Friday, September 12, 2003

A Biographical Sketch
Jay Cy Ty


The idea to write this biographical sketch was inspired by some old residents of Tiwi who related the different anecdotes and outstanding achievements of the man who is the subject of this sketch. They praised him and inspired me to follow the gobernadorcillo's way of life. I tried to imitate him though I did not presume to measure up to his ideals.

No attempt is made here to appraise his character and his achievements. It is left to the discretion of the reader. The sketch is being presented without assumptions except for some reference notes.

Majority of the materials of this work was related to me personally by witnesses of the time, notably by Cabezang Conoy (Cornelio Comboy from Cale), Cabezang Eno (also form Cale), the late Fermin Corral, Petronilo de la Cruz from Mayong, Alejandro Colina from Cararayan, Inocencia Combo (Mother in-law of Mariano Templado).

Municipal President Lino Clutario related the incident with the Guardia Civil, which he heard from some elder people. Likewise, the late Mr. H.R. Berces confirmed some parts of this work to be true as he heard them many times from elder people.

The late Mariano Templado, the only son of Gobernadorcillo Higino Templado blessed with children, said that he heard all of the accounts in this work as recounted many times by people then living during the time of the gobernadorcillo.

The descendants of Mariano Templado are grateful to the old folks who transmitted this portion of the life story of the gobernadorcillo, without whom he would have been forgotten like the other revered men of his time.

Jay Cy Ty
Tiwi, Albay
January 1, 1979

The Legacy Of Higino Templado

Sr. Don Higino Templado, the sixty-sixth gobernadorcillo* of Tiwi, Albay (1879-1884) was a man of strong personality. He was of strong though slender of physique and stands at five feet and eight inches. He was good in the arts of fencing, which he learned while a student in Manila.
He had a clear and light complexion with a face too serious for his age. His speech was solemn and his voice was full and resonant. He spoke fluently and was at home in the Spanish language. He was well composed in appearance and had no racial complex. He had a high regard for his office and discharged duties with dignity and decorum. A devout Catholic, he led the members of his household in the daily early morning rosary.

*The head of the Pueblo government (town government) was the gobernadorcillo (little governor) popularly called Capitan. In earlier times, all married men of the pueblo elected him annually. Later, he was elected by a board of 18 electors- the out-going gobernadorcillo and twelve electors selected by lot, six from the incumbent cabezas de barangay and six among the former gobernadorcillos and cabezas.


Higino was born in San Fernando, Pampanga on February 11, 1852. He was the eldest of three children born to Licerio Templado and Felipa Fernandez both of Filipino- Chinese descent. His father was from Bulacan while his mother was from Pampanga.


Higino got his early education from the parochial school of his native town. After finishing his early education, he continued his studies in Manila's higher institution of learning. It is not certain as to what course the young Higino pursued in the University of Santo Tomas but it is believed that he must have studied civil law.


While a student in Manila, Higino met Crisanta San Juan, a young college girl of Manila whom he married in 1873. Crisanta was the eldest daughter of Mariano San Juan* and Macaria Maglake of Manila who migrated to Tiwi earlier than the Templados.

After marriage, the young couple stayed for a while in the house of Remigia San Juan, a sister of Crisanta's father. With the desire to be free and independent and a resentment to undue discipline from Aunt Remigia, the young couple with their first-born child left Manila in 1875 in a pretense to visit their parents in Tiwi, Albay where they decided to stay permanently.

Higino had six children: Mariquita, Gineto, Merced, Licerio, Mariano and Higino II. Of his children, only Mariano was blessed with children to perpetuate Higino's family, one of whom became later a Mayor of Tiwi.

*Mariano San Juan held also the position of gobernadorcillo (1877-1878).


Being knowledgeable in law, Higino was appointed Fiscal Promotor* of Tiwi (1876-1878). Due to his growing influence in the town, at the age of twenty- seven, he was elected gobernadorcillo of his adopted town to succeed his father in-law on January 1, 1879. He was re-elected in1881 and in 1883 occupying the position until his death in 1884. His administration heralded liberalism in Tiwi and was characterized by peace and prosperity.

