Guido Hacienda Social Timebomb?
By Leo P. Gonzaga
Reprinted from Manila Inc. Magazine, January-February 1996
Wading through volume after volume of the Guido Hacienda story is like getting lost in a forest and having difficulty in finding a way out not because of any lack of signposts, but because of a surfeit of them. The names, events and dates in the story are so numerous as they span centuries from the Spanish occupation period.
The controversial hacienda can be seen in contemporary light without having to go back that far. For instance, how it stunts growth in one fairly large countryside. Or how it runs counter to the thrust of an ongoing government centerpiece program of breaking up landed estates for distribution to tenant-farmers. Not to mention the rationale of an existing law protecting the landless from forcible eviction.
Add to that brew certain racial undertones and what emerges is a social timebomb. A single wrong word or misstep by any of the protagonists can touch off an explosion of frightening proportions.
Even without the hacienda as a growth impediment, Rizal Province already lags behind Cavite, Laguna and Batangas in the five-province Calabarzon area and is probably ahead only of the fifth, Quezon. Several towns of Rizal have been annexed by Metro Manila as an enlarged fiefdom of an ambitious First Lady. The province has thus lost to the metropolis a big number of industries producing car and other motor vehicles, bicycles and motorcycles, tires, garments and textiles, soap and detergents, cosmetics, toothbrush and toothpaste, chemicals and other pharmaceuticals, shoes, iron sheets, steel bars and steel plates, industrial glasses. As they say it, name it, Rizal has got it.
Not any more. All the province now has is one automotive assembler, one paint manufacturer, one chocolate processor and three cement manufacturers. There are others, but they are of small or medium scale, like livestock raising, milkfish growing, motorshop operations. With less flat land than others in Calabarzon, Rizal does not have an export processing zone like that in Rosario, (Cavite). Neither does it have any special economic zones such as those in Dasmarinas and General Trias (also Cavite); in Binan, Cabuyao, Calamba, and Sta Rosa (Laguna); in Bauan and San Pascual (Batangas).
Most of the little flat land in the province is neck-deep in controversy, preventing proper titling of disputed areas. Rizal is a next-door neighbor of Metro Manila, but despite this comparative advantage, it si being bypassed by investors in need of factory sites with proper titles. For instance, Procter & Gamble Manufacturing Corp. has relocated from Tondo to Laguna., and Reynolds Phils. Corp. from Mandaluyong to Cavite, but not one of the relocator-companies has gone to Rizal.
The Guido Hacienda is so huge that the claimed boundaries extend from the town of Binangonan in the south to Angono and then to Muzon in the town of Taytay some 20 kilometers away in the north and, eastward, to San Guillermo in the town of Morong of more or less the same distance. Under the government’s comprehensive agrarian reform program, there is a limit of seven hectares on any single landholding. Yet, the Guidos and buyers of the hacienda want 3,000 hectares in Binangonan alone!
The controversial claim covers land occupied by some 35,000 families, most if not all of them paying property taxes and building permits to the municipal government. The land has been either inherited or bought from generation after generation of ancestors. Now, they are being threatened with eviction by claimants who neither occupied the land, or most of it before, nor paid taxes on the property until recently.
Old resentments are adding fuel to the fire of controversy because the Guidos are Spanish or of Spanish ancestry while buyers of the hacienda are Chinese or of Chinese ancestry judging from such family names as Ang, Chin, Coyuito, Gaisano, Sy. As one resident puts it, “we are being oppressed this time by both the Tisoy and the Tsinoy”. Whether they have become naturalized Filipinos or not no longer matters to the people of the town, it seems.
Sometime in the last few years of the late Ferdinand Marcos, unidentified soldiers were seen providing security to unidentified civilians putting up fences in the rice fields along the national road in Muzon. The talk then, up now neither confirmed nor denied, was that the late Doña Josefa Marcos, the president’s mother, intervened on behalf of the Guidos. For some unexplained reasons, however, the soldiers, civilians and fences disappeared with not a single untoward incident.
