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of Turtles and Men


"The pertinent passage reads:

'... In the province of Camarines, the convents and ministries of Naga, near the city of Nueva Caceres, the seat of the vicar-provincial, together with Canaman, Quipayo, Milaod, Minalambang, Bula, Bao, Naboa, Iraya, Buhi, Liban, Polangui, Oas, Liyao, Guinobatan, Camarines, Cagsaua, and Ligmanan...' (The Philippine Islands, vol. 28, p. 168)"

It is noteworthy that the above references to Baao cited by Fr. Ramirez date back to 1591.

Paulix B. Robosa, professor at the Universidad de Sta. Isabel and our authority on local history, also emailed a two-page write-up entitled, "Why Change the Name Baao?" Paulix presents his own reasons against a name change and also provides a historical basis for the name BAAO going back even earlier, to 1576 - that's 428 years ago. Moreover, the reference to Baao was not at all trivial, as you will read from the following excerpts from his essay, below (emphasis supplied):

"What of the name Baao? Aside from the fact that the name is stuck in millions of documents, history, literature, and registry books, mail and email addresses and the birthplace of many famous people, the Village of BAAO, has already earned its place of glory in history. The village is mentioned in Fray Gaspar de San Agustin's book of 1698 as one of the three villages which resisted the entry of Spanish colonizers in Bicol in 1576. This not only made the name BAAO legendary three hundred years ago, but of historic importance today. So, for whatever the reason, the town of BAAO always takes ascendancy because it took a name for itself so far back in history and for the nobility of the cause by which she earned it.

"What name would be better than Baao? Perhaps, the name of an illustrious son - Msgr. Jorge I. Barlin? To change the name of a town for a famous son is not an uncommon practice and many towns and provinces have had varying degrees of success and results with the change of name. But does it hurt if you don't change the name of a place? Calamba has the more reason to change its name. It has a name of vague origins but it has a famous son - Jose Rizal - yet we still have Calamba, Laguna, birthplace of Jose Rizal.

"If this move is simply to honor a great man, which Barlin is, I suggest we spend more time and money in knowing him, preserving his legacy, and making his good qualities known to more Baaoeños so more of us can identify with him and emulate his greatness.

"Even if I shared the dislike and misconceptions about the name Baao, I wouldn't dream of changing her name. Would you, if you loved your parents, change your family name if you could? I believe the great Bishop would not do, too. Perhaps, he might even object to this ill-conceived plan of renaming his birthplace. I can almost hear him retort, 'May the light of the Lord illumine your way so you can see the precipice unto which you are hastening with great strides.'

"Our town is a cradle of greatness because her sons and daughters manage to rise to great heights even if they come from such a simple and humble town with a simple and humble name. Do we dare change that?"

The answer is a resounding "NO(!)," Paulix, friend. Not that we love Barlin less, nor do we love Baao more. It's that Baao and Barlin need not be mutually exclusive! Both should have their rightful places in our town's history, in our hearts, and in our minds.

My strongest argument in favor of "Baao" is paradoxically a fallacy in logic. It is something personal to me, an argumentum ad hominem. I'm sure it is to you, too, for Baao runs in our veins and resides in our psyche. We breathe, we eat, we sleep, we dream, we cry, and we laugh Baao.

Yes, we live Baao.

And, yes, we should and shall die...Baao.       [vlr.04]



Author's notes:
All Baaoeños should be truly grateful to Paulix Robosa for the work he has been doing to know and preserve the Baao story. Comments and opinions regarding this article are welcome. Readers are also invited to share ideas, know the latest news from Baao, or simply network with fellow Baaoeños around the globe.


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