Saturday, February 19, 2011
Aurorans reminisce 1735 tsunami in the celebration of the 32nd foundation anniversary
BALER, Aurora, Feruary 19, 2011-Aurorans celebrated yesterday its 32nd foundation anniversary and the 123rd birth anniversary of the late former First Lady Doña Aurora Aragon-Quezon after whom it was named with the usual pomp and pageantry but with a different tack: reminiscing the deadly 1735 “tromba marina” that killed 500 families and wiped out the old township.
For the first time in its annual anniversary celebrations, Aurorans led by Sen. Edgardo J. Angara, Gov. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo, Rep. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Baler Mayor Arthur J. Angara and the entire officialdom of the province formally launched the “Kinagunasan Festival, a festival of hope, a celebration of life.”
Angara-Castillo said that the historical event inspired the Angaras to translate and to interpret the occurrence into artistic dances and movements and into powerful sounds and music, the chaos, violence, merry-making, struggles, entertainment and the daily activities of the townsfolk, adding that the festival was launched to show to the public the determination of the people of Aurora to survive trials and challenges. “Not only to survive but to survive with success and rebuild their lives,” she said.
Some 115 students performed the Kinagunasan dance portraying the historic tragedy, complete with props where each of the performing students were given P1,000 each by Angara-Castillo in recognition of their feat.
“Kinagunasan (wiped out) is the local term for the “Tromba Marina” or tsunami that hit the town in 1735. The tsunami was survived by only seven families, including the Angaras, who went up the Mt. Castillo, a neighboring hill now called Ermita Hill. A replica of the old town and the survivors are now placed at the slope of Ermita Hill. Other survivors were the families of Bihasas, Bitongs, Carrascos, Ferreras, Lumasacs and Pobletes, saying that due to the sad episode of the villagers, the Bitongs migrated to San Jose (now Maria Aurora) and the Bihasas to Inategan (now San Luis). The Angaras were believed to be migrants who came alone with the Franciscan missionaries from neighboring provinces.
This year’s anniversary rites carries the theme: “Broadening Aurora’s Competitiveness in the Global Economy.” Yesterday’s rites started with a morning Mass at the Baler Central School and a street parade and the unveiling of the marker for Baler 400 years monument at the Baler town hall. The Angaras then laid a wreath at the bronze statue of Doña Aurora at the Capitol compound together with Ricky Quezon Avanceña, one of her descendants.
Historians said the killer tsunami hit the town at 2 am on December 27, 1735, risings rapidly that within a few hours, even the terrain where the town existed also vanished.
Fray Jose de San Rafael, then the parish priest of Casiguran town, was on vacation in Baler when the tsunami struck. He swam his way to Point Baja to survive.
The priest recalled that shortly before the tsunami struck, the sacristan major of the convent called his attention to the rising wave engulfing the town. He considered it weird since there was no sign or manifestation of impending bad weather.
After the devastation, a new town was carved on a hilly terrain west of Baler Bay with the old town named Kinagunasan. (Jason de Asis)
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