Located in the northeastern most part of the Philippines is a valley between the Philippines longest mountain ranges, the Cordillera and the Sierra Mountain Range. The valley is crossed by the Philippines longest river, the Rio Grande de Cagayan. When the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines, the Vatican recognized the value of the friars to work hand in hand with the Spanish soldiers in the colonization of the islands. Thus the country was divided among the Orders, and the Cagayan Valley was assigned to the Dominicans or the Order of the Preachers (OP).Perseverance, bravery, industriousness and sheer luck gradually chipped the resistance of the indigenous population. Slowly, very painfully, since most of the native population were head hunters and nomadic, the Dominicans suffered huge setbacks. Identifying several places along the Cagayan River, Churches were built out of local materials and labor. Starting from the southern most part, the churches, like Dupax del Sur Church, the Sta. Catalina in Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya, Our Lady of Atocha in Ilagan, Alicia, St. Dominic Church in Cauayan, the San Jacinto Church in Tuguegarao, the Basilica Minore of Piat, Isabela, The grand Tumauini Church, the Lallo Church and the St. Raymund of Penafort of Malaueg in the north.This list of Dominican churches built during the Spanish period is also a narrative of the gradual building up of towns along the Cagayan River. This study presents the historical development through a travelogue that shows how the indigenous population, through the centuries, gradually accepted Catholicism, settled down, engaged in agriculture and trade. Today, Cagayan Valley province is a testament to the great labor poured by the Dominican Order hand in hand with the native population to tame the forests, opened lands to agriculture, introduced crops for food and export production, established Catholic schools that continue to produce highly literate population, encouraged migration from other parts of the northern parts of the Philippines. More infrastructures were constructed, connecting the Cagayan Valley to the other parts of Luzon to Manila, ending the isolation of the Valley. The Churches were the centers of activities during the Spanish colonization but today, these areas are the location of very progressive towns. With the bountiful natural resources, the future of Cagayan Valley appears very positive.
Janet Atutubo, University of Santo Tomas, The Philippines
Corazon Regacho, University of Santo Tomas, The Philippines
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