(Reprint from the Camiling Town Fiesta Souvenir Program, May 6-8, 1990)

Camiling, so the story goes, is named after the camiring, a tree whose leaf resembles that of the mango. An obnoxious quality of it, though, is that touching it or brushing it to the body can cause skin rashes. Usually the remedy of the old folk is to snap a branch of it and hang it over the blazing stove, and in time, the itchy, red rashes will gradually vanish.

Originally, this town was part of Pangasinan. But Pangasinan in the early days referred to that strip of coastal area along Lingayen Gulf where salt was made out of brackish water. The hinterland to the southwest was a thickly wooded forest, then known as Caboloan, meaning where a species of bamboo called bolo abounded, and where perhaps the camiring trees thrived and interwove with other trees.

Toward the end of the 17th century, Camiling must have been one of those isolated nuclear pockets of Christian communities founded by the Dominican missionaries at the foot of the Zambales Mountain. In 1686, a religious house was established in the in the settlement; it was accepted under the jurisdiction of the vicariate of Telbang with St. Joseph as its patron saint.

The presence of a religious house could only imply that some kind of political organization had already existed with the cooperation of cabeza de barangay. But no mention was made that Camiling was transformed into a town. In 1751 it was not cited in the population report submitted by the Prior Provincial to the Governor General. Neither was it intimated in the Actas Capitulares of 1769. Actually during the first half of the 18th century, the spiritual administration of Camiling was alternately assigned to the vicar of Telbang of Malunguey (now Bayambang) or of Paniqui, except for a brief while in 1722 when a minister of its own was assigned to it.

The condition in the frontier areas during the 18th century was such that it did not conduce to the elevation of Camiling into the status of a pueblo. The few settlers were often on the run. The surrounding wilderness was inhabited by hostile black savages who rendered residence in such isolated village, nay even travel to it, very hazardous. Moreover, the successive revolts in Pangasinan in 1660-1661 and again in 1762-1765 with centers of hostilities in Binalatongan (now San Carlos) and Bayambang were too near to give the peaceful residents of Camiling a sense of security. So Camiling remained a visita (subordinate mission), with hardly enough tributary families to warrant the support of a resident parish priest.

Camiling thus lapsed into virtual limbo until finally it emerged as a pueblo in the third decade of the 19th century, this time under a new name, San Miguel, in honor of its new patron saint. But the claim that, at the at that point in time, Camiling was part of Paniqui is false. Ample records exist to prove otherwise. As early as 1834, Fr. Juan Alvarez del Manzano del Sagrado Orden de Predicadores, acting then as parish priest, attested in the baptismal certificates on file at the church convent, that the pueblo of San Miguel was a visita of Bayambang. This fact gains more credence in the population report compiled by French historian Jean Mallet, traveling in the Philippines circa 1838 to 1842. In it she shows that Bayambang had 8,900 inhabitants, Camiling had 4,730, and Paniqui 3,555. Where the basis of pueblo status was population, it is easier to believe that Bayambang, having more inhabitants than Paniqui, is the matrix town from which Camiling was drawn.

In the 1830’s at the time Camiling was about to be founded, dramatic events were coming to a head. There was economic transformation in the making, not only in Central Luzon, but throughout Southeast Asia. The port of Manila was opened to world trade. Commercial houses became active in the export business. The village-oriented subsistence economy was giving way to a more vigorous export-oriented economic system. Accordingly, there was increased demand for the production of each crops like sugar and rice. This led to a hunger for land to be cultivated and a massive clearing of forests along major river valleys and eventually, there ensued the spontaneous migration of people into the sparsely occupied deltas.

The enterprising Ilocanos up north with their surplus population came spilling over to Central Luzon, occupying the fertile lands of Pangasinan and then went to Nueva Ecija. Three successive waves of migration followed, the first in 1815-1850, the second in 1850-1900, and the last in 1900-1930. The migrants followed existing roads and trails. In the case of Pangasinanses, they took the river route, rowed upstream through the Agno River and then on to the Camiling River which is its tributary. They settled by enclaves. Sometimes whole clans or even groups would come from certain towns in the Ilocos. They came along with their leaders who usually were their patriarchs, and settled in sitios which they intended to develop for their families.

