Thursday, March 9, 2017

San Vicente Ilocos Sur, My Beloved Hometown

Dr Abe V Rotor
Dedication: San Vicente Ferrer, patron saint of San Vicente, Ilocos Sur, other towns, villages, schools and other institutions in many parts of the world, whose feast day is celebrated in April.
Main road from Vigan going to San Vicente town, 3 km.
Shaded area in first photo - the poblacion showing the church, 
plaza, elementary school, market  and municipal Hall, circa 1970
17th century church after the war.

In my childhood I saw detours of footpaths
dividing East and West, two warring niches  
where the zone of peace was the holy ground, 
and beyond was wilderness - and the unknown, 
beyond the confines of Subec and the Cordillera, 
the memory of Diego Silang, and the Basi Revolt 
on old, meandering Bantaoay River.

In my youth I saw the sun sitting  
on acacia stumps and on the tired landscape, 
but rising in dreams and visions on the horizon, 
and in the wisdom of my forebears, 
 the old guards of your fort.

Time has stood still since then.

I come to pay homage to your temple, 
and into the arms of my people, my roots;
 I see the footpaths of yesteryears, 
now grown and multiplied, and always fresh,
 leading from the East and West, 
and the many corners of the earth 
converging at your portals in pilgrimage.~

Idyllic scene of rural San Vicente mural in acrylic by the author circa 2003

About San Vicente Ilocos Sur  
San Vicente is a fifth class municipality in the province of Ilocos Sur, Philippines. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 11,720 people.

The municipality is known for its production of beautiful furniture made from narra and other tropical hardwoods, even from old wood previously used in wooden sugarcane crushers and old houses to make reproduction antiques.

San Vicente is politically subdivided into 7 barangays.

  • Bantaoay
  • Bayubay Norte
  • Bayubay Sur
  • Lubong
  • Poblacion
  • Pudoc
  • San Sebastian


The municipality's name came from the name of Saint Vincent Ferrer, whose winged statue was found inside a box entangled in fishing nets. The fishermen consulted this matter to the friars in Villa Fernandina (now Vigan), who identified the person depicted by the statue. The statue was carried to the town's center, where a church was built. From then on, the town formerly known as Tuanong (sometimes called Taonan) became San Vicente.


In tracing the history of San Vicente, one always has to start from Vigan. Vigan was established by the Spanish colonizer, Juan de Salcedo on June 13, 1573 up to 1582, there were only 800 residents.
Upon Salcedo’s return in 1574, he brought with them the Augustinian friars in order to teach Christianity to the inhabitants. After Salcedo’s death on March 11, 1576, Franciscan friars replaced the Augustinians in the year 1579. These same friars spread up to San Vicente to convert the people to the Catholic faith.

In 1591, Vigan has already an organized form of government, which included these barrios namely: Bo. Tuanong, Bo. Sta. Catalina de Baba and Bo. Caoayan. There were then a population numbering about 4,000 inhabitants.

Between the years 1720 and 1737, the first chapel of Bo. Tuanong was erected. Later in 1748, the Confraternity of Jesus of Nazareth was organized. In one record of the Vigan Convent archives, a funeral that happened on January 29, 1748 at the Chapel Bo. Tuanong was recorded. Two chaplains Bro. Don Agustin de la Encarnacion and Don Pedro Geronimo de Barba were the priest stone the chapel in that year 1748. It is believed that the chapel is the first stone building that sees upon entering the San Vicente Central School from the main road. Bo. Tuanong which belonged to Vigan was the old name of San Vicente.

On June 16, 1751, the chaplain was Don Miguel de Montanez. He was the first priest there and also in the chapel of San Sebastian. It is found out that Barangay San Sebastian already erected.

Hardship in reaching Bo. Tuanong and Bo. Sta. Catalina de Baba from Vigan especially during the months of June to October was experienced, due to the absence of dike or bridge. Priests from Vigan reached these places by means of a raft. The problem prompted the separation of these two barrios from Vigan in 1793.

In 1795, it was the initiation of the seat of municipality and the church and Bo. Tuanong became San Vicente de Ferrer. Don Pedro de Leon was the first parish priest and he was believed as the initiator of the construction of the Church of San Vicente.


±% p.a.
Source: National Statistics Office
Source: Wikipedia, Internet;  Poem reprinted from Light in the Woods: Photographs and Poems by Dr A V Rotor Megabooks 1995

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