Search for Ilocos Norte’s lost towns sparks renewed interest

Laoag City, Philippines – The recent discovery of the oldest baptismal record in Ilocos Norte has sparked renewed interest to locate the lost towns of the province.

Five years ago, Fr. Ericson Josue, a native of Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte disclosed his discovery of the lost towns Bangbang, Adang and Vera in the northern towns of Ilocos Norte during his study trip in Spain where he took Licentiate in Sacred Theology at the University of Navarre.

At that time, Josue said there were pieces of evidence that could show the existence of Ilocos Norte’s lost towns. He even brought some copies of documents he found in Spain but due to limited time, his research on the lost towns of the province did not push through when he came back to the Philippines as he was then immediately assigned as seminary formator at the Immaculate Conception School of Theology in Vigan City.

Now that Josue is back in the province as the current Diocesan Archivist, Curator of the Diocesan Museum and Chair of the Heritage Committee since April 2015, he said his longing to find where these lost towns are prompted him to search old records at the Diocesan archives.

Before he left the country for his study in Spain, Josue recalled there was a time when he encountered the “Bacarra box 1” containing 1702 baptismal entries with the towns Bangbang, Adang and Vera in it.

“When I came home, I opted to write an article with the hope that it will become a book later on on these lost towns. So I tried to look again for this 1702-1759 book but even the box was missing. So I had to ask everyone where is the Bacarra box 1 and no one could tell me where it was,” he said.

He even went searching at the newly established Museum de Bacarra, where it was earlier theorized that the same box and several artifacts may have been brought for exhibit, but there were none.

“There are old baptismal/canonical books there but those are 1800s. It was not the ones we’re looking for,” he said.

While searching for these old manuscripts, Josue said he visited the University of Santo Tomas in Manila on October 29 where he knew the microfilms of the Diocese of Laoag are being kept.

“I had to check on the 1702 documents and the information (I was looking for) is there. The copy is there. So, (I told myself) if ever we cannot locate the original anymore, at least the information is restored in the microfilm, including a photocopy of the original,” Josue said.

But just after typhoon “Lando” lashed out northern Luzon, janitors at the Bishop’s Residence accidentally found the original document at the old warehouse.

Soaked in floodwaters, the 3-inches thick baptismal record shows native names from Bangbang, Adang and Vera.

According to workers at the Bishop’s residence, the old manuscripts were partly eaten by termites, hence it was brought out from the Archives section.

With the renewed interest of the Diocese of Laoag led by Bishop Renato Mayugba, the Archives Section of the diocese is now back to its original spacious room and is now being reorganized and systematized to preserve the document’s integrity.

“I hope that after drying the old manuscripts, I could proceed with my documentation on the lost towns of Banging, Adang and Vera. This is saving their stories from the Abyss of oblivion and showing ‘guideposts’ for tomorrow’s generation,” said Josue, and noted that he had already made an initial research as to where Bangbang is located./PNA