Ciudad Fernandina de Vigan: The re-birth of a noble city (Part 1)

IF ONE were to capture the essence of the re-birth of “Ciudad Fernandina de Vigan” in a single word, that word would surely be “PROVIDENTIAL.” A vigorous and compelling people initiative to correct a historical injustice and restore the prestige and rightful place of Vigan in the history of our nation. It is the perseverance of a leader to build a caring community  where peace and justice, progress and prosperity are the legacies of all.

It was in an intimate social gathering on the evening of October 8, 1998 that saw the birth of the movement for Vigan Cityhood. The occasion was the birth of Mr. Roberto Donato attended by the members of the Knights of Columbus, the Vigan Tennis Club and few intimate friends.

Amidst the usual trivia of conversation, the “emeritus” then parish priest of Vigan, Msgr. Venida, intimated his desire to see Vigan regain its lost Cityhood in recognition of its central role in the evangelization of the North that eventually led to the proclamation of “Ciudad Fernandina de Vigan” as the 3rd Spanish city established in the islands during the Spanish period. The Catholic faith is the most lasting legacy of the Spanish colonization because by shaping the people’s religious outlook, the friars hispanized the population, perhaps, more profoundly than did the conquering soldier with his sword.

SBM Benjo Verzosa, a cousin of the celebrant and member of the municipal council, was prevailed upon to sponsor Resolution No. 28 requesting Congressman Salacnib Baterina to file a bill in Congress for the conversion of Vigan into a “City on historical and cultural considerations”. After a series of public hearings, the resolution was adopted by the Sangguniang Bayan and approved by the Local Chief Executive on December 14, 1998.

At first, the resolution for cityhood was not given much thought in the face of the seemingly unsurmountable barrier post by the land-area and population requirements for the conversion of a municipality into a component city prescribed by the Local Government Code until Congressman Salacnib Baterina, being a brillant lawyer, was struck, upon closer reading of R.A. 7160, that the population and land area requirements do not apply in the case of Vigan because it is composed of three islands.

House Bill No. 7122 entitled “An  Act Converting the Municipality of Vigan into a Component City of the Province of Ilocos Sur to be known as the City of Vigan” was finally filed in the House of Representative on February 13, 1999 under the joint sponsorship of Congressman Baterina and House Majority Floor Leader Mar Roxas.

The filing of the Cityhood Bill triggered an spontaneous outpouring of support from all sectors of Vigan society manifested by the submission of resolutions of endorsement from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Ilocos Sur, ABC and Sangguniang Kabataan  of Vigan, the Fil-Chamber of Commerce, Vigan Market Vendors Association, Vigan District Teachers, Rural Improvement Club, University of Northern Philippines, SVAHAI, Balikatan sa Vigan, KALIPI of Vigan, Municipal Agriculture and Fisheries Council, Vigan Tourism Council, Federation of Senior Citizens of Vigan, Metro Vigan Tricycle Operators and Drivers Association, Municipality of Vigan Employees Association, Magsaysay Village Homeowners, Fatima Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Fatima Youth Savers Club, Gaybelle’s Association, Federated Day-Care Workers, Municipal Fisheries and Aquatic Management Council, Vigan Tennis Club, Spectrum Heritage Radio Group, Order of the Knights of Rizal, Federation of NGO’s, Parish Pastoral Council, Catholic Women’s League, Apostle-ship of Prayer, React Fernandina, Federation of Parent/Teachers and Commu-nity Organization, Inner Wheel Club, Rotary Club, DWRS Foundation, Our Lady Help of Christians Cooperatives, St. Peter Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Cabaroan Laud MPC, KC Fr. Burgos Council, MUCC-NTRCI Labor Union Viper Communications, Tawid ti Ilocos Foundation, among others.

When the House Committee on Local Governments headed by Congressman Romeo Candazo conducted a public hearing on H.B. 7122 at the newly constructed Vigan Youth Center on November 29, 1999, the congressmen from the different provinces of the country were witness to the unanimous support of the people and were equally impressed by their strong commitment in preserving their historical and cultural legacy.

Having substantially complied with all the requirements for Cityhood conversion, H.B. 7122 was approved by the House of Representatives in its plenary session on December 16, 1999.

(To be concluded)