Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Maeocong, Chieftain of the Jae-o No More


There was a time when the early settlers by the Jal-o regarded the river with a sense of foreboding. While it served as the main thoroughfare, their public baths and laundry pond, the river held many mysteries kept hidden among its lush mangroves and adjoining swamps and tributaries. Rumors and reports of actual sightings of monstrous amphibians wading its waters had been told in every household. The authorities had warned the villagers to stay out of the water especially at nighttime.

Of those crocodiles, Maeocong was regarded as the dominant bull--the king of the Jae-o. He was long as a boroto (local banca) and heavier than an adult carabao. It was said that he was more deadly if paired with his favorite mate, Pingan Nonay. Together, they wreck terror along the Anao and Bag-ot swamps.

For a time, the settlers tolerated their fear. They lived their lives by the Jal-o with that ominous awareness that they were not the masters of the river. But such fears had hounded them even in their dreams. Then came the news that a prominent couples from the poblacion was attacked by the dreaded creatures while on their way home from Batang. "Si Alo Feliciano hay ilo eot a! Si Alo Feliciano hay ilo eot a!" (Carlos Feliciano is now orphan!) came the report.

Alo Feliciano was the eldest son of Mariano and Maria Bebing Feliciano, Capitan of the poblacion of the newly established pueblo of Balete (the 33rd in the Provincia de Capiz). His father was tasked to collect taxes from among the landowners (leaseholders) and remit the same to the authorities in Batang once in a month. The Jal-o was the most convenient route as horseback riding through the Cabugao trail was punishing. The occasion was grabbed as opportunity by his mother to buy household provisions which were seldom sold in Balete. On their way home as their baroto passed along the Anao swamps, a couple of crocodiles attacked their wooden craft. That fateful incident had caused their lives.

Yet, it made the villagers confront their fear and take the bull by its horn--in this case--to take Maeocong and Pingan Nonay by their tails. The death of their Capitan and his wife had awaken in the Baleten-ons their innate courage to do something. Organizing themselves into teams, they hunt down the notorious couples right in their abode, cut down their heads and displayed it for weeks in front of the public market. "Bukon eon it hari si Maeocong sa Jae-o! Bukon eon it siga ro buaya sa Balete!"(Maeocong is no longer chieftain of the Jal-o! The crocodile is no longer the Lord of Balete!) , thus proclaimed by the Baleten-ons.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for this. I am the 6th generation descendant of Mariano and Maria Bebing Feliciano. The recent capture of the 21-ft saltwater crocodile in September 2011 reminded me of the recollections (as written down by some residents) of the of the fate of Capitan Anoy and his wife, which also mentioned the names of the two crocodiles.
    I hope to be able to make a trip to Balete someday to learn more of the history of the Felicianos from Balete/Aklan.

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  2. You're welcome. Come and visit your town as we are right now preparing a grand celebration to launch a new paradigm: Enchanting Balete. Trace your roots while Baleten-ons from all over the globe gather to celebrate the feast of our Patron, St. Rafael the Archangel this Oct. 24, 2011.

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  3. I would love to come, but unfortunately nowhere near there at all.
    May I ask - I've been going through your blog, and your history of Balete. Do you still reside there? Did you finish your history of Balete, after going through old manuscripts from the National Archives? Do you know of any other descendants of Mariano and Maria Feliciano in Balete? I drew up the family tree, tracing back to Mariano and Maria Feliciano, and would love to fill in blanks and history. I am from the line of their daughter, Florencia Elicerio Feliciano, who married Vicente Guanko. May I ask you to give my name/contact/email to those descendants, if you do come across them? I will be forever grateful to you. Thank you again.

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  4. Thank you for your interest in my blog. To answer your questions:
    1. Yes, I reside and work here in Balete
    2. There are several bundles of manuscripts I wish to investigate, but the exigencies of life prevent me from finishing my research on local history (Spanish era)
    3. Yes, I know many of your relatives here. Just email me concerning your personal circumstances so that I can "introduce" you to them. My email address is d.al16@yahoo.com

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