Pedro Cabrales

“SHE MUST have been a good-looking lady with Spanish-mestiza features, a great and wonderful person, who was one of the important leaders of the Pulahan Movement in Samar during the period of American occupation in the country.”

redcrossofpulahanesThis is how UP-Tacloban Professor Daniel Talde finds as a vivid description of Bruna Fabrigar who was Samar’s Joan of Arc during the period of resistance to the American regime in the Philippines.

“Bunang”, as she was popularly called, was described as a kind, religious and legendary woman,” based on the accounts of people interviewed by Talde in 1999.  “Her kindness showed herself in the way she helped the mountain people in their miseries; she was an herb-doctor; she used leaves, bark, and roots,” they went on to say. “She must have been efficient in healing,” according to another source.  “Because the people flocked to her daily in great number; because of her efficiency the people believed she had magical power and a strong anting-anting,” according to the Journal of History, 1959.

In describing her role in the Pulahan Movement, the Journal of History mentioned that she was one of General Vicente Lukban’s resistance fighters in Samar.  She was, the book mentions, “an incredible Pulahan member.” The interviewees recalled that in one of the encounters with the Americans, “Bunang never got hurt when a gun was aimed at her, and that in actual combat or battle, Bunang would not escape.” They said further that, “she would just shield herself with her skirt when bullets were aimed at her.”

The above-mentioned narrative was one the papers read during the 27th National Conference of the Philippine National Historical Society conducted at the Leyte Normal University on October 26-28, 2006.  With its theme: Revisiting Visayan Historiography, Revisioning Philippine Historiography, most of the papers highlighted the role of the Visayas region and its people in the history of the Filipino nation.

Map of Samar Island.

Map of Samar Island.

Talde’s paper is based on an historical research conducted in 1999 which employed first-hand interview among a number of the elders in Paranas, San Jorge and Motiong.  He also corroborated his findings from dozens of public documents, books, research journals, unpublished materials, newspapers, and he even used the internet for some of his references.

The LNU Conference which was attended by more than a hundred participants – historians, book writers, social science and history professors and officials from local government units (LGUs) discussed twelve papers covering a wide range of topics from ancient church bells, religious missionaries, Japanese atrocities in World War II, and to subjects like Spanish-era town planning and the Visayas region.

Historical method of research provides essential knowledge about the roots of a society and its culture.  In her book, Research Methods, PUP professor Dr. Custodiosa Sanchez, cited the importance and necessity of using such a method in “understanding life because it traces past events that are stored and uncovered even centuries later and linkages are established which were not evident then.”  Techniques used to establish validity in the use of historical method in research are known as external and internal criticisms.  External criticism looks into the authenticity of historical documents and relics, while internal criticism refers to the degree of objectivity and competence of the researcher.

Bernardita Reyes Churchill, PH.D

Bernardita Reyes Churchill, PH.D

The conference organizers headed by Dr. Bernardita Reyes-Churchill encouraged the participants to write history particularly local history.  According to her, “the study of local history provides the foundation and substance of the true national history. In talking about the benefit of studying local history, she says that it “provides us with the documentation and analysis of those broad processes which are important in shaping the quality of life of a people.”

Bunang and other significant figures and events in our past come to our minds only through historical research.  If more people, particularly the Warays, would study their history and culture, they would then, perhaps, aid in providing a more meaningful knowledge as well as a richer understanding about themselves and their society.  Facts from history are there to help people plod on along more positive endeavors for their futures.

This a reprint from the Sorsogon Examiner February 4 -10, 2010 issue. All credit goes to the author.