Monday, November 10, 2014


HAVE YOU EVER gone to the town of Tuburan?  In the map of Cebu, Tuburan is located at the northwest side of the island, 89 kilometers by road from Cebu City.  By its remote location, it has retained the biggest land area among the municipalities, almost nosing out the Queen City of the South.

It is bounded by another remote town – Tabuelan – on the north; along the east by Danao City, Carmen, Catmon and Sogod; and by Asturias at the south.  Tuburan is facing Tañon Strait on its western frontier and across it is Negros Island where a regular sea route bring people across and back.

Tuburan do have huge open spaces if you peep from a window of your car or a bus and you will be amazed at how such land with great bounties remain laid-back and tormented to move forward in agonizingly slow motion towards progress.  The age-old encomienda system instituted by the Spanish in our archipelago still remained here, although they now took on the form of landed political families.

I first came here in April 1982, a teenager on the look-out for adventure, astride atop a roof of a truck from Carbon travelling in the night with two other guys my age.  The truck took a northerly route, which meant we all have to pass by the dreaded cliff-side road of Eme, somewhere in the hills of Borbon, where we exit at Tabuelan, then to the few welcoming lights in the poblacion of Tuburan.

On my subsequent trips there, I saw firsthand in daylight, the condition of the roads and I shudder at the dust and the potholes that is home of torpid brown-liquid that became missiles and splash at you from nowhere when ran over by another speeding bus and it is such a mess.  I pity the children and the poor folks as they line beside the road on their journey to school and market and back cursed by these uncomfortable conditions.

I noticed large patches of empty arable spaces left unplowed as if the soil froze in time.  Land that should have been used to benefit the many, sadly, it had lain idle, to the designs and whims then of the few.  As these were not enough, summons of trespassing and theft were regularly served by the police at the behest of the powerful few against those who tilled the land for their survival.

The hinterlands then have become the source of strength of the landless farmers and migrant workers and so have welcomed a home-grown militancy which later embraced an armed struggle of liberation from poverty and from an abusive upper class.  I have seen how power at the hands of the few have stunted the life of the many in the early '80s everywhere and that is why Tuburan had become one of the many forbidden places then.

The landlord-tenant system under that despicable Spanish model of long ago have found appeal with the generations of mestizos and mixed-blood population and they revel at the idea of having this and that lineage as if they themselves totally understood the primary motive why their ancestors cast their fortune in a strange tropical land?  It is greed, my dear Pedro, it is greed.   

In fairness to Spain of today, which is a very democratic and just country, those of their predecessors were mesmerized by tales of gold.  I don't know of how many native civilizations and ways of life were indiscriminately destroyed because some of their ancestors followed their insatiable greed for riches and land and the indigenes had stood in their way to justify their places in society?

I don't know, still, of how many lives were laid waste by these so-called conquistadores in the name of evangelization?  I bet if you have heard of Montezuma and the rest of the Aztecs?  Of Tupac Amaru and the rest of the Incas?  Here in our shores, you might have read in our history books of Pedro Dagohoy and his 100-year rebellion against Spain in Bohol?  Different peoples yet they shared the same predicament against old Spain.

I have a pint of Western blood in my veins by virtue of having a Spanish immigrant’s son for a grandfather and I disdain it even though it is Basque, themselves a people who suffered social inequity.  Deep in the recesses of my genes, I know, are ill traits which are alien to the behaviour and characteristics of the natives of the land they claimed.  In fact, the US of A now accepts to the crooked ways of their forefathers by reverting lands back to the American Indians!

Looking back to the '80s on the highway of Tuburan, commuters are subjected to several layers of military checkpoints and I went with the flow of the crowd going down from and up again to the bus.  It was such a tiring maneuver yet the lower class are so honest that they return to their former places.  Oh, by the way, those that were the object of the military's mission were, in their own perverted sense and right, conduct their own screens on the road.  Tit for tat, if you may.

Years passed by, and I'm right on the highway again bound for Tuburan.  Those conditions I have mentioned above are not anymore in vogue yet I am completely sure that the remnants of these struggles of the proletariat somewhere in the hills are not gone.  I am riding a private vehicle this time and we cruise on a paved highway, yet, a few potholes, disturb my thoughts.

It is alright.  At least, there is now a semblance of progress.  How many years have gone by?  Almost thirty?  Ah, yes!  There is the Suroy-suroy Sugbu[1].  Is it not the school-buildings and village halls get a splash of new paint because the governor's party passed by?  The district hospital is open in a business-like manner and people are getting treated.  Not a bad thing if you compare it to long ago.

The new generation of residents have taken good strides to promote Tuburan to the rest of Cebu and the world.  It is a place that is unique, in the sense that it has its own history, culture and produce, distinctly of its own.  I have good memories of Tuburan too even though I am not a resident and it has a place in my heart.   

NOTE:  This article was written right after my brief visit sometime in 2010 and had lain unpublished after a computer got corrupted.  After recovery of this article, I decide to publish this.

Document done in OpenOffice 2.1 Writer
First photo courtesy of
Second photo and map courtesy of
 Third photo courtesy of

[1]A tourism program of the Province of Cebu designed to attract tourists to the towns.

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