HISTORICAL LANDMARKS: THE LEGACY TRAIL
(Lifted from Dr. Clarita J. Jimenez’s unpublished coffee-table book on Bayambang)
Modernity has practically wiped out the vestiges of the past. Going around the thoroughfares of Bayambang, especially the Poblacion, a balikbayan will surely feel lost amidst the great changes. In place of the structures standing many years back are modern commercial buildings of varied sizes and purposes.
Beyond the economic development that we see in our municipality, there is a need to go back to its identity – its heritage – and treasure the priceless inheritance bequeathed upon the Bayambangueños by their forebears.
You are, therefore, enjoined to take a walk on this legacy trail.
OLD PLAZA KIOSK
Foremost among Bayambang’s historical landmarks is the elevated kiosk or gazebo originally located at the middle of the Public Plaza Auditorium. The majestic structure, which looks like a big crown, used to be the starting point of the royal walk of reigning beauties during the town fiesta’s coronation night. Crowning guests and other VIPs were likewise seated in the elevated kiosk, keeping them free from the ordinary crowd.
At present, the kiosk has been relegated to the main entrance of the auditorium and stripped of its elevated platform to give way to a wider space for the dance floor. What remains of the kiosk is only the crown-like structure lording over the auditorium gate.
THE MUNICIPIO’S VIEWING DECK
Bayambang’s municipal building was built in 1937. Through the years, it has undergone structural changes under different administrations. Most significant change is its facade which makes it look different from what it used to be.
In spite of the changes, there is one spot in the old municipio which has not been altered and remains the symbol of the past. This is the tower atop the Municipal Building.
Going to the tower, one has to go up the second floor of the municipio. Left of the stairway is a narrow door leading towards an anteroom where the stairs going up the tower is found.
The tower is actually a rooftop of the old municipio where one could see an overview of the whole Poblacion, particularly the plaza and its environs.
Gabaldon buildings are marvelous vestiges of the war years. Built in 1922, they survived the havoc brought by the war. At the Bayambang Central School, there is the Old Home Economics Building and the Elementary School Building, which was damaged by fire. At the PSU Bayambang Campus, there are two: the Main Building and Elementary Laboratory School Building.
The Gabaldon buildings are considered historical or cultural monuments because old structures aged 50 years or older are “presumed important cultural property” under the Heritage Law.
While one of the Gabaldon buildings at the Bayambang Central School was gutted by fire, it remains to be a historical landmark because its corridors, which remain intact, used to be the hallways that most Bayambangueños traversed in their elementary schooling.
- VINCENT FERRER PARISH CHURCH
Lording over the public plaza and its environs is the 400-year-old church established by the Dominican missionaries in 1619. It has withstood through the years several calamities, both natural and man-made, and remains intact and majestic.
Not a few stories from old folks aver that St. Vincent Ferrer performed what they believed as miracles, to protect the church from imminent dangers. One instance showing the saint’s miraculous power is reportedly when three bombs were dropped by the Japanese Army targeting the church during World War II. Two of the bombs missed the church and fell on the side. The other bomb hit the inside of the church but it only bore a hole in the middle and did not damage the church. Other testimonies on how St. Vincent responded to petitioners range from being cured of their maladies to seeing family problems solved.
A divine providence for Bayambang is the presence of the relic of St. Vincent Ferrer. It is the fervent wish of devotees of the Saint and churchgoers, especially those coming from afar, to be able to touch the relic of the miraculous saint.
The relic, which was formerly installed at the Museo de San Vicente, is presently installed at the foot of the statue of the saint enshrined at the main altar or retablo. It is enclosed in iron grills for security purposes.
PANGASINAN STATE UNIVERSITY BAYAMBANG CAMPUS
A historical site which is practically the soul of Bayambang in its growth and development is the former Normal School, now Pangasinan State University Bayambang.
The more or less 26-hectare campus has served as the venue of significant events in Bayambang’s development. Inside the campus, aside from the imposing Gabaldon buildings, are other structures which are part of our heritage.
- The Military Tank
The huge water tank is originally located at Camp Greg, now Cadre Site. The kids, especially teenagers during those times, used to climb the more than 200 feet high tank. There, atop the tank, one can have a panoramic view of Bayambang and its neighboring towns like Bautista to the east and Basista to the west. At present, the tank is being used by the College as water reservoir. However, it has been reduced to one third of its former height.
- The Pagoda
On the eastern front of the College Library and Learning Resource Center is a concrete semi-pagoda structure built in 1922. It used to house a big bell beside the former old Home Economics Building which had been demolished many years back due to its hazardous state. The pagoda still stands, but the bell is gone to thieves.
- Gabaldon Buildings
The first concrete buildings in the campus are the College Main Building and the KD Laboratory Elementary School Building. Built in 1922, the buildings survived the havoc brought by the war. The College Main Building has undergone some structural changes, but these are mainly inside the building due to some minor repairs and other purposes. It has retained its façade, which is as elegant as it used to be, as well as the total number of rooms and the quadrangle. The big Social Hall, however, is converted into Faculty Rooms, with a mezzanine built over it.