Taking note of the inexorable influx of settlers, Fr. Benito Fontcuberta decided in 1835 to reside in the Camiling settlement, the better for him to attend to the spiritual needs of his parishioners. The center of activity was on the east side of the river, the old townsite which is now called Cacamilingan. Fr. Angel Gomez joined him in 1837, and the two of them made such an earnest pair of missionary workers, so that by 1838, upon petition of Fr. Fontcuberta, Camiling was granted license as a pueblo, with Don Vicente Galsim as the first gobernadorcillo.

Clearing the wilderness continued unabated in all directions – Libueg to the north, Sinulatan farther north, Surgui to the south, and Bangcay to the east – all of them almost simultaneously were established as barrios in the early period between 1840 and 1845. But Fr. Gomez saw no prospect of expansion in the old townsite. A large portion of it was swamplands. So he made plans for a new site. By 1849 having spotted a good location for a plaza, he laid out the streets and affected the transfer of the poblacion west of the river.

Meanwhile, the preoccupation for the next three decades was the development of infrastructures. Irrigation canals were dug and culverts set. Roads were built linking Camiling to its neighboring towns-Bayambang, Paniqui, and Mangatarem. But the major project of Fr. Gomez was the construction of the Catholic Church and convent. Twenty years of muscle work went into the erection. Able-bodied men in the towns and outlying barrios were called upon to render polo service on rotational basis. Huge logs of the hardwood species were used as pillars and the finest bricks from the famed quarries of Nagserialan were made as walls. Fr. Gomez started work on them in 1847 and lived to see them finished in 1863.

It would seem from this that the early pioneers were untiring and made of stuff as hard as steel. But they were also men of flesh an das such were vulnerable to diseases and other natural disasters.

There were successive outbreaks of cholera in 1881 and 1907. So virulent was the disease that many afflicted victims died. People who heard the old fold tell of the epidemic say that pallbearers who attended the funerals of the dead were the next to be interred upon their return. The latter half of the 19th century was indeed an age of tribulations. At one time there was a long drought, at another swarms of locusts infested the fields and ate almost all visible vegetation. Rinderpest also struck and killed the draft animals of farmers. Then there were occasional fires. But worst of all was the earthquake of 1880 which destroyed the Catholic Church.

Despite the series of abominations, the people of this town named San Miguel survived. The patron saint whom they invoked in their prayers during moments of crisis was too mighty and fearsome to simply allow his own people to perish. His name was constantly venerated. In 1845, for purposes of specificity, the name of the town was changed to San Miguel de Camiling. But in no way did this imply a loss of faith or heresy. Even when the shortened name Camiling was finally adopted in 1855, the patron saint with the brandished sword, nemesis of the devil, did not cease the numerous adoring adherents.

In western Pampanga toward 1860, many settlements had already sprung up. Roads had also grown in mileage and travel was stimulated. Yet there was always the risk along the way that a traveler might get ambushed. Or maybe a settlement on the fringes of the wilderness would be raided, for the fierce Zambals and Aetas had not yet been completely subdued. In response to this growing concern, a constabulary zone was created. This was the Tarlac commandancia, which was headed by a military governor.

The success of this politico-military setup led to the creation of Tarlac province. In 1873 three towns of Pangasinan, among them Camiling, were joined to some other towns of Pampanga to form the new province of Tarlac. In the beginning, Camiling had a sprawling area. It adjoined Tarlac town, without any buffer between them, and at one time or the other, Sta. Ignacia, Mayantoc, and San Clemente were merely its satellite barrios.

Palpably, the Spanish colonial administration was trying hard to address its policies and resources to the needs of a modernizing society. It was looking for ways to transport the products of the rich agricultural region of Central Luzon to the ready markets of Manila. One single investment, perhaps the largest which the country had then ventured into, was the construction of a railway. Capitalized at 1.7 M pesos, the Manila Railway Company Ltd started in 1888 the construction of a line from Manila to its northern terminal in Dagupan and finished the project five years later.

