A Lesson in History. . .

. . . Oral history, that is.  We were in Grade V, and Felipe Bayona, Jr., our teacher, gave an assignment for us to research into how Guinarona got its name.  It was up to us how we would approach the problem or who would be our resource person(s).  Whether it was the Teniente del Barrio, the oldest guy in the village, or our parents.

Rapids, Guinarona River. Photo credit: Rex Maray

Well, ours was our papa, Eleuterio Maray, Sr.  “How did Guinarona got its name?” we inquired.

Papa’s narration was more or less like this:  “There was once this barrio called “Lunayan,” so-called because its river was the swimming hole for water buffaloes.  (Note:  “Lunay” is a Waray verb, which means to wallow; hence “lunayan” is a wallowing spot.)  Lunayan had been a thriving barrio, full of commerce, courtesy of indigenous and foreign merchants, and it had been a barrio of Burauen, Leyte.  Because of its strategic location, the town of Dagami coveted Lunayan; thereupon, Dagami’s leaders negotiated with those of Burauen’s, asking that Lunayan instead become a part of Dagami.  It was not known what  the terms were or the bargaining chips.  And Lunayan was ceded to Dagami, with the blurb that Dagami was asking (“aro”) for the barrio.  Hence the operative words became “Guin-aro-na  an Lunayan,” which means, (they) have asked for Lunayan.  In time, this mantra was corrupted or shortened to Guinarona sans the hyphens.”

Map of Guinarona. Credit: http://www.sanpascualcentennialplus.com

After that, we approached Catalina Martinada–she, the village comediene  if ever there was one–posing to her the same question.  Her take was different, going like: “Guinarona got its name from the river that traverses it.”  Simple and to the point.  Which begged the question, “How did the river’s name came to be?”

Well, blood is thicker than water, obviously, so we believed more our papa’s version.

Guinarona, then as now lies midpoint between Dagami and Burauen.  Seven kilometers North to Dagami and six kilometers South to Burauen.  Then as now, Guinarona was a bustling place, a rest station for trekkers of  the North and the South.  In the year 1903, fate walloped Guinarona with a pernicious cholera epidemic.  The villagers were at a loss on what to do as so many lives had been lost to the white plague.  Then upon a meeting of the village elders and leaders, the consensus was to purchase the image of San Pascual Baylon because it had been touted as very powerful and miraculous.  The villagers contributed in cash and kind, and the total take was 20 pesetas, a very substantial sum in those days.  They dispatched Timoteo Daclizon to purchase the icon, and after a month-long voyage, San Pascual’s image arrived Guinarona from Manila.  The very first miracle that San Pascual did was to eradicate the cholera plague in just a few days from arrival.   That was such a blockbuster news throughout Leyte and Samar, Philippines, such that Guinarona became an overnight sensation, with thousands of pilgrims. flocking to San Pascual’s icon, which was then under the care of Raymundo Casarilla. San Pascual Baylon in Guinarona.

To conclude, as we chart the next level of Guinarona’s development, it pays to glance at history.  Like, we want to recharge going back in time, to muster the inspiration and courage to act.  Of course, this inspiration will also emanate from like-minded souls throughout the world.

Which makes it all the more exciting.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Ben – how was the village during the Philippine American War? Japanese Occupation? Who were the first settlers and what period? Is your waray language different from other Leyteñons?

    1. anibongpalm says:

      Thanks, Simplicio. From what we gather, Guinarona was a bit halcyon during the Japanese occupation. In fact, the famous Romualdez clan (yes, Imeldific, et al) made Guinarona their base during those times. Re the pulahan years, we hope this presentation will help: https://vimeo.com/25984571#

  2. I’ts a must to share our short stories about our barrio for all to read. Our roots come from there. Memories about our childhood and elementary education linger and will stay with us till our last breath.

    Thanks for a job well done.

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