Violent or near violent confrontation is now an ever-present risk in Binangonan. From time to time, unidentified armed civilians put up fences in certain areas of the town. Each time, these are dismantled by the police on complaints of affected residents. Once, unarmed men tried to survey land on Barangay Macamot and were chased by bolo-wielding residents themselves.
The fence-builders and surveyors are believed to be from the Guidos or from the buyers of the hacienda, Interport Resources Corp. and Rommel Realty Corp. They have not challenged fence-dismantling thus far because they cannot produce a supporting building permit as required by the municipal government. But the situation remains tense.
During his three terms as Binangonan mayor, now Rizal Governor Casimiro Ynares made sure that no building permit was issued for any fence or other structure of the Guidos or their successors in interest. And insisting that they were not the real owners of the disputed land, he refused to accept any property tax payments from them. “we will fight the Guidos in court,” said Gov. Ynares in an interview with Manila Inc.
The present mayor, Isidro Pacis, is as strict as his predecessors in denying building permits and in enforcing the no-permit, no-fence-etcetera requirement. However, on the advice of his lawyer, Mayor Pacis allowed Interport and Rommel to pay property taxes. As he told this writer, the two firms have been making money doing business in Binangonan, so “they might as well pay taxes to us.” After all, a tax declaration, says the fineprint in this particular document, is no proof of ownership.
Even so, one recent tax payment of P6 million was raised by his political opponents as a campaign issue against him in the elections last May. He was reelected nevertheless as voters paid less attention to the issue and focused more on his tract record, which included prompt dismantling of fences any time there was a complaint from residents anywhere in town; and the arrest of Jaime Ong Din Chi, president of Rommel after his men occupied a residential lot in Macamot registered in the name of barangay resident Lemmy Barretto.
The hacienda story tells of at least two uprisings, both unsuccessful; and a series of legal setbacks for town people. According to writer Jorge Arago and as published in Ang Balitaan, the Binangonan portion of the hacienda was forcibly taken over by residents in 1745. That was four years before a council appointed by King Charles ll of Spain declared Don Domingo Antonio de Bermudez as the owner of the Angono portion of the hacienda. In 1952, ownership of the entire property was transferred to Don Andres Blanco Bermudez upon the death of his uncle Don Domingo.
In 1903 when the people of Angono rebelled against their landlords, the property claimants were Francusisco Guido and his wife Dominga. There are two versions, one that Francisco got the hacienda as an heir down the line of Don Domingo, according to Arago; two, that the huge tracts of land were granted by the Spanish colonial government to Francisco in return to his services as a soldier, wrote journalist Bernardo Lopez in Manila Real Estate Magazine. The grant was supported by a decree issued in 1911 by the American colonial government.
After the rebellion was put down, a case was raised to the Supreme Court which, in 1909 and through Chief Justice Cayetano Arellano, upheld the claim of Francisco and Dominga. The decision of the high tribunal covered not only the Binangonan and Angono portions of the hacienda but also the limestone quarry in barangay San Guillermo of Morong. That was to become the first of several cases won by non-occupant, land claimants over claimants in possession of the land. Or a judicial aberration that has allowed a despised anachronism to continue up to these enlightened times.
Details and Details
The hacienda story at the turn of the century yields a virtual deluge of details. As reconstructed by Lopez, the town most affected by the controversy was made up in the early 1900s by Estancia de Binangonan and Estancia de Riga. From these two evolved Estancia de Angono, with Justo Guido, son of Francisco, as claimant to ownership. The Guido sired many children, legitimate and illegitimate, through many generations, among them Alfredo, Benito, Gregorio and Hermogenes. Not all of them got a piece of the action, the vastness of hacienda, notwithstanding.
In 1942, Jose Roxas and wife Emilia, who were in the list of “legitimate heirs’ of the Guidos, bought half of the 3,181 hectares Estancia de Angono and subdivided it into 21 lots of varying sizes. In 1976, they resold the property to Pacil Management Corp.. Eventually, 14 of the 21 lots with a combined size of 2,211 hectares ended up with the Interport in exchange for the latter’s stocks.