The event was not without significance. Not only did it link tow far-off geographic points. It also bound three lovers in a triangle whose outcome was nothing less than tragic. Jose Rizal was fascinated by the demure beauty of Leonor Rivera while boarding at his uncle’s house in Manila. Leonor noticed the hints of a burgeoning love in her cousin and her sensitive heart responded to it passionately. Her parents, Don Antonio Rivera and Dona Silvestra Bauzon, were aware of the affair, but interposed no objection to it. In fact, when Rizal went to Spain, it was even his uncle who accompanied him aboard the ship.

For a while, there was regular exchange of letters between the lovers. Then Leonor bewailed this complete stoppage of the mail. Meanwhile, a trunk line of the railway was being constructed between Paniqui and Camiling, and that was how Henry Kipping, the English engineer, came under the spell of the disconsolate Leonor. Competing protestations of love are weighed on their comparative advantages. To the lucid mind of a parent, Dona Silvestra acting from pure solicitude of a mother for her child, saw a better future of Leonor with Henry Kipping. But the heart of a young lover had reasons of its own and could not simply be dissuaded once her word was plighted.

She learned later that Jose had been writing her, but the sweet missives were intercepted by her mother. Though Leonor had ample reasons to condemn the duplicity, like a dutiful child, she had to comply with her mother’s wishes. The wedding was solemnized in Dagupan on June 17, 1890 with apparent indifference on the part of the bride. In two years, Leonor had borne two children, Carlos and still born baby girl, whose delivery had caused illness that brought her early death. Leonor died on August 28, 1893 at the youthful age of twenty-six. As for Henry Kipping, he returned to England, perhaps with a broken heart, for he died two years after. In his absence, the railway to Camiling which he had built, had fallen into disrepair and eventually closed down in 1910.

Despite its brief operation, the railway had served other purposes. Merchants, students, and local officials could now commute to Manila much easier. People in the province became better informed because of the regular circulation of Diario de Manila. To a fierce nationalist like Liberato Aveyro who studied in Manila where schools were the hotbeds of young subversives, the chance of being invited by friends to be a member of the Katipunan was not remote. The occult procedure of affiliation to the secret society fascinated him, the secret meetings, the cryptic code, the furtive signs--all were tricks used to baffle the enemy. Patriotic fervor was shown in signatures written in blood. Years later when hostilities began in Manila, following the discovery of the Katipunan, Liberato Aveyro and his men in Camiling were ready to join the battle. His military organization became part of the Makabulos Army which liberated Tarlac province.

Aveyro and his men took control of the town by wrestling power from Don Buenaventura Torres and replaced him with Don Tranquilino Pagarigan who was more sympathetic to the rebel cause. The ejected gobernadorcillo, seeing the growing strength of insurgent forces, was only too willing yield his post. Other local Spanish officials and friar were deposed and arrested. Even civilians with Iberian blood were rounded up and put under custody. There were also incidents of violence from people out to wreak vengeance from their erstwhile oppressors. The remnant Spaniards, fearing for their lives had to beg for mercy. They even offered themselves to serve as laborers to prominent Filipino families, if only to eke out something for their keep.

With the first phase of the Revolution over, the local Katipuneros turned to their farms. They took up arms again when the Filipino-American War broke out. But since they were outgunned and the Americans were in hot pursuit against the retreating Aguinaldo, the local rebel force either lay low or fled to some mountain hideout to regroup. One such roving band of stragglers was that of the self-styled Gen. Pedro Pedroche.

Some say that Pedroche was an officer of the civil guards. Others claim that he was an officer in the rebel army. At any rate, he had a notorious track record and a streak of megalomania. These were the reasons why Gen. Makabulos refused to promote him. The rebuff riled Pedroche. He was not wont to being spurned. He formed a splinter army, composed of disgruntled soldiers, thieves, and cutthroats, which he proclaimed Partido de Agraviados. With that rabble horde, he menaced the entire area of northwestern Tarlac. Animals were taken to feed his army, women were raped, and villages burned. He was, indeed, becoming a threat to the revolutionary command.

