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Cabezera Legend

Oroquieta’S Struggle
For Capital Town (Cabezera) - Province of Misamis Occidental
The Law To Divide The Province Of Misamis

In 1928, Gregorio Pelaez, a farmer from Eastern Misamis District, was elected as the Governor of the Province of Misamis. In his cabinet, Attorney Eulalio "Laloy" Ozaraga of Oroquieta was also elected as one of the Provincial Board Members. Both men promised that they would work hard to support the separation of Western Misamis District from Eastern Misamis District.

Atty. Paulino A. Conol, Sr. - Cabezera Delegate

Then in 1929, Senator Jose C. Clarin successfully passed his bill - the Philippine Legislature Act No. 3537 into law which divided the Province of Misamis into two (2) provinces: 1) the Province of Misamis Occidental - Western District; and, 2) the Province of Misamis Oriental - Eastern District. The Act was approved and signed on November 2, 1929 by Senate President Sergio Osmena, Speaker of the House Manuel Roxas, and Governor General Weight F. Davis. The law took effect on January 1, 1930. This law allowed the new Province of Misamis Occidental to carry the existing towns previously carried under the previous jurisdiction as Western Misamis District. Those towns included the municipalities of Baliangao, Plaridel, Lopez Jaena, Oroquieta, Aloran, Jimenez, Tudela, Clarin, and Misamis (presently Ozamiz City). Each municipality had eight (8) municipal officials who were designated as voting delegates for the plebiscite to elect a Capital Town (or Cabezera) for the new province. The delegates included the Municipal Presidents, Municipal Vice Presidents, and the six (6) Municipal Councilors of each municipality which comprised of a total of 72 voting delegates.

Cabezera Committee - Oroquieta (circa 1930)

The new law had its mandate that before a plebiscite could be held, the new province of Misamis Occidental must elect a Governor. Governor Gregorio Pelaez (together with his elected cabinet officials) retained their posts in the new province of Misamis Oriental. So in preparation for the plebiscite, a gubernatorial race was being conducted. Oroquieta leaders presented their candidates for governor and two (2) board members. Oroquieta’s candidates were Ex-Congressman Fortunato Clavano for governor, and for board members, Federico Apao and Elias Rivera. The town of Jimenez also presented its candidates: Atty. Jose Ozamiz for governor, and for board members, Lucio Amable and Ramon Bongabong.

Oroquieta Municipal Building and Public Plaza - circa 1946

The election was held in the town of Aloran. The election was conducted by the Provincial Board of the Province of Misamis headed by Governor Gregorio Pelaez and the Provincial Board Members Cornelio Ruedas and Eulalio Ozaraga. The result was discouraging for the Oroquieta leaders because majority of the winners were from the town of Jimenez. Atty. Ozamiz of Jimenez won the governor seat with Lucio Amable also of Jimenez won as one of the board members; while Elias Rivera of Oroquieta tied with Ramon Bongabong of Jimenez, also as board members. A raffle was drawn to break the tie and Elias Rivera won. They took their oath of office and assumed their respective positions on January 1, 1930. The seat of the provincial government was temporarily held in Jimenez, pending the result of the coming plebiscite for the Capital Town (Cabezera).

The Campaign For Cabezera

The defeat suffered by two (2) of the candidates from Oroquieta did not diminish the leaders’ and people’s determination to make Oroquieta the capital town of the province. Preparations and careful planning were made. The first step that was being made was that Municipal President Anecito Y. Enerio called a meeting with the leaders to discuss the whole matter. The meeting was held at the house of Simeona Marapao, the widow of Capitan Balbino Taghap in Langcangan. The purpose of the meeting was to find ways and means for an effective campaign for the victory of their beloved Oroquieta. Under the suggestion of Municipal President Enerio, the following Executive Committee was formed:

Executive Committee - Cabezera

Atty. Paulino A. Conol, Sr.(Mun. Councilor)

Pedro Celdran(Mun. Councilor)
Vicente Lumantas (Mun. Councilor)
Esteban Pausal (Mun. Councilor)
Felix Taghap, Jr.
Calixto Abuton = Member
Felix Taghap, Sr. (Mun. Councilor)
Vicente Flores (Mun. Secretary)
Tomas Paler (Mun. Pres., 1910-1911)
Agapito Blanco
Sabas Perjes (Mun. Vice Pres., 1919-1922)
Dr. Zacarias Calapini = Member
Paulino Gatal (Mun. Pres., 1919-1922)
Pedro Abuton (Mun. Councilor, 1922-1925)
Santiago Casing
Sy Baoco = Member
Anatalio Digal (Mun. Councilor, 1922-1925)
Victor Ozaraga (Mun. Councilor, 1915-1918)



After the creation of the Executive Committee, it was suggested that in order to have an effective campaign, the province must be divided into two (2) zones: the North Zone and the South Zone. Ex-Municipal President Tomas Paler was chosen as the inspector for the South Zone which included the municipalities of Aloran, Jimenez, Tudela, Clarin and Misamis (now Ozamiz City). Likewise, ex-Municipal President Paulino Gatal was chosen as the inspector for the North Zone which comprised of the municipalities of Lopez-Jaena, Plaridel and Baliangao. Municipal President Anecito Y. Enerio was the general campaign manager.

