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The Building of the Vigan Cathedral (Part XIII)

ON APRIL 23, 1796, ten days before his death, bishop Ruiz sent his provisor Dr. Don Eustaquio Benson to the Alcalde Don Jose Mariano Cubells requesting him to come so that he could make before him a legal declaration. The Alcalde, together with his two witnesses Don Vicente Ines de Viscarra and Don Mariano de Tugade went immediately to the palace of the bishop. They found there the bishop together with his confessor Fr. Augustin Blaquier, the presbyter Don Manuel de los Reyes (the notary) and the sacristan of the cathedral Br. DonVicente Vallejos and a certain Don Jose Ballesteros. The bishop immediately declared that it had been his will long ago to make certain gifts to the persons who had served him with extraordinary loyalty and love. He wanted also to show his gratitude to those who, according to the law, should be rewarded for their help. For this purpose he had already prepared documents in Santa Cruz, Laguna, two years ago on April 5, 1794. But he was well aware that he could not make a testament or last will concerning his possessions. Therefore he now asked that a formal document concerning this and concerning what he now was going to declare, be drawn up.

1. As much as the Pope gives him the right to propose a caretaker sede vacante it is his will that it should be Fr. Agustin Blaquier.

2. All the money he received as his stipends was spent for the cathedral and the palace. It is public knowledge that, when he came to Vigan, he did not find anything: that, therefore, he always lived in greatest poverty.

3. In addition, he donated also various things of his oratory to the cathedral as can be seen in one of the documents drawn up in 1794 at Santa Cruz, Laguna.

4. Furthermore it is also evident from one of these documents that he donated various cabinets and other things to his former secretary Dr. Don Eustaquio Benson and also to Fr. Agustin Blaquier as reward for their much disinterested service while helping him with the greatest love and fidelity.

5. All the rice in his palace should go to Dr. Benson, the wheat and cacao and sugar and other things to Fr. Blaquier so that all who lived in the palace could enjoy it.

6. He also declared that he owed some money to the general procure of his order, although he did not know at the moment how much it was. He also owed some money to Fr. Blaquier, who took care of his expenses and regularly made the accounts.

7. He also said that he still had the subsidy of the second year which His Majesty gives to the bishop which Fr. Blaquier could use. He could use the stipend to pay the debts and to get his own expenses refunded. The rest should go to the cathedral. However, he should also give a remuneration to the lay brother of his order Fr. Francisco de San Juan and to a brother of San Juan de Dios who took care of him in his sickness.

8. Finally, he declared that he was very grateful to his province of San Nicolas. If, by chance he ever caused some difficulties, such was never his intention, and God is his witness. If like any human being he made mistakes, he now asked for pardon. He always considered himself a true son of this province.

His request now was that the Alcalde should draw up a legal document concerning his declaration which he just made before the above-mentioned persons who had always lived with him and who knew everything about him and whom he trusts com-pletely because of their faithful service. This document should be given to Fr. Blaquier. He excused himself for not being able any longer to sign anything with his own hand. For this purpose he had made a seal which Fr. Blaquier had at his disposal.

     (To be continued)