But there was Liberato Aveyro to contend with. He was a major in Makabulos’ army. The officers under him were known patriots, reputed for their valor and discipline--men like Captain Pantaleon Esteban of poblacion, Captain Agapito Guerrero also of poblacion, Captain Ricardo Reyes of Pao, Captain Sixto Felix of Bobon, dubbed Capitan Bassit because of his short stature, Captain Maciano Mangrobang of Libueg, Captain Dionisio Mangrobang of Sinilian, etc. They kept track of Pedroche’s movements. In the early months of 1900, Pedroche left his hideout in the hills of San Bartolome and descended upon Mayantoc and Anoling, terrorizing the people there and burning their homes. In April, he proceeded to Sta. Ignacia, and with the same villainy, put it to the torch. On May 8, 1900 he was ready to overrun Camiling.

Aveyro, the cunning tactician, waited for him. He saw a flaw in Pedroche’s swashbuckling character. With Makabulos’ approval, he made plans with his men. They sent out word to Pedroche, boosting his ego, saying that with his recent exploits, there was nothing more Camiling could do but surrender. There should be no bloodshed, innocent lives must be spared. He could now enter town and establish his headquarters there.

Pedroche was on a triumphal march at the head of his dreaded horde. He was nearing the bridge when the band, which had met him suddenly, played the strains of a funeral dirge. Unwittingly, another Caesar was marching into Rome, never even saying as he was crossing his Rubicon that the die was cast. It was not, of course on the ides of March, but on the May Day feast of San Miguel, the patron saint with the avenging sword.

The conquerors were honored with a mass, officiated by Rev. Fr. Santiago Serafica, a Katipunan-installed native priest. Pedroche had every reason for rejoicing. For him, he had attained ultimate victory without firing a single shot. For Aveyro, he was glad that at last there would be peace. They were later ushered into the convent, their arms deposited in a corner with a guard posted to watch them. They mounted the stairs to the rectory on the second floor. They came to a banquet hall with tables laden with sumptuous food of varying recipes. Aveyro displayed the amenities of a cordial host, deploying his gallant men to attend to their guests, numbering about two hundred men--each one to each of Pedroche’s men.

There was an incessant flow of food coming from downstairs. Basi was in copious supply. From the looks of it, it was convivial party, laughter throughout the hall, the guests were dined and wined to their fill. Liberato Aveyro, Ricardo Reyes, Dionisio Mangrobang--all three Katipunan stalwarts, were standing behind Pedroche, pretending to humor him. Then came the resounding claps of Aveyro signaling the attack. They unsheathed their daggers, and with one fell stroke, plunged them upon their victims. Pedroche and his men slumped on the floor, bathed in their own blood. Commenting on the gory event, some say that it was an act of treachery. But this is the ethics of war. There is no substitute for victory. The victor is always lionized, and the loser vilified.

The Americans came to restore peace and order. There was a general call for rebel soldiers to surrender and turn in their firearms. Major Liberato Aveyro did not surrender, any more than turn in his firearms. Instead he went in hiding at a secluded area in Bobon 2nd. Later he went to live incognito in Lingayen, keeping himself thus in low profile for a long time, until he died in the early 1920s.

The death of Pedroche had eased tension in Camiling. When the Americans came, they found the town peaceful. Most of the criminal elements had died in that bloodbath at the convent. With them gone, the Yankees had easier time in their pacification drive. All they had to do was flush out the remaining forces under Gen. Makabulos who had fortified himself in his mountain lair at Tangadan, Mayantoc.

The focus of such mopping up operation obviously was not in the town proper or nearby environs which were already peaceful, but in the remote barrios with thick forest cover where the rebels had taken refuge. During that troubled time, a violent incident happened in Bobon 2nd. The Americans were on scout patrol to track down Gen. Makabulos who was reported to have been there. In an isolated place of the barrio, a diehard Katipunero named Pedro Bunao shot an American who had lagged behind his comrades. Bunao was later executed by the punitive force which came back to find him.

