Give me a break. A lot of you readers would share the same impression that history is one boring subject to take. And besides, who really is interested to learn about Philippine history, taught since elementary school with teachers forcing you to memorize facts, dates and all, with little historical significance and repercussion thrown into the discussion? History at the college level was a different matter though; however much of what was taught focused on what happened in Luzon, with tidbits coming from Visayas and Mindanao. I could not recall being taught our local history, which understandably would make me another resident without much concrete grasp of Amlan’s evolution as a town.
As Tourism Amlan became the de facto Culture and the Arts Office, we had to scour around for the information that we needed to build Amlan’s historical foundation. We found scant information, here and there. Luckily, a copy of our town’s historical data kept in the archives of the National Museum of the Philippines and provided to us by The Dumaguete Tourism Office served as the backbone of our research. It piqued our interest to get ahold of the copy, which contains very significant events and timelines. This material further includes a good narrative of the cultural practices of Amlan’s forefathers.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF AMLAN
Before the Spaniards came, Amlan used to be called Ayuquitan Viejo. A total of 19 barrios and 67 sitios comprised the town. Out of the 19 barrios, seven were coastal, namely: Calo, Lalaan, Viejo Ayuquitan, Tampe, Tandayag, Poblacion and Bio-os. The hinterland barrios were: Tambojangin, Siapo, Silab, Jantianon, Ayuquitan, Basak, Cansipit, Basiao, Jilocon, Tampe, Tapon Norte, Lala-an, Calo, Naiba, Cambaloctot, and Bandera.
In 1840, Padre Bracamonte arrived in Amlan and saw a couple eating a fruit and asked them the name of the place. The couple mistook the question and replied “Alman,” referring to the fruit they were eating. Padre Bracamonte took Alman as the name of the place and spoke of Amblang.
In 1848, the new town site was laid out. Father Patreceño had the trees and bushes cleared in the spot where the Amlan Central Square is now; a small brick church was built, and the people were encouraged to live around the new site. This marked Amlan as a pueblo. This new municipality was under the jurisdiction of Tanjay for eight years for there was no local government organized at that time.
During the early part of the American colonization, this part of town was officially called Ayuquitan Nuevo. It was made the new seat of the municipal government because more people lived here than in Ayuquitan Viejo (Poblacion, San Jose today). At one time, piracy was common and a temporary town or lungsod was created up in the hills of barrio Siapo. The place is now presently called Guilungsoran.
On November 21, 1898, revolutionary activities were felt in the locality. This soon died away when the American soldiers came to Dumaguete on board the warship, “Baltimore.” Among the soldiers who came to Amblan were Mr. Henry Fleischer and Mr Wanestine. A local government was organized, and Mr. Antero Bandoquillo was appointed the first town president by the Junta Provincial in 1902.
The Gabaldon-type school buildings were constructed in 1913, and the first principal was Mr. Lazaro Bandoquillo. These structures were designed by American architect William Parsons and were funded through Act Number 1801 authored by Isauro Gabaldon, ex-governor of Nueva Ecija province and former member of the Philippine Assembly from 1907 to 1911.
Japanese forces occupied Amlan on June 22, 1942, forcing some residents to seek haven in the hills and other hinterland barrios. The Japanese converted the vacant house of Mr. Vicente Salatandre to serve as their military garrison. Soon a civilian government was established with Mr. Nesterio Erum, a ex-USAFFE Captain, appointed mayor of the town. Nippongo classes were organized.
The Japanese soldiers were ambushed by Filipino guerillas for the first time in Tandayag near the rice fields owned by Luis Se-it. Two soldiers were killed and four were wounded. After that, Japanese soldiers passing between Dumaguete and Bais were regularly harassed by guerillas, with Capt. Fernan de Asis leading the Amlan campaign. Kandahunog, a deep ravine above barrio Siapo, was the birthplace of the resistance movement in Negros Oriental. Because of the ambushes, Japanese soldiers took to the water to travel between Dumaguete and Bais.
The Japanese entrenched themselves in the Roman Catholic Church. They started bombarding the NACOCO (National Coconut Corporation) plant, school buildings, and some of the town’s prominent family residences, including that of Don Jesus Montenegro and Don Joaquin Bocanegra. In September 1944, the Japanese began to vacate their garrisons in Bais and Tanjay, and eventually in Amlan.
On April 26,1945, remnants of the 164th Infantry went ashore at Sibulan, met with Reconnaissance Troop of the 40th Division, and attacked the Japanese forces in hill positions around Dumaguete. Finally, the Japanese surrendered on August 15, 1945.
By virtue of Act No. 435, the Philippine Congress approved on June 7, 1950 the charter of AMLAN. Less than five years from its charterhood, Republic Act No. 1212 approved in May 9, 1955, saw 13 barrios separated from Amlan to constitute a new municipality, now known as San Jose.
Amlan continues to evolve, facing even bigger challenges as it forges ahead. This year’s theme is “Amlan: Kaniadto ug Karon, Ipadayung Palambuon,” is a call to all residents to take part and be part in the development of Amlan as one of the best places to live in the region.