LAST PART: Men who came to Bohol, made significant impact, and now largely forgotten

Topic |  

LAST PART: Men who came to Bohol, made significant impact, and now largely forgotten

Topic |  


Our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal came to Bohol only for a few days, but his purpose of coming to Bohol in search of a site for an agricultural colony indicates that Bohol was already a good place for agriculture.

Cardinal Julio Rosales was assigned as the first Bishop of the Diocese of Bohol.  He tried but failed to pacify the animosity among the people of Tagbilaran, Bohol.

Dr. Jose Rizal


On May 15, 1976 I had a six (6) hours interview with Mr. Felipe Dolotina of Bilar, Bohol.  He was already 99 years old.  He told me that he met Dr. Jose Rizal because Dr. Rizal stayed in their house in Bilar, Bohol.  He was already 18 years old during that time and he was tasked to pursue the group of Dr. Rizal because his coat was left behind.

I was in a quandary whether to believe and old man or not.  He claimed to be the bugler of Gen. Pedro Samson and his story regarding the Boholano-American war was accurate.  I made a further research to determine how come that Dr. Rizal was in Bilar, Bohol.

The testimonies of Ex-Mayor Jose Ma. Rocha, Ex-Provincial Treasurer Arturo Fortich, Master Sergeant Nicanor Taguenca, and Mrs. Cecilia  Salvatierra-Plaza, a daughter of one of Rizal’s patients in Bilar, indicated that the story was true.

When Dr. Rizal was exiled in Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte, he was allowed to treat patients.  Dr. Rizal was a Freemason and he communicated “Masonically” to Gov.-General Ramon Blanco who was also a Freemason.  Dr. Rizal asked permission to search for a site for an agricultural colony.  Gov.-Gen. Blanco responded by giving a letter of permission.

Sometime in 1895, Gregorio Peñaflor (Mayor of Tagbilaran 1918-19) was brought by his father Don Andres Peñaflor to have Gregorio’s eye-ailment treated.  When the eye-ailment was cured Dr. Rizal joined the Peñaflors on the return trip to Tagbilaran on board Don Andres’ trading banca.

The landed at Tonggo, Taloto, Tagbilaran and stayed at the house of Don Andres Peñaflor.  Here, Dr. Rizal treated the eye-ailment of Filomena Mag-aso.  The next day, Don Andres escorted Dr. Rizal to see the possible site of an agricultural colony.  They used a horse-drawn carriage.


The group went first to the house of Don Eduardo Calceta where Manuel Timoteo Hidalgo, a brother-in-law of Dr. Rizal stayed when he was exiled in Tagbilaran.  The next stop was at Panas, Baclayon where Dr. Rizal was asked to treat some patients.


They then proceeded towards Dimiao.  Dr. Rizal tried to locate in Loay a Clarin who was his schoolmate at Ateneo de Manila but failed.  The group stayed overnight in Dimiao, Bohol because the Dimiao-Uwak-Bilar road was not passable during the night.  (Note: The Loboc-Bilar road did not exist yet.  It was finished in 1936).

The next day the group proceeded to Bilar, Bohol and stayed at the house of the Dolotina Family.  Mrs. Dolotina was a “comare” of Don Andres.  The carriage was left in Bilar and the group proceeded on horseback to Candagaz, Sierra-Bullones in order to view the huge plain fitted for an agricultural colony.

Upon the group’s return to Bilar, Bohol Dr. Rizal treated some patients.  He sewed the harelip of Cayetano L. Salvatierra.  The next day the group left Bilar, Bohol. It was found out that a coat of Dr. Rizal was left behind and Felipe Dolotina was tasked to pursue the group.  Felipe was able to return the coat at Jagna, Bohol where a banca of Don Andres was waiting for a return trip to Dapitan, Zamboanga.


It was just a quick visit of Dr. Rizal but maybe the Americans believed in the fitness of the site for an agricultural colony because in the 1920s the Americans made it into an agricultural colony with Mr. Camilo Calceta, a son of Don Eduardo, as the administrator.

Cardinal Julio Rosales


The Province of Bohol was declared a separate diocese from Cebu on 8 Nov. 1941.  Due to the Second World War no bishop was yet assigned.  On 22 June 1946 Fr. Julio Rosales was appointed as the first bishop of the Diocese of Bohol with Tagbilaran as the seat or cathedral.  Bishop Rosales was from Calbayog, Samar.  When he arrived in Tagbilaran, Bishop Rosales found out that there was an intense animosity among the parishioners of Tagbilaran.

The Patron Saint of Tagbilaran is St. Joseph the Foster Father of Jesus.  The feast date of St. Joseph in March 19.  This date is always within the Lenten Season when it is prohibited to eat meat.  The people could not celebrate a “proper fiesta”.

So instead of the Town Fiesta, the barrio fiestas of Poblacion Uno on October 7 and Poblacion Dos on October 12 became the “main events” in Tagbilaran.

Before the 2nd World War the competition was friendly.  The Club Cervantino was the organization for males in Tagbilaran and the Asociacion de Damas was for the females.  The groups planned the fiesta activities.

During the war, everything changed.  Those who did not evacuate were labeled as Japanese collaborators.  The first municipal election after the war was very divisive and very hotly contested.  In fact the winning group of Atty. Pedro Belderol of the Liberal Party was not supposed to win, but the Nacionalista Party had two candidates and the votes were equally split that the Liberal Party won.

When the fiesta of Poblacion Uno in honor of Virgin del Rosario was celebrated, the Parishioners of Poblacion Dos in honor of Virgin del Pilar tried to outdo or upstage the celebration of Poblacion Uno.

This was the state of affairs in Tagbilaran when Bishop Julio Rosales arrived.  When the good Bishop tried to intervene, he was threatened with physical harm.

In 1955 Pope Pius XII introduced the concept of St. Josepth the Worker whose Feast day was May 1.  However, on 17 Dec. 1949, Bishop Rosales was appointed as Archbishop of Cebu.  He was replaced by Bishop Manuel Mascariñas, of Antequera, Bohol.

So upon the suggestion of Archbishop Rosales, Bishop Mascariñas decreed that the fiesta, with full preparations in Tagbilaran will be on May 1.  The date March 19 was still the “Official” fiesta of Tagbilaran but to be celebrated only with religious activities. The parishioners of Poblacion Uno and Poblacion Dos were prohibited to celebrate a “fiesta”.

Today the main fiesta of Tagbilaran is now on May 1.  Nobody could now remember the animosities and much more the idea or suggestion of Cardinal Rosales to transfer the date of the Fiesta of Tagbilaran.

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