ATTEMPTED TRANSFER OF SETTLEMENT

Around the middle of the 18th century, the flour­ishing settlement of Milaor was tragically destroyed by fire which broke out on 17 April, 1740. A report which bore references to this event indicated:

But what an unfortunate event. It was now reduced to ashes that which caused enormous effort to build. Thus, the town, the church and the convent were likewise engulfed by a fire which broke out in a house of these natives on Palm Sunday in 1740.

Shortly after the entire settlement was destroyed, led by the parish priest, the native leaders and the rest of the inhab­ itants petitioned the Franciscan provincial, Fray Sebastian Totanes to intercede in their behalf to the governor-general for the transfer of their settlement.
They complained of the chronic flooding which they su f­ fered in their present swampy settlement, which was located on the southwestern portion of the river, and they wanted tomove to the northeastern side, which was only "farther by a shot of a mosquete". They believed that since they would just be rebuilding everything, they should rather take this opportunity to transfer to their more preferred site. In this petition they argued that their plan to transfer was gener­ ally accepted by the rest of the populace. The only "issue worthy of attention" as the document put it, was the fear of cimarrones.

Fray Sebastian Totanes endorsed this petition and asked the Supreme Government in Manila to "order its transfer and the said town of Milaor with its church and convent be built on the other side of the river where they could live with all convenience and well.

"The Franciscan Provincial likewise begged the government to "command the Alcalde Mayor of Camarines province to ignore any other requests and obliged the people to carry it out and not to permit anyone to found nore rebuild any house in a swampy and narrow place as they themselves had complained about in the present place they inhabit and if they were to rebuild anything, they have to transfer with the little they spared from the fire to the site where they have chosen for their own well-being ."

Despite this endorsement, it appeared that nothing ever came out of this. More than fifty years later in 1792, Bishop Domingo Collantes of Caceers once again raised the neces­ sity for the transfer of this settlement to the other side of the river. He wrote:

The town lws a sclzool building of stone with many good houses but it is unhealthy for it is frequentl y flooded all the areas along the river of the Yrayas whose bank isfound located in tlze west and the south. this does not, however, happen on the opposite bank in the east and north where at the same time, it enjoys many irrigated terrain and ricefield.

For this reason, the Bishop supported the clamore for transfer: we declare it useful for us and necessary the re­ ferred transfer on account of the notable number of deaths which is evident on the canonical books of burials.

The dream of Bishop Collantes, just like the previous curates of this parish, apparently was never realized to the report of Capt. Antonio de Siguenza in 1823, on the state of the towns of the province, it carried a brief description of the continuing dismal condition of the terrain: the frequent flooding caused by the swelling of the river brought enor­ mous damage to plantation . . . the sediments and the putrid matters left by the floodwaters were among the causes of sickness which take many to the grave."

 

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