- Aldana Gymnasium
The first gymnasium in Bayambang is more than fifty years old, built in early 1960s. It has undergone several repairs due to wear and tear and presently sports a modern look. The Gymnasium has been the venue of big gatherings, such as medical missions, commencement exercises, benefit shows, convocations, and receptions
CENTURY-OLD ACACIA TREES
Tourists and balikbayans should not miss walking under the shade of the century-old acacia trees that are lined up from Quezon Boulevard to the PSU gate and up to the front of PSU’s Main Building.
These giant acacia trees, which resemble the oak or sequoia trees in California, USA, are mute witnesses to how the school grew from a humble Bayambang Normal School to a prestigious university campus, the Pangasinan State University.
The presence of the acacia trees gives the campus a stately and dignified look, which adds to its prestige and university status.
Aside from giving PSU a boost, it gives travellers passing by Quezon Boulevard fronting PSU the much-needed comfort from the sweltering heat of the sun.
GATE OF THE CAMPOSANTON DAAN
Bayambang’s first cemetery was built in 1891, spanning a wide space located in what is now called Cadre Site. It was 83 meters long and 82 meters wide. It was Father Feleciano Martin, the last Dominican parish priest, who started the construction of the stone fence in 1897. On April 6, 1898, Father Frangno Fernandez, a secular priest, continued the fencing of the cemetery. According to history records, the last resident to be buried in the ancient cemetery was in 1924.
At present, what remains of the cemetery is only the arch over the old gate. The rest of the cemetery grounds are already occupied by illegal settlers since the whole lot belongs to the Catholic Church.
The arch is considered a historical landmark. It is a priceless heritage worthy of preservation. Its restoration is a perfect example of how we value our past and appreciate our forebears who were buried there and may have contributed to Bayambang’s historic growth.
THE “BUBON” NEN SAN VICENTE
Located along Del Pilar St. and several houses away from the Catholic Church is the “bubon” or well of San Vicente Ferrer named after the town’s patron saint. The water from the “bubon” is believed to have healing power which is attributed to the patron saint. From a crude well, which is the source of water for people living within its locale, the “bubon’s” alleged healing water became popular and soon attracted outsiders to partake of the supposedly “miracle water” coming from the well.
Through the years, the well has sustained its water level despite the increase of people using it. Due to their belief as well as benefits derived from the presence of the “bubon,” the people from the barangay took it upon themselves to take care of and preserve the “bubon.” They made some improvements within the area like landscaping as well as a concrete fence. They built an altar where they hold prayer services in honor of Saint Vincent Ferrer and to God for giving them the well.
DE GUZMAN ANCESTRAL HOUSE
The De Guzman ancestral house used to be one of Bayambang’s largest houses in Poblacion located near the public market. It is a wooden two-story house whose flooring and stairway are made of narra.
The house was built in the early 1930s under the supervision of Don Gavino de Guzman, the patriarch of the clan. The first floor has the living room or sala and dining room. Since the first floor is wide and very spacious, a small bedroom was built in between the sala and dining room. There is also an azotea, which provided a sweeping vista of the fruit trees and ornamental plants that used to surround the house.
All the spaces on the first floor are bathed with light and breeze through large capiz shell windows.
An impressive staircase made of pure narra, which speaks of the family’s social status, takes one to the sala in the upper floor. There are three bedrooms. The biggest room is the master’s bedroom with built-in family altar where all members of the family assembled and prayed the Angelus at six o’clock in the evening.
At present, the ancestral house is surrounded by structures owned by the heirs. It is in a state where it needs repair if it has to last for more years.
ESTACION NA TRAIN
Located north of Rizal Avenue is the defunct railroad station, which was the town’s main artery when General Emilio Aguinaldo made a stop in Bayambang. The place is currently called Estacion.
Estacion used to be Bayambang’s busiest spot due to the railroad station. It was like a commercial pot of Bayambang because vendors and various store owners converged to sell food and their wares here. Rig drivers, likewise, parked their calesas and caritons within the vicinity of the railroad station while waiting for the arrival or departure of the train to pick up passengers. The Estacion was always full of passengers from all walks of life because the train was then the only means of transport in going to and from Manila, and Damortis for those going up to Baguio.
Remnants of the old railroad station have been preserved and undergoing restoration for Bayambangueños who wish to take a glimpse of their heritage and for visitors or tourists.
CARLOS P. ROMULO (WAWA) BRIDGE
The bridge connecting Barangays Wawa and San Vicente may not be considered a historical landmark. It is, however, overlooking the Agno River where Dr. Jose Rizal, our national hero, used to traverse when visiting his beloved Leonora Rivera in Camiling. Thus, the Wawa Bridge, now Carlos P. Romulo Bridge, is a symbolic landmark.