Reaction of the civilian populace to the Americans bordered on a mixed feeling of fear and curiosity. In 1899 the people of Sinilian were scared when twenty cavalry men of the U.S. Army went to reconnoiter the place. When they saw the big Americans, mounted on big horses, armed with awesome krags, they ran to hide in the nearby forest. They suspected the strangers would harm them. In Birbira the people displayed the same skeptical attitude. They regarded the Americans with studied caution. Only when the soldiers started giving them bread did they become more cordial.

The rise of anti-American sentiment was somehow suppressed when the new colonizers announced their policy to Filipinize the bureaucracy. They came for no other purpose than to train the Filipinos in the art of self-government. Hence, on the national level, political interest centered on the preparation for Independence, and political activity revolved around the competing ambitions for leadership by Quezon and Osmena. The drafting of a constitution was called for.

On the local scene, politicians were preoccupied with redefining boundaries between political units aspiring for autonomy. In 1914, Sta. Ignacia and San Clemente succeeded in having their petitions approved to regain their township status. In 1917, Mayantoc also became an independent town.

The development concern which drew much attention was the construction of schools, bridges, roads, and a municipal hall. The erection of Gabaldon buildings in Matubog, Bilad, Malacampa, Sinillan 2nd, Anoling, Sta. Maria, and Camiling Central was undertaken from 1906 to 1913. The municipal hall was finished in 1915 at a cost of P228,566.59, and the Gardiner steel bridge, which was replaced by the present concrete one, was opened to traffic on May 8, 1918. At its inaugural, then Senate President Manuel L. Quezon officiated, who was also guest speaker that very day at the town fiesta.

The centerpiece program of the American Regime was the promotion of education. The Americans wanted to teach English as fast as possible and the Filipinos were eager to learn it. The normal schools in Bayambang and Manila had helped to ease the shortage of qualified teachers. On the other hand, private high schools were established to accommodate excess students unable to enroll in public provincial high schools. Accordingly, the Camiling Secondary Institute was founded by Mr. Casimiro Brillantes in 1932. By then Camiling Academy was declining in enrollment so that by 1936, it folded up. In its place Northwestern High School was opened by the Galang family.

A generation of teachers had molded the minds of the youth of the town. A few of them were former Supt. Saturnino Respicio and the Perez brothers, Melanio and Eusebio, as well as the durable Mr. Pio Dizon who at age eighty still teaches in the Camiling Colleges. The division between social classes in the town is sharply drawn between the rich and the poor. But the educated man can raise his head high before the rich, no matter how lowly his origin.

The men stood out in the public limelight from 1900 to 1939 are: Gov. Gregorio Romulo, Rep. Gregorio Banaga, Gov. Alfonso Pablo, Gen. Paulino Santos and Prof. Gregorio Domingo. Romulo was municipal president (1906-1907), Tarlac governor (1909-1914). Banaga was a lawyer and Representative, 1st District of Tarlac in 1922, and finally delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1934. Pablo rose from the political ranks, first as Municipal Councilor, then Vice President. Later, he became Representative of the 1st District of Tarlac (1931-1934), Tarlac Governor (1937-1940) and Acting Governor of Cotabato in 1941. In the 1930s, Paulino Santos held the following positions: Chief of Staff, PA, Director of Prisons, Head of Koronadal Settlement, and finally, Head of the Bureau of Constabulary under the Puppet Republic. Widely known in the musical world abroad was the late Gregorio Domingo, a virtuoso, expert on the piano as well as wind and string instruments. He had played before international audiences in the big cities of Asia, in the United States and in Germany.

The country had not done much to prepare for the war. When it broke out on December 8, 1941, everybody was shocked. Planes zoomed over the sky and dropped bombs, leaving ruins and deaths. Refugees scrambled toward provincial destinations even as soldiers proceeded to the warfronts. Stores were looted and only few government officials remained in office. Never was Mayor Angelo Cabrera (1941-1942) more alone, and never had problems come to him as sudden, as many, and as serious. Just a few months after the war broke out, unable to stand the complexities of the crisis he died.

