. Felix Gabriel became mayor in 1959. During his term, the streets in San Jose were given their names, lifted from the names of heroes and national & local prominent officials. He finished the municipal hall and transferred there all the government offices formerly lodged in the quonset municipal building. A new market building was one of his projects.

In 1960, the SVD bought the Southern Mindoro Academy. After a year, it was renamed Divine Word College which offered complete elementary, high school and different courses in college. Its high school department was exclusively for boys while St. Joseph School was exclusively for girls.

The Philippine Milling Company continued to be a losing proposition, and its managers could not pay their loan with the Philippine National Bank (PNB). So in 1960, the company was foreclosed by the PNB. Alfredo Gaborro, Jr., who was a sugarcane plantation owner in Murtha was designated by the bank as its new manager.

A new and impressive church was constructed by the successor of Fr. Brendel as parish priest of San Jose, Fr. George Koschinski, SVD. Before this, the chapel of San Jose was a quonset hut of the Allied Forces vintage. The new parish church was built with the help of German and Filipino Catholics. It was blessed by the vicar apostolic of Mindoro, Bishop William Duschak, SVD, DD on September 30, 1962.

In 1964, Tirso Abeleda was elected mayor of San Jose. He transferred the cemetery to the southwestern part of Brgy. San Roque. He also transferred some people who lived near the old cemetery. They were relocated somewhere in what is now Brgy. Pag-asa. He constructed a basketball court where basketball leagues were held and occasionally served as a venue for town affairs such as the coronation of queens and princesses.

When Pedro Medalla, Sr. was elected congressman of Occidental Mindoro in 1965, one of his projects in San Jose was the construction of the concrete Pandurucan bridge. The bridge made possible the smooth and fast flow of traffic between Pandurucan and the places in the north.

Meanwhile, Alfredo Gaborro, Jr. failed to save the Philippine Milling Company, so much so that in 1966, the National Investment Development Corporation (NIDC) took over. Jose dela Cruz was assigned as the new manager and the planting of sugarcane was renewed although at a smaller scale. A portion of the hacienda was rented out to farmers who paid their dues to the NIDC.

With the proliferation of barrio high schools in the Philippines in 1966, the Parents Teachers Association in Pandurucan (Poblacion) petitioned the government to establish a public high school at the town’s center. This being so, a building owned by the San Jose Pilot School was used. Remedios Cacho was its first officer in charge.

That same year, by virtue of Resolution No. 23 passed by the municipal council and approved by Mayor Tirso Abeleda, the new public high school was named San Jose Municipal High School Its interim principal was Bernabe Macarig, Sr.

Also in 1966, the NIDC stopped the planting of sugarcane. The hacienda of sugarcane was converted into ricefields. NIDC purchased agricultural machineries and also built a hospital for the workers in Central.

In a hotly contested election in 1967, Juan Santos, Sr., emerged victorious as the new mayor. His first achievement among others was the improvement and concreting of roads within the town.

As fate would have it, the public market building put up during Mayor Gabriel’s time was razed to ashes. As a temporary measure, an agreement was arrived into by Mayor Santos and the market vendors association that the latter will each construct their market stalls and their expenses will be shouldered by the local government by their not paying market fees.

In 1969, through the initiative of Congressman Pedro Medalla, Sr., two new municipalities were created in localities formerly owned by San Jose. These two towns were Magsaysay and Rizal – the former was created by Republic Act No. 5459 and the latter by Republic Act No. 5460. Both were established as independent municipalities on April 3, 1969. Because of the separation of these two localities, the former land area of San Jose which was 98,785 hectares was reduced to 44,870 hectares. San Jose lost more than one half of its land area. However, its population of 44,761 increased in the year 1970 by 24% compared to its population in 1960.

In the same year (1969), by virtue of Republic Act No. 6568, sponsored by Congressman Medalla, San Jose Municipal High School was converted into the San Jose National High School. At the same time, a new college was founded – the San Jose Community College – through the coordinated efforts of Teofilo Lacibar, Sr., Bernabe Macaraig, Sr., Gaudioso delos Santos, Sr., and Sergio Manongol I. The new college was to offer a Midwifery course aside from a few other courses.