*Fiscal Promotors were provided for in every municipality. They were given to persons who are lawyers or had some academic or professional title, or to those whose positions and circumstances warrant it. Cayetano S. Arellano, "Concession to Public Opinion". The Judiciary (Vol. 1, 1903)


The liberal ideas brought to the Philippines by Spanish Governor-General Carlos Maria de la Torre (1869-1871) as a consequence of liberalism in Spain, had greatly influenced the character of Higino while a student in Manila. As a student at that time, Higino had the opportunity of attending both Liberty Serenade and Parade in July and September 1869 participated by prominent Filipinos and students of the University of Santo Tomas to express their gratitude for the liberal policies of Governor-General Carlos Maria de la Torre. These demonstrations had imbibed in the young Higino the spirit of nationalism and liberalism. The new ideas spreading in Manila's young people were brought to Tiwi by the young gobernadorcillo.

In the past, the gobernadorcillo was generally, as Jose Rizal said in his Noli Me Tangere, "only an unhappy mortal commanded not, but obeyed; who ordered not, but was ordered; who drove not, but was driven". When Higino assumed his position, he inaugurated a new concept of administration. He chose to inspire and drive his people to action. He initiated reforms and took measures for the development of his town.


Though Higino would not compromise with criminality, he detested the infliction of bodily harm to criminals as a form of punishment. To him, punishment has for its purpose the reformation of the criminal. With this belief, he immediately suppressed flogging, the subjection of offenders to the bite of ants and other physical forms of punishments.


Higino believed that peace and order is necessary for the progress of the community. However, he said, peace and order cannot be achieved if those who are charged with the responsibility of maintaining peace and orders are undisciplined and oppressive.

Knowing that the cuadrilleros, the local police force during the Spanish regime, were illiterates and untrained for police work, he took immediate steps in reorganizing the cuadrilleros. They were required to learn the native martial arts and to attend a short course in police work. He issued them instructions to govern their actuations and charged them the duty of preventing crimes and the apprehension of criminals. Erring cuadrilleros were confined in jail without visitors for several days depending on the degree of their errors. Cuadrilleros, he said, must be models and that they could only correct themselves if they are made to taste the dose of their own medicine.


An incident with a Guardia Civil caused an unwholesome relationship between him and the organization of the Guardia Civil. In those days, the guardia civil were powerful and arrogant. Nobody dared disobey them. For no cause at all, they would beat anybody (not excluding the gobernadorcillo) who happened to cross their ways.

On one occasion, a guardia civil came knocking at Higino's bedroom while enjoying his noon siesta, with the intention of humiliating the gobernadorcillo. Irked by this arrogance, Higino opened the door abruptly and in a surprise move, he grabbed the guardia civil's pistol and held him up. "Pay respect or honor in the name of the King", the gobernadorcillo commanded. Caught unaware, the guardia civil humbled himself before Higino. He arrested him and locked him in jail. He was only released upon a pledge that the guardia civil will not repeat the incident nor molest his people. From then on, no guardia civil ever dared slight Higino nor would any guardia civil go to any place in Tiwi without his knowledge and authority.


The forest areas of what is now the Binisitahan of San Bernardo and the mountains of Barangay Mayong were earlier inhabited by roaming Agta (Aeta). These people were nomadic and warlike in nature and were constantly molesting the Christian natives. Higino decided to pacify these Aetas. He befriended their chiefs and summoned them to gather in San Bernardo and the lowlands of Mayong. When Higino arrived at the gathering of the Aetas in San Bernardo, he noted an unfriendly atmosphere among the Aetas. Their Chief, seated on a bench like a king, did not rise nor demonstrate any act of welcoming the gobernadorcillo.

