THE RISE OF URBAN SETTLEMENT

To facilitate a rapid and comprehensive program of reli­ gious and cultural transformation of the natives, the Spanish colonial authorities introduced a methodical system of con­ version known in Spanish as reduccion. The system of reduc­ tion contained two major segments, a system of urban reset­ tlement and an instructional aspect, which revolved around the basic doctrines of the faith.

The system of reduction laid out a specific urban plan, which came to be termed as the cabecera-visita complex. In this scheme, a string of subordinate clusters of population were attached to a principal village called the cabecera. The cabecera being the capital of the parish received the greatest impact of Hispanization. By the early decades of the 19th century, the streets of Milaor were wide and well aligned. In 1887, the Spanish journalist named Adolfo Puya Ruiz, described Milaor as a town which had some 2,000 houses including those in the barrios and visitas. Some 800 of these were made of wood and the rest of light materials.

Its Spanish urban make-up was distinctly characterized by the presence of the church, the municipal building and the school with the plaza occupying the centerpiece of all these colonial structures. The late 16th century Milaor defi­ nitely bore the same urban features. Its church and convent which were constructed in the early salvo of Franciscan evangelization, were originally made out of light materials such as bamboo and nipa. These makeshif t structures where changed into wooden buildings around the 17th century and had remained in such condition until the early decades of the 18th century. Around the first half of the 18th century, when bricks began to be baked in the locality, the church and its convent were replaced with bricks which were con­ structed around 1725 by Fray Juan del Sacramento and Jose de la Virgen. These structures were finished in 1735 by Fray Santiago de San Pedro Alcantara. But around the middle of the 18th century, these buildings were tragically destroyed by fire which broke out on 17 April, 1740. But an immediate renovation evidently took place and toward the las decade of the 18th century, a beautiful well-furnished church was already standing. This was contained in the Testimonio of the episcopal visit of Bishop Domingo Collantes. an excerpt of this report written in Milauod, Nov. 25, 1791 says:

"Having visited the church of S t. Josef de Milauod, whose patron is S t. Lorenzo in accordance with the Rite and pre­ scribed edict, wefind the Holy Deposit in proper care, lam­ para ardiente and baptismal font of the chrismeras. Like­ wise, the altars, pul pa, confessional boxes and bells and the such estado de almas. There are 3,922 and the tributes amounted to 1103. The church is made of stone, large and the same is true with the old parochial house called conven­ to. The sacristy withhi ts recamarra isfound abundantly of rich menage."

In the middle of the 19th century, the convent and the church buildings both made of slid materials were once again majestically standing.
The municipal building, which became the official do­ main of civil transactions of the colonial society likewise came to exist almost at the beginning of the Spanish regime. Little is known of this however except that in the middle of the 19th century, the municipal building was already made of solid materials except for the upper portion which re­ mained of wooden construction.

Since the missionaries recognized the role of education in sustaining their colonial hold, schools were founded in var­ ious parishes including Milaor. a school ran by the Francis­ cans was already existing in Milaor sometime before 1594.

By the 19th century, its operation was shouldered by the community funds whose building was made of bricks. In the outlying visitas, some private tutors opened their own primary classes and were paid by the parents of those who are attending the lessons.

 

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