Friday, June 27, 2008

Leganes through the years

The municipality of Leganes sprang from a small settlement in the site which is now known as barangay Guihaman. Back in the early 1840's this is the place where Guiham or wild boars used to scrounge.

As the population of this small settlement flourished, so does its economic activity. With the influx of migrants from nearby Jaro and Santa Barbara, trade and commerce began to prosper.

In 1858, to avoid the p600 fine to be levied on inhabitants, early settlers registered the settlement as a pueblo. This was in compliance to the decree of Don Isidro A. Brudit, Spanish governor of Iloilo in 1856. The place bore the name Valencia, a town in Spain whose patron is saint san Vicente Ferrer.

Based on historical account, the founders of this pueblo were Don Angel Gustilo, Don Mariano Gustilo, Don Jacinto Sandoval, Don Lorenzo Gustilo, Don Huan Hilado, Don Fulgencio Espino and Don Miguel Valencia.

It wasn't long before the founders engaged in a squabble. They sent a protest and petition to the Alta Mar in Spain invoking a change of the pueblos name because it gives unwarranted honor to a co-founder, Don Miguel Valencia. Annoyed, the Alta Mar named the town Leganes,a town in Spain that is of little significance.

The pueblo was administered by Kapitanes from 1860 up to 1899, until the end of Spanish rule.

In 1900 American colonizers appointed a local resident to become Leganes first President. Zacarias Jaen was directed to manage local affairs until he was succeeded by Tomas Gustilo in 1904. Lack of harmony among local officials resulted to slow economic progress which prompted governor Martin Delgado to make Leganes an arrabal of Santa Barbara in 1905.

Tomas Gustilo and his successor Macario Jagunap led the pueblo from 1907-1908. Other leaders after them like Anselmo Guillergan and Eugenio Maranon[1904-1905] eagerly worked for the towns autonomy, particularly in terms of construction projects like the school buildings, police station, deep well, roads etc.

Through the help of Jaro councilors Petronila Gumban and Valentin Jordan, Leganes leaders also tried and succeeded in causing the transfer of fishpond revenues from Santa Barbara to the coffers of Leganes. These revenues were used in improving roads surrounding the public plaza and installing telephone lines connecting Leganes to Jaro.

Leganes became an arrabal of Jaro on Jan 1st 1916 also through the help of Gumban and Jordan who never failed to show genuine concern. By the time they became Jaro Presidents, both men have been instrumental to the steady progress of Leganes. They mainly helped in the construction of Leganes primary school[now Leganes Elementary School], which stand at the lot donated by noted philanthropists Florenio S. Jagunap and Melencio Jagunap. Two years later saw the construction of the Santa Barbara irrigation system which was completed on July 4th 1922.

On october 2nd 1927, a monument for Dr. Jose Rizal was erected at Leganes primary school out of the fund raising drives by the people and donations from wealthy spouses Modesto Jinon and Capitana Anding Espino. In 1929, additional school buildings of Gabaldon type were built and completed out of insular funds used through the workings of assemblyman Vicente Ybiernas.

Progress and peace easily flowed in when Iloilo Governor Tomas Confesor granted Leganes autonomy from Jaro.

On Jan 1st 1940 Leganes was declared a municipality by virtue of executive order #241 signed by the then Commonwealth President Manuel Luis Quezon. Marcos Espino was the towns first mayor, while Martin Jaen was vice mayor. Appointed as councilors were Constantino Gulmatico and Marcial Jacildo. Each were given a term of one year, after which they were to give way to the towns first local election in november 1940. The first elected mayor of Leganes was Marcos Espino himself, while Marcial Jacildo bested other candidates for the towns vice mayoral post. The following were elected as councilors: Felix Trespeces, Primitivo Gustilo, Simplicio Grino, Valencia Solinap and Fausto Espino

With full autonomy and with local elected officials running the municipal government, Leganes was ushered in to an era of order and growth. Consequently the people became aware as to where their taxes go.

Mayor Espino was about to signal the implementation of infrastructure projectsion 1940 when the second world war broke out. Mayor Espino retreated to the marshland of Cari Mayor at the junction of Canipaan and Buntatala river. The old municipal building was converted to a Japanese garrison. Sporadic fighting between local guerrillas and the Japanese forces compelled civilians to evacuate to safer places. People lived in constant fear of their lives.

This situation was abated when Delfin Guinalon was appointed as puppet mayor. This is in compliance with the Japanese propaganda movements co-prosperity sphere for the whole of asia. It was due to Guinalons connection with the Japanese Kempetais that many of his Kasimanwas lives were saved. Guinalons reign ceased when the US 8th army division forces landed in Parara beach, Tigbauan on march 18th 1945. This historic date is commemorated to this day as the liberation of panay.

Right after the liberation, Martin Jaen was appointed as mayor. With the war now over, massive rehabilitation and repair of damaged infrastructures were painstakingly undertaken.