Congressman Medalla planned that offices under the national government in Pandurucan should be transferred to Brgy. Murtha. Buildings were constructed in this regard, such as those of the District Hospital, Bureau of Lands and Bureau of Plant Industry. In this connection, since Mindoro was to host the athletic competition sponsored by the Southern Tagalog Athletic Competition (STAA) in 1970, Congressman Medalla constructed a grandstand in Murtha. Except for the District Hospital, the two bureaus did not stay long in Murtha and returned to Pandurucan.

Late in 1960, an altruistic organization, the World Vision International started to hold office in San Jose. It helped poor people in the islands of Iling and Ambulong. They also financed livelihood projects and gave financial capital to some islanders. However, despite its good performance in the management of projects, the World Vision International saw it fit to transfer to some other places in 1970.

Meanwhile, the teachers and parents in Iling and Ambulong felt the pressing need for a high school in Iling Proper. As a result, a barrio high school was established there in 1970, giving a chance to the elementary graduates of both islands to acquire a secondary education without having to go to other places.

In the same year, the DZYM, a radio station owned by the Philippine Radio Corporation was opened in Caminawit. After several years, its transmitter and broadcast studio were transferred to Brgy. Pag-asa. Then, too, in the year 1970, two companies owned by Japanese businessmen joined a group of investors which established a sugar factory in Calinog, Lambunao, Iloilo. They bought the old machineries and other equipment of the Philippine Milling Company. These and the iron rails that formerly were the railroad tracts were brought to the new sugar mill in Iloilo.

Another institution was founded in 1971. This was the San Jose National Agricultural and Industrial School (SJNAIS). This agricultural school is government owned and located in Murtha. Students whose inclination is agriculture and other industrial courses enroll here. They may also acquire expertise in scientific ways of taking care of animals and plants.

1971 also was the year when the Salt Industry of the Philippines stopped operation. Instead, Filipinas Aquaculture, Inc. or Aqua-Phil., its new owner, invested in the production of prawns and a prawn nursery.

VI. THE MARTIAL LAW PERIOD


When Martial Law was declared in 1972, Mayor Santos was still in power and managed to continue the cementing of roads and beautification of the municipal plaza.

The NIDC management decided to stop operation sometime in 1972. Their ricefields were laid idle in what formerly were sugarcane fields of Central. They hired guards to watch the abandoned fields and other property of NIDC. Despite this, farmers started to enter and till the fields. Later on, several farmer groups petitioned the government to apportion the lands to them. After a long negotiation and after, at times, bloody encounter among rival farmers themselves, the land was finally apportioned to the petitioners.

The military rule was hardly felt in San Jose, it being a peaceful town and of peace loving people. An electric cooperative was organized to light Occidental Mindoro. The National Electric Administration or NEA located its power plant in Sitio Pulang Lupa, Central. The new cooperative was and still is, the Occidental Mindoro Electric Cooperative or OMECO.

Through the request of Mayor Santos, Retired Col. Zoilo Perez established the San Jose Water District (SJWD). Funded by a loan with the government and largely through its manager, Col. Perez, the SJWD succeeded in supplying potable and healthful water to the households of San Jose.

In the election of 1980, Ernesto Jaravata succeeded Mayor Santos. Mayor Jaravata’s term was characterized by his helping students to take up midwifery and agriculture. He also constructed one more building of the public market.

St. Joseph School which was founded and headed by its director Fr. Carlos Brendel and was transferred to the management of the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit (SSpS) in 1960 was closed. Many parents and alumni lamented this sad ending of a school that had established a good reputation and had given quality education to its students.

With the advice and guidance of the Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD), the Senior Citizens Association of San Jose was organized by the former Vice Governor Felix Gabriel in April, 1982. After two months, he established the National Federation of Senior Citizens Associations in Manila. He was outright elected as its president. The federation agitated for a legislation benefiting the old citizens of the entire Philippines; and Congress heeding the need, passed a law that now gives due importance, help and benefits to the senior citizens.

In 1982, Congressman Pedro Mendiola, Sr. and Mayor Ernesto Jaravata persuaded Col. Perez of the San Jose Water District to also manage the OMECO. Agreeing, the retired colonel improved the servicing of electricity in San Jose and other towns. He likewise stabilized the financial status of the electric cooperative.

