The Reformer

The progress of the barrios and the school was slow and it had always been in Nicanor’s mind to hasten the pace. Aside from teaching the people how to make toilets by digging deep holes like the way the Americans did it, he also taught them good manners by example. People at the time still ate with their bare hands so Nicanor asked Esteban Ilagan (father of Melecio, a silversmith) to make spoons and forks out of silver. He then showed the people the proper way to eat. He demonstrated how to wear decent clothes and the way to groom themselves. He also taught the people how to dispose of and convert garbage into fertilizer and how to use them in planting mango, avocado and chico trees (the tall mango trees along the school property are the remnants of the many trees he planted around the school.)

Nicanor with sister Maria, brother in law Melecio and father Gregorio

He changed some of the most ludicrous practices in the barrios, one of which was how the barrio fiesta was celebrated. People would pool their resources, turn it over to the barrio leader who would ask the ‘liputados’ (leaders of the church in Bauan) to bring the ‘poon’ (statue of Jesus on the cross) to the barrio. On Sunday, after the town mass, the ‘poon’ would be brought to the barrio where it would stay inside the chapel. In front of the chapel, people would celebrate by dancing a folk dance called the ‘subli’. That dancing was the climax of the celebration. The ‘poon’ would stay in the barrio for a week moving from house to house whose owners were willing to shell out extra contribution to the church. Part of the custom was paying a man from Bauan to play a trumpet as the ‘poon’ was moved from house to house. There were hardly any guests, nor banquets, nor festivities in any houses except in the house of the leader of the barrio whose obligation was to feed and pay the ‘liputados’ from Bauan – including the man with the trumpet; all paid for by the contributions of the barrio people.

Nicanor proposed to the elders that fiestas should be celebrated for the people of Inicbulan and not for the ‘liputados’ of Bauan; and the festival should only be for a day and a half. It would be short but joyful. Everyone agreed.

The following May, during fiesta, the mood had changed. There was a musical band, various games (‘anilio’) for adult horse riders and for children, too. Young women were dressed in colorful costumes. Almost all houses had guests enjoying roasted pigs and local delicacies. It was a joyful fiesta for everyone and a huge success. Since then, the barrio fiestas were celebrated this way.

Aside from the moro horse, which he regularly rode, Nicanor bought another horse (kastanyo) which was the fastest at the time. He also bought a carriage to fit the new horse and asked his brother-in-law, Basilio, to be the ‘chauffeur’ of the family.

During the 12 years of teaching, he encouraged the game of baseball for girls and boys. He also sponsored other athletic and academic activities. In so doing, the school won many prizes and awards in those respective fields. He trained the students to sing and recite poems. They learned so well that finally they often performed in public to the delight of the people of the barrios. He taught people to unlearn the bad habits acquired from the Spaniards. Slowly, the people learned.