As Higino stood unwelcome and embarrassed, the Chief Aeta, brandishing a bolo signaled to one of his men to throw a coconut to him, which he struck in two. Higino, however, was not impressed by the show. He surprised everybody by disarming him with his bolo. Everybody was tense! The slightest signal from their Chief would throw them into action. Tension, however was eased when the Aeta Chief, in an act of surrender smiled apologetically and explained that what he did was nothing but a mere gesture of welcome. He warned them not to molest the Christian natives and advised them to live peacefully. Later, he arranged for a lay mission, which he accompanied for the conversion of the Aetas to Christianity. For a while they settled peacefully but some of them wandered into the forests.


Town Planning

The only road existing at the time he became the gobernadorcillo was the road from Malinao. The town was no more than a settlement of scattered houses. The only building of permanent construction was the church and convent. Having seen the orderly arrangement of the city of Manila and some other towns near Manila, he made a plan for Tiwi.

Built Municipal Streets

The existing systems of the municipal streets in Tiwi were laid out during the term of Gobernadorcillo Higino Templado. Higino believed in the importance of good roads. He soon started the construction of the Cararayan- Cale road, which was then only a trail to make it passable for Carabao-drawn carts. To provide the barrio of Cararayan with a street through which the religious procession or aurora may pass, he also caused the construction of the back street of Cararayan named Eduardo Comot Street.

The maintenance of the Tiwi- Malinao road always concerned him. It was while supervising the repair of this road during heavy rain that caused his sickness resulting to his death.

Constructed The Tribunal

Tiwi did not have a building to house its local government offices. In 1880, he built a town hall, which was then called the Tribunal. It was built of stone and its architecture was of the Corinthian style. Its construction was partly financed from his personal funds due to the inadequacy of the funds of the Pueblo. This building was unfortunately burned in the later part of the Spanish regime due to the fireworks fired by one Directorcillo* Tomas Gonzalez.

*Directorcillo was the municipal secretary.

The Town Plaza

To provide the community a wholesome place where people could gather and meet on Sundays and holidays, Higino constructed a town plaza in front of the Tribunal building on the very site of the present town plaza. Ornamental trees and plants were planted around the plaza and lampposts were installed and lighted at night. In this place people gathered to see the Comedia or local plays.

This plaza was named Plaza Templado during the time of Municipal President Mateo Clidoro (1925- 1931) in honor of Gobernadorcillo Higino Templado. The name however was soon forgotten. Only former President Lino Clutario (1931-1934), then Secretary to President Clidoro, remembers it to this day.

Irrigation and River Control

Realizing the importance of the lowlands between Cararayan and Naga for agricultural purposes, he saw the need of an irrigation canal. He called the people of the barrio and explained to them the necessity of constructing an irrigation system. Supplementing the Polo or forced labor system of the time with voluntary or cooperative labor the irrigation system from the barrio of Cale was constructed.

It was during the construction of this irrigation system that an anecdote was told about Higino. Early one morning, the continuous beating of a drum annoyed him. He went out of his house and looked for the source of the sound and found the Cabeza de Barangay still beating the drum. "I am calling the men to work in the community dam but not one has come", the Cabeza explained.
"Give me the drum!" the gobernadorcillo commanded. With a bolo, he struck the drum and left the Cabeza dumbfounded.

Struck with fear, the Cabeza went around spreading the news that the gobernadorcillo was angry. Sooner than was expected, men were hurrying to the community dam.

"An sobrang tanog nacaca bognog. Sarong pokpok na malumbay nacacabuhay," Higino was later heard to have said.

The Nagas River Control Project

The Nagas River has been a constant threat to the road connecting Malinao and Tiwi and to the rice fields of Tiwi. It was once reported to Higino that in Taki* was a lake whose water was shut off by a big rock held in place by a vine. It was feared that if the vine was cut, the rock would roll to cause a big flood. To allay the fears of the people, Higino taking with him the image of Nuestra Senora del Rosario (Patron Saint of Cararayan), and leading a party of cuadrilleros and local officials, visited the alleged lake. The report however was found to be false. The trip was not at all futile for it enabled him to map out plan to control Nagas River. The plan did not materialize on account of his untimely death.