On Januray 27, 1983 the late Pope John Paul II approved the division of the island of Mindoro into two vicariates – the Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan covering all the towns in Occidental Mindoro and the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose which is composed of the twelve parishes in the eleven towns of Occidental Mindoro. The spiritual welfare of the Catholics in Oriental Mindoro remained under the governance of Bishop Simeon Valerio, SVD, DD but that of Occidental Mindoro was entrusted to Bishop Vicente Manuel, SVD, DD. Bishop Manuel was officially installed on July 1, 1983 in a ceremony officiated by the representative of the pope in the Philippines, Archbishop Bruno Torpiglianni, DD. From that time, the parish church of San Jose was converted into a cathedral.

By virtue of Republic Act No. 531, sponsored by Congressman Pedro Mendiola, Sr., the San Jose National High School was elevated to a step higher and made into the present Occidental Mindoro National College or OMNC on June 24, 1988. Part of the services of the OMNC is to bring to the barrios the same education it renders in the town. In pursuance, the Damayan Center in Brgy. San Isidro was opened the following year and started providing high school students learning in agriculture.

VII. AFTER THE EDSA I REVOLUTION


After the bloodless EDSA Revolution in 1986, Alvin Arevalo was appointed Officer in Charge (OIC) of San Jose by President Corazon Aquino. Mayor Arevalo’s achievement among others was the concreting of roads within the town and the construction of two buildings of the public market. He proposed to the municipal council to give the right of catching bangus fries at the mouths of rivers in San Jose to cooperative for that purpose but his proposal was disapproved.

When another election was held in 1987, Mayor Santos was voted back to office. It was during this time that Peter Medalla, Jr., was appointed governor. With funds coming from the national government, Governor Medalla ordered the concreting of the road linking Pandurucan and Caminawit and improved & built a concrete pier at Caminawit.

That same year, 1987, the New People’s Army (NPA) became more aggressive in their struggle against the government. Some NPAs raided the police station of Abra de Ilog, Sablayan and Calintaan. From then on, the number of soldiers of the Philippine Constabulary in San Jose was increased. When the reinforcements arrived, they were sent to various places in the province to preempt the spread of the NPAs. There were bloody encounters between the military and the rebels. One instance was the four hour fight in Brgy. Murtha, where several casualties were inflicted on the rebel’s side. One of the major casualties on the government side was the death of Captain Antonio Alinarte, the commanding officer of the Regional Special Action Force or RSAF.

Because of the disorder created by the encounter by the government forces and the NPAs in Quezon and other provinces, many families from these places decided to migrate to San Jose. They built their houses near the shores of Bubog and Ambulong.

On March 7, 1988, the building of the St. Joseph College Seminary in Labangan Poblacion was blessed and inaugurated by His Excellency Bruno Torpiglianni, DD the representative of Pope John Paul II in the Philippines. The seminary was founded by Bishop Manuel during his second year as head of the church in Occidental Mindoro.

Two powerful typhoons, Unsang and Yoling, one after the other devastated hundreds of hectares of rice in San Jose, in November, 1988. Aside from this damage, the town of San Jose was flooded causing destruction to many houses in Riverside, Brgy. 4, Poblacion. To give shelter to the victims of the typhoons, the Department of Social Welfare and Development built small houses in Brgy. Bagong Sikat.

In 1989, due to the conversion of the public high school in the center of Pandurucan into the Occidental Mindoro National College, Congressman Mario Gene Mendiola founded another school – the Pedro T. Mendiola Sr. Memorial Technical and Vocational School on Bagong Sikat, in memory of the two time representative of Occidental Mindoro, Congressman Pedro T. Mendiola, Sr. The succeeding year, one more high school was founded by Governor Peter Medalla, Jr. and named it the San Jose National High School, also in Bagong Sikat.

In 1990, Bishop Vicente Manuel started to establish a Catholic radio station in San Jose. This radio station became possible because of the Catholic population of San Jose, the country and other countries. The following year, on March 6, 1991 amidst the joyful participation of the whole Christian community or the Pamayanang Kristiyano, Radio Station DZVT was blessed and inaugurated by the Archbishop of Cebu, His Eminence Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, DD. It started broadcasting in Labangan Poblacion.

Sometime in 1992, the public market of San Jose was again burned. Since the local government have not enough funds for the construction of a new building, Mayor Santos permitted the market vendors whose stalls were burned to put up their own respective stalls.