Atty. Simon Santos (1942) took over his post by designation. He was never popular. He war suspected to be pro-Japanese. He could not stop looting or bring prices down. The Japanese kept harassing suspected guerillas. He was of no help to his beleaguered townspeople. Before the year was over, unknown men killed him.

Don Protasio Santos (1942-1944), the grand old man in politics, serving his fourth term, responded to the challenge of the mayor’s office where his younger peers had failed. Though his intercession, prisoners were released from Camp O’Donnell. But prices kept going up, and the schools were now teaching Nipponggo, and books with Filipino flags printed on them were being burned.

One day Rep. Gregorio Banaga went to Mayantoc on a personal mission. He did not come back alive. Now from where Mayor Santos stood in the town hall, he could see the Japanese garrison across the fence. It looked like a mini-Fort Santiago, for men were being tortured there. In that building at the garrison, a certain Lt. Osias Salvador, a Camiling resident, whose guerrilla operation was in Mangatarem, was tortured before her was killed and buried somewhere in that school compound. Councilor Pacifico Mangrobang also attended a dance there one night. He was a close friend of Ito Abad, a known Japanese collaborator. Then somebody shot Mangrobang--by whom nobody knew. The grand old man in politics had enough of it. He quitted.

This time (1944-1945), it was Publio Dumaual’s turn as mayor. He was formerly a teacher and captain in the army. In the province, rice was already selling at P 6000 per cavan, Mickey Mouse money; P 12000 per cavan in Manila. Of course, there were still killings. Chief of Police Baldomero Roxas was just recently shot to death. The spate of killings, while senseless, could only be said to be regrettable. There was an underlying motivation behind each death. Often a person had a grievous score to settle with another. And the war was the opportune time for it. The demise of Rep. Gregorio Banaga was an instance of this tragedy. Even public officials with the best of intentions could be misconstrued. Performing their duties in a accordance with order which they often could not avoid, might be thought as collaboration with the Japanese. And this explains the death of Mayor Simon Santos and Police Chief Baldomero Roxas. But the most fearsome is the collaborator. At his own insinuations he can have a suspect arrested and killed as in the case of Lt. Osias Salvador. Thus, sympathizers of either side of the war game were always in constant peril.

The Liberation Forces came amidst great rejoicing with ships and planes and tanks and soldiers. Gen. Paulino Santos was killed by Yamashita’s men on their retreat in the mountain vastness of Kiangan in 1945. More men would have still been killed had not the atomic bomb been dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The erstwhile conquerors immediately sued for peace.

Nobody is a victor in a war. Regardless of its outcome, it inflicts wounds upon the body and the spirit. So for man’s own survival there must be peace and brotherhood among men. This message came strong from Gen. Carlos P. Romulo, a son of Camiling, when he helped found the United Nations and became president of its General Assembly.

Romulo was a writer of many books. He was the only Asian to win the Pulitzer Prize in Journalism and the only one who had served all Philippines Presidents from 1935 to 1986. He said he was the last man from Bataan and had seen the Philippines fall. But he had not seen it rise from the shambles of war.

Damage claims were served to war victims, but not enough to put them back on their feet. Schools were thought to solve their plight. So in 1945, the Camiling Vocational Agricultural High School now (TCA) was created, and the search for a new school site was the job of Mayor Godofredo Dancel in 1953. Camiling Colleges was also created by Pres. Gilberto P. Romulo in 1946 and its branch high schools in 1947. The Camiling Catholic School was established much later.

Yet life had not become any better. There was the curse of the Malthusian equation between land and population. While people increase geometrically, the land does not stretch any bit. Thus, when Elpidio Quirino became President, the Huks went into bloody rampage, and Executive Secretary Marciano Roque, a native of this town, had his hands full helping out his boss. Of course, this was a replay of violence witnessed by this town in the 1930s, when Capt. Sulpicio Bachini came home dead at the height of the Colorum uprisingin Tayug, Pangasinan.