According to Gregorio, there are two portions of the Guido Hacienda. The smaller but developed and cleaned-titled Estancia de Angono and the bigger but underdeveloped land in Binangonan where there are many claimants and an overlapping of titles and tax declarations. Most of the rival claims turned out to be from heirs of Francisco and Justo who did not benefit from the hacienda.
Mystery and Hanky-Panky
The Guido Hacienda story is not without an intriguing part. Lopez, in his write up cited certain vital document which mysteriously disappeared, then reappeared also mysteriously. The reappearance took place in what he described as “perfect timing” for the Guidos, i.e., right before the case was raised to the court, the documents were later presented in court as proof that the Guidos owned the hacienda.
Not only mysterious but also suspicious is how the Guidos managed to get transfer certificate of title for the property. In his account, Arago noted that their petition for a TCT was submitted to then Land registration Commissioner Gregorio Bilog Jr. in August 1974. Bilog consulted with then Justice Secretary Vicente Abad Santos who in turn, asked then Solicitor-General Estelito Mendoza to look into the matter in a memorandum the following year, Mendoza rejected as “phony” an old document which was being used by the Guidos as basis for their petition.
In March 1976, the Guidos filed the petition with the Register of Deeds in Morong. Despite the Mendoza memorandum, then Deputy Register of Deeds Pricilla Tech issued the petition in so quick a time and so trouble-free a procedure that Arago smells hanky-panky. The TCT in the name of Francisco and Hermogenes was later followed by 21 more such certificates in the name of other Guidos. “Just like that,” says Arago of the ease they were issued.
There are other names, events and dates to wrestle with. President Ramos ordered in 1976 that Spanish Titles must be authenticated within a specific deadline. The Roxases initially applied for an original title, later changed the application to a reconstituted title after a research they themselves commissioned revealed the existence of the Spanish land grant to Francisco.
Again according to Gregorio, he and his father Benito declined to join Alfredo in pursuing the ownership claim up to court, not having seen the supposed documents. With the disputes resulting in a freeze on titling of land even outside the Guido Hacienda, Gregorio says he cannot get titles for the land and home he inherited from Benito in barangay Tayuman of Binangonan. Also adversely affected is current Development Bank of the Philippines Chairman Alfredo Antonio, who inherited a piece of land from his father in barangay Darangan. “I cannot get my property titled,” he told this writer.
The court battle began in1979 when the office of the Solicitor-General filed a case in the then Court of First Instance, now Regional Trial Court, in Pasig. He questioned the authenticity of the Spanish title and the American decree on behalf of thousands of affected Binangonan residents. That court in May 1989 upheld the authenticity of the title and decree. In June of the same year, the case was raised to the Court of Appeals which turned down the petition for reconsideration. Then the Supreme Court in November 1991 declared as legal the reconstitution of the title and decree.
Both the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court decided to honor the rights of land occupants who either have existing titles or can prove occupancy for at least 30 years. The problem, as pointed out by former provincial legal counsel Carmelo Arcilla, is that many of the residents have no existing titles apart from the tax declarations; and proving occupancy for the prescribed minimum period is a tedious process for the affected individuals, perhaps even requiring massive surveying which may take years or decades.
The court decisions have raised a number of disturbing questions. He asks how Interport, for instance, which never paid taxes nor occupied or developed the land, can become a legitimate owner of the land occupied for decades by taxpaying residents. Raising the issue of “eminent domain” in the case of the Spanish title and vis-à-vis the Guidos, Atty. Arcilla points out that they never exercised dominion over the property in question and, therefore, have never been and cannot be owners of the land.
To him, a land title not based on ownership evidences is “nothing”. Not a single square inch of the town has no claimant-possessor. If the court decisions are to be given substance, there is nothing in Binangonan that is available to the Guidos, Interport and Rommel.
