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History of Camarines Sur

History of Camarines Sur
Camarines Sur is one of the provinces in the Philippines, specifically a part of Bicol
Region. It is composed of the municipalities of Baao, Balatan, Bato, Bombon, Buhi, Bula,
Cabusao, Calabanga, Camaligan, Canaman, Caramoan, Del Gallego, Gainza, Garchitorena, Goa,
Lagonoy, Libmanan, Lupi, Magarao, Milaor, Minalabac, Nabua, Ocampo, Pamplona, Pasacao,
Pili, Presentacion, Ragay, Sagnay, San Fernando, San Jose, Sipocot, Siruma, Tigaon and Tinambac
with also two cities which are Naga and Iriga City.
The main inhabitants of Camarines Sur are the Isarog-Agta and Iraya-Agta who lived near
the mountains long before the Spaniards came. In 16th century, the Spaniards then explored the
area specifically in 1569 when Captain Luis Enriquez de Guzman and Fr. Alfonos Gimenez
explored the province. Bicol province was then established but then later divided into two which
are named Camarines and Ibalon which are now Sorsogon and Albay.
The name “Camarines” is derived from the local term “kamalig” which are known as small
nipa or bamboo-made huts. The name was changed by Spanish from “Tierra de Camarines/Ambos
Camarines” into “camarins” which are known as small rice grains which are common in the area.
The Ambos Camarines was divided into two in March 3. 1919 by the Philippine Congress through
Act 2809 which are named Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur.
The Philippine Revolution took place in Ambos Camarines when the Filipino Corporals in
the Spanish Army which are Elias Angeles and Feliz Plazo, sided with the revolutionists and fought
the Spanish forces on September 17, 1898 with General Vicente Lukban who organized the
revolutionary government.
Americans occupied Camarines Sur from 1900 to 1942 and then the Japanese invaded the
province after the Americans has left the area. During World War II, Guerilla units waged
underground operations against the Japanese troops stationed in Camarines Sur. These were
organized by Wenceslao Q. Vinzons who was then captured on July 8, 1942. He was then replaced
by Lieutenant Francisco Boayes until April 1945 when Camarines Sur was free from the Japanese
invaders towards the end of World War II.
Naga City, formerly known as “Nueva Caceres” was designated as the Capital of Province
by the Philippine Legislative Act No. 2711 on March 10,1917 but later changed when Pili was
declared as the Provincial Capital on June 6, 1955 by the Republic Act 1336 up to the present time.
Agriculture is the main source of livelihood in the Province. Rice, corn, coconut, sugar and
abaca are the raw products collected in the province. Handicrafts such as bags, hats and slippers
are made from the abaca which are source of livelihood. Fishing is also one of the major sources
of livelihood since the province is a coastal area.
There are several dialects used in the province, but the main language used is the Coastal
Bikol. It is composed of several dialects such as the Coastal Bikol-Partido which is used in the
eastern part of the province. Coastal Bikol-Central is spoken in Naga City. Rinconada Bikol is
used by the people staying in the Rinconada area especially in Nabua and Iriga City. Buhinon is
also used by people in Buhi. Only one town speaks Tagalog which is Del Gallego. Tagalog and
English are also used and widely understood by the inhabitants of Camarines Sur. According to
the Jesuit anthropologist Frank Lynch S.J., the Coastal Bikol dialect used in Canaman is the purest
form of Bikol.
Since Camarines Sur was invaded by Spaniards, their beliefs were preserved by the
Bicolanos. The invisible world is acknowledged by the common expression “Tabi po, maki-agi
po” which means “Excuse me please, I would like to pass by” for people not to accidentally bump
into creatures that are not seen by bare eyes. There are also indigenous beliefs that are practiced
until now. In San Miguel Bay, people are not allowed to point at anything when riding a boat since
the spirits may get mad and drown the boat including the passengers. In Naga City, if a child goes
near the riverside, the spirits may push him to drown him in the water.
Camarines Sur is known for being a religious province dominant with Catholicism. The
patron saint of Bicol is Our Lady of Peñafrancia. Every September, thousands of barefooted male
devotees join the Traslacion procession of the patron saint and a fluvial procession wherein the
image of the patron saint is carried on the “Pagoda” or the boat loaded by male priests and
devotees. The Pagoda is then pulled by numbers of boats until it reaches the area near the Basilica
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