But politics has not been merrier anywhere than in this town. Despite high prices and low-income levels, despite devaluation of the peso, the game remains as engrossing as basketball. Politics in Tarlac on the provincial and national levels is merely a contest between rival Cojuangco clans and the fortunes of local politicians are determined by whoever is the stronger and richer patron.

From 1956 to 1971, Mayor Manuel Cabrera had lorded the political scene, with a record of four consecutive terms, unmatched by no one except by Don Protasio Santos several decades back. But this veteran politician was clobbered in the 1971 election by Mayor Benecio F. de los Reyes, a defeat he could not easily live down. After delos Reyes had served his term and even extending it to 1977, his service was cut short by graft charges filed against him by his erstwhile rival. De Los Reyes was suspended, but before his case was dismissed, Minister of Local Government Jose Rono designated Cabrera officer-in-charge of the town. This was followed by his appointment as acting Mayor by President Marcos. Although the appointment was held legal by operation of law, the Criminal Circuit Court which passed judgment on the anti-graft case thought otherwise, and directed Cabrera instead to deliver the key of the mayor’s office to De los Reyes, otherwise would be held in contempt of court.

Cabrera refused to comply, and there arose the situation of two claimants to the mayorship. Amidst the prevailing confusion, the Sangguniang Bayan queried Minister Jose Rono for a way out of the impasse. This, in essence, was his reply. The dismissal of the anti-graft case against De los Reyes was no longer of moment. The questions of his right to office had become moot and academic by virtue of the appointment of Cabrera.

In March 1979, President Marcos designated Gerardo G. Fabros as officer-in-charge of the town, following it up with his appointment at the end of the month. This was to spite the two quarrelling town officials and to put up one who was more tolerable. De los Reyes forthwith filed a petition for quo warranto at the Supreme Court in September, 1979.

The intensity of political feuding was becoming nettlesome, prodding the Supreme Court to hand down its final decision. It opined that all officials of the existing government shall continue in office until otherwise provided by law or decreed by the President of the Philippines. The Supreme Court thus resolved to dismiss the petition of De los Reyes, considering that the designation of Fabros had substantially the force and effect of the law, and was therefore binding on all opposing claimants.

People power came with EDSA Revolution just before the end of Mayor Fabros’ term. Since her refused to continue holding the town’s premier position, Atty. Adolfo Manuel was installed officer-in-chard. But before the election came in 1988, he relinquished the position to Madame Corazon Latorre.

The election that followed was hotly contested. The multi-party administration of President Aquino could not make a choice between Atty. Adolfo Manuel and ex-Mayor Benecio de los Reyes as its official candidate. Between the two of them, there was mudslinging in their campaign speeches. So in the final scramble for votes, the dark horse, Martin Agustin, who was not given much of a chance to win, romped off to victory, with the vice-mayorship going to Madame Lydia T. Milla. All of these men, however, had left tangible monuments of their respective administrations.

We have reason to be proud even during the 20-year period of Marcos administration that men from Camiling had served the country with honor. There was Supreme Court Justice Cesar Bengzon, who, after retirement, still went on to serve the country as Justice of the International Court in the United Nations. Gen. Wilfredo Estrada became Director of the Civil Intelligence and Coordination Agency (CICA) after acting as Provincial Commander of Pampanga, Pangasinan, and Cotabato. Then there is O.D. Corpuz, who served as Minister of Education, Culture, and Sports and UP President, aside from being president of the FAPE and DAP.

Today, the number of people serving in the higher reaches of the bureaucracy is depleted. Only Senator Alberto G. Romulo, former Budget Commissioner of the Aquino Administration, is still there in the Senate to represent this town. But the finest expression of the Imagination is found in the fiction of Gregorio Brillantes. He has put Camiling in the literary landscape in his memorable books, Distance to Andromeda and Apollo Centennial.

The town pauses to reflect the distance which our forebears have traveled since the time of its foundation in 1838. The journey has been long, but there is need to trace the roots of our beginning, as O.D, Corpuz has done for the country in his recent book, Roots of the Filipino Nation.