There is an appeal for reconsideration of the ruling of the high tribunal. So the case is not finally settled yet. In the meantime, the Bureau of Lands has stopped accepting applications and acting on already-filed ones even on areas outside the Guido Hacienda. As a result, the town is making little or even no headway it its pursuit of faster economic development. Interport, too, is having problems in putting up a so called “Satellite City” in barangay Bilibiran. Its stockholders include mega-rich Filipino Chinese like Robert Coyuito, Jack Gaisano and Henry Sy. Filipinos on its board also belong to name-droppables in the business community, like William Gabaldon, Manuel Recto and Francisco Villanueva. Either they are not putting big-bucket money in the company, or the financing requirement is so huge that Interport has found it necessary to invite Malaysian investors.
The “Satellite City” as envisaged will contain plush residential communities and commercial establishments as well as a hi-tech agro-industrial park. Or some kind of a compensating balance for Binangonan which will, at least in the project, get a spillover from Metro Manila’s excess population with medium means in spending, though it cannot get a single corporate relocator from the metropolis.
It has been observed that the frequency of fence-building, attempts by Interport was quite high during the time it was asking the Malaysian to invest in the project. Company officials got haled to the Securities & Exchange Commission to answer charges of “inside trading” after it was found out that Interport share accumulation at marked-down prices took place on the basis of pre-knowledge of negotiations with the Malaysians. Up to now, investments from them are a question mark.
Not much is known about Rommel and any of its board members and officers. But the company is also said in the market for equity partners, local and/or foreign. It is, like Interport, also resorting to fence building off and on presumably to impress prospective investors that it owns land in Binangonan.
Anything can happen when fences are built by Interport and Rommel then dismantled by the police. As bloody incident after incident amply show, squatters fight eviction, though their right to stay where they are is anchored only on law which says they cannot be evicted unless provided with alternative sites. People in four Rizal towns covered by the Guido Hacienda are no squatters. They are tax-paying, long time occupants. They will fight. So, while the prospect for the province is that of continuing to be a laggard in Calabarzon, what stares particularly Binangonan in the face is economic stagnation or worse, violence.
Higante ni Kampong
Dinadayo ng mga turista ang Higantes Festival sa Angono, Rizal tuwing fiesta dahil sa makulay at iba’t-ibang “malaking-taong anyo” na likha ng kanilang folklore, artists and craftsmen. Paper-mache ang mukha na hitsurang-banyaga habang yari sa kawayang patpat ang katawan na dinamitan ng katutubong kulay at disenyo.
May ganitong likha rin sa Calumpang na sikat mula dekada 30′s hanggang 70’s- ang Higante ni Kampong.
Si Kampong (Policarpio Lirio- 1902-1968) ay taga Daus-usin, malapit sa lugar ng unang santo ng Calumpang- ang Santong Amba. Ang bahay ni Kampong ay umaapaw sa kanyang likha: disenyong sarimanok , ibong tumutulay sa pisi mula sa pintong kahoy hanggang kawayang gate, banderang sari-sari ang kulay, mga porma ng latang pinagdikit-dikit at kawad na piniri-pirikot, gayon din ang bulaklak yari sa crepe paper. May paper mache na maskara at mukha ng higante. May putik na kinortehan at pinatigas, pati kahoy na nililok. Mabusising likha, maarteng hugis, sumisigaw na kulay. Kung kaya’t nuong mga dekadang iyon, pag sobra ang gayak mo maging sa bahay, damit o mukha man ay sasabihan ka na “parang si Kampong.”
Tama ang sitsit, si Kampong nga ay binabae, pero hindi sa konotasyon ng bakla o gay ng makabagong panahon. Maraming lupa ang pamilya ni Kampong na hindi niya inasikaso bilang magsasaka, sa halip ay ang hilig sa paglikha ang kanyang inatupag. At ang siste nito, ang babaeng kapatid na kasama niya sa bahay ang gunanap ng gawaing lalaki- nag-iigib ng tubig, nagsisibak ng kahoy, nagtatanim sa bukid.