*Taki- the upper portion of Nagas River


The Abaca Industry

The Abaca as the people's money crop concerned him much. In fact he was a big abaca plantation owner. His plantations were located at Mayong, Dapdap and in Cale. He was an advocate of quality fibers. He was proud to claim that the best abaca fibers came from Tiwi. To attain his objectives, he required all strippers to use only knives without teeth. He ordered his cuadrilleros to inspect abaca strippers and to confiscate knives with teeth.

Higino was a jealous economist. In 1881, the central government required him to ship to Manila a large quantity of abaca rootstocks. Sensing that the propagation of abaca in other places would later threaten the town's abaca industry, Gobernadorcillo Templado ordered the abaca rootstocks soaked in Naglagbong boiling springs before its shipment to prevent its germination.

Established Experimental Plots

In his desire to improve the economic condition of his people, the gobernadorcillo established a demonstration or experimental plot in Cararayan. He experimented and introduced such plants as legumes or beans, indigo, tobacco, garlic, sugarcane from Central Luzon, and such fruit trees as ates, seneguelas, and mulberry trees for the raising of silkworms.


Founding Of Cararayan

In searching for a place to establish his home, Higino selected a place, which he called Cararayhan (most ideal place). In later times people simplified it to Cararayan. He induced his friends and other people to settle down in this place, which he intended earlier to make it the poblacion of Tiwi.

With the cooperation of his neighbors they built a chapel. He ordered a painted image of the Nuestra Senora del Rosario from Manila and since then it has been the patron saint of the barrio. It seems that he chose this image in honor of the patron saint of Santo Domingo Church where he usually heard mass when still in Manila.

Renamed Gentilan*

Mayong was originally known as Cagintilan as Aetas and a haven then inhabited it for bad and troublesome people. After its pacification Gobernadorcillo Templado renamed Cagintilan to Mayong. The head of the Aetas was commissioned as Capitan de Mayong.

* Gentilan- derived from the word Gentil or Gentiles. The word gentil in Bicol refers to lawless people.

Chapel for San Bernardo

In the conversion of the Aetas in San Bernardo to Christianity, a chapel was also established where lay missions held meetings.


No one knows the introduction of the Comedia or Moro-moro dramas in Tiwi. It is certain, however, that Higino was patron of this cultural practice. He encouraged and promoted the holding of the Comedia in Cararayan as well as in the town.

The Comedia is a must during the celebration of fiestas and during the "catapusan" of the "aurora". He is said to have enjoyed the comedia very much especially the awkward gestures of the actors. He found much pleasure in the company of one known only as Pando from Nagas. He was his personal jester. For Pando's pranks and jokes, the gobernadorcillo excused him from the usual polo or forced labor.

Higino appreciated music. He encouraged his brother Dionisio*, a talented musician to organize an orchestra using both native and foreign instruments. During fiestas and other occasions, this orchestra presented musical renditions.

*Grandfather of Kagawad Artemio Auste

New Year's Day Celebration

On New Year's Day, Higino would gather the children for a celebration. He would coax them to sing and to recite prayers and extracts from Christ's passion plays. To each participant he gave them prizes. At the end of the celebration, he would shower them with coins to his full enjoyment as he saw them scramble for the showered coins.


The Superior government in Manila took cognizance of the Gobernadorcillo's unusual achievements in public improvements, in the promotion of peace and order and in the development of local agriculture. He was therefore awarded a silver medal* wherein the following was inscribed: "GOBIERNO SUPERIOR DE FILIPINAS- AL MERITO CIVIL".

*The heirs of the late Mayor Jose Clutario Templado preserve the medal.


In the later part of his incumbency as gobernadorcillo, Don Higino Templado contracted a certain fever. He was confined for a week in bed. Recovering from the illness, he was again in his job supervising the repair of the road in Nagas after a heavy flood. He got a relapse and finally died in 1884 at the prime age of 32. His office vacated, his Teniente Mayor, Ramon Zepeda assumed his office.

*Jay Cy Ty is the pen name of the author, the late Mayor Jose Clutario Templado.