In December 1929, Municipal President Enerio, Municipal Councilor Atty. Paulino Conol (Cabezera Executive Committee Chairman), and Ex-Municipal Councilor Anatalio Digal (Committee Member) went to Manila to request Senator Jose Clarin for his support that would make Oroquieta win in the plebiscite. After he heard the good reasons why Oroquieta should be made as the capital town of the new province, he promised to help. They then requested or invited the good senator to attend the plebiscite which was scheduled for January 6, 1930 at the town of Jimenez. Senator Clarin accepted their request.

There were a total of 72 qualified voting delegates. As provided by law, a contestant municipality must get at least 37 votes in order to win the Cabezera race. There were three (3) contestants, Misamis (now Ozamiz City), Jimenez, and Oroquieta. The chairman and members of the Executive Committee and some volunteers had gone to all municipalities as far as Baliangao in the north, and Misamis in the south to contact the different Municipal Presidents, Municipal Vice Presidents, and the Municipal Councilors in an effort to gain their votes for Oroquieta. Their hard work involved contacting and visiting each individual official in their respective houses. Many times they walked on long muddy trails, rode on horseback borrowed or rented from its owners, or rode in small riverboats to cross a river to reach the official they intended to visit. They were challenged by many obstacles. Sometimes they were overtaken by rainfall along the way. They went through a lot of hardships, but did not mind the difficulties, and trials because they were doing it for the sake and benefit of Oroquieta, its citizens and Oroquieta’s future generations.

Other forms of sacrifices involved donations. For example all Oroquieta citizens voluntarily contributed either in cash or any kinds of contribution for the campaign efforts. They sought advice from Municipal President Enerio with whatever problem they encountered on the campaign trail. In times of campaign fund shortages, the situation was immediately corrected and managed by Representatives Santiago Casing of the north zone, and Sy Baoco of the south zone, respectively. Three (3) days before the plebiscite day of January 6, 1930, the people of Oroquieta were very busy preparing for the event. Lodgings and pertinent things were prepared and provided for the out-of-town delegates. The leaders were very excited because they were confident that the delegates from Lopez-Jaena, Plaridel, and Baliangao would vote for Oroquieta. Other rumors or reports also indicated that some delegates from Aloran and Clarin would vote for Oroquieta. For that reason it was estimated that Oroquieta would be able to get 38 to 39 votes and therefore, win because the "magic number" was 37 votes in order to win.

The Plebiscite

A couple of days before the plebiscite the Oroquieta leaders and some of their trusted followers had a series of meetings to discuss the possible scenarios that could occur during the plebiscite. The Oroquieta leaders felt threatened and apprehensive because of the fact that while the town of Jimenez was a candidate for the Cabezera, and the plebiscite venue was in Jimenez, the provisionary governor, Atty. Jose Ozamiz was also a resident of Jimenez. They were afraid that the citizens of Jimenez and with the influence of Governor Ozamiz, might do something that would place Oroquieta at a disadvantage position and jeopardize its chances to win. For that matter, the Oroquieta party decided to be proactive and planned on their counter measures for anything that might go wrong during the process, including voting irregularities. With their quick action, a large number of Oroquietanians went to Jimenez in order to witness the event and to be prepared for any eventuality. There were hundreds of citizens who went to Jimenez and walked the night before. Some rode their fishing boats just to witness this historical event.

At the voting station, only the voting delegates were allowed to enter the hall of the Municipal Building of Jimenez. For that reason, the Oroquieta party have gathered and came up with a strategic plan where they could monitor every action that was to take place inside. Many Oroquietanians were gathered at the plaza (just outside the voting station). Consequently, they came up with a plan to assign someone in the hall to be the informant. This informant’s task was to tell everyone outside of what was happening inside. As a voting delegate and was allowed to enter the hall, Atty. Conol was chosen to do the job. Their strategy was to use signal to camouflage the message to be relayed. By doing so, he would appear at the window every now and then and pretend to wipe his face with a handkerchief. Plainly wiping his face - it would mean that there was nothing wrong that was going on in the hall. However, if wiping his face he also pretended to accidentally drop the handkerchief it would mean trouble. By this token, all Oroquietanians outside would protest and create a commotion and rush inside the building to disrupt the balloting or perhaps to rescue their delegates from harm.

On the early morning of January 6, 1930, Municipal President Enerio with the Municipal Presidents, Municipal Vice Presidents and Municipal Councilors from other towns (who were believed to be on Oroquieta party’s side) went to the town of Jimenez, the plebiscite venue. They travelled in vehicles loaned by the citizens for the occasion. Trucks loaded with food provisions and many citizens who were eager to watch the proceedings followed them. There were Carabao-drawn (Water Buffalo) Caromata (carts) also loaded with provisions that went to Jimenez the night before. Some people traveled in fishing boats. The leaders headed by Municipal President Enerio were very enthusiastic and encouraged to see all Oroquietanians united in their support for the common cause. Political differences were completely forgotten.

