Museum’s rise jumpstarts digging of Imus’ heritage

 

 

CITY OF IMUS, CAVITE–A soon-to-rise private museum that hopes to unearth some of this historic city’s heritage will begin construction come the new year.

And local historians will anchor on this museum project to re-educate inhabitants, most of whom come from other places like Metro Manila, of the heritage that had defined Imus’ place in Philippine history.

This private museum that will be named after a historic lady of Imus will compensate, in some ways, with the dilapidated Imus Historical Museum that’s owned by the city government.

Roberto Castañeda of the Imus Historical Society (photo by Mia Rosienna Mallari)

Roberto Castañeda of the Imus Historical Society (photo by Mia Rosienna Mallari)

Roberto Castañeda of the Imus Historical Society said the new museum will be bearing this namesake, Doña Paula Sarasa, in honor of the woman who served as the “Tandang Sora of Imus” who tended to the needs of the Katipuneros.

Sarasa is also the mother of Gen. Juan Castañeda, who is the logistics head of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo and who is also the one who provided food and firearms during the Philippine revolution in the late 1890s.

“The donor of the lot specifically stated that it will be only for the sole purpose of the museum, nothing else. Gusto niya… is something na mapapakinabangan ng buong Imus (The lot’s donor wants something that benefits the entire city),” said Castañeda.

This private museum will be erected in the heart of the city, a walking distance from the city plaza and Imus Cathedral. The start of construction is actually two months behind the original proposed date (November 2014) due to difficulties in settling documents and other official matters with the city government.

 

Targeting migrants

The context of such museum idea of IHS is that the descendants of the old families of Imus are diminishing and the city’s proximity to Metro Manila, as well as a construction boom in the city that had led to the mushrooming of subdivisions, had seen the influx of people from elsewhere, or migrants.

Castañeda said of the estimated 300,000 residents of this city “The population of the ‘real’ Imuseños has become just one-fourth of the existing population.”

Migrants have flocked Imus in the latter part of the 1990s when subdivisions in the city had offered Metro Manila residents opportunities to resettle there. Countless subdivisions have been constructed in the 97 barangays of the two-year-old city.

Woven within these big families were series of intermarriages and with the other families in the hacienda, the population of 200 grew to 7,000 in a matter of decades. But what seemed as a strong foundation for a tightly-knit community became more of an ideology of the present.

“That one-fourth that I’m talking about, half of them are abroad. So we’re left with one-eighth. In that one-eight, half of those are now living in Manila, Makati, or Alabang [in Muntinlupa City]. What do we have left? One-sixteenth,” Castañeda said.

“Not everybody who’s left behind is aware of their heritage. That’s a pity.”

Flipping through chronological data in his mind, Castañeda recounted how Imus was once part of a vast hacienda run by Recollect friars during the Spanish era. In the hacienda lived several families but nine surnames stood out for owning the biggest portions of land in Imus: Abad, Castañeda, Esguerra, Monzon, Paredes, Ramirez, Sarasa, Tirona and Topacio.

Castañeda stressed there is a “definite lack of historical awareness” in the city.

 

Unearthing, digging heritage

IHS is hopes the new museum will house local artifacts and showcase the diverse branches of lineage that gave birth to heroes and prominent figures Filipino historical figures.

But the way to unearth up those artifacts, Castañeda said, is through a “larger project” separate from the group’s museum idea: digging the tunnels of Imus.

Based on historical records, a series of underground tunnels is webbed around Cavite province, connecting various towns and provinces together, going as far as the City of Sta. Rosa in Laguna province (see map).

The dots reveal the underground tunnels that are all linked to the City of Imus. These areas may possibly have artifacts that date back to the Spanish era, especially since the Katipuneros used these tunnels during the Philippine revolution of 1898 (graphic made by Mia Rosienna Mallari)

The dots reveal the underground tunnels that are all linked to the City of Imus. These areas may possibly have artifacts that date back to the Spanish era, especially since the Katipuneros used these tunnels during the Philippine revolution of 1898 (graphic made by Mia Rosienna Mallari)

Those tunnels in Imus connect the old arsenal, the cuartel (site of the first and already-rotten Imus Historical Museum), to the Imus Cathedral and traversing upland to Dasmariñas City and Silang municipality.

The Katipuneros traveled furtively from town-to-town during the revolution through those tunnels. In theory, all of the churches in Cavite are interconnected, with these churches’ altars concealing the tunnels’ main entrances.

In Indang municipality where an excavation was held earlier this year, a gold challis, a silver carriage and jewels were discovered. A nearby underground pool was also located, which was believed to be used privately by Spanish friars.

This digging project  may materialize in ten years’ time, given certain circumstances. “We must have the approval of both the church and the government first,” Castañeda said.

IHS’s vice chairman says former Imus Diocese Bishop and now Archbishop of Manila Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle already agreed to Castañeda’s proposal since this project can possibly entice tourism to the city.

Since Cardinal Tagle held his position from 2001-2011 in Imus Diocese, the society has yet to confirm with the present Bishop of Imus, Reynaldo Gonda Evangelista, D.D.

“Imagine touring from Imus then ending up in Kawit or Silang. Now that’s something,” Castañeda said.

Prominent people from the city who are descendants of the nine main families of Imus include Tagle, who has a Topacio lineage, and television actress Kaye Abad of ABS-CBN Channel 2.

 

 

 

This edited story is part of the author’s coursework at the University of Santo Tomas journalism program.

This article can be published, broadcast and/or posted online, provided The Filipino Connection and the article’s author/s are acknowledged. Editorial mistakes are the publisher’s. Email: thefilipino.connection@gmail.com.

 

 

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