Matalino si Kampong kahit hindi siya nakapag-aral. Ang mga likha niya ay inspirasyong sumibol sa pagmamasid sa kalikasan, sa Lawa ng Laguna, sa lupa ng nuno sa punso, sa pagtingala sa mga bituin sa langit. Ang Higante, bilang kanyang obra, ang naging mascot ng pista, kasal, at mga pagdiriwang nuong panahong wala pa sa hinagap ng mundo sina Jollibee at Ronald McDonald.
Ang Higante ni Kampong ay may tatlong katauhan- nanay, tatay at anak. Sila ang nangunguna sa parada, nagbabando ng pagoda, umiindak sa tugtog ng musiko. Sakripisyo nga lang sa taong nasa loob ng higante na siyang naglalakad at nagpapagalaw dito.
Taga-gayak din si Kampong ng andas ng Santo at ng tuntungan ng pari sa pagbabasbas ng palaspas kung Linggo de Ramos. Ang Higante ay kasama sa kinasal na, nuong panahong iyon ay, naglalakad mula simbahan hanggang bahay. Bahagi rin ng Lukayo, tradisyon na ang lalaki ay nagdadamit pambabae at nagsasayaw sa mga ninong at ninang para sa regalong pera sa mag-asawa.
Na-aarlika ang Higante ni Kampong ng mga may kasayahan mula Pila, Ithan at tumatawid pa hanggang Pasig. Kwento ng kamag-anak ni Kampong, may taga-Angono na umarkila ng higante, “pinarisan” at simula nuon, ang mga manlilikha nila ang nagpayabong ng sining nito. Ang nakalulungkot ay wala isa man sa mga naiwang kaanak ni Kampong ang nagpatuloy ng kanyang likha.
Ayon sa taga-Angono, nagsimula ang higante nila nuong panahon ng Kastila bilang pag-ganti ng katutubo sa mananakop. Ipinagbawal ng mga Kastila ang kasayahan kaya ang mga tao ay gumawa ng higanteng mukhang banyaga upang pagtawanan nila. Pasubali naman ng iba, kung lalaliman ang pagsasaliksik, walang ganoong tala sa kasaysayan at marahil ito daw ay malikhaing paghahango upang ang higante ng Angono ay may ugat na pagmulan.
Ang Higante ni Kampong ay hindi Kastila ang hitsura, sabi ng matatanda. Haka-haka pa, marahil ang higante ng Angono ay “interpretasyon” base sa kanilang pananaw sa kasaysayan.
Natural lamang na may magkatulad na higante ang Binangonan at Angono dahil nuong panahon ng Kastila, ang Angono ay bahagi ng Binangonan. “They shared the same history, the same culture, the same artistic inspiration- the Laguna Lake”. Dangan nga lamang, puna ng mga kritiko, kung ang pinagtuunan ng taga- Binangonan ay ang sabong bilang libangan at kultura, ang taga-Angono naman ay ang paglikha at sining.
Iyan rin ang ibinabatikos na dahilan kung bakit ang Petroglyphs ay unang “natuklasan” ng Angono artists, silang may masidhing pagpapahalaga sa kultura at sining. Ang Petroglyphs ay kalatas nakaukit sa batong dingding ng Matandang Yungib sa sitio Pinagpala, Tayuman, pruweba ng sibilisasyon 3000 taong una kay Hesukristo. Nagising daw lang ang Binangonan sa “yaman ng lahi” ng mapabilang ito sa Unesco World Heritage List at paglaanan ng pondo para sa preservation ng site.
May pagkilos namang ginawa ang grupo ng artists, ang Bigkis Sining, at pamahalaan ng Binangonan upang buhayin muli ang sining ng higante. Sa pangunguna ni Konsehal Rey Punelas, pinarangalan ng munisipyo si Kampong nuong 1994. Ang Sangguniang Kabataan ng Calumpang nuon, sa ilalim ni Joan Velasco, ay nagsulong din ng ganitong adhikain.
Patuloy na suporta ng pamahalaan at pribadong patron ang kailangan upang muling ibalik ang pamana ni Kampong. At ipakilala ito sa mga kabataan ngayon.