Hacienda Dolores under a spell

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By Max Sangil

For the Record

Monday, January 20, 2014


IT was during those board meetings when I was still a member of the board of the Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation, by virtue of me being nominee of the Bases Conversion Development Corporation (BCDA) when I got acquainted with Fernando Zobel and Antonino 'Tony' Aquino, who were also board members.

I queried one time Tony Aquino who was and still is the president of the giant property developer Ayala Land Incorporated (ALI) if their group purchased a vast tract of land in Porac, Pampanga. He answered in the affirmative, and he tossed a question,' why are you interested to know?'

I came from there, I said.

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According to my mother, in those endearing moments when one time, after the early evening dinner, she told us stories about Hacienda Dolores. That I was her only child among us of nine siblings born in that barrio. The hacienda was considered very remote at that time, with the town proper of Porac as the reference point. I recalled her saying that her family owned a 28 hectare property in the sitio Sabanilla ( a site which is a stone throw to the SCTEX interchange) but mortgaged it to his nephew Atty. Arturo Lumanlan, older brother of Juanita, wife of Francisco G. Nepomuceno, due to the long absence of my father who was with the USAFFE group fighting the Japanese army who were advancing to Bataan.

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Somehow, there is sentimentality that will be manifested by this item, since I feel I am still attached to Hacienda Dolores which is now the subject of running stories by this paper. In recent weeks, some group of farmers, joined by few peasant organizations, denounced the 'killing of a farmer allegedly perpetrated by security guards of a giant property developer'.

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Some families in Hacienda Dolores accused this giant property developer of land grabbing. But it seems it is an unfounded accusation if we have to believe a lawyer of the developer. He claims that the property has no liens and encumbrances, excluded from the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program since 2006.

In short what the lawyer of the giant property developer is saying is that they have every legal right to own almost all of the lands in Hacienda Dolores, including the sites where the church and school stand.

Some people in the barangay are not really happy on the takeover. Just like in the movies, the rich overpowering the poor with their minions pushing to the edge the settlers. The settlers resisting with their leader, say Fernando Poe Jr. or Lito Lapid leading them. In the movies, the peasants will finally emerge as victors, but that is in the movies.

Here in Hacienda Dolores, the village chief Antonio Tolentino is no Fernando Poe Jr. There will be no crowd that will storm the prison to free him and his son Ener. They are now in jail for crossing the lines drawn by the new owner and at press time are still detained.

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I was about to tell Tony Aquino a mysterious story about Hacienda Dolores. How the original owners was cheated of his property, and how this land was passed on to several owners over a long period of time. How a bad spell was cast on the land, and too many spilled blood on the fertile land of the hacienda, but Chairman Butch Campos called the meeting to order.

I deeply care about this land. My root is still anchored there.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on January 20, 2014.

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