The party of Municipal President Enerio arrived at the public plaza in front of the Jimenez Municipal Building before 8:00 o’clock that morning. Governor Jose Ozamiz who was elected as the new province Provisionary Governor (at the plebiscite held in Aloran), ordered that only the voting delegates and the invited guests were allowed to enter the Municipal Building. Invited to enter the building were Senator Jose Clarin, Lt. Barcena of the Philippine Constabulary, and some Special Guests. Basilio Binaoro of Oroquieta tried to enter but he was prevented. He was only allowed to go in after he showed his credentials as a media reporter from the National News Service.

At exactly 8:00 o’clock in the morning of January 6, 1930, Governor Ozamiz opened the meeting for business. Roll call followed and all the 72 qualified voting delegates were present. Governor Ozamiz suggested that it was not necessary to elect a chairman to preside the meeting because he could do it being the Provincial Governor. Municipal Councilor Conol of Oroquieta stood up to object that the suggestion was a conflict of interest because Governor Ozamiz was from Jimenez and Jimenez was a candidate town for the Cabezera race. Municipal President Enerio and the other delegates supported him.

There were lengthy discussions and arguments. To resolve the protests and move on with the election, they sought the opinion of Senator Clarin. The latter said that out of courtesy and respect to the governor, Governor Ozamiz should be allowed to preside the meeting. The delegates accepted his opinion. Then a councilor-delegate of Jimenez requested that the procedures to be followed during the meeting should only be a simple and ordinary way. But Councilor Conol of Oroquieta stood up and vehemently objected to the request. He said that the Robert’s Rule of Order should remain to be followed. Councilors-delegates Abanil and Dablo of Misamis supported it and the Robert’s Rule of Order was adopted.

Municipal President Enerio of Oroquieta and Municipal President Taghap of Lopez-Jaena submitted their suggestions for members of the Junta de Escrutenio (Board of Canvassers). Among the chosen were: 1) Governor Ozamiz - Chairman; 2) Senator Clarin - Member; and, 3) Lt. Barcena - Member. Each town candidate was given an intervenor. Councilor Conol was chosen for Oroquieta, Councilor Abanil for Misamis, and one whose identity is still not known, for Jimenez.

The voting was then started. The Ballot Box was placed in front of the Board of Canvassers. The Chairman was the one who gave the ballot to the voter and he was also the one who received the ballot to be dropped into the Ballot Box. The voting was started at about 10:00 o’clock in the morning. There was silence in the hall. After the last delegate had cast his ballot, the ballot box was opened and the ballots were counted. There were a total of 72 ballots which showed that all the qualified registered delegates had voted. The Chairman was the one who read the ballots and the result was:

Oroquieta = 36 votes

Jimenez = 23 votes

Misamis = 13 votes

No winner was declared because the "magic number" to win was 37. Everyone in the hall was silent on the announcement of the result. There were feelings of apprehension among the delegates more especially the Oroquieta delegates. There were huddles among the delegates inside the hall. No one was allowed to go outside. The Oroquieta delegates made a man to man approach (silent campaign) to the delegates who were believed would vote in favor of Oroquieta. The "silent campaign" were done in such as way that they communicated in a low voice to show as if that they were only casually conversing each other. There were some negotiations with certain considerations. As a strategist-informant, Atty. Conol casually went to the window to wipe his face with handkerchief without dropping it which indicated that the situation inside was under control.

After a period of rest, Chairman and Governor Ozamiz called the meeting to order for the second balloting. The canvassing of votes was finished at 12:00 o’clock noon. The result was:

Oroquieta = 37 votes

Jimenez = 22 votes

Misamis = 13 votes

The result was immediately announced outside where there were thousands of people waiting for the result. There were then shouts of "MABUHI ANG OROQUIETA"(Long Live Oroquieta)! Some Oroquietanians went home immediately on horseback shouting along the way that Oroquieta won in the plebiscite. Municipal President Enerio of Oroquieta was congratulated by the delegates and by the people for the victory of Oroquieta.

After their lunch and some parting words with the delegates, the party of Municipal President Enerio went home to Oroquieta. Along the roads at Aloran and Oroquieta, thousands of people were waiting for the party. When the party passed by, there were shouts of "MABUHI ANG OROQUIETA"(Long Live Oroquieta)! A big crowd of people have already gathered at the town plaza with full of jubilation. In his speech, Municipal Pressident Enerio thanked the people for their support and unity regardless of political differences. He went to say that without the Oroquietanians support, victory could not have been possible. There was a big dance party at the Municipal Building during that evening in honor of Senator Jose Clarin who was invited along with some delegates from the other towns.

By: Dr. Emerico L. Conol


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Saturday, April 19, 2003 (Revised)