In the election held in 1992, Mayor Santos was reelected and for the first time in the history of Occidental Mindoro, the elected governor was born in San Jose – Governor Josephine Ramirez-Sato. For congressman, Jose T. Villarosa was chosen by the people.

Mayor Santos, meanwhile, continued making improvements in San Jose. One of them was the expanding of the municipal hall. He ordered the concreting of other streets in the poblacion and transferred the slaughterhouse near the market to Brgy. Pag-asa. The provincial government, on the other hand, made the dirt road from San Roque to Bagong Sikat concrete. Also concreted was the highway in Labangan Poblacion, a thoroughfare for vehicles from the poblacion to the neighboring town of Magsaysay and barangays to the northeast.

The former fishpond of the Philippine Milling Company in Sitio Curanta which was used by SaltPhil in the production of salt, and utilized by AquaPhil for nursery of prawns and prawn production, was transformed into milkfish fishpond of the Mindoro Aquatic Resources Corporation or MINARCO. By means of modern technology, MINARCO produced boneless bangus which it exports to Manila and other provinces.

The Island Power Corporation (IPC) came to existence when in 1994 its electric plant was built in Bubog. Now, a large portion of the electricity supplied by OMECO to households and business establishments in Occidental Mindoro came from IPC.

Once again, San Jose reelected Mayor Santos in 1995. He constructed the new building of the public market. The Hall of Justice started to rise in front of the municipal hall at the plaza, but it was discontinued after the people protested.

Mayor Santos has to face a case filed with the Provincial Board. This stemmed from the fact that in 1996, the owner of the land where the municipality has been dumping garbage, sued him. Pending the final resolution of the case, the Provincial Board suspended him for six months. Vice Mayor Dennis Sy took over. President Fidel Ramos, thinking that the suspension of six months was too long, commuted it to three months. When the case was brought to its final resolution, Mayor Santos was absolved by the Provincial Board.

Another improvement in San Jose was the San Jose Gymnasium which was jointly funded by the provincial government and the local government of San Jose. Finished in 1996, the gymnasium is the venue for basketball competitions and other community affairs.

Sometime in the middle of 1997, due to the joint endeavor of the local government and the charitable institution of PLAN International, the new building of the Rural Health Unit was built. The Health Center serves the poor people by rendering medical services and giving advice that these poor people may maintain their health and physical welfare.

In March of 1996, the first ever historical society in the province was organized; the Occidental Mindoro Historical Society or OMHS. It had its inception when Dr. Felix Gabriel, its adviser, Governor Josephine Ramirez-Sato and Gil Manuel decided to call a meeting for the purpose. When it assembled at the Sikatuna Beach Resort, the meeting was so effective that right there the officers were elected. Gil Manuel was chosen president. The provincial board with Governor Ramirez-Sato at the helm, provides the OMHS with initial funds for its functions. One of the several aims of the Society is to write and publish the history of Occidental Mindoro and all its towns and barangays. On August 15, 1997 the OMHS and Philippine Centennial Movement (PCM) of Occidental Mindoro Chapter were temporarily merged in making preparations in line with the centennial celebration of Philippine Independence. The officers of the PCM are also the officers of the OMHS and they were sworn into office by former Vice President Salvador Laurel, chair of the National Centennial Commission. This was held in the San Jose Gymnasium.

In the election held in May, 1998 Mario Gene Mendiola was elected as mayor of San Jose. Among the tangible accomplishments during his term were: with the assistance of the provincial government, the Municipal Hall was renovated and improved. A session hall for the Sangguniang Bayan was added at the back of the building. In addition, the farm to market road from Brgy. San Agustin to Central was improved and the Aroma Beach Resort was beautified.

Gaudencio Espiritu succeeded Mario Gene Mendiola as mayor of San Jose in 2001. Among his visible accomplishments as chief executive of the municipality were the intensification of the cleanliness drive at the center of the town, market and the municipal beach resort; transfer of the slaughterhouse from Brgy. Pag-asa to Brgy. Magbay, improvement of the farm to market road from Brgy. San Agustin to Central and the strict implementation of the municipal ordinance concerning the operation of the market.

In 2004, Romulo Festin was elected as mayor of San Jose. He continued constructing the infrastructure projects started by his predecessors. Since his installation as mayor, he saw to it that the celebration of the fiesta in honor of the patron saint would be joyful and memorable. He is still the chief executive of the municipality at the present time.