Martin Jaen ran and won as mayor of Leganes in 1946. He served until 1951. His successor, Pablo Jinon[1952-1955] facilitated the reconstruction of Leganes municipal building, using the pork barrel funds of Congressman Espinosa.

The election of Mayor Esperidion J. Jagunap[1956-59] and his re-election[60-63] eventually caused the transformation of the town. Into a beautiful municipality.

In 1963, Atty Adolfo Jaen, a young lawyer and neophyte politician was elected as mayor of Leganes. He was considered the youngest elected mayor in the visayas region. To his credit was an active scouting movement that placed Leganes on top of other municipalities in the Iloilo region council.

In 1966 parents gratefully welcomed the establishment of Leganes barangay high school[now Leganes National High School]. This, to them, is the answer to the high cost of education in sending their children to high school institutions in the city. The first assistant principal of Leganes barangay high school was Mr Jorge P. Landoy. The schools first batch of graduates marched during the 1969 commencement rites. Since then students enroll in this school.

Other high schools were established in other barangays in the following years. Nabitasan barangay high school absorbed enrollees at the start of school year 1970-71. Lapayon barangay high school was opened to students in 1970. Mrs Dorotea Gaverza and Mrs Rosalina Berguia were the first assistant principals respectively.

When Mayor Espiridion Jagunap was again voted as municipal mayor[1972-75], there was an upsurge of vital infrastructure projects. Leganes Central School was reconstructed to a ten room semi permanent intermediate structure. Additional 3 rooms were constructed in Lapayon barangay high school and Lapayon elementary school.

During mayor Jagunap's term the South Asia Fisheries Development Center-Aqua Culture Department[SEAFDEC-AQD] a well known institution in aqua culture research technology was granted the use of a significant portion of Leganes fishpond for research. During the incumbency of the late Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos, Leganes also became noted for its implementation of the new society nutrition program. Bagong Lipunan buildings were constructed in selected schools along the western side of the municipality.

The 1980 election opened a fresh mandate for Atty Adolfo Jaen. As mayor, he became instrumental to the 1.4 million peso bliss housing project in barangay Cari Mayor.

When President Corazon Aquino took over as Philippine President in 1986, there was a reorganization among public offices in the government. When the term of local executives expired. Jose Jaen was appointed as officer-in-charge, as such, he was authorized to administer the municipal concerns. He ran for mayor and won in the 1989, 1992 and 1995 elections. He tapped national government funding sources for the construction of Leganes gymnasium and the tennis court adjacent to it.

At the end of his term, his uncle, Atty. Adolfo Jaen ran for the mayoral post in 1998. He constructed additional stalls at the second floor of the existing public market structure. Before his term ended he was able to facilitate the improvement of San Vicente road. The Lapayon-Calaboa-Cagamutan Norte road, and the 3CL at Leganes National High School.

When the local election was held in may 14, 2001, the Leganesnons chose between two hotly contesting candidates-Jose Jaen and his businessman cousin Enrique Ike Rojas. The latter, a fresh face in politics, won by a slim margin of 365 votes.

Upon his assumption to office on july 2, 2001 the new mayor gets to work with eagerness and determination to serve. Maintaining that change must come from within his circle, he began by improving the morale and working habits of municipal employees. Then he cated task forces to attend to special concerns such as the beautification and cleanliness drive, anti-dengue campaign, taskforce Baha and market inspection.

Only three months in office as of this writing Rojas was able to obtain financial support and commitment from among national funding agencies to fast track his infrastructure and development programs. Among his immediate priority projects are the rehabilitation of Leganes water system, construction of additional farm to market roads, road reconstruction, barangay street lighting facilities, flood control programs and repair of irrigation facilities. Taking on the plight of marginal farmers and fishermen, he invoked the municipal agriculture office to create projects that sets out livelihood opportunities that are practical, highly implementable and self sustaining.

The new mayor knows that in order to realize these noble tasks he must work on winning the cooperation of the Sangguniang Bayan, his employees and workers, the barangay captains, and political antagonists.

Mayor Rojas is quite certain that under his administration the dream of making Leganes a suburban growth center will be realized. Indeed, the 120 hectare area fronting the southern coast of Leganes is presently identified by the Metro Iloilo Development Council[MIDC] as site for heavy industries. Mayor Rojas, as chair of MIDC commitee on infrastructure, has been actively participating in a series of MIDC meetings and study tours to top industrial centers in the country. This is being sponsored by the Canadian Urban Institute MIDC's foreign counterpart and implementing arm.

Mayor Rojas has harnessed people participation as a key component of this development strategy. Self-reliant projects with people leading and government in full support are being launched. The aim is to wean people from the concept of mendicancy and become empowered for their own development.

Atty. Adolfo Jaen, the present municipal mayor, is working hard to promote the tourism industry of Leganes. The Saad Festival, a festival honoring the town's patron saint St. Vicente Ferrer, reaping awards and acknowledgements by winning not only local but as well as national competition.

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