by Daniel Balaoing Valdez *

Camiling has possibly - nay probably - the richest cultural heritage among Tarlac’s towns. Its place in history as such is visibly enhanced by vestiges of Spanish and American architecture evident in its surviving structures aside from its being the birthplace of prominent personages who have excelled not only in this country but also abroad.

To remind us of our town’s historic legacy, there is a need to preserve or restore the physical manifestations of a bygone era (e.g. museums, ancestral houses, implements/tools, churches, schools, writings, pictures) for the benefit of future generations.

Of course, that cannot be done overnight but we can envision as a long-term objective (not probably realizable in our lifetime) the restoration of the Catholic Church including its accessory edifices like the Convento, Balay ti Padi and “Building Two” earlier known as Cavite.

Who says our church’s charred remains do not serve any purpose? Ancient Greece instantly gives a ring. Also, there is this beautiful “Ruins” of a feudal mansion frequently visited in Talisay, Negros Occidental not to mention the wreckage of a battleship in Pearl Harbor that attracts thousands of tourists yearly.

The surviving members of the Romulo, Kipping and Bengzon families are implored to put their act together and cull for posterity the mementoes, writings, photos of, and implements or equipment used by their illustrious forebears. Their old houses can be restored (e.g. the reconstructed Rizal residence in Calamba, the Syquia-Quirino mansion in Vigan, the Gaston and Araneta ancentral houses in Negros) or replicas thereof created as that of President Macapagal’s nipa hut birthplace in Lubao, Pampanga. At the very least there should now be historical markers at the birthplaces of Gen. Romulo, Chief Justice Bengzon and Gen. Santos. We can almost hear our tourist guide saying, “In this house was born the first President of the UN General Assembly…the first Filipino to the World Court…. the first Filipino Chief of Staff”.

Let us preserve our Municipio as it enjoys the distinction of being the only town hall, yes the only one, in the entire province with American architectural influence very evident from its majestic frontal pillars.

Also, we can now set standards to our world-famous “sitsaron” and endemic culinary favorites like tupig and iniruban. Let us reconstruct or recreate, at least for display purposes, our dapilan which we used to extract juice from sugar cane and to cook rice cakes called patupat, the carabao-pulled ulnas (sled) and kariton (cart) and the horse-drawn caretela which our people used as means of transportation

Let us induce passing-by tourists to drop by, eat, relax and enjoy the sights of our town on their way to the world-renowned Hundred Islands and the beautiful beaches of Western Pangasinan . And for all the above purposes, we could take pointers from our Ilocano brothers in Vigan who were able to include their beautiful city in the prestigious UNESCO “World Heritage List” as the “best preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia”. - dbv

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